Maybe they took a backpacking trip to Hanoi and can’t stop raving about it. Maybe they’re from Hanoi, and you’re looking for a thoughtful cultural token to remind them of home.
Whatever your reasons for seeking Vietnamese gifts, here are just a few items to make them say ban that la tu te!
Here Comes the Sun: Two-Pack Vietnamese Bamboo Cone Hat
Nothing says Vietnam like a straw cone hat, and these come in a pack of two for double the culture and double the fun. They aren’t just costume accessories, either; they’re made with genuine bamboo and woven tightly to protect the wearer from wind, sun and rain.
Whether they’re cosplaying Mortal Kombat or just looking for a new gardening hat, they’re sure to love this staple of Vietnamese fashion.
For the Caffeine Addict: Vietnamese Coffee Kit
Also known as ca phe sua da, iced Vietnamese coffee is some of the most famous in the world. The trick is adding sweetened condensed milk to the drip filter before pouring the piping hot coffee into a full glass of ice.
It can be tricky to make at home if you don’t have all of the right tools, but since this kit includes milk, coffee grounds and a traditional phin drip filter, everything that they’ll need for a cafe-style Vietnamese brew is right there in the box!
For the Tongue-Tied: When In Doubt Spell It Out Nguyen Pullover Hoodie
Did you know that 40 percent of people in Vietnam have the surname Nguyen? Despite this, it’s something of a challenging name for Westerners to pronounce, so a hoodie that pokes fun at the situation might be hilarious for your Vietnamese buddy.
It says “Nguyen In Doubt, Spell It Out,” which is a linguistic pun on so many levels that this gift might as well be a flight of stairs.
A Gift That Will Benefit the World: Four-Set Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons
Made by the elderly and disadvantaged peoples of Ben Tre, these coconut bowls are a great way to give back to the community even as you buy a cool, stylish gift for someone you love. Each one is carved from a real coconut shell, and though they’re sanded to smoothness, they’re uniquely textured and perfectly imperfect.
Four matching spoons are included with the bowls. Give them to your foodie friend for amazing Instagram pics of salads, smoothies and more!
For the Vietnamese-American: American Grown With Vietnamese Roots T-Shirt
With a clever design that incorporates the American and Vietnamese flags, this t-shirt will allow your loved one to celebrate their roots – literally. The central print is a tree with red and yellow roots underneath red, white and blue branches.
The top says “American Born” while the bottom declares “Vietnamese Roots.” With this t-shirt, they don’t have to choose between the nations in their heart; they can honor both at the same time.
When They’ve Got the Munchies: Rong Vang Minh Ngoc Mung Bean Cake Bar
They say that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach, so if you’re looking to make them fall in love with you, just feed them some mung bean cake. It’s called rong vang minh ngoc in Vietnam, and this version is basically a candy bar.
You can’t beat its portability or its deliciousness. Stuff it in a stocking; include it in a gift basket or goodie bag; wrap it up as a “just because” present. They won’t be able to resist!
When Their Heart is Across the Ocean: I’d Rather Be in Vietnam Coffee Mug
The message of this coffee mug is short and sweet: “I’d rather be in Vietnam.” A picture of the country in red and yellow is printed on the front. You can gift it to someone who loves Vietnamese brews; you can gift it to someone who would appreciate a jar stuffed with candies or other goodies.
You can even gift it to someone who needs a new pencil holder! There are many possibilities with a versatile present like this one, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
If They’re in Touch With Their Spiritual Side: Nanmu Wood Incense Box
Nanmu is a rare type of tree that’s indigenous to South Asia, and its wood has been used for centuries in houses, boats, sculptures and cultural tokens. You can give someone a piece of their own nanmu tree when you buy them this incense holder.
It’s a beautifully sculpted box with hand-painted flowers adorning the top, and it’ll hold all of their incense sticks for yoga, meditation, reiki and more.
For Game Night: Bau Cua Tom Ca Dice Game With Mat
Bau cua tom ca is a traditional dice game in Vietnam that’s played everywhere from family rooms to smoke-filled gambling halls. There are three six-sided dice printed with animals such as prawns, crabs and roosters, and they’re tossed over a beautiful, colorful mat with similar imagery.
