With a busy travel schedule, shopping for Christmas gifts can become arduous. If you find it tough to squeeze time out of your calendar, you can turn your business trips into opportunities to shop for your loved ones.

To take some stress out of this season’s gift-giving, we’ve selected a few options for business travel gifts that you can buy across the ASEAN region. And if your company has a travel policy in place, that will spare you the hassle of doing both corporate travel planning and finding free time to shop for gifts.

Now, all you have to do is figure out which local markets to visit in your downtime.

Vietnamese coffee ☕️

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The coffee connoisseur in your life will appreciate a cup of slow-drip Vietnamese coffee. What makes this style distinct is its preparation—a single-cup filter press pot that steeps the coffee grounds in hot water long enough to extract the coffee’s full flavour.

Most of the beans produced in Vietnam are of the Robusta species. When it comes to taste, Robusta beans have a characteristic bitter yet aromatic profile that makes it a must-try for coffee lovers.

You should buy both the dried coffee beans or grounds and the traditional phin drip filter. That way, your recipient can make an authentic cup of Vietnamese coffee at home. The most well-known coffee brand is Trung Nyugen, which offers multiple blends. Highlands Coffee and Café Du Monde are popular choices for business travel gifts, too.

Lambanog (coconut liquor) from the Philippines 🌴

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Every part of a coconut tree is used in the Philippines. Leaves are woven into hats, and shells are used as food containers. The wood from the tree itself is used as a building material, while its sap produces a coconut spirit known as lambanog.

As one of the largest coconut producers, the Philippines has been producing lambanog with handwritten recipes since the pre-colonial era. Lambanog is a clear, colourless spirit made from the sap of fresh young coconuts. This Filipino drink goes through a multi-step distillation process to produce a high alcohol content of 40 to 45 per cent. It can be savoured neat or added to cocktails.

NaRaYa bags from Thailand 👜

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For an accessory that your gift recipient can carry in style and comfort, look to NaRaYa, a Thai fabric-handbag retailer.

The well-known brand offers high-quality products of fine craftsmanship, and at affordable prices. The business grew from a tiny two-square-metre store, with 15 sewing machines operated by 15 staff in 1993. Today, it is a well-recognised label with expansion plans into Milan and London.

These bags run the gamut in colour, pattern, and sizes, so rest assured that there’ll be one style that will suit your giftee well. NaRaYa bags are fashionable yet functional, perfect for the giftee on the go. The best part is that because it is made from cotton, the bag is washable as well.

With such a practical bag, it’ll definitely be in the category of “business travel gifts that will be used time and again.”

Indonesian batik 🇮🇩

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A trip to Indonesia is never complete without a look at its national fabric, batik. As one of the most highly developed artistic forms of cultural heritage, batik was recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. Batik is integral to Indonesian identity: it is commonly worn by locals for various rituals, traditions, and celebrations.

To make batik, artisans draw patterns on the cloth using hot dye-resistant wax. It is then dyed. The areas covered with wax resist the dye, creating elaborate patterns when this step is repeated. These textile designs are said to hold symbolic meanings, and are used as royal batik or for special occasions such as marriage and pregnancy.

Batik prints are seen on shirts, scarves, shawls, and dresses; and will make a great and meaningful addition to your giftee’s wardrobe.

Krama scarf from Cambodia 🧣

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Another significant item you can add to your business travel gifts list would be a krama scarf from Cambodia.

It is a traditional, handwoven garment that ethnic Khmer communities don every day. The krama scarf has a distinctive chequered print. Although fewer locals are seen wearing the krama scarf in the cities today, it is still widely used in the countryside.

While tourists use the krama simply as a neck scarf, locals have endless uses for it. The krama can be wrapped around the head as protection from the weather, as a hammock for items, or twisted to form a basket for carrying goods on one’s head.

Pewter crafts from Malaysia 🇲🇾

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Pewter is made of refined tin, antimony, and copper. It can be crafted into an array of items ranging from kitchenware to decor.

Royal Selangor is the world’s biggest manufacturer of fine pewter products. Founded in 1885, the brand has grown a legacy with its pewter crafts. In your downtime, you can tour the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre to see skilled craftsmen at work. Its pewtersmithing workshops also allow visitors to create a personal pewter accessory, which will make a thoughtful gift for your loved homes back home.


Bring home a gift from your travels

Holiday gifting can be fraught with difficulties. And as a regular business traveller, that can be even more challenging when you don’t have time to shop for gifts.

That doesn’t have to be so if you look beyond local shores for the perfect holiday gift. With the rich history and diverse traditions of ASEAN countries, finding a thoughtful business travel gift for your loved one is only a matter of time.

If you are bogged down by corporate travel planning, perhaps it’s time to get your company on board with a structured travel solution. With the right tools, you can help streamline operations and reduce manual tasks, all while catering to your business travellers’ preferences.

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