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The etiquette of gift-giving in Thailand

Maya Taylor



PHOTO: Edgar Soto on Unsplash

During this festive period, whether to mark Christmas or the start of a new – and hopefully brighter – year, you may want to offer a gift to your Thai friends. Alternatively, it may be the birthday of a Thai friend, or you may have been invited to their home. What are the rules? Below is a short guide to gift-giving etiquette in the Land of Smiles.

Gift-giving customs in Thailand
If invited to the home of a Thai friend, you are not obliged to bring a gift, but it is polite to do so, and the gesture will always be appreciated. Thais give gifts to express gratitude, respect, appreciation, and kindness, and the tradition of gift-giving is a serious business in the Kingdom. Be aware however, that the gift may not be opened in your presence as this is usually done in private. As very few Thais celebrate Christmas, you would not be expected to give a gift at this time of year, although doing so will always raise a smile of gratitude!

Ostentatious gifts that cost a lot have the potential to make someone feel uncomfortable and they may even refuse to accept your offering. It’s advisable therefore to opt for smaller, more reasonably-priced gifts, such as chocolates, fruit, or flowers. Family members will often gift cash, particularly at weddings.

Things to do when giving or receiving gifts in Thailand
As with many other things in Thailand, superstition dictates a lot of the customs around gift-giving. Wrap your gift in a bright colour; gold or yellow are considered particularly auspicious choices. You should only choose red if the gift is for a Chinese Thai. Feel free to decorate your gift with extra touches such as ribbons and bows. The number 3 is considered lucky in Thailand, so people will often give gifts in groups of 3. As with many other things, such as handling money, always use your right hand to give or accept a gift.

What not to do
Don’t wrap your offering in blue, green or black; these colours are reserved for mourning. Similarly, avoid giving carnations or marigolds as these flowers are used at funerals. When opening a gift, be careful how you handle the wrapping – ripping the paper is considered rude.

Giving gifts in a business environment
You will notice a plethora of gift baskets on display in supermarkets around this time of year. Thai companies will usually send such offerings to their customers to mark the New Year holiday. Business associates often give each other gifts during this period too.

Other times of gift-giving in Thailand
Major life events
Children’s Day in January
Chinese New Year in January/February
Thai New Year/Songkran in April
Mother’s Day in August
Father’s Day in December

SOURCE: Unique Gifter


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  1. Avatar


    Friday, December 25, 2020 at 6:27 pm

    Well first of all,to give presents in general is nice.
    But, if I go before Christmas to many shops, and see all the cookies, towels, cups in a box and other boring stuff, I do prefer to skip it at all.
    I my culture, we really consider about the person, and what would make the person happy.
    But when I see the most products, guess by shops as presents. OMG
    No thank you.

    • Avatar


      Saturday, December 26, 2020 at 11:23 am

      Clearly these rules are not followed Country wide

      • Avatar


        Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 10:55 am

        what’s important here is that the farang know the etiquette…the thais, not so much.

  2. Avatar


    Sunday, December 27, 2020 at 11:00 am

    the etiquette of gift giving is to ignore the fact that the Thais have no etiquette in receiving gifts.

    and that’s no joke.

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A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

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