To tip or not to tip in Thailand?

To tip or not to tip? As an American I was brought up in a tipping culture and therefore tip service wherever I go. Many people will tell you that Thailand isn’t a tipping culture or at least wasn’t till us Americans ruined the place leaving tips everywhere.

So, some people tip when they go to Thailand and some don’t and the argument rages on.

I had the chance to eat in some small Thai restaurants on my last trip and I watched what the Thai people did and oddly enough most of them left a tip for their waitress, not much but a tip all the same. They all seemed to leave just the change from the bill…maybe 5 to 10 baht each. When I asked my girl she said ” yah always leave tip…they work hard make little baht”.

One thing is for sure whether the Americans started it or not….Thais in the service industry expect something. Believe me, I’ve heard the term cheap Charlie thrown around on quite a few occasions when a non tipper left the scene of the crime.

Not everyone expects a tip. The street cart vendors or baht bus drivers you don’t tip. The taxi’s I usually round up the meter charge as a tip but for the maids, waitresses, and bartenders I tip well. You don’t have to give huge tips but what you give is appreciated and usually remembered. I usually leave the maid 20-50 baht a day tip and at the restaurant or bar leave a 20 - 50 baht tip….sometimes more as the restaurant and bar staff usually pool their tips. If I want to make sure that the person I want to get the tip gets it ‘ll slip it to them on the sly….more times than not they’ll split it with the others anyway.

Some people argue that they are already getting paid to do their job and shouldn’t get any more but for me I can’t see things that way, especially in a country where the average Thai earns between 3-6 thousand baht a month ($100-$200). Yeah, the cost of living is way cheaper in Thailand but thats easy for a foreigner to say when we are spending the equivalent of a Thai’s yearly salary in a week or two on vacation.

The Thai people are very accommodating to begin with, taking care of the people taking care of you only makes for a better vacation and thats never a bad thing.

So, do you tip or not? Let’s here what the five of you think.

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1 Comment »

Comment by Hasbro
2008-01-26 04:11:55

Seems like service industry is underpaid everywhere in the world. In the U.S. this is indeed a fact; it is even codified in the tax law, so that a waitress/waiter is imputed to have received a specific %age as a tip, whether tey received it or not. I haven’t been to Thailand yet, but when I do go I do intend to tip.
The only place I won’t tip is in Paris France, as it is already added to the bill and the service is horrible with the servers being rude.

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