Universal Travel Adaptor: A Backpacking Necessity

Universal Travel Adaptor

As technology evolves, how to charge electronics on the road has become one of the most important things for travellers to consider. 

But without carrying a ton of different adaptors, how can you ensure your batteries are always topped up?

Enter the universal travel adaptor. 

Rather than having the correct prongs for a single type of power outlet, universal travel adaptors can fit into multiple sockets. Simply slide or flick the pins into the correct position using a series of buttons and switches. 

Once set up, they allow you to plug in and charge your devices no matter where you are in the world.

Note: Universal travel adaptors don’t generally include more unusual plugs such as Thailand’s unique type O or India’s type M. However, both those countries use more than one type of power outlet and you’ll always find a socket your adaptor will fit.

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for more information about Southeast Asia’s plug sockets. Or keep reading to see our list of the best universal travel adaptors. 


The links to online stores (like Amazon) on this page are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate South East Asia Backpacker earns from qualifying purchases. That does not change the content of our reviews. We pride ourselves on giving our readers the very best information we can.


Best Universal Travel Adaptor: Quick Answers!


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Readers Comments On Which Travel Adaptors They Use:

A universal one that also has two USB ports. That way I can charge three devices at the same time with one electric socket. In many hostels you’ll only have one socket by your bed and it can be difficult to find another available one.” – Ohad 

Universal one with USB and USB C!” – Gemma

I would suggest a universal type…” – Sand

I have found some of the universal adaptors fall out of the plug socket so I have to balance them on my rucksack! I tend to take 2 single ones – a round pin and a flat pin as where the socket has three flat pins the two-pin tends to work. In countries previously linked to the UK, such as Malaysia and Singapore, our plugs work.” – Brenda


The Best Universal Travel Adaptors

Hyleton Worldwide Travel Adaptor

  • Price Range: $$
  • Best Feature: Can charge many devices at once
  • Feature To Improve: Not the most robust adaptor

The Worldwide Travel Adaptor from Hyleton features four USB ports, as well as a Quick Charge enabled USB-C port and standard plug socket. This means you can charge a ton of devices at the same time — although you should ensure your electrical supply is reliable before attempting this! 

The adaptor works in over 200 countries, including all of Southeast Asia. You just need to adjust the prongs by flicking or sliding them into position. 

It’s built from fire retardant plastics and has internal software to prevent overheating, short circuit or overcharging. This ensures your devices, as well as the entire building, are kept as safe as possible. It also comes with a spare fuse in case a crazy surge causes the first to blow. 

As with all good universal travel adaptors, it not only fits into a wide variety of sockets but can also take many different plugs. No matter where you’re from in the world, or where you’re going, you’ll get a ton of use out of the Hyleton Worldwide Travel Adaptor. 

As you travel from A to B, the adaptor can be stored in its protective case to keep it safe from knocks or bangs while in transit. 


My Travel Pal Universal Travel Adaptor

  • Price Range: $$$
  • Best Feature: Offers a ton of protection to your devices
  • Feature To Improve: No USB-C ports

My Travel Pal’s Universal Travel Adaptor was created after the company’s owner got fed up with using crappy adaptors when travelling.

It has three USB ports and a standard plug socket which can take type A, B, C, E, F, G, I, J, L, N and O plugs. It also fits into type A, B, D, E, F, G, I, K, and O sockets — so it covers most travellers for over 150 countries across the world. 

Manufactured in the UK, this adaptor conforms to strict regulatory standards for use with high powered devices. This means you can safely use a hairdryer or straighteners — although you must ensure the device is suitable for foreign use first! 

It features a removable earth pin which allows for safe use in more countries. Built-in surge protection shuts the adaptor down if it detects too much voltage, protecting your devices in the process. The fuse can also be easily reset. 

My Travel Pal stand by their product too. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and a two-year warranty. If you have any issues with this universal adaptor, get in touch with the company and they promise to rectify the issue. 


iBlockCube Nimble with USB C

  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: Quick Charge and Power Delivery USB-C port
  • Feature To Improve: The fast charge port does not support Google phones

The Nimble from iBlockCube delivers the ability to charge up to six devices at once! 

It features three USB and two USB-C ports. One of the USB-C ports supports Quick Charge 3.0 and Power Delivery to ensure the fastest charge time to your devices. However, this port does not support Google phones or tablets. The second USB-C port will still charge your Google devices in good time though. 

There’s also the standard plug socket which can take plugs from most of the world. 

You can plug the Nimble into local sockets in over 150 countries worldwide. This means you’re covered for almost every popular backpacking destination! 