This particular mat measures 39 x 27 inches and is made of a rollover material that’s easily stashed \when not in use. Take it out on birthdays, lunar holidays and more!
That’s So Punny: Pho-King Awesome Tote Bag
You can make a million puns out of the word “pho,” but this one is a classic. It says “Pho-King Awesome” over a picture of noodles with a colorful, vintage-style gradient print behind it. Even better, it’s decorating a canvas tote bag that measures 16 x 16 inches and includes a sturdy black cotton handle with added webbing for weight support.
They can make a full shopping trip to the Asian grocery store with room to spare, and it won’t rip even under a full basket’s worth of goodies!
Move Over, Cinderella: Vietnamese Children’s Favorite Stories
Though aimed at children, this award-winning book is a collection of Vietnamese fables and folk tales that will delight readers of all ages. Its colorful images paint the landscape of an entirely new culture, and its stories weave together traditional life lessons with the help of kids, animals, gods, kings and more.
You might even be surprised to find Vietnamese variations of your favorite fairy tales growing up!
For Man and Wife: Vietnamese National Resin Couple’s Statue
Exquisitely painted right down to the eyebrows, these vintage-style figurines evoke a classic image of Vietnam. The man and the woman are both wearing traditional tunics and bamboo cone hats, and their hands are folded while their feet are adorned with sandals.
They’re ready to bless any marriage, birth, friendship, relocation or new beginning, so give them to a newlywed couple or let them act as a housewarming present. They’ll watch over anyone.
Stairway to Heaven: Portable Electric Dan Bau Monochord Zither
The dan bau is a traditional Vietnamese instrument that dates back thousands of years. You can find beautifully carved ones made from the oldest and finest of woods… and you can also indulge in something a little more modern with a dan bau like this one.
It’s both portable and electric, and you can actually fold it in half for easy storage. The sounds that it makes are completely vintage, but the design is 100 percent contemporary.
For Travelers at Heart: Vietnam Retro Art Deco Poster Print
A man paddles down a river in a small wooden boat. There’s a flag and a pagoda in the distance, and the clouds in the sky form the familiar shape of the country’s ridges and edges. This is a Vietnam poster, and not only will it offer a warm, comforting image to people far from home, but it’ll also serve as a sleek interior design piece with its glossy paper and minimalist aesthetic.
It’s sure to have a place of pride on someone’s feature wall.
For the Fashionista: Ao Dai Vietnamese Traditional Dress
The ao dai is another iconic look for Vietnam. Though styles have varied over the years, it’s essentially a long, split tunic adorned with a line of buttons or embroidered details on the front. This version has both, and it can be worn as a dress or paired with a matching pair of pants.
Color options include red, white, brown, orange and light green.
When Their Stomach Starts Growling: The Banh Mi Handbook Cookbook
This is a gift that’s suitable for both Vietnamese nationals and those who just really, really like lunch. The Banh Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches offers easy instructions and mouthwatering pictures to help readers assemble a wide variety of the country’s most well-known menu item.
Some are traditional; others are more modern and inventive. As promised, all are crazy-delicious.
If They Long For New Places: Man in Boat Vietnam Wood Breakthrough 3D Wall Sticker
You’ve never seen a sticker quite like this! It measures 62 x 42 centimeters,** and it’s designed to look like someone scratched a wooden surface and revealed a peephole into another world. In this picture, a man in a bamboo hat paddles down a river on his way to Vietnam’s Huong Pagoda.
Even if they don’t geek out over the awesome Vietnamese design, your gift recipient is sure to love a cool, creative and unique gift like this one.
For Tourism Right at Home: Da Nang Coloring Book
Even if they’ve never been to Da Nang, this coloring book will make them feel like they have. Each page is dedicated to a different feature or tourist attraction in the city, and between temples, rivers, pagodas, dragon bridges, endangered monkeys and crowded markets, the book will absolutely come alive after they’ve filled in all of its colors.
