What to send to a friend in Thailand, from the US?
August 17, 2008 9:13 PM   Subscribe

Putting together a fun-filled mail package for my friend. He is currently studying abroad in Thailand. What things are unobtainable, nearly unobtainable, or coveted, that I can send him? I'm in the US. Help me be awesome.
posted by Xere to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
This may sound weird, but my uncle goes back and forth between living in bangkok and somewhere in indonesia, and he's constantly asking us to send him Lowry's seasoned salt. Probably just him-specific though.
posted by Teira at 9:28 PM on August 17, 2008

My girlfriend lived in Korea for a few years. She said baked goods like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were the things that she missed most. Basically baked anything with wheat (or corn?) flour would be a treat, so says she. Also, don't underestimate the power of good chocolate. You are awesome!
posted by dobie at 9:33 PM on August 17, 2008

From working abroad in the past, i'd suggest personal things that would make the recipient smile. Probably the greatest thing i was ever sent was when i was volunteering in East Africa. Before i left i sent an email to my friends with my new address with a throwaway comment about not sending a rubber chicken. Sure enough one of my friends took it on himself to send one and it really made my day!
posted by Fezzer at 9:54 PM on August 17, 2008

Peanut Butter (Peter Pan is my favorite, but other people think JIF is end all be all, so go with what he likes) and ranch dressing dry mix.
posted by banannafish at 10:19 PM on August 17, 2008

If you're thinking of sending food, you probably should check to see what kinds of things Thailand permits to be imported. That isn't always obvious. It would be a shame to put together a wonderful package, only to have it all be seized in customs.
posted by Class Goat at 11:06 PM on August 17, 2008

Living in China for about a year now (from the US)... things I miss or have enjoyed receiving include:
* Spices - second Teira's suggestion. I like to get Ms. Dash and Tony Chachere
* Photos - a friend sent a small photo album of friends and family (old & new pics).
* Books/Magazines in English
* Fav foods (most customs are okay with things that are pre-packaged and won't spoil)
* "Just add water" - easy to ship things like Gatorade dry drink mix, compressed wash cloths or toys.
* University t-shirt

A friend sent the best Easter care package complete with chocolate bunnies, bubbles and other silly stuff. The most coveted item: Girl Scout Cookies. Yes, customs opened the box, and checked to make sure there were in fact cookies in said box, but at least they didn't eat them. :)
This is truly one of those instances where it's the thought that counts - you'll be a hero no matter what you send!
posted by MuckWeh at 11:19 PM on August 17, 2008

posted by zippy at 12:08 AM on August 18, 2008

From the Thailand chapter of the International Mail Manual from the USPS:

Prohibitions: Coins; banknotes; currency notes (paper money); traveler’s checks; securities payable to bearer; platinum, gold or silver (manufactured or not); precious stones; jewelry; and other valuable articles. Firing caps and charged metal cartridges for small arms and non-explosive parts of artillery fuses.

Restrictions: Firearms, air guns, and their accessories, require special authorization from the Government; however, toy air guns for children as well as firearms and air guns kept exclusively as curios may be imported without permit.

Food is apparently OK. Keep in mind that the package may be opened, and that he may have to pay a fee for customs/importation taxes when he receives the package. Here's a similar question a few weeks back.
posted by mdonley at 1:28 AM on August 18, 2008

Where in Thailand is he studying? If it's Bangkok virtually everything mentioned above is easily available. Bangkok has some of the best supermarkets I've ever seen, better than anything I've seen in the US. The only thing food wise I missed was real Diet Coke (because they have Coke Light instead which is a different formula) but that would weigh too much to mail. If he has a favorite cookie or treat you could send that but I know for sure they have oreos, M&Ms, and other common candy bars.

I'd concentrate on letters, pictures from home, postcards. Skype credit would also be a great gift for them to keep in touch with loved ones. (here's how to gift skype credit)

If you have specific questions about things available there hit me up on mefi mail.
posted by sharkfu at 1:36 AM on August 18, 2008

i'm a musician living overseas, and i miss the us music scene - if you can record radio to cd or mp3 try recording a few hoursof your friend's favorite radio station (or more if you're decicated/can automate it!) also an mp3 disk with all the best new albums you and your friends have got that he might not have heard yet? customs has yet to object to my parents and friends doing this.

if you can do the same for tv shows that might be a good one, assuming you put it in a format they can watch (.avi should work on most computers, dvd's might be region coded, or the wrong flavor (pal vs. ntsc etc) though cheap thai dvd players seem to play just about anything without balking...

also, in bangkok it might not be a problem, but if they're somewhere outside the capital, good books in english might hard to find as well, especially if it's something beyond your basic bestsellers. i know decent sci-fi is super hard to find in indonesia!
posted by messiahwannabe at 2:55 AM on August 18, 2008

Messiahwannabe's suggestion of books is spot-on. English-language books are easy to find in the tourist hot-spots (BKK, Chiang Mai, Phuket) and very difficult to find everywhere else.

When I studied in Thailand, I missed bagels like crazy. And cheese.
posted by lunasol at 5:43 AM on August 18, 2008

I once received from a friend's father, in a parcel of other things from my friend, a tiny box, with a piece of paper folded up very small inside. I opened the box and unfolded the paper to read "This box contains a breath of real Brighton air, but you've probably just let it escape." It just made me smile and I still have it 20 years later. The friend's father has since died but I still fondly remember his gentle humour shown in this gift.
posted by alicegoldie at 12:52 PM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

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