How do I know that most travel writers are men? Easy! Guidebooks never have enough information about feminine hygiene product (also known as sanitary product) availability. There’s nothing more frustrating that wasting space in jam-packed backpack with pads you could have bought upon arrival… except, that is, planning to pick up tampons when you arrive and discovering that they aren’t sold in the place you’re visiting!
Packing can be quite a tedious process, mainly if you have limited luggage space. Women tend to carry more stuff than men, and these things involve a lot of hygienic items. If you fail to bring them with you, then I can’t guarantee you’ll find the products you use across the world, especially if you are visiting a developing country.
This is one of the reasons why I am going to share some feminine hygiene tips and help you get around. You’ll never know in what kind of situation you’ll end up with while visiting a foreign country.
If you would like to share information about pads, tampons and more in your country, or a country you know well, please use the form here.
This list was last updated on September 10th, 2016. Keep the great information coming!
Pads and tampons in Africa
Egypt – Pads can be found easily, but tampons are rare outside of Metro Supermarket (where they come in packs of twelve with cardboard applicators for regular absorbency, and cost about 45 Egyptian pounds).
Ethiopia – Pads are available in most grocery stores in Addis Ababa. In rural areas it is difficult to find any feminine hygiene products.
Kenya – Pads and tampons- with and without applicators- can be found at major supermarket chains like Nakumatt. Common brands include Always, Kotex and OB. Stock up in larger towns before visiting smaller villages. Birth control pills can be purchased over the counter in Kenya.
Madagascar – In major cities you will find pads and tampons. In rural areas, only pads are available. In very remote areas there are no feminine hygiene products for sale. Stores with the best variety include Jumbo Score supermarkets and Shoprite.
Mali – In the capital (Bamako) and other large cities, pads and tampons are in most grocery stores and pharmacies. In large villages only pads are available, and in small villages feminine hygiene products are not sold.
Morocco – Tampons are sold in large stores that cater to tourists, in areas with lots of tourists. Also, they are carried by the supermarket chain Marjane. Pads are available everywhere. If you’re using a menstrual cup, nearly all washroom facilities will have some kind of water you can use for washing and rinsing.
Nigeria – Sanitary pads (often by Always) and reusable cotton pads are widely available in convenience stores. For tampons, head to bigger supermarkets like ShopRite or Spar, or to a pharmacy like Med Plus.
Rwanda – Pads can usually be found in cities, towns and villages, while tampons are difficult to find outside the Nakumatt in Kigali.
Senegal – In the capital (Dakar) and other major cities, both tampons and pads are available at grocery stores and pharmacies. Small villages will have either pads or no products at all.
South Africa – A full range of pads and tampons (with a variety of applicators) is widely available.
Tanzania – A source writes, “No panty liners, no tampons with applicators, no tampons without applicators, and lots of maxi pads.”
Uganda – A user wrote in to let us know that pads are widely available but tampons are not. Another reader mentioned that in Kampala, you will mostly likely find Tampax tampons at the Game store in Lugogo, and other brands may be available at Shoprite and Nakumatt.
Zambia – There is a good selection of pads, panty liners, and tampons with and without applicators at most supermarkets.
Zimbabwe – Of the area near Victoria Falls, a source writes, “no panty liners, no tampons with applicators, lots of tampons without applicators, and lots of maxi pads.” This is consistent with a second report describing most urban centers; that reader also noted that pads are usually available in rural areas, too.
Pads and tampons in Asia
Bahrain – Wide range of pads and tampons available in supermarkets and pharmacies.
Bangladesh – Pads are available in most cities and towns, but they are quite bulky and ineffective. Tampons are virtually impossible to find. You will need to bring your own toilet paper into most bathrooms, and you will want to look around in advance for places where you can dispose of used products.
Brunei – Find your pads at the supermarket, not the pharmacy. Tampons are not normally sold, but may be purchased at the NAAFI store (serving UK military families).
Cambodia – Pads are very common in supermarkets and mini marts in cities, and sometimes at markets in small villages. Tampons are very difficult to find, but check at major supermarkets in big cities and stock up if you find them! Reusable menstrual cups can be found at Western Pharmacy in Phnom Penh, Peace Cafe in Siem Reap, and Bantreay’s Women’s Spa in Kampot.
