When a westerner come to Thailand, explore the country and eventually realized that it is such a nice place to settle down and raise a family, among the topics that usually crops up is the “dowry” or the Sin Sod in Thai.

Of course, a westerner may already have an idea on what a dowry is all about and how it is perceived and practiced in South East Asian countries like Thailand. Some may view it as tolerable, while others find it as a scheme to extort money from an individual but many others are well aware of its importance especially on the Thai culture.

These opposing views on dowry has led some people to react negatively without even knowing what exactly a dowry is, its important role on someone’s marriage and how it is culturally-linked as well as how it can really be practical in nature.

And so, here are the 8 basic things about a dowry that a westerner like you should know.

  1. A dowry is not an exchange instrument for a purchase but a symbol or representation that you, as the future husband of a Thai woman, is in financial capacity to support your soon-to-be wife and future family.

    A number of people may find dowry as impractical but contrary to such view, basing on the paragraph above, a dowry really has a practical purpose and that is ensuring the financial stability of your family in the immediate future and the years to come.
  2. Its amount is largely depended or more appropriately related to your future wife’s overall being as a woman and that being said; the dowry that you will forward to her family will depend on her social stature, educational achievement, occupation, virginity and age among others.

    Therefore, if your future wife went to a prestigious university, is on a significantly high payroll as an employee, young, beautiful and never been married, you are ought to expect that the dowry will be also be significant but, it should be said, this will always depend on the type of family she has as some families with a daughter like the one portrayed above may demand for much less than what you have expected or some may not even speak about or demand any dowry from their daughter’s husband-to-be at all no matter how seemingly sophisticated she is.
  3. Much of the dowry, especially if your future wife’s family is from an urban area like Bangkok, will be returned to you and your wife after marriage to help support your financial needs.

    But this does not mean that if your future wife’s family is from the rural parts of Thailand, the dowry will not be returned to you. Again, it is a family to family basis.
  4. It is both economic and cultural in nature. Cultural because dowry is in existence since for ages in Thailand and has been practiced even until today. Its practice has been going on families from generation to generation although the overall views and opinions with regards to dowry have since change.

    Economic because it is likely to be returned to you and your wife for your use in establishing the foundations of your new family although admittedly, some parents of some brides have taken advantage and have crossed the line by demanding unreasonable amount of money and gifts as dowry.
  5. A dowry is a concrete evidence of the Thai culture’s emphasis on family relationships. This is because giving a dowry is not simply about giving your future wife’s family with money and gifts.

    Determining whether to give a dowry or not and how much should you give to her family if ever you have to involves a negotiation with the elders at the center stage.

    The whole family, during the meeting or negotiation, would like to determine whether you are in the financial capacity to provide for their family member and also, they will come to terms on what type of person you are.
  6. The amount is relative although a lot of websites and articles provide figures such as 100,000 THB and up for the well-educated, career-successful and single woman and much less than that for a divorcee or someone who have not been married but already has a child in tow.

    Although estimates can be given and be helpful to you, the amount will depend on your “talk” with the elders of the family that is why it is relative and not fixed.
  7. Again, giving a dowry is not a “must” but rather a “choice” especially on these times. Some families may ask while some may not.
  8. Your dowry may come with a Tong Mun which is a 24-karat gold and is similar to the engagement ring of the west.

In closing, during the meeting with your future wife’s family, you just have to be very clear of how much you can afford to offer if ever you really have to provide for a dowry in an honest but respectful manner. Westerners like you can be really frank about things that some Thais may find it to be a sign of you being rude.

To avoid misconceptions and for better communication, you just have to be courteous and mild mannered but the best thing to do before meeting her family and discuss your marriage plans as well as the dowry is to learn more about the beautiful Thai culture to give you a much better perspective of the dowry’s role in your marriage.