With inbuilt surge protection, as well as an auto-shutdown to prevent overheating and overcharging, the Nimble will keep your devices safe while charging from an unstable grid. It also features a spare fuse for extra peace of mind. 

iBlockCube include a fast charge USB-C cable and a classy looking black storage pouch with each purchase. 


Tommox PowerTravel Pro 3 

  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: Small and lightweight 
  • Feature To Improve: No standard plug socket

The Tommox PowerTravel Pro 3 houses two USB ports and one USB-C. The USB-C port supports both Quick Charge 3.0 and Power Delivery to ensure the fastest charge times to your devices. 

There is no standard socket in the PowerTravel 3 Pro so some travellers may find it lacks the usability of the competition. However, with most new devices being predominantly charged via USB or USB-C, this is a good choice for travellers who like to pack light — it weighs less than 200g when set up and ready to go.

Unlike the other universal travel adaptors we’ve discussed so far, the Tommox PowerTravel 3 Pro isn’t an all in one design. Instead, you need to attach the correct plug for the country you’re visiting — plugs for the US, UK, Australia and Europe are all included. With these, you have enough variety to cover much of the world’s power outlets. 

It features inbuilt protection against overheating and overcharging, as well as surge protection. 

Tommox also include a USB to USB-C charging cable with each purchase, although some users were sent a USB-C to USB-C cable. Ensure you read the description well before placing your order. 


SublimeWare Universal Travel Adaptor

  • Price Range: $$
  • Best Feature: Very easy to set up for different sockets
  • Feature To Improve: No USB-C ports

The Universal Travel Adaptor from SublimeWare features four USB ports and a standard plug socket. This enables you to charge up to five devices at once!

There’s no USB-C port so you’ll need to carry an extra plug, or USB to USB-C cable if your devices require USB-C charging. 

It can be used in over 150 countries, meaning you’re covered for trips to common and more off the beaten track locations! 

When setting up the adaptor, the pins are easy to adjust. They can also be locked into place to ensure a safe, reliable connection no matter where you are. It’s worth noting that the size and shape of the adaptor can make it challenging to get into some sockets. You may need to prop the adaptor up to prevent it falling out of the wall. If this is the case, never leave it plugged in while you’re not in the room. 

It’s also not designed for use with high powered devices such as hair dryers. These will quickly blow the fuse, especially if they’re not set up for dual voltage use! 


Flight 001 4-in-1

  • Price Range: $$
  • Best Feature: Simple to use
  • Feature To Improve: No USB or USB-C ports and no inbuilt protection against surges

The 4-in-1 from Flight 001 differs wildly from the common cube-shaped universal adaptor. Rather than having multiple prongs that are flicked or pulled into place, the 4-in-1 is more like 4 individual adaptors that can be slotted together and used in conjunction with one another. 

Each part comes in its own jazzy colour which isn’t all about aesthetics. The colours represent the parts of the world that part of the adaptor will work in. Flight 001 include a leaflet to let you know exactly which colours work where. 

The four-part design makes this adaptor robust and simple to use. There’s no moving parts to break or go wrong. Plus, it’s super lightweight at around 100g in total! 

The downside of this snazzy-looking adaptor is that it doesn’t have an inbuilt fuse nor any inbuilt protections against overheating or surges. There’s also no USB or USB-C ports so all devices will need to be charged through their standard plug. This means you need to carry an extra plug which negates the weight savings.


Lite Travel Micro

  • Price Range: $$$$
  • Best Feature: Compact and lightweight 
  • Feature To Improve: No USB or USB-C ports

The Micro by Lite Travel is rated as the world’s smallest and lightest universal travel adaptor. It weighs just 40g and is only a touch longer than a standard AA battery. 

It works in over 150 countries and even includes an inbuilt fuse and surge protection. 

However, this adaptor doesn’t feature any USB charging at all. It only has a single standard socket. This means you’ll need to bring a USB charger to plug into it, making the size and weight savings less of an advantage.


What to consider when choosing the best universal travel adaptor for you

Your Destination

While universal adaptors are perfect for long term travellers, especially those visiting many countries in one trip, they’re bigger and more expensive than destination-specific adaptors. 

If you’re not a frequent traveller and are only visiting one country, it’s worth looking at a country-specific adaptor. However, if you travel a lot, are visiting more than one country, or are visiting a country that uses a range of sockets* a universal adaptor is your best bet!

*You can find up to 5 different sockets being used in some Southeast Asian countries! 


USB Ports

Most travel adaptors have at least one USB port. Most electronics are charged via USB, so this saves you carrying an extra USB plug with you. 

Having an adaptor with multiple sockets means you can charge more devices at once. 

