Where, when, and how much do I have to tip in Thailand. Besides planning an itinerary there are certain things travelers like to know, especially when visiting countries like Thailand where the culture is so different to their own, one of the most obvious topics is “dos and don’ts“, but a surprising number of tourists visiting Thailand worry about tipping.
You shouldn’t worry about tipping in Thailand, you do not have to give a tip if you don’t want to. I will add though that tipping is common, especially in the popular Thai tourist resorts, most visitors are appreciative of the high standard of service they receive in Thailand, it would not be an understatement to say that by comparison to most western countries you feel almost pampered by the quality of service in Thailand. I should also add that people in lower paid jobs sometimes rely on tips to make up their meager wages. Tipping is probably practiced more in Thailand by tourists than it is by Thais, away from the glitz and splendor of Thailand’s tourist destinations tipping is not nearly as commonly practiced.
Where and when to tip in Thailand.
If you are going to tip it’s important you should know when and where to tip, you should really only tip for a service which has been provided. See the list below for suggestions on when, where and who to tip in Thailand.
Restaurants, I just about always tip at restaurants unless the service has been especially poor, fortunately that’s a rarity in Thailand. Do I worry about leaving a tip of 10 percent, most definitely not, a tip is a tip, I never feel obliged to leave a 100 baht tip for a 1000 baht meal. Just beware that some restaurants add a service charge to the bill, this is divided between the staff at the end of the month.
Beer Bars, the beer bar experience can be somewhat hit and miss, it’s not uncommon to see the pretty female staff (bar girls) outnumbering the customers. Mostly the girls are attentive, chatty and fun and will do their best to keep you amused or become the object of your desire, other times you might find the girls utterly distracted. If you feel suitably entertained, chatted up or flattered leave a tip, quite often the girls are encouraged to work you for a tip or other custom, and your chatty entertainer might try persuading you to give her a personal tip, that entirely up to you. If you are are going to give personal tips to the bar girls they are usually happy with the price of a meal or 2, around 50 – 100 baht, but don’t feel pressured into giving a tip if you don’t want to.
Theme Pubs: many of the so called ‘theme pubs’ are also licensed restaurants, there might be a service charge. Staff are waitresses, bar tenders, cashier, cooks and cleaners, as a general rule you won’t find any bar girls here. The service charge (if there is one) or the tips will usually be shared out evenly amongst the staff.
Gogo Bars: you should expect pleasant, efficient service at Go Go bars, but you might pay premium prices for drinks, tip if you want to, as much or as little as you want to. Go Go dancers encourage you to leave tips in their most intimate places, if you want one up close and personal, just wave a nice big tip in front of her.
Taxi drivers should be courteous, punctual and polite, if they are you might want to tip them 50 baht upwards.
Motorcycle taxis are one of the most convenient and cheapest ways to get around in Thailand, a short journey on a motorcycle taxi could cost you as little as 20 baht. Motorcycle taxi drivers don’t usually expect tips, especially from Thais. When it comes to dealing with foreigners these guys are a mixed bunch, it helps to know how far you are going and to confirm the price first, otherwise a random, often excessive fare will be charged upon arrival. Give a tip only if you think the journey was good value for money.
Bellboys have ‘tip’ written allover them, some of them have perfected the art of hovering and have finely tuned their body language and mannerisms so that they are suggestive enough to innocently imply you should give them a tip. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I would say if you played a word association game with a traveler or tourist, the word ‘tip’ would be answered with ‘bellboy’. I usually tip tip bellboys 20 baht, and I imagine they probably double their salary by receiving tips.
To be honest, tipping in Thailand is no different from tipping anywhere else, most people give a tip to their hairdresser, taxi driver, hotel bellboy, or restaurant staff. You must do it sensibly though in Thailand because you will find you eat out a lot more, you take more taxi rides, and of course there are all the new Thai experiences you are going to try, like elephant trekking, massage, long-tail boat ride, you could end up spending a small fortune giving tips in Thailand. Just remember you don’t have to tip, and you don’t have to tip extravagantly.
There is a fine line between leaving a tip and giving an insult, a one baht tip is considered an insult in Thailand, it is also likely to cause loss of face.
Tipping, or excessive tipping is often hotly debated by expats in Thailand, the theory is that when giving large tips the Thais then presume that foreigners can, will, and even want to pay more for their services and adjust their prices accordingly. So that’s the lowdown on tipping in Thailand, now then, “something for the weekend sir”.