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Tipping Customs in Thailand

Depending on where you’re from, tipping can be seen in several ways: expected, such as in the United States; appreciated, like it is in the UK; or rude, as it is considered to be in Japan. When it comes to Thailand, while tipping isn’t necessarily customary, it’s certainly appreciated.

However, it’s not as simple as giving a percentage of your bill – there are certain situations where it is more appropriate to tip, and some where it isn’t. Here’s a guide to the etiquette surrounding tipping in Thailand.

Are you supposed to tip in Thailand?

Tipping is NOT customary in Thailand, there is absolutely NO mandatory requirement to tip anyone, but small gratuities for great service are very much appreciated.

Unlike some other parts of the world, you will never see a Thai service provider with his hand out waiting for a tip. 

When you consider that the average Thai person earns roughly $3,000 per year, then tipping in Thailand can be the difference between just scraping by and being able to live a higher quality of life.

Remember that service staff work long hours with few breaks, and they almost always manage to keep a positive demeanor about them.

If you receive delicious food or stellar service—which is so common in Thailand—then showing your appreciation with a small tip can have a big impact in the long run.

If you do tip in Thailand because of the service staff, try to give your server the money directly. If you give it to a manager or leave it on the card, your server may not receive it.

Tipping in Thailand does not have the infrastructure to dispense tips the way they are so often dispensed in tipping cultures.

Establishments in Thailand do not have a culture of counting tips and redistributing them at the end of the shift between both front and back of the house.

Something to keep in mind

Before continuing further on who and how much to tip, there is something you should keep in mind.

Keep the change?

Depending on where you’re eating, the tipping culture could be vastly different. If you were to order street food and tell the vendor to keep the change, there’s a high chance that they might insist you take it back – whether through humility or confusion at a perceived overpayment – even if it’s just five baht.

Doing as the locals do is sound advice for any travellers, and you’re unlikely to see a local tipping a street food joint so don’t worry about it too much. If the food really was that delicious, order another one or leave a few baht on the side and make your escape before they have the chance to thrust it back into your palm.

Eating in restaurants or cafes is another story. It’s worth keeping in mind that the waiting staff in such places often work long hours with little breaks for less than $10 a day.

If you order a snack and a coffee that comes to, for example, 85 baht, then it’s common to simply leave behind the remaining 15 baht change or a 20 baht note that you’re unlikely to miss, but which could help to make all the difference for a young waitress with a family or a university course.

If you’re heading to an area for a prolonged amount of time, leaving a tip each time isn’t necessary but can see you rewarded with better service and preferential treatment as a regular.

Naturally, the pricier the restaurant, the more you’ll be expected to tip. Once you start to hit the high hundreds with your bill, you can start to think about tipping 10% and up for good service, though make sure that service charge isn’t included in your bill already.

Fair fares and the knead for tips

In any big city in Thailand, and certainly in the touristy areas in Bangkok, finding a taxi driver that will actually use the taxi meter can be a real pain. With that in mind, it’s worth rewarding the drivers who do, with a small tip.

There’s no need to break the bank; if it comes to 61 baht for example, give him 70 and don’t expect the change.

They’ll be grateful for it and it might convince them to continue earning an honest living and not quote 200 baht for a trip that’s virtually around the corner.

As anyone who has visited Thailand will know, massage shops can be found on virtually every corner, making for fierce competition between shops and price wars that can make it easily affordable for a tourist.

Massages are personal and catered for the receiver and can be tiring work. Not only that, the competition means that more often than not the masseurs can wait around for hours without a single customer, only to receive a pittance of the massage fee once the house has taken their cut.

Again, tipping isn’t expected but it’s more than appreciated, so you may want to consider tipping the masseur perhaps 50-100 baht on a bill of 300 baht, and giving it directly to them.

It won’t break the bank, but it can make a person’s day.

Sweet dreams and the guide price

There aren’t many things worse than not double checking your booking and arriving at your hotel weary and jet-lagged, only to discover you’re on the fourth floor and there’s no elevator.

Spare a thought for the poor bell boys and porters who’ll have to lug your luggage up there! These jobs, along with housekeeping jobs in a hotel, are quite often low paying with long hours and high standards, so a tip of 20 baht per bag carried or per room cleaned can go a long way.

