Should you tip in Thailand?
This seems like a simple question.
But there is actually a fairly heated debate about this topic!
On one hand, people argue that tips in Thailand amount to such low amounts compared to the west, so don’t be cheap! Just leave a tip. The receiver will be very grateful!
On the other hand, some people say that overtipping can actually hurt the locals of a country.
They argue that if tourists/foreigners regularly leave high tips, service workers will prioritize serving them over the natives who often can’t afford to tip.
That means the locals will basically become second class citizens in their own country.
Foreigners who give tips will be given preferential treatment over the locals.
Although this theory sounds kind of ridiculous when you think about it on an individual level, when you apply this thinking to scale, (i.e. millions of tourists who go to Thailand), it starts to seem fairly plausible.
In fact, there are plenty of scholarly sociological studies that show how overtipping can have real negative impacts on the natives of the country.
But let’s put this heated debate aside, because thankfully, tipping in Thailand is not really expected.
Unlike many other countries (like the United States in particular), tipping is not normally required or expected in Thailand.
But that doesn’t mean that tipping is never done in Thailand.
It just means there’s no hard figure or expectation to do so. It’s more of a thing where if you decide to tip, it may just be as simple as leaving the coins from your change or rounding up slightly.
Contrast that with some other countries, like America where a 15-20% tip of the restaurant bill is expected.
And if you don’t give it, you may get some dirty looks or comments!
But Thailand does not have the same tipping culture!
It’s up to the individual to decide if they want to.
So for me personally, here’s when I generally tip.
I don’t often get massages, but when I do, I generally leave a 100 baht tip. If the masseuse is giving me an hour-long massage for around 300 baht, I like to throw in an extra 100 just because a full hour massage is a pretty strenuous task and 300 baht for a massage seems dirt cheap.
My normal haircut shop charges 120 baht, so I’ll generally just give 30-40 baht extra, so the total is around 150-160 baht.
I will usually check to see if there is a service charge added. If there is, then I often won’t leave any tip. If there is no service charge, then I’ll often just leave the loose coins as a tip (and pocket the paper bills). This might be around 5-20 baht.
In these situations I’ll often just round up. If my fare is 131 for example, I’ll just round up to 140.
But again, this is just my own personal preference on tipping in Thailand. There’s no expectation to do so.
And how about you? Do you tip in Thailand? How much? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
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