Gifts and Gratuities

Concerns about gifts fall into two categories – bringing gifts to distribute in Vietnam, and giving presents to people you meet in lieu of money.

Some visitors, aware that this is a poor country, feel they should bring small gifts, particularly for children. While appreciating that such gestures are made with the best of intentions, we’d rather you didn't. There are two reasons for our view. Firstly, it’s inevitable that you'll quickly draw a crowd, and will find yourself with crying infants when the supply runs out and, secondly, it’s dangerously close to condescension.

If you travel with Haivenu, we’re very willing to help in other ways. There's a strong sense of community in Vietnam, so we recommend gifts from which everyone can benefit. For example, most rural schools are always desperate for equipment. We can contact the head teacher, find out what's top of the wish list, and provide it on your behalf. Because prices are low here, a small amount of dollars goes a long way – a year’s supply of exercise books and pencils doesn't cost much, but makes a big difference.

We’ll supply you with ideas, and manage it for you – no charge, of course – and report back to you later if time prevents you from handing over the gift yourself.

Alternatively, we work with several organisations and charities concerned with conservation, social care and so on – we’ll be happy to put you in touch.

While recognition of particularly good service is universally welcomed, there isn't a general culture of tipping in Vietnam.

There are a few exceptions. Tourist guides traditionally rely upon tips to build up their wages. As a rough indication, $5.00 per day per client would be about right for a good job, perhaps more for something special, with less than a day at a pro-rata rate.

Porters at railway stations rely upon small tips for an income, but taxi drivers will normally help you with luggage as part of their service, unless you have something particularly heavy or difficult to carry. If you're in a hotel for a few days or more, a tip for your chambermaid or anyone else who has been helpful would be appreciated.

You'll find a distinct difference between the North and South of Vietnam. Saigon's exposure to the American lifestyle during the war has created an expectation of an automatic reward, so expect to pay more, and more often!

It’s also polite to make a small donation when you visit pagodas. Even a small amount will be appreciated – place some small notes in the donations box or on the altar, and a monk will sound the gong to recognise your generosity.

Haivenu Tours Homepage

Our Vietnam Tours

Vietnam Travel Information

Choosing a Tour Company
Arranging a Tour
Travel Tips
  Beggars and bartering
Children travelling in Vietnam
Female travellers in Vietnam
Food and drink
Getting around in Vietnam
Gifts and gratuities
Health matters
How to be popular
Prices in Vietnam
Safety matters
The local currency
What to take home
What to take with you
Vietnam Hotels
About Vietnam
Responsible Travel with Haivenu
Vietnam Photo Library

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