Best Travel Adaptor: A Universal Backpacking Necessity

Universal Travel Adaptors

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While it would be much less stressful if all the countries in the world could just come together and agree on a universal plug system, we’re seriously not there yet! (One day, maybe.) So, in the meantime, the invention of the universal travel adaptor has taken over. Scroll down to see the best travel adaptor for your backpacking adventures… But first, some information about Southeast Asia’s random plug socket situation!

Southeast Asia’s Plug Sockets:

If you think you can just get a ‘one size fits all’ ‘Asia travel adaptor’, better think again. The plug sockets all over Asia vary widely! In fact, even within each country, the plug sockets can differ, so that you’ll get a two-prong socket in one hotel and a three-prong in another! Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

Plus, the plug sockets themselves seem to be different widths and so you may find that you can’t fit your charger in one socket, yet in another, your charger hangs out of the wall cos the socket itself is too roomy! (Uniformity is a bit of a problem with power outlets all over Southeast Asia.)

So, bearing that in mind, if you’re only going to one of the countries below, here’s the information that you’ll need to get yourself a travel adaptor that’s specific to the individual country to which you are travelling…. Or, do as we tell you, and get yourself a universal plug adaptor below.

Plug sockets around the world (A to L)
Plug emoticons! The 12 electrical sockets around the world (A to L).

Thailand Travel Adaptor

In Thailand, there are usually three main plug socket types (see what we mean already?). These are:

  • A) A two prong flat socket.
  • B) A three prong flat socket with the bottom prong round.
  • C) A two prong round socket.
The three types of plug sockets you'll find in Thailand.
The three types of plug sockets you’ll find in Thailand.

The mains electricity in Thailand is 220V AC, which is compatible with all appliances made in the UK and most of Europe. The frequency in Thailand is 50 Hz which is the same as in the UK. So, when looking for a travel adapter for Thailand, you need to take all of this into consideration!

Travel Adapter for Vietnam

Again, like Thailand, there is no one plug socket used across Vietnam, but several. You are likely to be faced with one of the following three plug sockets when travelling:

  • C) A two prong round socket.
  • A) A two prong flat socket.
  • G) A three prong flat socket (as used in the UK).

Type C is most common in Northern Vietnam, while Type A is most common in the South. Type G is mostly found in new luxury hotels, but never in people’s homes. You may also come across D (pictured in the chart above) in some hotels. The voltage in Vietnam is the same as in Thailand, 220 V, frequency of 50 Hz.

Plug sockets in Vietnam
The three types of plug sockets in Vietnam. Things to consider when buying a travel adaptor Vietnam…

Travel Adaptor Cambodia

The plug sockets in Cambodia are similar to Vietnam (above) with A, C and G being the most common. Again, you will only really come across G in the fancier hotels (usually ones built by Singaporean or Hong Kong owners). The mains voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.

Travel Adaptor Laos

In Laos, you will most commonly find the three plug sockets featured below (C, E and F). However, it is not uncommon to come across A and B also. The mains voltage in Laos is 230 V with a frequency of 50 Hz, which works fine with most European electrical items.

Plug sockets in Laos.

Travel Adaptor Malaysia

You will only find one type of plug in Malaysia, which is a result of the country’s colonial British past. Yep, you guessed it, it’s G, which is exactly the same as the plug sockets used in the UK. And, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s the standard plug across the hole of the country, so if you’re travelling to Malaysia and you’re from the UK, you’re already sorted!

Malaysian plug socket, same same UK.
Malaysian plug socket, same same UK.

Note: Again, due to British historical influence, plug G is also the plug socket of choice in Singapore, and is also quite common in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The mains supply in Malaysia is 240V.

Travel Adaptor Singapore

See above. The plug socket in Singapore is the same as in Malaysia and the UK. The voltage is 230 V with a frequency of 50 Hz.

Travel Adaptor Myanmar

As mentioned above, you will find plug G in many places in Myanmar. However, that’s not the only plug socket! Oh no, Myanmar uses C, D and F as well As G. The voltage is 230 V with a frequency of 50 Hz.

  • C) A two prong round socket.
  • D) A three prong round socket with a larger one at the top.
  • F) A two prong flat socket.
  • G) A three prong flat socket (as used in the UK).

Travel Adaptor Indonesia

Indonesia uses the electrical sockets C and F, with C (the two-prong round socket, being the most common in hotels and houses). The voltage is 230 and the frequency is 50 Hz.

Bali Travel Adaptor

See above. The island of Bali uses the same plug sockets as the rest of Indonesia, with C being the most common.

Bali Travel Adaptor plug
The most common plug socket in Bali.

Travel Adaptor India

While not in Southeast Asia, we thought that it was important to mention India’s electrical sockets for those who are travelling there next. When travelling to India, we found that there are three types of plug socket that are the most common: C, D and M (we didn’t even know M existed until reading this!) What can we say, India is a unique country indeed!

  • C) A two prong round socket.
  • D) A three prong round socket with a larger one at the top.
  • M) Type M is the same as D, however the holes are a little larger.
Plug socket M
Plug socket Type M, found in India.