Kids and adults alike can enjoy the beautiful illustrations just brimming with culture.
Blast from the Past: Hand-Woven Rattan Bowl With Straps
Put a little glamor into their laundry routine with this large, hand-woven rattan basket. They were traditionally used in Vietnam for agricultural work, but today, they’re often repurposed for clothes, toys, linens and even kitchen accessories.
They’ll bring to mind the beautiful fields of the Vietnamese countryside even as they’re used for mundane tasks around the house. These baskets are certainly something to consider if you’re looking for fun Vietnamese gifts!
Guilty as Charged: Vietnam Flag Fingerprint Throw Pillow
Is Vietnam in their DNA? If so, this throw pillow will speak to their heart and soul. It has an oversized fingerprint design with the yellow star of the Vietnamese flag right in the center of the swirls.
The material is a soft polyester, and you can purchase the pillow in sizes of either 16 x 16 inches or 18 x 18 inches. Best of all, it’s a real pillow and not just a pillow cover, so your gift will be complete as soon as you hit the order button!
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: Vietnamese Dong VND Banknotes
How would you like to hold a million dollars in your hand? This gift makes it easy. It consists of two bank notes of 500,000 Vietnamese dong, and while each one is only worth around $20 USD, they can have value far beyond money.
For an immigrant, for example, the gold and green hues might be the colors of their childhood. For a currency collector, the face of Ho Chi Minh might be a cool touchstone from another country. They’ll be cultural tokens just as much as genuine legal tender.
Dinner for Two: Vietnamese Dinner Kit
Another great gift for the foodie in your life, this “Vietnamese dinner kit” contains everything that they’ll need to whip up a flavorful entree inspired by the east. There’s sambol, beef broth, bean thread noodles and ginger lime sauce.
Depending on their imagination, they can use these ingredients for everything from bun cha to bun bo hue! Give them this tasty gift and see if you can wrangle an invite to dinner.
When They’re On Their Way to Greater Things: Basket Cyclo Rattan Handcrafted Business Card Holder
With a delightfully clever design, this business card holder is sure to take center stage on their desk. It’s made with real, tiny strips of rattan, and it’s shaped like a cyclist in a straw hat heading down the road.
The business cards are held in the curved basket in the front. You don’t even have to be Vietnamese to enjoy a fun office accessory like this one.
For Language Learners: Vietnamese Keyboard Stickers With Fluorescent Inlays
If they’re learning Vietnamese, these keyboard stickers can make the task a lot simpler. While some letters in the Vietnamese alphabet are the same as English, others have special dau accent marks, and typing has to be re-learned from the ground up.
The good news is that these stickers are small, bright, easy to see and even easier to apply. They also come with florescent inlays that will glow under the LED light that’s included with every order!
The Plain Truth: I Love Vietnam Kitchen Placemat
Sometimes, the simplest gifts are the best. This placemat says “I (Heart) Vietnam” with a smattering of red and yellow hearts, stars and polka dots. It can be used for toddlers who are just mastering the art of the spoon and fork; it can be used for chefs who want a stylish corner for their spices and sauces; it can even be used as a decorative home accessory rather than a dining tool.
It’s a plain gift, but it’s a versatile one.
When Old Meets New: Happy Vietnamese Lunar New Year Phone Case
If you’re looking for a New Year’s gift, this one offers a fun twist on the usual blessings. It has a very traditional aesthetic with Chuc Mung Nam Moi (Happy New Year) and Van Su Nhu Y (May You Get Everything You Want) printed on unfurled scrolls against a red background with yellow flower blossoms.
However, the gift is a smartphone case! It’s old-school sayings on new-school tech. They’ll get the best of both worlds.
A Gift for Multiple Generations: Vietnamese Doll With Ao Tu Than
With a combination of lifelike details and larger-than-life colors, this Vietnamese doll is a true collector’s item. It’s richly designed with attention paid to every single component, and since the girl is wearing a rare, traditional ao tu than, it’s also culturally significant.
