Tipping in Thailand isn’t customary and there is no requirement to tip anyone. However, as a tourist in Thailand, if you receive good service, tipping is a great way to say thanks and to help a local earn a living wage. Read on for your guide for how and how much to tip in Thailand.
What’s in our guide to tipping in Thailand?
Though tipping isn’t a local custom in Thailand, with the growing economy, massive rise in tourism, and the burgeoning middle class, it is becoming more common. While there is no requirement to tip anyone, wages in Thailand for many service workers are very low — the average Thai wage is less than 9,000 THB ($300 USD) per month.
Even if you leave a small tip, it can make a big difference to the person who receives it! It’s a nice way to show your appreciation when someone goes out of their way to give you the best experience on your holiday.
Tipping in Thailand — Who to Tip, How to Tip, and How Much to Give
Understanding Thai Currency
The official Thai currency is the Baht, which is worth about 0.033 US dollars. Put a more mathematically useful way, 1 USD is about 30 THB. Though Thailand is a little more expensive than its closest neighbours, Laos and Cambodia, your baht will go a long way — especially on food and drink.
A 1.5 litre bottle of water is usually around 15 THB (50 cents), and you can grab dinner at a local night market for 60–120 THB ($2–4).
Fun fact about baht in Thailand: Carrying banknotes in the back pocket of your pants is considered offensive because it means you have been sitting on images of the king — so carry those baht carefully!
Etiquette for Tipping in Thailand
Depending on the service, tipping etiquette in Thailand can vary. Check out our tipping tips below for the most common range of tourist services.
Tipping in Restaurants
Thailand is a food lovers paradise (the Thai people are crazy about food!) and you can find almost anything you want to eat at any price in Thailand.
Every visitor to Thailand should experience at least some of the amazing street food, especially since the hygiene in Thai street stalls is generally very good. You’re also likely to eat in some family-owned small restaurants and can splurge on seriously upscale dining if you want.
In Thailand, dinner can cost anywhere from a dollar or two to hundreds of dollars, depending where you decide to eat.
Depending on your choice, tipping etiquette varies significantly.
Tipping in upscale Thai restaurants
If there is one place where tipping is usually expected in Thailand, it’s in the fancier restaurants. You should expect to tip a minimum of 10% of your bill, and tip more if the service was good. Hand the money discreetly to the server as you leave the restaurant to give someone a personal tip.
Tipping in casual restaurants in Thailand
If you have enjoyed the food and found the service friendly and helpful, then leave a 10% tip of your bill with your server. It will be appreciated if not generally expected. You might also choose to round the bill up and tell whomever collects your money to keep the change or leave your change on the table.
Street food vendors
Some of Thailand’s most popular dishes (such as Pad Thai), originated on the side of the street. If you avoid street food in Thailand, you’ll miss out on some of the country’s best cooking.
Most Thai’s don’t cook at home because there is so much delicious, cheap, and healthy food available on the street. Seek out night markets in less touristy areas to find the most traditional Thai cooking, which you’ll get to enjoy alongside the locals.
Usually, prices at Thai street stalls are clearly marked and tipping is not done — you may even get some weird looks if you try to tip at a street stall. But, if you loved the food, by all means, allow the vendor to keep your change.
Tipping in Hotels
Just like restaurants, Thailand offers accommodation from the most bare bones hostels to five-star luxury hotels and everything in between.
Tipping in Thai hostels and homestays
If you’re staying in a hostel, the owner and staff will already know you’re on a budget and won’t expect any kind of tip. But, if a staff member was extraordinarily helpful, let them know how much you appreciated them and give them a small tip — the equivalent of $5 or so would be plenty.
Homestays are another budget accommodation where tipping is rarely expected. Often, the family will run everything, from breakfast cooking to cleaning, and will not expect a tip.
Still, you can tip around 10% of your room cost per day if you really found the service outstanding. To avoid giving offence, just make it clear when giving the family money that you are tipping for their great service.
Tipping in Thai hotels
If you’re staying in an inexpensive hotel, it’s unlikely that anyone will expect a tip. You can leave 10% of your room cost per day for the maids when you check out if you choose. Just leave it on a table or nightstand in your room when you check out.
