Tipping custom in Thailand.
A very common question for visitors is how much to tip in Thailand. Thailand is a tipping place and are expected. Wages are not large by western standards and the custom to tip helps keep a good quality of service and a smooth relationship between the tourist and the tourist worker. Thai people do tip each other so it does reflect society's practice in general.
Tipping amounts will vary according to who you are, what country you are from and where you are in Thailand. Some find tipping as natural as breathing and will put there hand into their pocket at the smallest trifle and some are a lot more careful. This is human nature. However it always nice to find the right balance.
When you compare the American attitude to Tipping (a real tipping people) to say the English (many people are down right squeamish when it comes to tipping and are considered poor for tips) it is easy to see why Thai people working in the travel industry contrast the different cultures.
Some tourist areas are more likely to require a tip than others. A 5 star hotel or resort in Phuket get on better with tips and tourists in will get preferential treatment if the tips are right.
How much to tip.
Having lived in Phuket for some time and watching my Thai wife tip, the right protocol seems to be about gauging the salary of the person working for you. It is easy to over tip but this will cost you and there will always be a limit to how much better a service can be provided. It is better to tip with the right balance as this keeps everybody happy.
Tipping Restaurant Staff
Restaurant staff will probably get minimum wage in a simple local restaurant so 10-20 THB is greatly appreciated. In a smart local restaurant 20-50THB is good. In a full-on 5 star resort it can be 50-500THB depending on the size of the meal.
Tipping Hotel Staff.
I always tip the hotel or resort door man or bag carrier ( I stay in 3 to 4 star hotels) as this is the first time that the hotel staff will see you. I will tip above average here as this means everybody will naturally help you out during your stay. This isn't big money, 100-200THB to the bag boy, 50 THB to the door and the rest of the time during your stay, you can give 20-50THB and everybody seems happy and willing to help you at any turn. Some might consider this excessive but I often consider this a small additional price compared to the hotel room price and well worth it.
Tipping and tours
You don't need to tip a boss unless he is a one man band tour guide, ie a self employed. You would tip a a boat man in a kayak tour who helps you in and out of your kayak. The same for snorkeling diving and fishing tours. Aim to give a little something, 100THB to no more than 5% the cost of the tour.
Tip a Taxi?
Taxis don't need tips unless they go out of their way or move your heavy luggage around. But there again 50-100THB gets a smile that you remember as you get out at the airport when you return home. Tipping for a limo can start from 100THB but would rarely go beyond 500THB.
Tip on a shared bus.
On the whole I would not tip here unless the bus man moves heavy luggage or goes out of their way to help. Here I would rarely give 100THB but might easily give 50THB.
Tipping as a family
As a family of 4 I would not give any more than the figures above and would probably not give any less. How ever I would give on the higher side for the family and the lower side if it were just myself. The larger the group the more important it is to tip generously.
We only live once. I say, make someone smile!