Tipping in Thailand
When in Thailand … to tip or not to tip? This was the question that came to our minds during our first taxi ride in Bangkok. Back then, we didn’t carry smart phones and had no way of checking what was appropriate – so we let our driver keep the change. He first looked confused, then amused, then he said, “Khop Khun Khap” (thank you), and smiled. It worked. Or did it – had we tipped too much?
Knowing when to tip and how much can be quite bewildering. So like us, if you prefer to understand the tipping culture of a country before visiting – and you are travelling to Thailand – this post is for you.
First, a simple solution to tipping concerns: Gratitude Tipping App. If you like exploring different countries, consider downloading the free Gratitude Tipping App. This smart app is easy to use and does exactly what it’s meant to – it tells you how much to tip. Gratitude tipping app automatically tracks your location and prompts you to choose between food, drink, taxi, or porter. You then rate the level of service, and – voilà! – a suitable tip amount is displayed.
Thailand Gratuity Guide for Tourists
When uncertain about how to act in a new country, most travellers observe what locals are doing to get an idea of what is acceptable, and then act accordingly. While this is a good strategy, it doesn’t work when it comes to tipping in Thailand.
It is uncommon for Thais to tip, and they aren’t expected to. This guide is for visitors.
Thankfully, unlike New York, there is no hard and fast rule for giving gratuities in Thailand. Tipping in Thailand is more like tipping in London – you tip if you like the service. You won’t be frowned upon if you don’t, but tipping is appreciated.
It is also worth keeping in mind that a little money can go a long way in Thailand. A $1 tip (฿32 (Baht)) can make someone’s day.
Tipping in Restaurants
A 10% tip is appreciated. If you are eating at an upscale restaurant, consider increasing the tip to 15%.
Bear in mind that some restaurants add a 10% service charge to your bill. If that’s the case, you do not need to tip (unless you feel that the service was excellent). The 10% service charge is rarely shared with the staff.
In a local restaurant, you can simply round up the bill amount to the nearest 10, and add 20 Baht (for a 300–400 Baht bill).
You are not expected to leave a tip when you eat street food, but we do when the food is good (it almost always is). A 10-20 Baht ($.50) tip makes a big difference. Some street vendors will not accept your tip (because they do not expect it), but it’s worth a try.
Tipping at Bars
Bartenders do not expect tips – unless it’s a fancy bar – but leaving a 10-20 Baht tip per two drinks will be appreciated.
Tipping Tuk-Tuk & Taxi Drivers
There is no need to tip tuk-tuk or taxi drivers. If you want, you can simply round off the amount to nearest 10 and let them keep the change.
Tuk-tuk scams are common in Thailand, especially in Bangkok. We normally leave a 10-15 Baht tip for auto drivers who do not try to overcharge us.
Porters always expect a tip. A 20 Baht ($.5) tip for a 2-3 star hotel, and a 50 Baht ($1.5) tip for a 3-4 star hotel should suffice.
Tipping in Massage Parlour
Tipping 50 Baht for a 250–350 Baht massage is a good idea. A 50 Baht tip for a spa session is also adequate.
Ladies working in a massage parlour earn between 200 – 300 Baht a day. A 50 – 100 Baht tip can really makes their day.
Tipping Tour Guides
Towards the end of your tour, at times, your tour guide will give you a sales pitch about how much your gratuity matters. Tour guides can make a huge difference in your experience. If they have made an effort to ensure that you have a good time, you should tip them.
Polly and Dan, our tour guides from TakeMeTour, did an exceptional job. They were friendly, professional, knowledgeable, and went out of their way to ensure that we had an amazing trip. Since our tour exceeded expectations in every way, we tipped them generously (they didn’t ask for or expect a tip).
If you are unsure about an acceptable tip for tour guides, here is what you can consider offering as gratuity (per person):
Island hopping tour tip: 20-40 Baht.
Half-day site seeing tours: 150–200 Baht.
Full-day site seeing tours: 200-300 Baht.
Adventure Sports: 10 % (if you had a good time and were not overcharged).
Tipping in Bangkok in 2018
Thailand’s tipping culture is changing. Giving gratuities is becoming the new norm in tourist hubs such as Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya. You might even be asked (politely) for a tip in Bangkok.
Although you still do not have to tip in Thailand, you should tip if you can afford to. Most workers work very long hours on low wages. A small tip can cheer them up.
I still recall the taxi driver’s smile when we gave him our first tip in Bangkok. We must have tipped him a lot more than he expected. I can’t recall the tip amount, but it was worth his smile.