Tour guides can be very hit and miss in Thailand. Some can absolutely make a trip, while others may carry a vibe that they’d rather be anywhere else. The amount you tip should vary with the service and length of time the tour guide is with you.

For great guides who have been with a group the whole day, it’s not unusual for them to be given upwards of 1,000 baht – a large amount for someone who will only earn around 15,000 per month.

If you’re not happy with the service, there’s no obligation to tip but keep in mind that everyone has good and bad days, and the hours can be long and exhausting.

Use your own judgement

As the Thais say, it really is “up to you”. There’s no expectation of tourists to tip but it will certainly be appreciated.

It can be easy to pass through a town that you’ll never visit again without tipping, but good service and satisfaction should always be rewarded.

Keep in mind the amount of money people in restaurants and hotels earn and think twice before scooping those coins out of the change tray.

Who to tip and how much?

Here is the detailed guidelines for you to practice your tipping in some popular cases as a tourist.

Tipping for tour guide

Tour guides in Thailand can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes you get a tour guide that can show you parts of Thailand that you would never get to see otherwise.

Other times you can get a tour guide that would obviously rather be somewhere else.

Some can transport you to another time and place, opening up the history and culture—while you struggle to understand anything another says.

No matter how your tour was, we recommend that you tip something. Often tour guides work solely on tips, for long hours under the hot sun.

These individuals make about 15,000 THB on average, and a large tip can make their day—even their week.

Tipping in Thailand is often based on the quality of your experience, but also consider when you’re tipping a tour guide in Thailand based on the length of your tour.

Of course, if you get a flat-out rude person, then by all means don’t tip them anything. However, if the service was at all passable, we recommend tipping 50 – 100 THB an hour if the tour was exceptional.

If it was a full-day tour, don’t feel that you need to tip the tour guide 600 THB, we understand.

Perhaps, then you would only offer 50 THB an hour, however if you walk away happy, cultured, and content, then try and tip as much as you can afford.

Suggested tip:

  • Half day tour = 150+ baht
  • Full day tour = 300+ baht

Tipping at hotel

Tipping for bellboys

If you are staying in a nicer Bangkok hotel, they will most likely send your luggage up to your room. What you should tip depends on how much baht you have. The recommended tips will be 20 baht/50 baht/ 100 baht depending on the number of bags that you have.

Again, there is no tipping in Thailand rule, but you will notice the bell boys hang around the door when exiting. They will graciously accept a tip.

Suggested tip:

  • 1 bag= 20 baht
  • Several bags= 50 baht

Tipping for housekeeping

This one can be tricky. Tipping maids in Thailand is common in higher end hotels. You will notice this when you see a tip envelope in your room. Place your tip in the envelope for the maid.  If you are staying at a 3-star hotel or less, tips are not common.

If there is no envelope the maid might not know money left in the room is a tip and not take it. This may sound strange, but if you left a 50-Baht bill on the bed they might move it to the desk assuming you left it behind.

This has happened to us. The best for tipping the housekeeping in Thailand is to literally hand it to them or make it super obvious that it’s a tip. A thank you note with the money on top, etc.

Suggested tip:

  • 1 night = 50 baht
  • 3 nights= 100 baht

Tipping at restaurant

Tipping roughly 10% of the bill is a good tip and rounding up or down just like you would do at home.

If eating at a fancier restaurant and the bill is higher, you can ignore the 10% rule and give based on how the experience was with a minimum of THB100 tip.

Always check the bill and see if a service charge was added, if a service charge was added no need to tip.

When tipping in a sit-down restaurant it isn’t a straight percentage of the check. Also, look at the cost of the meal and the service. Just like you would at home.

If you had a not so good waiter at home would you tip? Yes, you probably would tip but you’d just tip less.

If you had an amazing waiter, you’d tip a little extra. And if you had a terrible server and dining experience you probably wouldn’t tip. The same goes when tipping in Thailand at restaurants.

Suggested tip:

  • 100 baht bill = 10-20 baht tip
  • 177 baht bill= 23 baht tip just leave all the change and round up
  • 830 baht bill= 70-100 baht tip
  • 1900 baht bill= 150 baht tip

Tipping at bar

How much to tip in Thailand at a bar really varies from bar to bar. If it is a bar where you go up to the bar and order your own drinks no tip is required.

