You are moving to Asia? Great! Or you are thinking of moving to Asia? Fantastic! Come on over and join the Expat-fun. Before you move, however, there are things you should really think about bringing from your homeland, especially regarding toiletries and beauty products. This list is mainly written for women, but men may find it helpful too!
Asia actually has many international brands in the comfort food department. However, there will be some things from your home town that you simply cannot live without. For me, it was Watties tomato sauce. If you have space in your bag, treat yourself and bring your favorite condiments, spreads, and chocolate. Also, if you are gluten free, bring your favorite gluten-free must haves.
Gluten-free people moving to Vietnam, rejoice! Supermarkets in Vietnam stock many gluten-free products such as rice noodles, rice flour, gluten free pasta, rice flour, tapioca flour, and corn flour, all for the same prices as the products containing gluten!
It is tough finding moisturizer here that doesn’t have some sort of whitening product in it! If you are tanned, brown, or any shade that isn’t ‘white’, or maybe you just don’t like the sound of a moisturizer that works to alter your skin tone, you will struggle to find a normal one. Bring a massive bulk-sized container of your favorite stuff over with you! Moiturizer is often the only beautyish-related product I use on a daily basis. You will need it! The pollution in the big cities, and the air conditioning really dries out your skin!
It is the same problem as above. Almost every sunblock you see in the supermarkets has some sort of whitening thing going on. Bring your own.
While you do come across tampons in some supermarkets here, there are not a lot of options, and this is true in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City for example. If you do find them, you often have to work hard to buy them! I found some kotex tampons in Lotte Mart supermarket. They were locked away in plastic boxes that you have to take to the counter to have removed! They are also quite expensive in Asia. I really recommend buying some at home when you find them on special.
Asia is actually quite good for stocking well-known make up brands, in the major cities anyway. However, there is a massive language barrier. Depending on where you are, most shop attendants may not speak your language, and may not easily be able to help you find something. Also, so far I have found the well-known brands of make up to be more expensive in Asia. Another issue is that many brands of make up only stock certain color tones (usually only 3 different shades of beige).
Condoms in Asia are expensive, and are on display in the most indiscreet places. If you need them, do yourself a favor and get them from your supermarket back home. Or head to your family-planning center to get them for free/cheap before you come.
While there are good and reliable pharmacies throughout Asia, bringing medication from home will make your life a bit easier. The pharmacies may not stock your favorite brands. Also, some medication can be hard to get. Another reason is the language barrier. Imagine the hand gestures you will need to communicate in order to ask for diarrhea medication! If possible, bring over your own paracetamol, ibuprofen, hay fever tablets, contraceptive pills, Imodium etc..
Do you have large feet? It is a struggle to find large shoes in Asia! It is hard to get shoes made for big feet too, as apparently many shoe-makers only have certain sole-sizes/molds. Bring your shoes from home.
Underwear and bras
It has been hard finding underwear that isn’t $15-$20 for one pair of briefs! Also, if you have boobs larger than a C or maybe D, you could struggle to find something in Asia. Stock up on underwear and good and comfortable bras before moving to Asia.
This is another product that can be hard to find in Asia. Once you do find it, prepare to pay more for it than back home. Bring a couple of them over with you. I can tell you that in Vietnam, you will be needing it!
PJs and robe
If you love your PJs, and like to wrap up in a robe after a shower or at night on the couch, bring these too!
Moving to Asia
If you have the space in your bag, and you are moving to Asia for the long-term, why not bring all of these things?! I will continue to add to this list while I think of more, from my experiences :). Let me know if you think I have missed anything!