TIPPING IN THAILAND TIPS: TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP?
Tipping in Thailand can be an awkward affair. Although leaving tips in Thailand has become a more common affair, especially in tourist areas, several locals tend to be puzzled by this gesture and insist on giving you back the change. But then, you don’t want to look like an absolute cheapo, grabbing every bit of coin on the table. So, take note of these tip savvy tips for your trip to Thailand.
TIPS UNEXPECTED, BUT APPRECIATED
In a developing country, where the minimum wage for a day’s work is 330 Baht, roughly 10 US Dollars, people tend to be very careful with every Baht they get and rarely leave tips. Although it is not customary or mandatory to leave tips in Thailand, leaving a few cents to the hardworking waitress who did everything in her power to make sure you got your order the way you like it – not spicy, no peanuts, no egg, vegan, vegetarian… – and probably went back and forth between your table and the kitchen a couple of times to get it right, would be very much appreciated.
THE FARANG KEENIEOW STIGMA
In tourist areas, where the locals have been exposed to the tipping culture, you can be judged as a stingy foreigner if you don’t leave a tip. This could mean that you may not get the best service when you return for another meal. Waiters do tend to remember the tippers and the non-tippers and on a busy day, guess who they will serve first?
WHEN IN THAILAND, TIP LIKE THE THAIS DO…
A good starting point in answering this question is to check out how the locals do it. Although tipping is not a common occurrence in Thailand, locals, especially those belonging to the middle to upper classes, leave tips at restaurants and cafes.
At high-end restaurants, for example, where the people who eat there are expected to have the bling to afford it, tipping begins at 2.5% of the bill. High profile clients, who have a bigger face to save, would tend to give a bit more.
In middle range restaurants and cafes, especially themed cafes, some Thai people would leave a tip that is 3 to 5% of their total bill. Others would leave the change as to save face and not look stingy or needy. Most Thai people, especially younger people who do not have much of an income, would not leave any tip.
It is unusual to leave a tip at a roadside eatery or a street stall, where change is immediately provided. Some locals, however, are very generous and do ask the vendor to keep the change.
HOW TO TIP LIKE A TOURIST
Being a tourist, especially in tourist areas, the locals see you as someone who is much more well off than they are. Although they will serve you whether you leave a tip or not, making someone’s day or getting a VIP treatment for a few cents is not such a bad deal, is it?
Tipping your bellboy based on the number of bags you carry can go a long way. This will mean better service and having someone at your beck and call during the duration of your trip. For 30 to 50 Baht a bag, less than 60 cents for each piece, how can this be a bad deal?
Although it’s rarely done, it would be nice to leave housekeeping some money on your last day. Just think about it. 50 Baht is a 15% increase in their daily salary.
In Thailand, no matter how highly trained your masseuse is, they rarely receive more than 50 Baht for a two-hour massage as the owners usually pocket most of the money. Giving them 100 baht for every 30 minutes of work or maybe even more if it is the best massage you have ever had, would help them out a lot. Also, make sure that you give the money to them directly.
Rounding off the meter to the nearest tens would be the best way to go about this. However, if your taxi driver does not use the meter, then you do not have to leave a tip.
FOLLOW YOUR JUDGMENT
If you are not pleased with the service, like an encounter with a rude taxi driver who has gone around in circles to rip you off or a careless manicurist who has maimed you for the rest of your trip, then it’s best not to leave a tip. On the other hand, if you feel entertained by your gabby bartender at a nightclub or your taxi has dropped all your friends off in different destinations, then do give them a good tip. Also, if you are travelling on a tight budget, then only tip if you can spare it.
WHAT’S YOUR TIPPING POINT IN THAILAND?
Now that we have given our two cents on this frequently asked question, we would love to know how you handle this tipping conundrum. Do you think you should tip in Thailand? Let us know your thoughts.