One of the most frequently asked questions we get in our Bangkok and Chiang Mai Travel Centres is: “ahmm… tipping in Thailand, how does it work again?” Especially if you’re from Scandinavia, tipping is not something that is in the culture. In Thailand, it’s expected. So we figured we’d make the ultimate guide for you, so you are prepared.
About tipping in Thailand – is it expected?
Tipping in Thailand is appropriate, but not compulsory. It is part of the Thai culture and the Thai’s often tip themselves. If you’re in doubt if you should tip or not, remember that a small tip is always appreciated. Rarely will it make you enemies 🙂
Street food & tipping your noodle-pusher
At street food kitchens it’s polite to round up to the nearest 10 or 20. So if you have a meal of 40 THB, it’s polite to leave a 50 THB note and leave. Likewise, If you’re meal is 85 THB, leaving a 100 THB bill will make someone happy.
The most common way of tipping is to either leave the amount on the table and/or to decline to receive the exchange money.
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Fancy dinners & service charge
At restaurants, a Service Charge of 10% is often added to the total amount. Likewise, you will also often see that 7% VAT is added. If this will be added to your final bill it will normally be stated in the bottom of the menu card, so you know it before you order.
To decide if you want to tip, look at your bill and check if the 10% Service Charge has been added to the total amount. If this is the case, you’re not obliged to tip – tips for waiters have already been included in your bill. But you are of course still free to do so, and rounding up to the nearest 50 or 100 is an easy option. Surely, it will only make people happy.
If the Service Charge has NOT been added to the final amount and bill, the suitable tip is 10% of the total amount. So if you get a bill of 1000 THB a tip of 100 THB is suitable. Just leave your tip together with the final bill and the waiters will get the hint.
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Tuk-tuk, taxi & tips
Tipping drivers are equally appreciated, but not mandatory.
If you are going by tuk-tuk, you have already agreed on a price, and it is fine to stay with this price. In taxis, you go by taxi meter and rounding up to the nearest 10 or 20 is highly appreciated. Not least because exact coins can often be a hassle to make fit when you’re on your way out of the car.
For both taxis and tuk-tuks you’ll normally simply decline to receive the exchange money, and your drive will understand that it is a tip.
When you go with a private driver they will often go that extra mile for you. They will mostly stop upon your request and/or help yours with small convenience issues. A tip is appropriate and a rule of thumb is a 100-THB for a day. You will normally give the money by hand to the driver upon finalising the trip.
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Tour guides & tipping
Tour guides are mostly paid a fine salary from their agency, but tipping is always appreciated as recognition of services rendered. Tipping about THB 100 per day (if you are happy with the service) is appropriate, but not compulsory. You will normally give it to your guide in person at the end of the trip and thank him or her for the day(s).
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Conclusion on Tipping in Thailand
Tipping in Thailand is part of their culture. It’s appropriate, but not compulsory. And remember, a tip should only be given when you receive excellent service.
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