Thailand Gift Giving Customs

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Flag of Thailand

Capital: Bangkok

Languages: Thai

Currency: baht (THB)

Religion: Buddhism, Muslim

National Holiday: Chakri Memorial Day, April 6

More Thai Holidays


If planning a trip to Thailand researching the customs and etiquette of the Thai will help in making a more enjoyable trip. Here you will find some helpful tips for traveling, including some social etiquette and gift giving customs in Thailand.


General Travel Tips

  • Thailand is a country where respect and courtesy are of the utmost importance. Your body language and facial expressions will be believed over your words.
  • It is best to go in the winter months. The summers in Thailand are extremely hot and humid and arriving in Bangkok in the summer can be disappointing.
  • Thai is the most common language but English is becoming more prevalent making conversing in Thailand easier on the English speaking visitors.
  • Bargaining is part of the Thai culture. You should always negotiate prices when shopping and for taxis and other transportation.
  • Driving in Thailand is not recommended. The Thai are much more adventurous and their driving is much different than ours. There are many other forms of transportation, from the "Tuk Tuk" while in the city, to trains and airplanes to travel around the country.

Gift Giving Tips

  • Gifts are appreciated when visiting a Thai home, but not expected.
  • Small, inexpensive and thoughtful gifts should be given. An expensive gift could make the recipient uncomfortable and result in them refusing to accept it.
  • Use bright colors for your wrapping. Thai's love color as reflected in their clothing. Avoid wrapping in green, black or blue as these colors are associated with mourning. Gold or yellow make good colors for wrapping. Add bows and ribbons for a festive finish. Only use red paper when giving a gift to a Chinese Thai.
  • Flowers, chocolates or fruits are appropriate gifts. Avoid marigolds or carnations as they are associated with funerals.
  • Do not expect the gift to be opened when received. This is saved for a private moment.
  • Three is considered a lucky number. Give gifts in groups of threes for a good impression.
  • If you are given a gift, it is considered rude to rip the wrapping paper. Carefully remove the wrapping, fold and set aside.

Thai Birthday Customs

  • The parents of the birthday person get either fish or birds in the same number as the birthday being celebrated. One extra is also purchased for good luck.
  • Blessed water is then sprinkled on the animals by the person who is celebrating their birthday.
  • The birthday person then set the animals free in the air or water.
  • This custom is said to please the Gods.
  • Suk San Wan Keut is Happy Birthday in Thai.

Social Etiquette

  • The Wai is the typical form of greeting. The Wai is also a sign of respect. The younger of the persons gives the Wai first.
  • The head is considered the most sacred part of the body and should not be touched.
  • When sitting do not point your feet at anyone. They are considered the least sacred part of the body.
  • When visiting a Thai home, if the host is not wearing shoes you should also remove your shoes before entering the home.
  • Step over the threshold, do not step on it.
  • Always dress clean and conservatively. Women should always stay mostly covered. Swimwear is only acceptable at the beach.
  • You should leave a little food on your plate to show that you are full. However, do not leave rice, this is considered wasteful.
  • The left hand is considered unclean and should not be used for eating.

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