September 22, 2023

Video #42 | June 28, 2018

In this video I’m going to try and answer the question; ‘Should I tip in Thailand?’ And if so, how much should you be tipping in Thailand?

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Welcome to the forty-second video of Bangkok Unmasked! The YouTube channel that helps you get the most out of your visit to Bangkok city! If you’re new here, please consider subscribing! In this video I’m going to try and answer the question; ‘Should I tip in Thailand?’ And if so, how much should you be tipping in Thailand?

Let’s get started!

In the US and UK leaving a tip for reasonable to good service is pretty much expected. This is not really the case in Bangkok, and especially the poorer Thai provinces.

Note. When thinking about the amounts of money suggested remember that the average salary in Thailand is low compared to Western standards. According to Trading Economics, Thailand’s average monthly wage in Q1/2018 was 13,721 baht/month.

These days I follow what I have been taught by my wife and close Thai friends. This is what I have learned.

Tip in Thailand situation #1: Sit down restaurants

I’d tip around 10% of the bill. And round up or down to an even amount just as would you do at home.

For example, the other day I had a bill of 1,080 baht at a restaurant in Central World. The service was pretty good. I left 1,200 baht on the tray, and went on my way.

If there’s a service charge, which is becoming more common, I generally won’t tip unless the service was excellent. Also, if I go to a restaurant and the service is poor. Absolutely no tip!

Tip in Thailand situation #2: Street food

The Thai do not tip for street food. Neither do I. In some rare cases a vendor might have a tip jar. Most patrons won’t be leaving anything in it!

Tip in Thailand situation #3: Bars

In general the Thai do not tip in bars. Especially if there’s a service charge. That said, if you have some sort of table service where your drinks are constantly being refilled, and you are well attended to, you should tip. In this case, like restaurants, 10% of the bill is about right.

Tip in Thailand situation #4: Fast food restaurants and coffee shops

From what I have observed, my Thai friends will only consider tipping if a server comes to the table. This means that Burger King, Starbucks, McDonalds etc. all don’t require a tip. It’s rare to tip in coffee shops from what I have seen. Unless the service is exceptional of course.

Tip in Thailand situation #5: Taxis

Most Thai will simply round up or down to the nearest 5 or 10 baht. This means that if the fare is 111 baht the driver will likely be paid either 115 baht or 120 baht. The tip will likely be determined by whether the customer has any coins, or not. In my opinion this is about right.

That said if the journey is a long one, like to the airport for example, and most importantly the driver drives nicely, I’ll pay a little more. Maybe a 20-50 baht tip.

Note. I don’t use Grab taxi as there are so many taxis near my house. Frankly, if I can’t get to somewhere by BTS or MRT I don’t want to go. That said, most expats who use Grab will tip at least 10 baht. The tip is really dependent on distance and service.

Tip in Thailand situation #6: Tuk Tuks

I strongly suggest that you don’t use tuk tuks. They’re dangerous and most drivers will try and scam you if you’re a new visitor and don’t speak Thai. Even if you speak Thai they’ll still likely quote you a ‘farang price’.

Honestly. Why pay roughly the same amount as a taxi to get in a dangerous vehicle and breathe in a lot more traffic pollution?! Taking tuk tuks makes zero sense to me!

If you must take a tuk tuk I wouldn’t leave a tip.

Tip in Thailand situation #7: Thai massage

If you don’t tip for a good Thai massage, you’re evil! It’s a hard job, and the masseuse are generally not paid well. For a 300 baht massage you should tip at least 50 baht. I usually pay at least 100 baht tip.

In upscale massage places i.e. spas in hotels most Thai will tip 100 baht. Irrespective of the price.

Note. Make sure that you give the tip directly to the masseuse. If you hand it to the cashier the masseuse almost certainly won’t get the cash.

Tip in Thailand situation #8: Bell boys

From what I have seen most Thai will generally give bell boys 20 baht for sending luggage to the room. If there’s a lot of luggage, and they’ve gone to a lot of effort, maybe 40-50 baht.

Tip in Thailand situation #9: Housekeeping at hotels

My wife won’t leave a tip for maids/housekeeping. I have asked a good number of Thai friends if they leave money for maids/housekeeping – especially at 5 star hotels – and none of them do. Some of these guys are rich by Western standards so I think it’s fair to assume that most Thai don’t leave a tip for housekeeping.

Tip in Thailand situation #10: Tattoo artists

I have never got a tattoo. That said, the Thai friends of mine who have suggest tipping about 10%.

Maybe one day I’ll get a a Sak Yant tattoo i.e. a traditional Thai tattoo. It’s on my bucket list!

Tip in Thailand situation #11: Getting your hair done

If you visit a cheap barber’s shop, a tip is not expected or required. If you go to a hair salon, I’d go with a tip of about 10%. Like with a masseuse you should hand the money directly to the hair stylist.

If you’re in Bangkok, I strongly recommend Chalachol Amarin. Check out a video I did on this outstanding hair salon through the “i” icon above.

Tip in Thailand situation #12: Tour guides

A good tour guide will show you things that you’d never find on your own. They’re also a great resource to learn local tips. Tour guiding is generally not well paid in Thailand. It’s similar in terms of remuneration to being a masseuse.

It’s a difficult one, but I’d suggest about 150 baht per person for a half day tour, and 300 baht per person for a full day tour.

Final thoughts…

When receiving their change, it’s not uncommon to see many Thai scooping up every last Baht. That said, there are just as many foreigners who don’t tip either. To be sure, good luck getting a tip out of my father!

It’s easy to assume that the Thai don’t tip based on having seen a few that don’t. You can certainly argue that there isn’t a tipping culture per se in Thailand. Since I am a repeat customer to many places that I frequent, I often tip – sometimes heavily – to ensure that I get good service. Which I always do.

Ultimately, like many things, tipping in Thailand is up to you. If the service wasn’t good, and you don’t intend to go back to the place, I definitely wouldn’t leave a tip!

Anyway, that’s it for this video. Expect a new video next week.

For all you techies out there, this video was shot on a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, and edited using HitFilm Express.

To check out details on arranging a bespoke Bangkok tour with experienced tour guides, please click on the link in this video’s description section.

Finally, please don’t forget to subscribe to this channel through the button below! Also, I’d like to hear from you if you have any thoughts or comments on tipping Thailand. Please do reach out to me through the comments section of this video!

Thank you very much for watching. I’ll see you next week. Goodbye.


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