Quick Guide to Tipping for Expats
Thais are not know for tipping and generally don’t expect tips. You will notice that in the more touristy areas they may however expect a tip for their services. Taxis in Bangkok’s Silom and Sukhumvit areas, known for tourists, are not shy to ask for a tip.
Some bars have now started to use the tip tray. Also, some of their staff are working in a bar where foreigners frequent because they expect small tips as working in a bar frequented by Thais means they generally won’t be tipped. You are basically tipping for them offering you a good table service all night. They’ll usually induce a tip by presenting you with a black book with your bill where you can pay and when it returns you can leave a tip.
Eating at a Street Food Stall
There is no need to tip after eating a street stall. The food is cheap because it is aimed at people that don’t want to spend huge amounts of cash. Therefore, these vendors never expect to receive a tip, but if it is a place you regularly visit, you can tip at your own discretion for a better and swifter service each time you visit. However, most of the time you’ll receive priority service if you are regular anyway.
Eating at high to mid-range Restaurants
Most mid-range restaurants do not charge a service charge. Generally people will tip at these places, but you don’t have to go by the usual 10% rule. 20 baht is usually enough for most sized bills, but maybe if you are eating with a large crowd, and you thought the service was above and beyond, you can always give a larger tip.
High-end restaurants will nearly always add on a service charge so look out for these as they will increase your bills, and it isn’t always obvious they have added the charge as this part of the bill may be phrased in Thai language.
Look out for restaurants that already charge service on top of your food and drinks bills. Some employees may still expect a tip, but in reality as with any other country in the world you don’t have to tip. Although an additional tip will help you receive a quicker service next time you visit the restaurant if you are someone that doesn’t like waiting. Service charges are generally found in hotels, hotel restaurants and high end restaurants.
You don’t have to tip taxis. Thais generally will take every baht of change from a taxi journey, so the drivers don’t really expect you to pay a tip either. The meters on Thai taxis tick up at snail place and they don’t tick up in orderly numbers. On a short journey you will probably get a bill of 53 baht, but you have only three 20 baht notes. The chances are that you are going to pay a 7 baht tip because the change is not worth the hassle.
In addition, it’s worth noting that there is certainly no need to tip a taxi driver that has negotiated a non-meter price for your journey. The driver will already be charging you more than the journey is worth or he/she would have turned on the taxi meter, so in essence the tip is already included when you fix a pre-arranged price.
Tipping in Thailand at places you visit regularly, even if it is just 20 baht, admittedly will go a long way most of the time. On the whole unless you are already charged a service fee, there is no need to tip regularly. It is entirely down to your discretion, but try to stick to the minimum 20 baht rules if you must tip, and you won’t insult anyone. It’s better to leave no tip than a tip below 20 baht!