Choosing the Best Travel Universal Adaptor

Bearing in mind all of the inconsistency with the plug sockets in each country in Southeast Asia, without a doubt, your best bet is to look for a universal plug adaptor for your travels. Not only will it fulfil your Southeast Asia travel adaptor needs, but you will also be able to use it for your future adventures elsewhere in the world. The main things to focus on as you search for a universal adaptor are:

Device Compatibility:

Make sure that you choose an adaptor that will work with the devices you plan to bring with you. That means paying attention to whether your belongings have US, UK or EU plugs.

Number of Items:

Think about your needs and choose an adaptor that will allow you to plug in and charge as many devices as necessary.

Travel Adaptor with USB:

Chances are, you have devices that use USB to charge, so it’s a good idea to invest in an adaptor with USB ports. In 2018, most travel adaptors do!

Car Charging:

If you think you may be hiring a car or a campervan or spending some time driving during your travels, an adaptor with car charging capabilities may be convenient for you.

What about Voltage?

Many people are concerned about the voltage of the main electricity supply in different countries around the world. The voltage in Southeast Asian countries ranges from 220-240 V. However, electricity mains across the world can vary from anything between 100 V and 250V! It can be really dangerous to use an electrical appliance that has a different voltage from the mains supply.

Plugging into a higher mains supply could totally blow and break your device! So does a universal travel adaptor help with this? In truth, no. Most of the inexpensive models below do not convert voltage, they only convert the power outlet.

However, these days for most travellers, such voltage conversion isn’t really a worry. Most laptops, digital cameras, smartphones and e-readers (e.g. Kindle) already have this conversion built into their power cords. (You know that big white thing on your MacBook charger, yep that’s it!) So, you don’t really need to purchase a separate adaptor.

However, if you plan on using high powered appliances, like a hairdryer or a travel kettle, this may be an issue. The best thing to do is to buy a device that is made for travel and has a universal voltage power transformer built-in! Okay, so now, it’s time to get down to business and find that ideal travel adaptor for your future trips.

The Best Universal Travel Adaptors

Top 3 Best for UK & European Travellers…

1. Worldwide Travel Adapter by BEZ® (WINNER!)

£17.99 – Available on Amazon UK Whether you’re travelling to Asia, the Americas or Europe, the BEZ Worldwide adapter will suit your needs. This heavy-duty, all-in-one adapter will take you through your backpacking adventures in Southeast Asia and on any explorations you embark on throughout most of the world. The adapter is compact and comes with a small carrying bag, which zips closed for safe-keeping and protection against dust and dirt. In addition to a standard plug, you also get two USB ports with the BEZ adapter.


2. CleverTrips Universal Travel Power Adaptor (RUNNER UP)

£18.99 – Available on Amazon UK The CleverTrips adapter is very lightweight and compact, yet still effective, making it an ideal choice for backpacking. You’ll be able to keep it in your pack at all times without using up too much space. CleverTrips take the universal adaptor to a new level with plugs that are secure, unlike many flimsy adaptors where device plugs simply slip out of place. It even keeps all plug adaptors folded in when not in use to help you avoid damage.


3. Worldwide Travel Adapter, GOSCIEN (CHEAPER OPTION)

£11.99 – Available on Amazon UK If your main concern is finding a reliable travel adaptor with USB, the GOSCIEN worldwide travel adapter will suit your needs. It’s designed with a whopping 4 USB ports, so you can charge many of your important devices at once. This super compact charger will fit in the smallest pocket of your backpack, wherever in the world you may find yourself. Another great choice for travel adaptor Thailand, the GOSCIEN is affordable, fast-charging and ideal for backpackers who work from their respective devices.

Top 3 Best Travel Adaptors for American Travellers…

1. JOOMFEEN Worldwide All in One Universal Power Converter (WINNER)

$10.99 – Available on Amazon US  Surprisingly cheap (but still good quality), this travel adapter gets fabulous reviews considering its price and so we simply had to put it at number one. It functions in all of Southeast Asia (as well as 150 other countries) and has two USB ports, as well as an LED light power indicator so that you know it’s working. If you add this this travel adaptor to your packing list, you won’t be breaking the bank and you’ll make sure that you can charge your devices (three at once) wherever you go!


2. LOOP World Adapter Plug (RUNNER UP)

$15.95 – Available on Amazon US Travel adaptors can be a pretty boring item to shop for, but LOOP tries to change this by providing you with a few bright colour options to choose from. You can charge your devices in style! The combination of one AC port and two USB ports means you can charge three devices at once. You will be able to use this adapter all over Southeast Asia and in 150 countries all over the world. The adapter is designed with high-quality, fire-resistant materials and backed by an 18-month warranty.

3. INSTEN Universal World Wide Travel Charger Adapter Plug (CHEAP OPTION)

$10.99 – Available on Amazon US A cheap one but it does the job, the Insten travel adaptor can be used all across Southeast Asia. Keeping things really simple, this adaptor is designed with an LED light that turns on when it’s plugged in to indicate that it’s working properly. It has a sleek and compact design that will fit easily in your backpack. It’s a great choice for the budget traveller.

So there you have it, by investing in one of these nifty devices from the get-go, you’ll be free to roam (and charge!) wherever your wanderlust takes you!

Dave Noakes Bio Pic, with Nikki Scott
Nikki Scott | Founder & Editor

Nikki is the founding editor of South East Asia Backpacker. At age 23, she left the UK on a solo backpacking trip and never returned. After six months on the road, she founded a print magazine about backpacking in Asia. The rest is history.

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