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Tipping/gifts question for friends in Vietnam (Vietnamese etiquette?)

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Nov 29th, 2012, 05:05 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 117
Tipping/gifts question for friends in Vietnam (Vietnamese etiquette?)

Hello!
My parents will be traveling to Hanoi as part of a larger SE Asia trip in two weeks. While in Hanoi, they will be spending time with friends of mine who are from there (a husband and wife who have a two year old son). I have known the wife for 10 years (met her the first time that I traveled to Vietnam and we have remained in touch ever since). She and her husband have generously offered (basically insisted) that they take my parents around Hanoi for the days that they are there. They have come up with a daily detailed itinerary for them that includes inviting them to their house for all meals. My parents are so appreciative, but want to be able to experience the wonderful restaurants in Hanoi as well. They would love to go to my friend's house for one meal, but not all of them. Instead, they have invited my friends to join them for meals at restaurants in the city as their guests, but are worried that they are offending them by declining the offer to eat all meals at my friends home. My parents also feel like they want to "compensate" my friends since they are going out of their way to basically be tour guides during my parents stay. My parents feel that they would otherwise be paying for a guide and driver and don't want to take or be perceived as taking advantage.
I was hoping that someone might know how to handle these delicate etiquette questions that I have on behalf of my parents. Is there a way to purchase a gift card (like we have in the US- i.e. an Amex card type thing) that they could give my friends as a thank you for their generosity and graciousness? Is that an appropriate gesture or could it be offensive? Also, my parents would like to bring them some gifts from home. Does anyone have any suggestions for gifts? It seems like nowadays you could get anything in Vietnam that you could get in the U.S....
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