Choosing A Gift For Someone In Thailand

All people like to receive gifts and Thais are no exception. But sometimes it can be hard to know what is an acceptable gift and what is not. Alcohol, for example, is not an acceptable gift in Thailand. Obviously it is not consumed by the Muslim population, but even Buddhists that you know like to drink will be offended by the gift of alcohol. So be careful with getting someone a bottle of scotch as you might do in the West! Flowers and chocolate are very acceptable and welcomed gifts but there are a couple of things you will need to bear in mind when giving Thais flowers.

First, before you even think about choosing the style, you should think about who you are giving them to. You don’t want to give the wrong impression, so be very careful giving flowers to someone else’s wife, for example, unless it is accompanied by a card saying ‘thank you’ or some other message to make it clear that it is not a romantic gesture!

Next you should consider the packaging. Of course you will want to wrap the flowers to present them in a nice bouquet so it doesn’t look like you just stole them from someone’s garden! But you must consider the colour carefully. Red is a no-no, unless you are sure the person you are giving them to is of Chinese-Thai origin. And given recent political assimilations with the colour red, it is now best to avoid this colour altogether. White is a neutral and safe colour and yellow is the best colour with which you can not go wrong. Yellow symbolises the royal family, the King and the national flower, the Ratchaphrusek, which in turn symbolises the beauty and harmony of Thai people.


Image: CC GNU Free Doc License-Jina Lee

Once you have established that you are not offending anyone, now you can choose the flowers themselves!

The old favourite for a romantic gesture is the red roses. A dozen red roses will never fail to give the hint, and this is most commonly used on Valentine’s day. Yellow or white roses are more symbolic of friendship than romance and are a good gift for co-workers or family relatives.

The orchid is a very prized flower of Thailand and this beautiful and exotic flower makes a good ornamental show-piece. They also come in many different colours and varieties and make great gifts for any occasion, symbolic of beauty and fragility. A white orchid is symbolic of purity and virginity.

The frangipani is another good option and they also smell very good. This flower is symbolic of shelter and family support and is good for a household, a family member or a lover.

One last tip for giving flowers is to remember the important aspect of Thai culture of not losing face. If you give a Thai person a gift, be it flowers or anything else, they are likely not to open it right away but may put it to one side to open later when you are not around. The reason for this is they are worried that if they don’t like it then they may cause you to lose face. So don’t be offended if you give someone some flowers and they seem disinterested – in fact they are trying to help you by not risking you losing face. It’s a very deep and kind gesture on their part and you must not be offended by it or insist that they open it immediately.  


We are all interested in making people we care about happy, many of us do it for pleasure while for some of us it is our profession and we must get it right. You only get one opportunity of making the first impression, he has tried to share his knowledge in this field regarding Thailand. 

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