It’s the kind of doll that gets passed down through the generations as a heirloom item, so if you’re looking for a gift to really “wow” them, consider this beauty.
When They Like What They Like: Pho-get About It Funny Vietnamese Pho T-Shirt
Available in multiple cuts, colors and styles, this t-shirt is perfect for all types of pho addicts. If they can’t get enough of broth, meat, noodles and herbs, they can tell their worried friends and family “Pho-Get About It!” with the help of a smiling cartoon bowl of the good stuff.
You can order it in both men and women’s sizes, and there’s even a youth size for the pint-sized pho lover.
To Energize Their Mornings: Five-Pack Vietnamese Pour Over Coffee Filters
Give ’em a caffeine rush with this multipack of single-serving coffee filters. They’re so quick and easy to use that your gift recipient doesn’t even need to be in a kitchen; they can be in an office, dorm, break room or even an RV on the road! Just attach the filter to a mug and let the pour-over magic begin.
This particular multipack comes with milk and sugar creamer packets, but you can order other varieties as well, including decaf ones or ones without additives.
For Lovebirds: Marry a Vietnamese Woman Tin Wall Sign
“You can’t buy happiness, but you can marry a Vietnamese woman, and that’s kind of the same thing.” Show your appreciation for your wife with this funny wall sign that celebrates her heritage while also expressing your love and respect for everything that she does.
It’s made of a stylishly distressed tin metal and comes with pre-drilled holes for hanging on walls or mounting on doors. It could also make a good couple’s gift for engagements or marriages!
When One Flavor Just Isn’t Enough: Tri-Pack Vietnamese Flavor Fish Sauce Set
If they can’t stop eating salad rolls from the local Vietnamese restaurant, this is the gift for them. It offers three different sauces and marinades that will satisfy the taste buds craving the exotic flavors of the east.
The ginger sauce can be cooked into all kinds of dishes for a zesty punch; the dipping sauce can be used for everything from spring rolls to pot stickers; the lemongrass marinade can be used to coat meats and veggies with onion, garlic, chili pepper, lemongrass and more.
They won’t know which bottle to open first!
To Avoid Those Embarrassing Faux Pas: Vietnam: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture
If you know someone who’s headed to Saigon, they might benefit from reading Vietnam: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture. It’s from a travel guide collection called “Culture Smart” that aims to help backpackers and globetrotters navigate new situations and understand new people while abroad.
It’ll introduce your gift recipient to Vietnam’s manners, values, traditions, social expectations and more!
The Sounds of a Distant Land: Music of Vietnam 1.1 CD
Music of Vietnam is an authentic look into the country’s music scene. It includes the ancient tribal folk songs that you’d expect from a collection like this, but it also dabbles in modern, classical, pop and even funk.
You can hear rhythmic pounding on traditional wooden instruments; you can hear jazzy riffs on electric guitars and violins. There’s a lot more to Vietnam than rice fields, and this CD will take you on an audio journey through it.
For Tea Time: Coconut Wood Teapot and Cups Set
Another handcrafted gift made from the all-powerful coconut, this tea set is small but charming in a way that brings to mind Vietnamese grandmothers enjoying cups of chai outside their countryside abodes.
It includes a teapot and six cups that fit neatly on a matching plate. Each piece has a unique wood grain pattern from the coconut timber that it came from, and it’s authentically made by real artisans in Vietnam.
Buy this gift for someone who would enjoy some “me time” in a quiet, relaxing setting with beautiful tableware.
If There’s a Bun in the Oven: Cries In Vietnamese Onesie
Are you announcing a pregnancy? Are you shopping for a mom- or dad-to-be? This onesie is perfect for a baby with Vietnamese roots. It says “Cries in Vietnamese,” and despite its humor, it’s a soft, comfortable and genuinely wearable bodysuit with a snap enclosure around the diaper area and a machine washable fabric.
The new parents won’t have to deal with any complicated laundry instructions during their no-sleep newborn time.
A Piece of Culture: Vietnamese Lacquer Art Vase
Lacquer art is another trade with a long history in Vietnam, and this vase has been painted and polished to perfection as a stunning piece of “lacquerware.” The soft colors give it an almost watercolor look, and the swirling designs have an abstract but eye-catching effect.
