Top Tips for Tipping in Thailand

  • Posted onAugust 4th, 2016

tippingWhen planning your first trip to Thailand, tipping probably isn’t something youll spend much time thinking about. Even many of those on more strict budgets never give the concept of tipping in Thailand a second thought. However, tipping in Thailand is something that most travelers and visitors will end up spending lots of time to debate and discuss.

In the Western world tipping etiquette is pretty clear. In most European nations tipping is completely optional and done as a response to good service, with the amount tipped usually seen as a reflection of how good the service was. In America it is seen as mandatory regardless of service, with many locals having a tip calculator or phone app to make sure they pay exactly what is expected. Either way it’s very clear what is expected. In Thailand however, rules and etiquette on tipping will vary from person to person.

To help you get a better idea of how to tip in Thailand here’s our guide on when, how, and how much to tip:

In restaurants

It’s correct etiquette to tip in most restaurants but you are not expected to give an exact (or even rough) percentage of your total bill. In most cheap restaurants (meals up to 200 Baht) it’s OK to leave 10-20 Baht, or whatever small change you are given. In more mid-range restaurants (300 to 1,000 Baht per meal), a tip of at least 20-40 baht would be more appropriate. In more upscale restaurants (meals of 1,000 Baht or more) a slightly larger tip of 60-100 Baht would seem more appropriate.

Unless you leave less than 5 Baht most restaurants will be grateful for your tip, while leaving no tip at all will be taken as a sign that you were unhappy with the service. The key is that you don’t have to give much but you’re expected to give something.

There is an exception with some street restaurants or local style eateries which tend to deal with poorer clientele and don’t have dedicated servers (i.e. the cook also serves the food). Despite the staff here working extremely hard they tend not to expect a tip – however tips are of course always welcome!

tippingIn bars

As with the above, most bars expect tips but you don’t need to pay a huge amount. Usually 20 baht is a good tip for any drink orders, whether you are buying one bottle of beer or a round of drinks for 20 people.

One issue you may find is in bars and clubs where you are expected to pay for drinks every time you order and are planning to stay for several drinks. You won’t be expected to tip for every drink in this scenario, a good tactic is to tip on your first drink and tip on every 3rd or 4th drink after that.

In hotels

One of the first tip situations you are likely to encounter in Thailand is having a bellboy help bring your bags to your room. Once in the room they will hover around making sure the room is all set, at the same time giving you a moment to reach into your pocket and pull out some loose change. This is a debatable one but I don’t think a tip is guaranteed here and you need to make a judgment call;

If you aren’t carrying much luggage or were happy to take your own luggage with ease but the bellboy forced his ‘help’ upon you, then I don’t think a tip is necessary. However, if you have heavy luggage that would be uncomfortable to take alone and the help was exactly that, ‘help’, then a small tip of 20-40 baht would be a good move.

Additionally, if you are planning to stay at a hotel for some time it’s often a good move to try to give the door staff/security a tip early on in your stay, and at the end of a very enjoyable stay it’s a good move to tip any staff that helped make your stay a pleasant one (20-100 baht is ample).

taxisTaxis

Whether or how much to tip taxis is perhaps the top tipping topic. Most people will swear you should never tip a Bangkok taxi, while others see it as mandatory. I think the answer falls somewhere in between. Most locals will tip small amounts by rounding the meter fee up to the nearest 10 baht, but I often take another approach, but I think you should take a different approach.

On a long stay in Bangkok you are going to encounter some rude and obnoxious taxi drivers, and some very helpful and lovely ones too. I think whether to tip a Bangkok taxi driver should always be judged case-by-case. When encountering taxi drivers who are rude and/or drive dangerously I think it’s correct to pay the amount required but don’t feel the need to pay a tip. However, when you meet a taxi driver who is extremely nice and helpful, and genuinely brightens up your day I think it’s good to at least round the final fare up to the nearest 20 Baht.

Services other situations

For other situations the above rules can basically be applied to most services:

– Tips are usually expected but you don’t need to tip a lot (20 Baht is often the magic starting figure)

–  Don’t feel the need to tip for bad/rude service.

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