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Tipping in Thailand: A Traveler’s Guide
Thailand, known for its rich culture, stunning landscapes, and delicious cuisine, is a top destination for travelers worldwide. As you immerse yourself in the Thai experience, understanding the local etiquette, especially when it comes to tipping, is crucial. Here’s a comprehensive guide to tipping in the “Land of Smiles.”
General Tipping Etiquette
Tipping is not customary in Thailand. There’s no mandatory requirement to tip anyone. However, small gratuities for exceptional service are appreciated. Unlike many parts of the world, you’ll never see a Thai service provider with their hand out, expecting a tip.
All public taxi rates in Thailand are metered. It’s common for both locals and expatriates to round up the fare. For instance, a 51 baht fare might be rounded up to 60 baht.
Restaurants and Hotels
Most restaurants and hotels in Thailand include a 10% service charge in the bill. This charge serves as a tip and is shared among all employees at the end of the month, in addition to their monthly salary. In restaurants, it’s customary to leave behind any loose change in coins as a tip. For upscale restaurants with professional wait staff providing excellent service, a tip of 5%-10% is common.
Tipping in hotels is not expected but is always appreciated. For example, you might tip 20-50 baht to the porter who carried your bags to your room or leave 20 baht under your pillow for the cleaner.
Massage therapists typically receive a more substantial tip of around 100 baht, as they earn only a small portion of what you pay to the establishment and often wait for customers throughout the day.
The King: The Thai king is highly revered. Avoid any disrespectful actions or words towards the king or the royal family. This includes stomping on a Thai coin or banknote, as it bears an image of the King.
Temples and Monks: Dress conservatively when visiting temples. Women should wear long skirts or trousers and cover their shoulders and knees. Always remove your shoes when entering temples. Women should never touch a monk.
Hygiene: Thai people take personal hygiene seriously. Given Thailand’s hot and humid climate, frequent showering is essential. Thai people are also very modest, so public nudity is frowned upon.
Cool Heart: Avoid showing anger or frustration. Many things might not go as planned in Thailand, but it’s advised to remain calm and smile through any inconvenience.
The Wai: The ‘wai’ is a traditional Thai greeting. Unless you’re familiar with the appropriate way to ‘wai’, it’s best to acknowledge it with a smile and a nod.
In conclusion, while tipping isn’t a deep-rooted custom in Thailand, it’s a gesture that’s always appreciated. As with any destination, being informed and respectful of local customs ensures a more enriching travel experience.