It’s also fair trade certified, so you can feel confident in your purchase when you buy it!
For Grandma: Vietnamese Grandmother V-Neck T-Shirt
Are you shopping for your grandmother? If so, this is the t-shirt for her. It gives the definition of ba ngoai as “like a mom, only without the rules,” and synonyms include “beautiful” and “wise.
” It’ll make a sweet and thoughtful present for the woman who’s loved you since the day you were born, and for bonus points, it’ll celebrate her Vietnamese heritage much more than a generic “best grandma ever” coffee mug.
Culture Clash: Pho Sho Baseball Cap
Pho is quintessentially Vietnamese. Baseball is quintessentially American. What do you get when you combine the two? This gift! It’s a plain black baseball cap, but it’s decorated with a fun cartoon of pho noodles and chopsticks, and it says “Pho Sure.
” It’s sure to be a conversation starter with anyone who’s ever eaten a bowl. People who have enjoyed really good pho are helpless to resist the urge to talk about it.
When Mama Didn’t Raise a Punk: Adult Humor Novelty T-Shirt
Many Asian children are raised in fear of the wooden spoon. While the sentiment “Wooden Spoon Survivor” isn’t unique to Vietnam, it might give your Vietnamese buddy a good laugh! The t-shirt is only available in men’s sizes, but it’ll fit women just fine as well, so it’s a fun, gender-neutral gift for all ages.
It can also be ordered in multiple colors if mom had a colorful spoon that she used to instill those lifelong lessons.
When Their Heart Belongs to Vietnam: Three-Set Vietnam Flag Vinyl Stickers
You don’t have to get extravagant to give a meaningful gift. These vinyl stickers are simple appliques that measure 4 x 3 inches and are attachable to windows, walls, lockers, laptops, water bottles and more.
They’re printed on a premium calendered vinyl film, so you can be assured of their quality, and they say “Vietnam” in a block print under a picture of the flag. They’ll make a fun, simple and affordable gift for all fans of Vietnamese culture.
Shopping for Vietnamese Presents: Do’s and Don’ts
If you’re in the market for Vietnamese gifts, you’re probably overwhelmed at the sheer number of options out there. How are you supposed to choose just one present out of thousands of possibilities? Here are a few tips and tricks!
Do: Narrow down your search.
“Vietnamese culture” is a huge, all-encompassing category, so your first step should be figuring out what kind of Vietnamese culture to explore. More specifically, you should think about what your gift recipient actually likes about Vietnamese culture. Is it the food, fashion, music, architecture or history? Do they enjoy travel? Are they learning the language? Get specific with their interests and then you can get specific with their gift.
Don’t: Buy something rude or offensive.
This isn’t the time to be edgy, especially if you’re buying something for an actual Vietnamese person. Your gift should remind them of home, not play into offensive stereotypes about their people or culture. Even well-intentioned gag gifts can cross the line from “funny” to “insensitive,” so be extra careful when buying cultural gifts of any kind.
Do: Look for fun and creative gifts.
Someone who lived in Vietnam or is interested in Vietnamese culture has probably received dozens of generic cultural tokens. You don’t want to buy them the same old key chains and coffee mugs that everyone else did! Instead, approach your shopping trip from another angle, and find gifts that celebrate the country without being cliche or cheesy.
Don’t: Buy things without double-checking their cultural accuracy.
The Vietnamese ao dai isn’t the same thing as a Chinese cheongsam or a Korean hanbok. Asian fashion can have a lot of similarities, but they’re from distinct countries with district histories and distinct clothing trends, so you don’t want to confuse them. The same goes for anything printed with Vietnamese words. Make sure that they’re actually written in Vietnamese, and double-check their meaning with a free online translator before you buy.
These are just a few suggestions for finding awesome Vietnamese gifts. What do you think about the items that we’ve listed here? Is there anything that immediately jumps out at you? Is there anything that you’ve seen in a mall or market stall that we have to add? Let us know!