Vietnamese Gift-Giving Customs for Expats

As an expat in Vietnam, understanding the local gift-giving customs is crucial for building strong relationships and avoiding cultural faux pas. At, we’ve helped countless foreigners navigate the intricacies of Vietnamese culture, and we’re here to share our insights on gift-giving etiquette.

The Significance of Gift-Giving in Vietnam

Gift representing Vietnamese culture – a way to share traditions and customs.

In Vietnam, gift-giving is more than just a kind gesture; it’s a way to show respect, gratitude, and strengthen social bonds. Gifts are exchanged during various occasions, such as:

  • Weddings
  • Birthdays
  • Lunar New Year (Tết)
  • Business meetings
  • Housewarming parties

Choosing the Right Gift

Consider recipient’s interests – choose a gift that aligns with their hobbies or passions

When selecting a gift, consider the recipient’s age, status, and relationship to you. Some popular gift ideas include:

  • High-quality tea or coffee
  • Imported spirits (e.g., whiskey or cognac)
  • Fresh fruits (e.g., mangoes or dragonfruit)
  • Specialty food items from your home country
  • Handicrafts or souvenirs

Avoid giving anything that may be considered offensive or unlucky, such as:

  • Clocks (associated with death)
  • Handkerchiefs (associated with funerals)
  • Sharp objects (believed to sever relationships)
  • Anything in black or white (funeral colors)

Presentation Matters

In Vietnam, presentation is just as important as the gift itself. Always wrap your gifts in colorful paper or gift bags, and avoid using white or black wrapping, as these colors are associated with funerals. Red and gold are popular choices, as they symbolize luck and prosperity.

When presenting your gift, use both hands to show respect and sincerity. If you’re giving multiple gifts, present them in order of importance, with the most significant gift given last.

Gifting Etiquette

Presenting gift with two hands – respectful gesture in many cultures.

When receiving a gift, it’s customary to politely refuse it a few times before accepting graciously. This shows humility and gratitude. Don’t open the gift immediately unless the giver insists, as it may be seen as impolite or greedy.

If you’re invited to a Vietnamese home, bringing a small gift for the host is always appreciated. Flowers, fruit baskets, or specialty food items from your home country are excellent options.

Business Gift-Giving

Gift after a successful meeting – strengthens business connection and future collaboration

In business settings, gift-giving helps establish trust and strengthen relationships. When meeting with Vietnamese business partners, consider bringing gifts that represent your company or home country. Branded merchandise, such as pens or notebooks, can be well-received.

Avoid giving gifts that are too expensive, as they may be perceived as bribes. It’s also crucial to present gifts to everyone in the group, rather than singling out individuals, to avoid creating feelings of favoritism.

Navigating Vietnamese Bureaucracy as an Expat

Navigating Vietnamese bureaucracy can be a daunting task for expats, as the process often involves numerous steps and requirements. To successfully maneuver through the red tape, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the necessary documents, procedures, and cultural nuances. Patience and persistence are key, as bureaucratic processes can be time-consuming and often require multiple visits to government offices. Building relationships with local officials and seeking guidance from experienced expats or professional services can help streamline the process. Remember to always maintain a polite and respectful demeanor, even in the face of frustration, as this can go a long way in facilitating a positive outcome. For more in-depth information on navigating Vietnamese bureaucracy as an expat. Click here to read more about: Navigating Vietnamese Bureaucracy as an Expat

At, we understand that adapting to a new culture can be challenging. That’s why we’re here to help you navigate the intricacies of Vietnamese gift-giving customs and other aspects of life in Vietnam. If you have any questions or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via phone, Zalo, or WhatsApp. Our knowledgeable team is always ready to provide you with the clearest and most detailed advice to ensure your success in Vietnam.

  • Share this post
Leave a Comment