The Ultimate Newbie Guide to Thailand

Tipping in Thailand

The tourist areas of Thailand sees visitors from virtually all parts of the world and with that comes visitors with very different tipping cultures and certainty different opinions about the rights and wrongs about tipping. Actually the topic of tipping is one issue that can often cause some of the most polarized and heated debates.

Thailand as a country does not have much of a tipping culture, however, in tourist centers there are increasing expectations of "some" tip. When asking a Thai national about the subject you will likely get the answer that there is only one venue where a Thai will always give a moderate tip and that is for a massage, a like answer may be given for a nicer restaurant, but not a low end restaurant.

As stated above there are some expectations in tourist centers, so you may want to take that in to consideration when you make your decision. If there is a general consensus among most it is that North American style tipping of 15% for satisfactory service is too much and also that no tipping for the same may be inappropriate.

So if you choose to tip, then how much? Again this is up to you but loose change amounting to just a few percent may be something that you are comfortable with. If you like to go by a percentage consider between 5% and 10%.

Where do I tip? Controversial because many have different opinions, but situation where personal service has been provided is the key.

Important Note: If you do choose to tip, especially for service provided by a certain employee, do not leave the tip in the change tray or check folder as it at best will be shared among all employees and in some cases go to the venue owner. Instead put the tip you intend that employee to receive directly in his or her hand. If you so choose you may divide your tip between the two methods as you please.

Below is a list of venues and situations that you may want to consider ... or not consider.
 

Venue / Situation

Comments / Considerations

Massage

The Thais do it so why not? At a minimum 10% or 20+ baht should be considered.
Remember this is one segment in Thai culture where tipping is customary.
Note: If you negotiate
"intimate extra services" for a fee that will constitute the full tip.

Restaurants

Most choose some tipping, especially in nicer venues with table service.
Street vendors and partly self-service, nothing.

Bars

Loose change for a small checks and a small percentage for larger checks. Whatever you chose to tip as a percentage there is no need to include bar fines and lady drinks in the calculation.

Haircut / Salons

Basic service minimal tip. Full service moderate tip

Aircon Taxi / Limo

For simple point to point transports, nothing or loose change. Good service and luggage handling, some. In-terminal greeting and door-to-door private car a small percentage.

Motorbike Taxi, Tuk Tuk & Shared Ride

Nothing unless an extra special service was provided (rare), then minimal

Hotel Doorman

Minimal for luggage brought to or retrieved from the room.

Hotel Maid

Minimal daily if satisfactory service is maintained. Many leave a tip each day as an incentive and other choose an amount at the end of the stay.

Hotel Room Service

Same as you would in a restaurant, or possibly a little less

Hotel Reception Staff

On occasions a minimal to moderate tip to staff that has gone above the call of duty

Tour Guides

Discretionary depending on your enjoyment, information given and personal attention given. As such this can vary widely.

Escort / Intimate Service

Nothing more than what has been agreed upon. Any additional tip may be considered for really exceptional service, but not necessary. A fair contribution for a motorbike taxi home is something that may be considered in the morning.

Mamasan / Papasan

Generally nothing, but if an especially good service was provided then minimal or a commissionable drink (AKA lady drink)

Companions in a bar

If an employee keeps you company and gives you personal attention in a bar a lady drink now and then is expected and that serves as a tip.

Golf Caddy

Depends on the class of the course, knowledge, helpfulness, English skills and personal interaction. Little data exist to the author here, but very high percentage levels of tip relative to the caddy fee seems to be common.

Hired Help

Help can easily be "hired" in Thailand and often the cost is discretionary (tip). If you ask someone to shop for you pay a fair percentage of the savings (Thais get better deals) or a fair compensation for the time spent.

Random Approach

Do not tip anyone who randomly approach you to guide or assist you.

   

The Ultimate Newbie
Guide to Thailand

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