China – Most local women prefer pads (which are measured by length in millimeters). Tampons (including Chinese and foreign brands) may be available in some locations (especially at Watson’s and Auchan). If you can’t find them, look up! They might be on a higher shelf to appeal to taller, foreign women.
India – Pads are available, though they are often big, bulky and designed for overnight wear (you know what we mean!). If you’re looking for a thin pad, brand names include Whisper Ultra-Thin or Stayfree Dry Max, and you might have good luck shopping for them at Health & Glow. OB tampons without applicators can be found, but not everywhere. In major stores in urban areas it is possible to buy Carefree pantyliners.
Indonesia – In most cities you are likely to find a variety of pads in most shops, with tampons being sold at high-end groceries. Also look at Japanese supermarkets. In small towns it may be harder to find pads (look for Laurier or Charm brands), and it’s unlikely you’ll find tampons.
Iran – Pads are widely available. The availability of tampons may be on the decline; several years ago they could be found in big-city pharmacies, but a recent report suggests that they are now difficult to find even in big cities.
Israel – Pads and tampons (with and without applicators) are easily found. Brands such as Kotex, Tampax and Always are widely available.
Japan – Tampons with applicators (in limited sizes) and pads are widely available in Japan. Pads tend to be bulky, long and wide, with “wings” that wrap under the panties for adhesion. Pantyliners are available as well. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask a shop assistant as they might be behind the counter.
Jordan – Pads are widely available, while a limited range of tampons can often be found at high-end drugstores like Cosmo.
Kuwait –Pads are available at all large supermarkets, but tampons are limited and pricey. Tampons (with applicators) can usually be found at Sultan Center and Saveco. Both of these stores usually carry Tampax Regular and Super Plus. At times, Boots Pharmacy carries Regular and Super varieties of its own brand in select locations.
Malaysia – Pads are sold in supermarkets, not pharmacies. In major urban centers tampons with and without applicators are available as well, though they are expensive. * We have received conflicting reports about the availability of birth control pill over-the-counter in Malaysia. One reader reports that it is available without a prescription, while another says it isn’t. Please plan accordingly.
Myanmar – Pads are widely available in supermarkets, while tampons are difficult to find. We could not find any near Inle Lake, but heard they can be tracked down in Yangon and Mandalay.
Nepal – Pads are easy to find, while tampons (without applicators) are sold in shops that target foreign tourists.
Oman – Wide range of pads and tampons available in supermarkets and pharmacies.
Pakistan – Sanitary pads are widely available. Tampons in Pakistan are almost impossible to find, even in drugstores, so pack your own. A reader reports that she has never seen a female working in a Pakistani pharmacy, and many men in the country don’t understand menstruation. In major cities you may find tampons with applicators in bigger supermarkets, but expect little variety.
Philippines – While pads are definitely more common, it sounds like it’s getting easier to find tampons as well. For tampons, look in stores like Rustan’s Supermarket, Watson’s, Mercury Drugstore, S&R and the SM department stores in Manila.
Qatar – Wide range of pads and tampons available in the supermarkets and pharmacies of Doha. Another reader reports that tampons are “a rare commodity and astonishingly expensive when you can buy them”, so if you’re leaving Doha you’ll probably want to pack your own!
Saudi Arabia – Tampons are rarely available.
Singapore – Singapore is a great place to get your period! Pads from Chinese, Japanese, American and European brands are widely available. Tampons with applicators can be found in many places as well; for applicator-free tampons look in supermarkets and drugstores.
South Korea – Pads are available at convenience stores, though many brands are “bulky”. Tampons with applicators are often available as well, but there are limited brands and sizes as most women only wear them for swimming.
Sri Lanka – Tampons are still not widely available as of 2016. Pads are widely available, but consider bringing your own as reports state available pads are “terrible quality” and may be “bulky”, “leaky” and “odiferous”. I strongly recommend packing a Tampax Multi-Pack before you go.
