Things you need to know before choosing gifts for Vietnamese

Things you need to know before choosing gifts for Vietnamese

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When choosing gifts in Vietnam, it’s important to understand the culture and customs around gift-giving. Unlike in some Western cultures that focus mainly on the thought behind the gift, in Vietnam the actual item you select carries more meaning and importance.

Vietnam’s long history and ancestral traditions also influence preferences for certain gifts over others. By learning some basics around Vietnamese gift-giving, you can feel assured your present will be appreciated. This article will overview everything you need to consider.

Cultural Context gifts for Vietnamese

Cultural Context

To select the most appropriate gift, you first need to grasp Vietnam’s cultural backdrop when it comes to presents. There are a few key points that differentiate how gifts are viewed compared to other parts of the world.

Importance of Relationships

In Vietnam, gifts are all about expressing ties and bonds between people. More than the thought behind it, the physical item symbolizes the depth of a relationship. More expensive and lavish gifts indicate closer connections, while smaller trinkets match more distant relationships.

Focus on Practicality

Unlike gift-giving in some Western cultures that prioritizes uniqueness or surprise, in Vietnam the gifts should be practical and useful in daily life. Vietnamese people will regularly utilize and incorporate the actual gifts into their routines.

Preferences for Branded/Luxury Goods

Status and wealth play a bigger role in Vietnam’s culture than others. High-end brands carry weight as a reflection of prosperity. As such, branded items or luxury goods often make ideal gifts to convey respect.

Gift-Giving Customs for Vietnamese

Gift-Giving Customs

You also need to factor key gift-giving occasions in Vietnam. Understanding the major events for presents ensures you select something situationally appropriate.

Lunar New Year Traditions

The Lunar New Year, or “Tet” in Vietnamese, is the biggest holiday. Traditional gifts revolve around symbolizing luck, wealth, and happiness for the coming year. Common items include fruit, gold jewelry, fresh flowers, wines or spirits.

Wedding Celebrations

Vietnamese weddings involve extensive gift-exchange customs. Typical gifts include household items, jewelry, decorated envelopes filled with money, or vouchers for spa services. New bedding, appliances, and kitchenware are particularly popular.


While less ceremonial than other events, birthdays still warrant gifts in Vietnam. People often give trinkets, clothing items, special foods, or small luxury objects. Sentimental value matters more than price.

Gift Ideas

When selecting a specific gift item, certain categories make smart choices in Vietnam. Think about what best suits the recipient and relationship.

Food Items

Food carries symbolic weight in Vietnam. Sweets, fruits, teas, wines, specialty delicacies, or seasonal ingredients share well-wishes. They also have practical use.

Household Goods

Household items also see frequent use for their daily utility. Consider things like:


Dishes, cookware, appliances, cutlery, linens

Home Decor

Art, flowers, figurines, embellished chopstick sets

Clothing & Accessories

Nice garments or handbags make good presents in Vietnam. Go for quality over flashy logos. Tailored ao dai dresses or silks demonstrate care.

Gift-Giving Etiquette for Vietnamese
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Gift-Giving Etiquette

You’ll also need to present and offer gifts politely in Vietnam. Faux pas could cause offense between parties.


Wrap gifts neatly and avoid opening presents in front of the giver. New money gifts should involve pristine, unfolded bills.

Reciprocation Customs

Gifts require reciprocation in Vietnam. Return the gesture within a week or so. Match values as closely as possible.

Budget Considerations

When deciding how much to spend, factor the closeness of your relationship, the occasion, and your own means. Costlier gifts like jewelry or electronics suit close family at holidays or weddings. Smaller trinkets with some thought work for more distant ties.

Where to Shop

To find traditional Vietnamese gift items, try:

Local Markets & Crafts

Browse markets, handicraft villages, or family-run shops. Hagglerespectfully.

International Brand Stores

High-end malls and boutiques offer imported luxury goods. Prices stay fixed.

Online Retailers

For convenience, Vietnamese eCommerce has exploded recently. Many global sites ship domestically.


The key to choosing gifts in Vietnam involves demonstrating understanding of cultural customs, selecting practical items suited to the relationship, and presenting respectfully. Food, household items, and high-end products tend to make solid gift choices. Understand important gifting occasions like Tet or weddings. And consider reciprocity expectations when receiving presents in Vietnam.

Summary of Key Points

  • Gifts represent relationship bonds
  • Practical, useful items preferred
  • Branded/luxury goods have status
  • Key events involve extensive gifts
  • Traditional categories: food, housewares, clothing
  • Respect presentation and reciprocation


What if I don’t know someone well in Vietnam? What kind of gift works?

For distant relationships, small trinkets with some thought or effort demonstrate politeness without overstepping. Examples include specialty local snacks, a scarf or tie, flowers, or a card.

How much should I spend on a wedding gift?

A: For weddings, you’ll need to gauge your personal budget and closeness to the couple. Gifts fund the celebrations, so around $50-$100 or more shows meaningful support. Close family/friends give higher values.

Can I buy gifts online for recipients in Vietnam?

Yes, eCommerce makes buying gifts for those in Vietnam easy. Many global retailers ship there, though you’ll pay international shipping fees. For cheaper domestic shipping, stick to Vietnamese-based sites.

Is it rude to open a gift in front of the giver in Vietnam?

You should avoid opening gifts in front of the giver, as it risks appearing greedy or unappreciative. Wait until later to unwrap and inspect gifts out of courtesy. Send a thank you message promptly.

What kind of gifts suit a business context in Vietnam?

For professional relationships, go for small gifts representing your homeland, like specialty food items, mugs, pens, or notebooks. Or give high-end items like electronics or imported alcohols for upper management.

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