It’s also worth looking for adaptors with USB-C ports too — this saves you having to carry a USB-A to USB-C conversion cable. USB-C is the future of USB charging so it makes sense to invest in an adaptor that will stand the test of time.


Quick Charge 3.0

Check if your adaptor of choice allows for quick charging. This is used to charge smaller devices, like phones, tablets and kindles, much faster than a standard adaptor.

Quick Charge Enabled Universal Travel Adaptor
Quick Charge enables you to fully charge your devices much faster!

USB PD (Power Delivery)

USB PD is similar to Quick Charge 3.0 but utilises a USB-C connection to quickly charge laptops or other large devices. 


Surge Protection

In areas with less stable electricity, surges are common. You’ll know if you’re somewhere with unstable electricity because the lights will get dimmer or brighter for no apparent reason. Likewise, fans will spin faster or slow down without you touching them — no, it’s not ghosts…

If you’re charging devices in such an environment, ensure your universal adaptor has surge protection built-in. This will prevent a surge frying your expensive equipment. 


Price

Honestly, there’s no point spending a ton of money on a travel adaptor. You can pick up a good, reliable model for $20-$40USD. 

While I usually advise visiting a merchant directly, Amazon is usually the best place to find well priced, good quality universal travel adaptors.


Does a travel adaptor change the voltage?

Generally no. Unless you spend a ton of money on a big bulky adaptor, it won’t convert the voltage. Most universal travel adaptors only convert the shape of the socket.

Some folks are concerned about electrical voltage across the world. In Southeast Asia, this ranges from 220-240V. However, mains electricity around the world can vary from 100-250V. 

If you’re travelling from a lower voltage region, such as the USA, ensure your devices are set up for dual voltage before plugging them into a socket that delivers 200+V.

Using an electrical supply your electronics aren’t built for can put on quite the show — and leave you struggling to find a replacement device. 

To check if your device is travel-ready, look for the input instructions on the power brick or within the device itself. 

For example, my Mac charger reads: Input: 100-240V~0.75A(0,75A) 50-60Hz

Mac Charger
This lets me know I can charge my laptop in Southeast Asia without worrying about it being fried!

It’s worth noting that charging a device using the higher end of its voltage capability can cause it to become very hot. We recommend only charging devices when you are in the room so you can keep an eye on them.

High powered appliances like hairdryers or travel kettles aren’t usually built for dual voltage. They won’t react well to being plugged into the wrong output. The best option for such items is to buy travel-specific models which have converters built-in. Alternatively, you could pick up a cheap device when you arrive at your destination. 


Southeast Asia’s Plug Sockets

Plug sockets vary wildly across Asia. Even within each country, the sockets can differ. You might find a two-prong socket in one hotel room and then a three-prong in another!

As well as this, the wall-mounted sockets can be slightly different shapes or sizes. You may find your charger fits snuggly into one socket but is constantly falling out of another. 

Uniformity is a bit of a problem with power outlets all over Southeast Asia.

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

Plug Sockets in Thailand

In Thailand, you’re likely to come across 5 different types of socket!  

But to make things easier, or more complicated depending on how you look at it, you can often use different types of plugs in different sockets. 

See what we mean — wall plugs in Southeast Asia can be hard to wrap your head around! 

Note: While some plugs can be used in the “wrong” sockets, they may not be safe to do so. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get a shock but the sockets could overheat and short circuit. Never leave devices plugged in while you’re not in the room.

Types of power outlet in Thailand:

  • Type A – A two-prong flat socket.
  • Type B – A three-prong flat socket with the bottom prong round — type A plugs will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported.
  • Type C – A two-prong round socket — Type E and F plugs will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported.
  • Type F – Two round pins — Type C and E will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported. 
  • Type O – Three round pins, exclusive to Thailand — Type C, E and F plugs will work in this socket but aren’t officially supported.
  • Hybrid Socket – Most Type O outlets in Thailand are actually hybrid sockets that fit a range of plugs — Type A, B, C, E, F and O all fit these outlets. 

What is the mains voltage in Thailand?

The mains electricity in Thailand is 220V, 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.

The three types of plug sockets you'll find in Thailand.
The three types of plug sockets you’ll find in Thailand.

Plug Sockets In Vietnam

Like Thailand, there is no one plug socket used throughout Vietnam, but several. 

You’re likely to come across the following plug sockets when travelling in Vietnam:

  • Type A – A two-prong flat socket.
  • Type C – A two-prong round socket – Type E and F plugs will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported.
  • Type G – A three-prong flat socket (as used in the UK).
  • Hybrid Socket – Fits type A, C, F, B, D, E, G plugs.

Type C sockets are most common in Northern Vietnam. Type A is most common in the South. Type G sockets are mostly found in new luxury hotels but never in people’s homes. 