Taiwan – Tampons with and without applicators, as well as pads, are widely sold. Western, Japanese and local brands are available. One of our readers noted that you can also buy small papers bags into which you can put feminine hygiene products (used, I assume?), which is the first time we’ve heard of such a thing here!
Thailand – Pads are widely available, while your best bet for tampons is often the selection of OB tampons from the nearest 7-11. If there’s a Boots nearby you may find tampons with applicators as well.
Turkey – Sanitary napkins (pads) can be found in any supermarket or pharmacy. For tampons, you’ll need to go to a major supermarket or pharmacy, and tampons without applicators are more common.
United Arab Emirates (including Dubai and Abu Dhabi) – Wide range of pads and tampons available in supermarkets and pharmacies.
Vietnam – Pads are widely available. Tampons without applicators (mainly OB brand) are found mostly in big cities, but even then not in all urban supermarkets.
Yemen – Pads are widely available, while tampons are not.
Pads and tampons in Australia and Australasia
Australia – Pads and tampons without applicators are available everywhere (supermarkets, convenience stores, etc.). De Jour tampons with applicators available less commonly but at many major supermarkets and shopping malls. U by Kotex have recently introduced their applicator-free line to Australia as well.
New Zealand – Pads, and tampons with and without applicators, available at supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores. One visitor noted that she could not find “light” absorbancy tampons with applicators, though it was easy to find them without. Common brands include Libra and Carefree.
Pads and tampons in Europe
Austria – It’s easy to find pads and OB tampons (without applicators, most often in regular absorbancy). Recently, OB has introduced tampons with applicators in two sizes, and menstrual cups are available at chain pharmacies.
Belgium – Pads and tampons (with and without applicators) are widely available.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Pads and tampons without applicators are widely available. I recommend checking DM, a chain of drug stores. A limited selection of tampons with applicators was available as well, but not in heavy absorbancies.
Bulgaria – Pads and tampons without applicators are widely available.
Croatia – Pads and tampons (with and without applicators) are widely available in drugstores and supermarkets.
Czech Republic – It’s easy to find pads and OB tampons (without applicators).
Denmark – Pads and tampons (with and without applicators) are widely available. I found Tampax Super Plus at the first beauty supply store I visited in Copenhagen.
Finland – Pads and tampons (with and without applicators) are widely available at any store that sells food, and at kiosks. OB’s applicator-free tampons and Always pads are the most common brands, though Vuokkoset is a Finnish company making 100% cotton products that are also widely available.
France – Pads and tampons without applicators are widely available. Tampons with cardboard applicators available in major cities; few or no tampons with plastic applicators for sale. 100% cotton products are available in health food stores, but are expensive.
Germany – Pads and OB tampons without applicators widely available. Tampons with applicators are difficult to find, though if you’re passionate about Tampax you can find them at the English Shop in Cologne.
Hungary – Pads widely available. Tampons with applicators available in very few shops in Budapest only. Otherwise, it’s OB.
Ireland – Pads widely available. Tampons with and without applicators widely available as well. Menstrual cups can be found in major pharmacy chains like Boots. Emergency contraception is available over the counter.
Italy – Pads and tampons are widely available. While the variety of pads is extensive, tampons are primarily limited to OB (without applicator) and Tampax (with applicator). Supermarket prices are better than pharmacy prices.
Latvia – Pads and a wide range of tampons are widely available.
Lithuania – Pads and tampons (with and without applicators) can be easily found in supermarkets and pharmacies across Lithuania.
The Netherlands – Tampons with and without applicators are widely available. Pads are available too, but they’re called maandverband, which translates to “month pads”! Too cute!
Norway – Pads, pantyliners and tampons can be found in all supermarkets.
Poland – In Warsaw, Carrefour carries a wide range of pads and tampons. Throughout the rest of the country, most supermarkets and pharmacies will also have a good range of pads and tampons.
Portugal – Pads and tampons (with and without applicators) can be found in every supermarket. Hypoallergenic pads are also available in some supermarkets and pharmacies.
Romania – Pads are widely available. Many mini-markets have open packages of (wrapped) pads and you can buy individual pads if you don’t need the whole package. If you’re wondering where to buy OB tampons, check upscale pharmacies. OB-style tampons are much easier to find than the elusive tampon with cardboard or plastic applicator.
