Tipping can be expressed in different ways depending on where you are. Although not considered standard in Thailand, it is happily accepted. But it’s not as simple as tipping part of your check. There are certain scenarios where tipping is appropriate and others where it is not.
Tipping culture varies greatly depending on where you eat. The higher you go in the chain, the more common tipping becomes. This makes sense because those who dine at more expensive restaurants are much more likely to be able to tip. So, to tip or not to tip, that is the question. Read on to find out if, when and where you should leave some loose change on the table on your trip to the Land of Smiles…
For starters, Thais generally don’t tip street vendors. It’s just not in the nature of these places. If you decide to eat street food and tell the vendor to keep the money, some vendors will insist on giving change. But most will appreciate your kind gesture.
The order is usually made verbally and any changes due are taken off the cook’s apron. If you’ve ordered a few or more meals, they may have someone manning the tables and writing out a receipt. In this case, you can choose to tip if you wish.
It’s always a good idea to do what the locals do, and you’re unlikely to see a local tipping at a street food restaurant, so don’t worry too much.
This is where the ordinary middle-class person would eat, and a tip of 20-50 baht on a 300-700 baht meal would be the standard fare.
Believe it or not, not everyone tips, and most don’t intend to. It’s more about getting change from the waitress and choosing to leave it, because it seems cheap not to – and in Thailand we always want to save a little face.
It is important to remember that staff at these locations often work long hours with few breaks. If the meal is 560 baht, leaving them 40 baht would be an ideal choice. It could also make a difference for them.
Most high-income Thais would tip in expensive or fancy restaurants, but not excessively. They would likely tip 100 baht, although some would tip even more just to show they can.
Simply put, the more expensive the restaurant, the more you should tip. When your total reaches at least one thousand baht, you can consider tipping 10% or more. Some places will have a service charge included in the bill, so keep an eye on the fine print on your bill.
Restaurants aside, some locals tip taxi drivers, whether they be the brightly colored official taxis or the low-key Grab drivers. You don’t have to tip a lot; everything is appreciated. If the taxi ride costs 160 baht, for example, paying 200 baht would go a long way, especially during the pandemic when tourism is at its lowest. And if you don’t have change to pay the exact amount shown on the meter, don’t expect the taxi driver to give you a few small bills. Requiring 20-40 baht is NOT a hill to die on.
The concierges will be happy to help you carry your luggage to your room and they will almost never ask you for a tip. But an additional pause at the door should indicate their expected appreciation in the form of 20-50 baht. Even a modest tip is enough to express your gratitude for carrying the burden of your luggage up the stairs or in the elevator to your door, after arriving at the hotel sunburned, sweaty and with tired feet. . Just make sure you have a few small bills on hand BEFORE you get to your room. Wait a moment and they’ll quickly disappear before you can say “Thanks, mate”.
To tip or not to tip?
Although travelers are not expected to tip in Thailand, it is generally greatly appreciated, especially during the pandemic economy, where giving a little extra is very useful. It’s usually easy to travel somewhere you may never return without tipping. But tips will allow you to leave a favorable impression on the locals long after you leave. So take a moment to think about how little money the weary restaurant and hotel staff are making, before you take the change off the shelf.