Are there any suggestions on what footwear to wear in a wet climate (specific: Vietnam in September)?

The use case would be mostly walking on streets, with occasional hikes in easy but slippery terrain.

For short term undertakings I would simply go for hiking boots.

But in that case the shoes won't have a real chance to dry as I infer from other reports. Typical suggestions include: - FlipFlops (plastic) - Birkenstocks (the plastic ones) - Crocs (plastic) - Basically everything that is made of plastic und soaks up no water

All these solutions seem highly unreasonable for longer periods of walking, let alone off the streets, let alone with a backpack of approx 10-15kg.

I am looking for suggestions that are backed up by experience and minimize the amount of shoes that need to be used to achieve a comfortable and healthy trip.

I am also looking for suggestions on how to dry shoes in a wet climate.

  • Why exclude a good old pair of hiking boots?
    – Aravona
    Jul 11, 2017 at 15:31
  • @Aravona Reason one is the time and climate they need to get dry and comfortable again. Reason two is basically the weight and size. Otherwise they would be my favorites too. If you have good suggestions on how to dry them in a wet climate (or why I shouldn't bother) I would be happy to read your answer :)
    – Haini
    Jul 11, 2017 at 15:32
  • Well living in England I wear mine all winter even if they're not always dry again when I put them on. But if you get gaiters they'll not get wet through the ankles :) weight I can understand though.
    – Aravona
    Jul 11, 2017 at 15:35
  • @Aravona: I wear mine in Austria every day too - but we have a dry and warm climate inside the house, no high humidity. The fear is that they will be >really< wet then.
    – Haini
    Jul 11, 2017 at 15:37
  • 1
    One big difference is temperature: When it is coldish boots provide insulation even when wet. When this isn't an issue (e.g. in Vietnam), you can spare your feet the chafing in a closed damp environment.
    – imsodin
    Jul 11, 2017 at 17:53

8 Answers 8


In a word: sandals

There's a reason everyone you'll be around also wears sandals. But you'll want the same thong sandals or "flip flops" that they wear, since you'll be taking them off all the time (entering stores, homes, etc. If you see a pile of shoes, add yours to the pile.)

enter image description here

Source: I used to live in Thailand.


"But what about all the walking?" I can hear you ask. I was almost totally pedestrian when I lived in Thailand, as is 95% of the country. You'll get along just fine in your flip flops. That is seriously the only pair of shoes you'll need at all. No socks, no boots.

  • 5
    The problem with flipflops if is you don't wear them regularly you can get blisters between your toes rather easily. So if you're not used to spending most of summer in them anyway you can find them an issue.
    – Aravona
    Jul 12, 2017 at 7:36
  • @Aravona you can always wear socks - some of them come with toe compartments.
    – Quinto
    Jul 12, 2017 at 14:45
  • 2
    @Quinto you can indeed, but you may die of embarrassment at the same time ;)
    – Aravona
    Jul 12, 2017 at 14:47
  • @Aravona if hiking on the beach in Thailand, alcohol is readily available!
    – Quinto
    Jul 12, 2017 at 15:13
  • 1
    @Aravona You could also wear a marginally more substantive style of sandals that rely on a larger top strap instead of a toe strap to hold them in place. Jul 14, 2017 at 20:38

A sandal with straps like Chaco or Keen.



Camel brand shoes. Closed toe sandals. 1 tube shoes glue. have in Thailand,Cambodia,Vietnam,Philippines. The one with cat soles are the best. For allround wear. Found in most malls. In S.E.Asia. Or ask for them once there. If in the bush wear heavy socks in them. I get about 1 year use out of a pair in the Philippines. Heavy use. If you see a part starting to fail on them shoes glue supper repairs them. American made shoes fall apart in Asia. Different glue used for the tropics. Nike sandals do well with the over top. for city use & shopping. Buy there. These are not cheap shoes U.S. $30 to $50 in Asia price range a pair. Take my word for this. A different glue is used in Asia for shoes. So for long lasting buy there. These have a leather upper. Better yet see a local cobbler. But it takes 3 days to make a pair of shoes there. Select your sole stile & custom fit to your feet. U.S.$50 up for good ones.

  • Kind of look like the ones in the photo there bat with a back welt like a shoe has.
    – J Bergen
    Jul 12, 2017 at 0:46

When I lived in the southern US, I used to ware men's crocs all the time. They are great for walking in and traversing small bodies of water. They dry off in just a minute or two and have rather good traction on most surfaces.

Here is an example of what I wore:

Men's croc


Theoretically you have a lot of options and most of them are covered in answers above. Practically you will be comfortable with flipflops or sandals. 95% of cases you will be wearing flipflops or sandals without socks. You have options of plastic, rubbers or nylon sandals, take one that you are comfortable with. Walking and normal hiking should be taken care by them.

For rest 5% cases keep a Camel Boot or Hiking Boot.

enter image description here


Hiking boots for the hikes and flip flops for hard surfaces or while the boots dry out would seem to be a good compromise. The cost and weight of a pair of flip flops are negligible. Minimise the amount of water getting into the boots with gaiters. If they get really wet, stuff them with newspaper, replacing a couple of times. This gets them from really wet to damp quite quickly.

I'd go for breathable boots in your case but some would disagree.

In some areas sports sandals are good for wet hiking, but I wouldn't fancy it without knowing more about the wildlife and even the plant life.

Wellingtons are another option. I've never found them good for hiking but some people get on with them.


Are you aware of hiking sandals? the are sandals with a stiffer base to provide support with a viabram sole to give better grip some have covers for the toes. Keen teva meindle and other boot makers have their versions of the walking sandal. if you have pair of walking boots that you are happy with see if that company has a walking sandal as well as the sandal will probably based on the same last and will fit you better.


I'm quite fond of Gore-Tex shoes (example), this is a trademarked fabric that is used by a number of brands. Contrary to other answers, Gore-Tex shoes are to be closed, which has some benefits but also some disadvantages.

I'll just write a pros and cons list and you can decide if this is something for you or not, maybe in addition to some of the other suggestions. When I'm in South-East Asia and have access to my own vehicle I like to keep two pairs (and lots of clean socks) at hand (in the back of the car): one pair of flip-flops and a pair of Gore-Tex hiking boots. When it's nice dry outside I wear the flip-flops and when it's rainy or I'm going off-road / out of the cities I turn to the boots.

So now the pros and cons for the Gore Tex boots (alternatively, any hiking boots that are waterproof and very breathable would do), mostly in comparison to flip-flops (as that is the go-to alternative in my experience).


  • Your feet are better protected.

  • Better grip when climbing / walking in wet sand

  • The fabric is water-proof, so your feet stay dry

  • The boots are designed to let the sweat out, so no sweaty feet


  • They take more effort to put on, so they are more of a hassle when you go indoors where you're expected to take your shoes off.

  • They are more expensive, while they're certainly worth it if they last you years, they may be a target for thieves.

  • They are a bother to carry around when you don't wear them. Obviously, this doesn't apply if you can leave them in your car.

Final advice

In conclusion, bring the flip-flops for sure, you can't go without them. Wear the flip-flops as much you can but change into the hiking shoes whenever you feel the flips don't suffice (if it gets wet or when you're going on a trail with some steeper parts). Just don't forget to bring enough clean socks.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.