Russia – Pads and tampons are widely available, with the best selection being in supermarkets. In major cities you will often find Tampax Compact (with a plastic applicator) as well as a range of tampons without applicators (including OB). In towns and villages, the availability of tampons with applicators is limited.
Slovakia – Pads and tampons (especially OB and Kotex) are widely available.
Spain – Pads are widely available. Tampons with and without applicators have become more widely available in the past few years; look in major supermarkets and pharmacies. 100% cotton products can be found in some pharmacies, for the health-minded.
Sweden – Pads and OB tampons without applicators are widely available at supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, etc. Tampons without applicators are less common; the brands that are easiest to find are OB, Libresse and Lil-Lets.
Switzerland – Pads, tampons with applicators and tampons without applicators are widely available.
United Kingdom – Pads, liners and tampons with and without applicators are widely available. For the best price, look at a chain chemist (chain pharmacy) such as Boots or Superdrug. Unlike much of North America, don’t expect to find vending machines selling pads and tampons in public washrooms.
Pads and tampons in North America
Canada – Pads and tampons are widely available at supermarkets and pharmacies (“drug stores”). Tampons available with applicator (cardboard or plastic), or without (OB). “Ultra” absorbency tampons are rarely available (check Safeway) but can be ordered online. Reusable menstrual cups are also available at many drugstores and health food stores.
Costa Rica – Pads are easily available. Tampons are available, but are very expensive and limited in variety.
Cuba – It is rare to find a supermarket that sells pads or tampons, and hotels don’t have extra stock if you’re taken by surprise. If you’re able to find pads, they tend to be thick and bulky. Pack your own.
El Salvador – Pads are easily available in cities like Santa Ana, San Salvador, and San Miguel. Tampons are nearly impossible to find.
Guatemala – Tampons and pads are easy to find in Guatemala City, but variety may be very limited. Check supermarkets like La Torre or Paiz. In rural areas it can be difficult to find any feminine hygiene products, but you might get lucky and find Kotex pads.
Honduras – Pads are widely available in urban and rural areas, and it is becoming increasingly more common to see tampons with applicators in major supermarkets.
Mexico – Pads are widely available. Tampons available at most major supermarkets, with and without applicators. It is easier to find lower-absorbancy tampons, though “Super-Plus” were available at Mega supermarkets during the author’s last visit.
Nicaragua – Sanitary pads are widely available, but it is difficult to find tampons. Your best bet for tampons is a pharmacy in a larger town.
Panama – Pads are widely available. Tampons are available in large cities (Panama City and David, mainly), at supermarkets and pharmacies. Thong pantyliners are very hard to find. One writer reports that a local teacher asked her to teach her female health class students about tampons, because the teacher was unfamiliar with them!
Trinidad – Pads, and tampons with and without applicators, are widely available.
United States – Pads, and tampons with and without applicators, are widely available. Reusable menstrual cups are also available, most often at health food stores.
Pads and tampons in South America
Argentina – Pads are available in every supermarket, pharmacy and corner store. The Great Argentinean Tampon Crisis of 2015 has ended, and tampons are once again widely available (though brands without applicators are more common).
Bolivia – Pads are everywhere in all different shapes and sizes. Occasionally you might find tampons (without applicators) in a major supermarket, or if you ask at a pharmacy, but don’t expect to find a variety of brands or sizes.
Brazil – Pads are widely available in Brazil. It is also easy to find tampons without applicators at supermarkets and pharmacies, but you might have to ask at a few different pharmacies to find tampons with applicators.
Chile – Most women in Chile wear pads, so you’re likely to find them anywhere you need them. Tampons with applicators are becoming more common, though it’s nearly impossible to find applicator-free tampons.
Ecuador – It is easy to find many kinds of pads. Very few women use tampons, so while you can find OB-style tampons (no applicator) in a supermarket or pharmacy, you might get some weird looks. If you want tampons with applicators bring them from home!
Peru – Major supermarkets like Plaza Vea have a wide assortment of pads, and a limited variety of tampons. Smaller supermarkets, pharmacies and even corner stores have fewer pads and may also sell one or two types of tampons.