Tip Top Etiquette Tips: Tipping in Thailand Guide by Bodega Hostels

The Do’s, The Don’ts and the How’s of Tipping in Thailand.

You’re on holiday, soaking up the sun, relaxing on the beach and sipping on cool Leos and Changs. At some point, in fact likely within the first few hours, you’ll be in a restaurant or bar and wondering if and how much you should be tipping. Generally speaking, tipping cultural is a very regional thing, with each place having its own customs. Our tipping in Thailand guide is your answer for your backpacking trip.

If you’re from the USA you’ll be wondering what the purpose of this article is? Tipping is a given, right? If you’re from the UK here tipping is more discretional, you’ll be searching for advice. You may even be from Japan and wondering why on earth one would tip when it is so rude to do so! Read on and see what the etiquette is here in The Land of Smiles and lay your worries to rest.

The Small Change Making the Big Difference

Tipping in Thailand is not expected. No server will shoot you a dirty look and you don’t risk a dressing down from other visitors if you don’t tip. That said, think about it. You’ve likely flown here from a country with a stronger currency, on your holiday with your disposable income. The small change that you might tip in Thailand will make a huge difference to local servers. The average wage is 9000 Baht a month which is roughly $250. That 20-40 Baht tip won’t break your bank, but it can make a huge difference to them.

Restaurants

If you’re looking for a quick answer – 10% is going to be considered a good tip. That said, if you’re going to be heading into the finer dining styles of restaurants then the 10% rule can fall aside. 100 baht is a good starting point then at your discretion from there. The best restaurants will almost always include a service charge in the bill anyway. Use your usual common sense when it comes to tipping. A great server deserves a better tip, a lacklustre one a smaller one. If you’re unlucky enough to have an awful server then not tipping would be perfectly fine too.

Our guide:

  • 100 baht total = 10 baht tip
  • Round up if you’re total is close to the 10% and just leave the change

Street Food

Straight forwardly you are not expected to tip a street food vendor at all. In fact, if you try to then the chances are that they’ll just hand it back to you thinking that you’ve made a mistake. Street food is usually marked up with a fixed price, no bartering, no tipping. This is in, out, eat kind of food, in the same way that you wouldn’t tip in a fast-food restaurant at home (note: don’t tip in fast food restaurants in Thailand either!).

Bars

This is a variable. If you spend the whole night propping up the bar with the sand between your toes on Koh Phan Ghan then chances are you’ll want to tip the bar person, and your mindset might mean you’re happier to tip more… No server is going to expect a tip every drink you order but if you regularly get good service then feel free to round up or leave a tip for them. Most bars have a tip box on the bar where the servers share out the tips at the end of a shift. You’ll spot servers taking tips you’ve given them and dropping it inside, even if you gave it to them directly.

Taxis

As always with taxis, agree your price in advance or insist on a meter. Grab is a great option, they recently bought out all of Uber’s business too. You don’t need to barter and can see the price in advance. Generally, a small 10 baht tip is sufficient or just round up to the nearest 10. If you hire a driver for the day they will certainly appreciate a tip, depending on the level of service, interaction and information they gave you on your trip. Some taxi drivers may as well be official tourist guides for the service and facts that they can impart in perfect English.

Tipping in Thailand Insider Tip

Most of the time it comes down to your own budget and personal feelings. Don’t forget, chances are that you are coming from a far more affluent and better off situation than those serving you. It’s not going to break your bank, but it may well make their day.

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