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What you need to know about giving gifts to tour guides in China

There is never a shortage of amazing tours you can take with educated guides to explain the cultural significance of a landmark in China. At the end of a tour, tipping may be encouraged if you enjoyed yourself, but some tour guides go above and beyond what they had to do.

If your tour guide did this, you may want to provide them with a gift in addition to the tip. Much like the superstitions and legends of ancient China, there are also very strict symbols and colors that you need to know before giving a gift to a tour guide, or anyone in China.

From finding a gift in a market when your tour stops for lunch, to sending gifts to china when you get home, here is what you need to remember about colors and symbols before you buy or send the gift.

How to use colors to find a great and culturally appropriate gift.


Red Chinese gift basket

In China, green can signify calmness, balance and other nice things. If you were on a hike or nature tour, or even went to a natural spa, you may think a great gift could be a green hat, especially if the guide was sweating.

Even if your tour guide was getting a lot of sun and a hat would help, this is probably one of the worst gifts you could give. In China, giving someone a green hat means their spouse is cheating on them. Although you may not have known that, you could end up offending the guide and if he/she takes it home, you could cause a fight.

Instead try to think of something directly related to the tour. If it was calming and relaxing, find something that helps promote being calm and relaxed like a green tea set or even a green dragon candle.

Blue Chinese gift basket
Blue Chinese gift basket


Blue has different meanings in China, but some of them remain consistent. Blue could be a healing color and in some cases means immortality. That is one of the reasons specific members of a family wear it to funerals.

Even if the guide compliments your outfit, don’t try to buy one for them in blue, even if it would look great. The gesture could be meant in a good way, but instead be taken as if you think someone in the guide’s family will die.

Instead you may want to find something in a different color and use a blue bag to put it in, if you have to use the color blue. If you insist on blue when you return home, a gift basket with food or fruits can be good, but you still may offend the recipient with the thought of a funeral.

Red and gold Chinese gift basket
Red and gold Chinese gift basket

Red and Gold:

If you want to show a complete appreciation for the Chinese culture, try something red and gold. Gold is the color of wealth and red is the color of luck. If your tour guide was amazing, find a gold colored card and place their tip inside.

Next make sure that the gift is red or comes in red packaging. If you’re sending the gift after you return home, try a gift basket like the one in the beginning of this post. By placing the tip in a gold card you can wish them wealth. By including a red gift, you can wish them luck for the future. This is the perfect way to thank anyone, including a tour guide, when giving a gift in China.