There has been some discussion (and confusion) on the internet about how much one should be tipping in Thailand. I wanted to share with you guys about my tipping etiquette and my experience. You will get an idea of how much I give to the Taxi driver, bars, maids, restaurants and more.
I will also discuss how the locals tip, and about the general gratuity etiquette in south-east Asia.
The first thing to know is that tipping is not so straight forward. Especially in all of Asia. It is not so common (like in some other countries). In most local services and shops, it is not expected. I have noticed that tipping is much more common in the foreign oriented tourist areas.
For example, I barely see any local Thais paying extra when they buy food at the street stalls and food vendors.
Most of my Thai girlfriends barely gave a tip to the Taxi drivers. They never actually gave “real” tip, they just rounded up so as to not receive coins back in change. It was always just a few Baht.
What made tipping more popular in Thailand is the large number of tourists who come here from countries that consider paying extra for good services a normal thing. Over time it has become more common to tip, especially if the service is good or at the more upscale venues.
Many of the fancy and hi-so restaurants/bars in Thailand will add a “service charge” to the bill. If you see this then it means a tip has already been added for you. In this case you should surely not pay anything extra.
Another thing to mention is that most of the foreigners that come to Thailand are tourists.
Usually as a tourist you will be tipping a bit more than usual. When you are on holiday in a foreign country you appreciate good service a tad bit more. It makes you feel more comfortable since you are away from home.
Drivers are important to take you quickly and safely to your destinations. I always try to tip the driver if they do a good job. For example, if the driver helps me with the suitcase, or gets me to the airport on time, I will tip better.
There are 2 levels of tipping a taxi driver
If the driver was just average(not friendly), but did his job without problems:
- I will usually just round up to the nearest number. For example, if the amount is 132 Baht. I will just tell him to keep the change, or return the change to the nearest amount rounded up (140 Baht).
If the driver was friendly, helpful, and gets me to my destination on time:
- I will tip between 20-50 Baht on top of the final price.
Bars and Restaurants
At bars it really depends of the type of place it is, and the type of service received. If the place is fancy, and service was good I usually tip better.
But just because a place is fancy does not mean that I will tip well. Sometimes the more “upscale” places give bad service and less friendly.
Rooftop Bars & Restaurants
Usually these places are more expensive, and they will add a service charge to your bill. In these situations I will not pay a tip to the waitress since it is included as part of the service charge.
It depends on the type of beer bar. I usually tip good if the place has free pool table, big T.V. screen, and friendly service. If not then I will not tip as much.
Tipping here is similar to the beer bars. I will tip more if the place is nicely designed, comfortable, has good service and friendly staff. if I feel they are being too pushy for drinks, then I will tip less.
A guideline I follow for tipping at the bars and restaurants in Thailand is the following:
- If there is no service charge and the service was above average I will tip around 15% of the total amount. If the service was just average (or below) I will tip 5%-10%.
Remember that if the service is just horrible then there is no point to tip. I never tip if I feel uncomfortable or if I feel that someone really doesn’t deserve it.
Maid at Hotels/Resorts
In my opinion, the maids deserve tip when they do a good job of cleaning your room. They work very hard at the hotels and resorts all over Thailand. The best part is that they can really make you feel nice and comfortable in your hotel. They’re job should not go unnoticed.
Another good point is that once you tip them, they usually go above and beyond to make sure your room is always cleaned and on time. It can also help when you have requests for extra towels, toothbrushes, etc.
For tipping maids in Thailand I do the following:
- 20-50 Baht per day (depending on the service level, and how friendly the maid is)
If my room is barely cleaned and not stocked up properly then I won’t tip.
Like the maids above, the ladies that work at these massage shops usually work hard. And to be honest, the prices in Thailand for massages are cheap. The massage workers don’t make much money from the actual massage service. They only get a portion if.
I always try to tip when I receive a massage, especially if it was good service.
Most foot massages are around 150 Baht – 200 Baht for each hour. I try to tip an extra 50 Baht here.
Sometimes if the massage shop is really nice and comfortable, and the masseuse is extra friendly I will tip her 100 Baht.
Oil Massage, Other specialty massages
The cost for oil massages usually start from 300 Baht. It is a full body massage that lasts one hour. If the service was good and I am satisfied I will tip an extra 50-100 Baht. This depends on the duration and type of massage.
As you can see, the above is usually how much I pay in tips. Some people might pay more, and others might not even tip at all.
It really comes down to your own standards and how you like to show your appreciation for good service.
A good general rule is this: If you feel happy and satisfied then it is nice to leave a tip — even if it is just a small amount.
But remember what I said, tipping is not always expected here the same way it is in other countries.