Traveling South-East Asia with a baby is very possible, easy and definitely fun!
In some countries it is easy to be a buy-as-you-go tourist (even with a baby) while others require more preparation and strength but overall there is no need to postpone your trip to South-East Asia just because you have a baby or child.
Prior to our arrival to Thailand (Lia just turned 6 month old) we had difficulties finding any information online concerning availability and pricing of baby products such as formula, diapers, baby food etc. so we were always guessing what every country holds for us and usually being over prepared as a result.
I hope this article will provide you with information you are looking for and will help you to organize your trip.
Also, note that I only cover the countries we have visited: Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, The Philippines and Brunei.
Brunei we visited for 2 days and we had anything we needed from Malaysia although I am sure they have formula, diapers and baby food since it is very developed and rich country.
Thailand has pretty much everything you need, even on the islands.
- Baby formula: There is a large selection of local brands. There are international brands (NAN, Nutrilon, Similac) as well. Prices are good for the region at around 10-13 $ for a big can of formula (800-900g) or $33 for 2200 g pack.
- Diapers: Many different brands and average quality was one of the best in South-East Asia. The prices were cheaper than anywhere else in SE Asia. 10-13 $ for a big pack.
- Baby food in jars: Good selection for SE Asia. The jars vary from fruits to meat with vegetables. Good quality. 20-1.80 $ for a jar.
- Instant cereals for babies: It was somewhat hard to find plane cereals without added sugar, however still possible. Look at the big supermarkets rather than small shops. 5-6 $ for a pack.
- Milk/milk products: You can find fresh milk without sugar at the supermarkets and even 7/11.
- Wet wipes/creams/bottles etc.: in abundance for a good deal.
We rank Malaysia as our second favorite after Thailand as for baby products. We have been both to peninsular Malaysia and Borneo (Kalimantan) and had no problems whatsoever. If you spend a few days in Kuala Lumpur, I would recommend stocking up due to a bigger choice and better prices.
- Formula: Big selection, there are international brands that are more expensive than the local ones. Allocate around 20-25$ per big can (800-900g).
- Diapers: Also big selection, quality is good. Around $10 for a medium pack.
- Baby food in jars: I think Malaysia has the best choice of baby food. Pricier than Thailand, however good options (no added sugar/salt, a big percentage of meat/vegetables). 20-3 $ per jar.
- Instant cereals for babies: Many different options. 5-6$ per pack
- Milk/milk products: There is milk and yogurt in the supermarkets. For a better selection of dairy products head to big stores.
- Wet wipes, creams/cloths: Plenty of this stuff
We knew Myanmar was much less developed than its neighbors so we didn’t know what to expect concerning baby products. Will they have what we need? And for what price etc. We also planned to stay in Myanmar for over a month, so we couldn’t bring all the necessary products from Malaysia or Thailand.
To our surprise we found everything we needed in Yangon and Mandalay. There are a few international supermarkets in both cities where you can find good quality but much pricier baby products. We didn’t know what we would find in smaller towns so we bought everything there. (we brought as well a bunch of stuff from Malaysia)
In smaller towns, you can find baby formula and diapers in almost every store, less luck with instant cereals and absolutely no luck with baby food jars. Myanmar can be compared to India regarding food sanitation, so I would recommend bringing baby jars so that you can feed your baby safe food.
- Formula: There are international brands even in small towns, for example Similac (USA). 400g can is $9, 1300g from $20 to $37, depending on the age group. The youngest usually being the most expensive.
- Diapers: Diapers are relatively cheap and decent quality. $10 for a big pack.
- Baby food in jars: We found them only in expensive, international supermarkets in Yangon and Mandalay. Smaller towns don’t have them. $3-$4 for an organic jar, Australian brand.
- Instant cereals: It is possible to find in small towns, the most common is Nestlé. Rice and milk, milk and soya etc. for $5 per pack. At international shops you can find options that aren’t rice based such as wheat based with fruits.
- Milk/milk products: Throughout the country is hard to impossible to find fresh (refrigerated) milk/milk products. What they have though is non-refrigerated UHT milk and powdered milk.
- Wet wipes, creams/bottles etc.: Plenty and not expensive.
Unfortunately we only spent two weeks in Cambodia and we have only seen touristy areas such as Siem Reap, Phnom Penn and Sihanoukville. Thus the information I provide here is collected only from these touristy areas. The situation may be different in smaller towns and villages.
- Formula: It turned out to be one of the cheapest in SE Asia. Around $13 for a big can of 800 g. International supermarkets tend to put higher price on baby formula than local ones, so shop around.
- Diapers: A big variety and good quality. It is possible to buy in all sized stores. Around $10 for a medium pack
- Baby jars: We could find some, however the choice wasn’t the biggest and the price was about $2 per jar. Luckily we brought enough from Thailand.
- Instant cereals: Quite bad selection. There are different options but almost all of them contain added sugar.
- Milk products: There is milk, yogurt, cheese etc. It is better to look for these items at the big supermarkets, the variety will be much greater.
- Wet wipes/creams etc. : In abundance everywhere.
From our experience, Vietnam is the worst for traveling with babies.
- Formula: Even though Vietnam has one of the biggest options for baby formula, the quality is not the best. International brands were way overpriced (if you can find it). Usually the price for a big can (800 g) is $17 while international brands could cost you $25 and up.
- Diapers: Very bad quality. The diapers were leaking all the time and giving Lia a bad rush. Tried to switch brands and it didn’t help. About 13-17 $ per big pack
- Baby jars: Couldn’t find any anywhere. We had to ask people at the hotels to use the kitchen to cook food for our baby.
- Instant cereals: Not good selection. The choice is poor and mostly rice and soya (like in Myanmar). Pretty much all of the brands add sugar. Lia would just refuse eating it and I don’t blame her. $4 per pack.
- Milk products: You can find fresh milk in Saigon and Da Lat area. North from Da Lat, good luck finding it! All milk products contain sugar or even worse they offer you condensed milk. Really?
- Wet wipes/creams/bottles etc.: Plenty for a decent price.
Outstanding country. I think it is one of the most developed in South-East Asia as well as one of the most expensive regarding baby products.
- Formula: The most expensive formula. An international brand or formula with all the required ingredients will cost around 23-25 $. I would recommend buying formula elsewhere if possible. Also we found much cheaper prices farther from Manila.
- Diapers: Big variety. Around 10-13$ for a big pack.
- Baby jars: There are different options, even organic ones. 2-3$ per jar
- Instant cereals: Many different options. $6 per pack
- Milk products: You wont have problems finding fresh milk.
- Wet wipes/creams/ bottles: However bottles are rather expensive.
- http://www.lazada.com.ph/shop-baby-food/ check out this website to get an idea about prices. Keep in mind these prices are a little bit more expensive than the average.