For upscale hotels, Western chains, or other luxury properties, you should probably follow a more Western tipping tradition. There will be porters, maids, concierges and others who will all go out of their way to help you.
Here are some tipping suggestions for expensive Thai hotels:
- Porter carrying several bags (50+ THB)
- Cleaner of room (10% of room cost per day of stay)
Tipping in Taxis, Tuk Tuks, and Other Transport in Thailand
Tuk tuks in Thailand are kind of a nightmare (especially in Bangkok), so we rarely use them. Before you climb into a tuk tuk, agree the price and precise destination with your driver. When you arrive safely, then you can pay the driver. Don’t expect to be given any change though — most tuk tuk drivers will say they don’t have any! Just make sure to have lots of small bills so you can pay the right amount.
Thai taxis tend to be a little easier to use than tuk tuks. Most are run on a meter now but if you’re not sure, ask the driver to use the meter or agree the rate in advance. You don’t generally have to tip your taxi driver in Thailand but round up your fare so you give the driver the change.
If you want to avoid negotiating with taxis and tuk tuk drivers, the ride-hailing app Grab will be your best friend in parts of Thailand. With Grab, you can choose to ride in a car or as a passenger on a motorbike, which allows you to avoid the sometimes horrendous Thai traffic.
You’re not really expected to tip when using Grab but if you pay in cash, you might as well round up the fare and give the driver the spare change — they are not paid well and this can go some way to improving their standard of living.
Tipping Tour Guides in Thailand
Sometimes it seems like there are almost as many tours available in Thailand as there are tourists! They can range from a few hours in a museum to many days crossing the entire country from north to south. Just like many other experiences in Thailand, how much to tip varies depending on the type of tour you take.
On a budget tour of a few hours, a tip is not necessarily expected. On a longer tour, with more services and more luxury, you will certainly want to leave a decent tip for your guide.
For a day tour, if your guide has been great, tipping 10% of the tour cost per person is about right. Just discreetly hand the money to your guide as you leave the tour and thank them for their service.
On a longer tour, you can tip anywhere from $5–25 per day, depending on the cost of the tour and the service you received.
Wellness & Beauty
Tipping in Spas
When in Thailand, do as the locals do and get a Thai massage. It can be an intense experience as the masseur prods and manipulates your body parts in a more aggressive way than you might be used to. But it can also be incredibly relaxing (mostly after the fact) and can reduce aches and pains from all that touristing!
Don’t assume that your masseuse receives the amount you pay for the massage. It’s more likely that they will get a tiny portion of your fee, while most of it goes into the business or the owner’s pocket. Because of that, it’s always nice to tip your body worker in Thailand.
Usually 10–15% of the price of the massage is right. Just hand it to your masseuse after you put your clothes on and are ready to head back out into the world.
Tipping Thai Hairdressers
In an inexpensive local salon, you will probably not be expected to tip, since the local custom doesn’t really include it. Of course, you will not give offence if you decide to add 10% onto your bill, or hand a small tip to your hairdresser as you leave.
In more expensive Westerner-focussed salons, a tip is usually expected. Again, 10–15% is about right, depending on how happy you are with your haircut.
A Final Note About Tipping in Thailand
Though tipping is not customary in Thailand, with the influx of travellers, it has become more and more common in tourist hot spots. Usually, service is also excellent in Thailand, so you will likely find yourself wanting to leave a tip more often than not.
In the service industry in Thailand, relatively low pay is still the standard for workers. Because of that, a small tip can make a big difference, paying for a full meal or more. So if you receive great service, make sure to thank the person that gave it with a personal compliment, a smile, and a tip!
We hope this guide to tipping in Thailand helps you show your appreciation for the great service you’re likely to encounter in Thailands. We’ve spent a lot of time in the country and absolutely love it there. So if you have any questions, feel free to get in touch and we’ll try to help you out.
♥ Happy transformational travels, Jane & Stephen
We’re not going to lie, it takes a LOT of work to create travel guides like this. But it’s easy to help us out! If you book or buy something using one of our personal links in this post, we’ll earn a small fee at no extra cost to you. Of course, we would never recommend anything we didn’t 100% believe in! Huge thanks in advance! –S&J
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