Hybrid sockets are becoming more popular in hotels, guesthouses, coffee shops and even in some new apartments. You can use A LOT of different plugs in these. 

You may also come across type D sockets in Vietnam. Only type D plugs work with these!

What is the mains voltage in Vietnam?

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!

Plug Sockets In Cambodia

The plug sockets in Cambodia are similar to Vietnam.

  • Type A – A two-prong flat socket.
  • Type C – A two-prong round socket – Type E and F plugs will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported.
  • Type G – A three-prong flat socket (as used in the UK).

Type A and C sockets are the most common in Cambodia. You’ll only come across G in fancier hotels. 

It’s also possible to find hybrid sockets in Cambodia. These are generally found in newer buildings but you may find the odd one or two in older hotels and hostels too. 

Be aware, hybrid sockets can be in unlikely places — it’s good practice to scout around any room you’re staying in. I’ve found these sockets in bathrooms and right up against the ceiling in the past! 

What is the mains voltage in Cambodia?

The mains voltage in Cambodia is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.


Plug Sockets In Laos

Power outlets in Laos come in many guises. The most common are: 

  • Type C – A two-prong round socket — Type E and F plugs will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported.
  • Type E – A two-prong round socket with an additional prong coming from the socket — Type C plugs will work in this socket. Type F plugs will also work but only if they feature an additional hole. 
  • Type F – Two round pins — Type C and E will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported.

It’s also not uncommon to see type A and B sockets in Laos. 

What is the mains voltage in Laos?

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.

Plug Sockets In Malaysia

You will only find one type of plug socket in Malaysia, which is a result of the country’s colonial British past. 

  • Type G – A three-prong flat socket (as used in the UK) — nothing else works with these sockets. 

You’ll be pleased to hear that it’s the standard plug across the whole of the country, so if you’re travelling to Malaysia and you’re from the UK, you’re already sorted!

What is the mains voltage in Malaysia?

The mains voltage in Malaysia is 240V with a frequency of 50 Hz. 

Malaysian plug socket, same same UK.
Malaysian plug sockets are the same as the UK!

Plug Sockets In Singapore

Again, due to British colonial influence, Singapore only uses a single type of plug socket:

  • Type G – A three-prong flat socket (as used in the UK) — Only type G plus work with these sockets.

What is the mains voltage in Singapore?

The voltage is 230 V with a frequency of 50 Hz.


Plug Sockets In Myanmar

Much like other Southeast Asian nations, Myanmar uses a variety of different plug sockets:

  • Type A – A two-prong flat socket.
  • Type C – A two-prong round socket – Type E and F plugs will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported.
  • Type D – A three-prong round socket with a larger prong at the top.
  • Type G – A three-prong flat socket (as used in the UK)
  • Type I – A socket with three flat prongs arranged in a triangular pattern.

Electricity in Myanmar is notoriously spotty. Be prepared for regular blackouts in rural areas. Never leave any devices plugged in when you’re not in the room and always unplug devices during a blackout — there can be a big power surge when the electricity comes back. 

What is the mains voltage in Myanmar?

The voltage is 230V with a frequency of 50Hz.


Plug Sockets In Indonesia

Indonesia uses two different power outlets:

  • Type C – A two-prong round socket – Type E and F plugs will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported.
  • Type F – Two round pins — Type C and E plugs will work with these sockets but aren’t officially supported.

Type C sockets are the most common in hotels, hostels and houses. Both are in use in Bali and C is still the most common. 

What is the mains voltage in Indonesia?

The voltage in Indonesia is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz.

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

Plug Sockets In India

Although it’s not in Southeast Asia, we thought that it was important to mention India’s electrical sockets for those who are travelling there next. 

In India, three types of power outlets are common:

  • Type C – A two-prong round socket — Type E and F plugs will work in these sockets but aren’t officially supported.
  • Type D – A three-prong round socket with a larger one at the top.
  • Type M -Similar to a type D socket but the holes are a little larger — Nothing else works with a type M socket. 

What is the mains voltage in India?

The voltage in India is 230V and the frequency is 50Hz.

Plug socket M
Plug socket Type M, found in India.

So there you have it, by investing in a universal travel adaptor and knowing what power outlets to expect while travelling, you’ll be free to roam (and charge!) wherever your wanderlust takes you!

Tim Ashdown | Gear Specialist

After a life-changing motorcycle accident, Tim decided life was too short to stay cooped up in his home county of Norfolk, UK. Since then, he has travelled Southeast Asia, walked the Camino de Santiago and backpacked South America. His first book, From Paralysis to Santiago, chronicles his struggle to recover from the motorcycle accident and will be released later this year.

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