Do and Don’t when gift-giving in Vietnam

In Vietnam, gifting at festivals, on anniversaries and your visit hosts (or hostesses) is a beautiful tradition. The value of the gifts are not important but suitable gifts are valuable. Expensive gifts can break the relationship if you make mistakes because of the lack of information about gifting in Vietnam. Here is a list of Do and Don’t when gift-giving in Vietnam, including gifts you should and should never give to any Vietnamese person. Do not miss reading this article to become an expert on gifting in Vietnam.

Must to do when gift-giving in Vietnam

Make your gift nice looking by wrapping them carefully or put the gift in a gift bag or a gift package. Some products have packed in beautiful packages so that givers do not need to wrap it.

Remove the price tag before wrapping or packaging it. It is impolite to remain the price tag on your gift in Vietnam.

Hand the gift to the receiver. Sometimes, the receiver can not receive it himself/herself, you can put the gift onto a table. You can put the gift onto the nightstand in the hospital if you come to visit a patient.

Say beautiful words when giving the gift to the receiver. The most popular phrases include “Em có món quà biếu/tặng anh/chị” (I have a gift for you).

Smile when giving the gift. Nothing you gift or say is more important than your smile.

Give the receiver the necessary information about the gift. For example, if the gift is a box of handmade cakes, you can tell the receiver how to eat it and the expiration date.

Fruits, gift combos, cakes, chocolates, salangane nests, tea, coffees, wine are multipurpose gifts. Clothes, accessories, jewelry, cosmetics are best choices for women such as girlfriends, girlfriends’ mothers and sisters, female partners, female friends, female college. Healthy foods and products, specialty foods are loved by most of the Vietnamese receivers.

Red gift bags - Do and Don't when gift-giving in Vietnam

Red gift bags.

A green gift box, decorated with flowers - Do and Don't when gift-giving in Vietnam

A green gift box, decorated with flowers.

A biscuit tin box Do and Don't when gift-giving in Vietnam

A biscuit tin box.

Shirts, clutches, jewelry, ties Do and Don't when gift-giving in Vietnam

Shirts, clutches, jewelry, ties are popular gifts in Vietnam.

Flowers, cakes, dried and fresh fruits, chocolates are multipurpose gifts - Do and Don't when gift-giving in Vietnam

Flowers, cakes, dried and fresh fruits, chocolates are multipurpose gifts.

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Must not to do when gift-giving in Vietnam

Do not wrap the gift with dark-colored wraps or wraps with scared patterns.

Do not put the gift on the floor before and after giving it to the receiver in order to show your respect to the receiver.

Do not unwrap the gift after giving it. Sometimes, Vietnamese people unwrap happy birthday gifts in happy birthday parties.

Do not gift a set of four or thirteen

Must not gifts include shoes, watches, sharp items, handkerchiefs, suitcases, underwear, rings (for girlfriends at Tet), money, etc.

  • Shoes also mean “hài” which is pronounced like a complaint.
  • Watches remind Vietnamese old people about their ages.
  • Sharp items such as knives, scissors, nail clippers can “cut” or “break” the relationship between receivers and givers.
  • In Vietnam, handkerchiefs are used to dry tears or sweat so that it represents sadness and difficulties.
  • A suitcase can break up a couple because it means one of them will pack the suitcase and go far away.
  • Gifting underwear to girlfriends in some countries is a great idea but it is impolite in Vietnam.
  • Your Vietnamese girlfriend may misunderstand that you disrespect her.
  • The ring represents the marital relationship at Tet festival. You can gift your girlfriend a ring on other occasions.
  • Instead of gifting money, you can gift supermarket/travel/restaurant vouchers.
  • A brand new and empty wallet is not a good idea because it represents the financial deficit. However, if you put a banknote into the wallet, it will be a great gift with wishes for prosperity and wealth.
  • Fish tanks and God of Wealth Statues represent prosperity and money but they do not always bring prosperity and money to receivers. Some Vietnamese have had bad luck after arranging fish tanks and statues of God of Wealth which were gifted in their houses.
  • Some Vietnamese people believe that giving gifts to old people means hoping them to die soon. Some think that watches remind receivers about the time and their ages so watches can make old people sad.
  • Umbrella (ô dù in Vietnamese) is pronounced the same way as the word distribution (phân tán). Receivers and givers can be separated by gifted umbrellas.
  • Pear and plump (lê and mận in Vietnamese) are pronounced the same way as the word distribution (phân li).
  • White and red long candles are used at funerals, on ancestral altars, in pagodas so that they should not be gifted. Certainly, decorative candle sets or colorful happy birthday candles are nice gifts.
  • Fabric dolls look like bewitched dolls or puppets. Masks remind of witches and magical powers. These things can be bought by the owners themselves. But some Vietnamese people do not like to receive fabric dolls or masks.
  • Someone may cast a spell on antiques so that they are not good gifts. If you know the origin of the antiques, you can buy and gift them to receivers.
  • Pillows are not good gifts in Vietnam because they may bring bad luck to receivers.
Scissors, shoes, suitcases, handkerchief are not recommended to gift Vietnamese people - Do and Don't when gift-giving in Vietnam

Scissors, shoes, suitcases, handkerchief are not recommended to gift Vietnamese people.

Do and Don’t when gift-giving in Vietnam in summary

Now you know what to gift, not to gift a Vietnamese person and how to give a gift to a Vietnamese person in the proper way. Vietnamese gifts etiquettes are not easy to remember but not too difficult. I hope that the gifts and the way you give them help to strengthen your relationships with your friends, girlfriend, and others.

Read more about 10+ Gifts You Should Never, Ever Give Vietnamese people

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