If you are at a beach bar all day in Koh Lipe you may want to tip 10 baht on the first drink so that the waiter comes and checks on you later.

If they don’t come back to check on you then don’t tip on the next drink. If you have been sitting at the bar for a few hours chatting with the bartender and having a good time tip 50 baht or so.

Always check the bill and see if a service charge was added, if a service charge was added no need to tip.

It is common for the sky bars in Bangkok to add a service charge, so no need to tip unless it was exceptional service and you want to leave an additional tip.

Suggested tip: 

  • THB10 for 2 drinks
  • For the group and long-hour drink: 10% of the bill

Tipping for Tattoo artist

Getting a tattoo in Thailand is a souvenir that will be with you forever. Even better would be getting a Sak Yant tattoo, a traditional Thai tattoo.

If the tattoo artist draws you up a custom design that you totally love to show him your appreciation with a tip usually 10% or at your discretion.

Suggested tip:

  • 2,000 baht tattoo = 200 baht tip
  • 4,000 baht tattoo = 300 baht tip

Tipping for massage

If you have ever visited Thailand, then you will know that there is a massage parlor on every street.

Whether you are interested in a relaxing oil massage, a deep tissue foot massage, or an intense traditional Thai massage—it is crucial to try a massage at least once when experiencing the Thai culture.

Thus, this is one of the most crucial jobs when it comes to tipping in Thailand.

Often Thai massages can last for hours—which is grueling work. Then masseuses will wait for hours on end without a client.

Once they are paid, the massage house will take their cut of the profits and leave the masseuse with only a portion of the profits.

We highly recommend, not only tipping for massages in Thailand, but we recommend tipping well. If you want to channel your inner giving nature, this is the time to shine.

An extra 50 or even 100 THB can make their day! And as mentioned previously, tip them in hand to ensure that they themselves get to keep it.

Suggested tip:

  • 150 baht massage = 20-50 baht tip
  • 300 baht massage = 50-100 baht tip

Tipping for taxi or UBER/GRAB Taxi

Before entering a taxi in Thailand make sure to agree on a price in advance or make sure it will be a metered fare. It is common to round up the fare to the nearest bill and leave the change as a tip while taking a taxi in Thailand.

Regarding the Grab/Uber taxi driver, it will depend on the distance of your trip, but the recommended tip is about THB10-15/trip

Suggested tip: 

  • Taxi THB111 fare = THB9 tip
  • Grab/Uber: THB10-15/trip

Tuk Tuk driver

Always negotiate the price before hiring a tuk-tuk. In Bangkok and other tourist cities, some level of bartering is expected over the fare.

Tuk-tuk drivers in Bangkok especially are known for their scams of overcharging or bringing you to shops that they will get a commission from. We try and avoid using tuk-tuks if possible.

For tuk-tuk drivers in Thailand only pay the price agreed upon for the ride tipping is not expected.

Suggested tip: None or the small change only.

**************

Thailand is a developing economy, which means that the majority of the population is still living on an average wage. If you truly enjoy the service, a small tip will perfectly represent your gratuity for the service provided. THB30 may be less than USD1; not much for you but maybe a whole meal for the staff member that served you.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Is it customary to tip in Thailand?

A. As said above, it is not customary but highly recommended especially at the tourist sites. Do give some small tips if you satisfy with the services that you have.

Q. What is the average local salary in Thailand?

A. The average monthly salary of a worker in Thailand is about $300 per month; those in high paying jobs bring home around $700 per month.

Q. How much budget do I need per day to travel in Thailand?

A. For the guided organized tour for the group of 2 pax in Thailand, the expected budget will start from $80-90 per person per day. Depending on the accommodation, the restaurant, or the activities you will join, the budget can go up to $150-200 per person per day.

Check out the detailed Thailand trip cost here

Q. When is the best time to visit Thailand?

Although the climate varies throughout Thailand, you can visit the country all year round. The best time to travel is during the cool and dry season between mid-October and early April. 

Check our full guide about Thailand weather and best time to visit

Q. How to book cheap ticket to Thailand?

This requires some simple efforts and skills. Read our full guide on how to get the cheapest ticket possible to Thailand

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