Tipping Culture in Thailand: A Traveler’s Guide to Tipping in Chiang Mai
Thailand and Chiang Mai, in particular, has become world-renowned for its spectacular scenery, ancient history, and warm locals.
While this popular Thai destination sees thousands of tourists year in and year out, many people who visit are still unsure of the conventional tipping procedure.
If you’ve ever visited Chiang Mai, you’ll know that the many of the locals live a happy, content way-of-life where tipping is not always necessary.
This being said, a tip is always much appreciated and often met with a token of appreciation in return.
To learn more about tipping etiquette in Chiang Mai, Thailand, this blog outlines everything you need to know.
Understanding Tipping Etiquette in Chiang Mai
As a general rule-of-thumb, leaving a tip in Chiang Mai and throughout the rest of Thailand is not always customary.
However, most Westerners who visit this Thai slice of paradise don’t know otherwise and tend to overtip when it’s not always necessary.
When visiting a new country, it’s always important to understand what’s considered offensive behavior and what’s not.
While tipping may not be considered offensive by many Thai locals, it can often be viewed as excessive in their culture.
Be Tip Savvy
Thai locals regard tipping as a relatively new tradition. This is especially true among those located in the countryside and small towns.
Big city dwellers are a little more familiar with the tipping culture by Westerners. In turn, they have become savvy at capitalizing on confused tourists who don’t quite understand the currency exchange.
This is where it’s essential to carry around smaller notes, such as 20 Baht notes. This is a standard, customary tip amount across Thailand.
Bigger notes such as 100 and 1000 Baht can add up extremely quickly, and before you know it, you may be hundreds of Dollars out-of-pocket.
Typically, 20 Baht equates to approximately 60 US cents, while 100 Baht equates to $3 US.
Tipping at Hotels
When staying at a hotel in Chiang Mai, most tourists tend to tip porters who assist with carrying luggage, as well as cleaning staff.
Most hotel porters earn an average salary of 200 Baht a day. A 20-50 Baht tip is certainly more than enough as tipping etiquette.
Your bedroom cleaning service does not expect a tip at all. Nevertheless, most Westerners tend to leave a small gift of appreciation.
If you want to tip your room cleaner, a 20-50 Baht tip is also sufficient to make their day. Make sure to leave the cash in a visible place, such as on the bed or nightstand.
Tipping at Restaurants
When dining at smaller, street-side restaurants and cafes in Chiang Mai, leaving behind your small change is sufficient enough as a tip.
Alternatively, round the bill up when doing calculations and always try to pay in cash.
At higher-end restaurants a 10% gratuity is standard tipping etiquette. Check if this 10% has already been included as a service charge on the bill.
Make sure to hand your tip (in cash) directly to the waiter who served your table. If numerous waiters served you, give your cash tip to the most senior of the waiters and indicate the tip must be divided equally.
Tipping at Spas
Depending on where you have enjoyed a spa treatment, a 10% service tip is generally the way to go. Most especially if you have visited a high-end hotel spa.
However, tipping at independent spas differs slightly. For short treatments less than an hour long, be sure to tip 50% of the total bill or at least 50 Baht.
If your treatment is longer than an hour, your tip should generally equate to 100 Baht per 30 minutes. I.e., a two-hour massage would equate to a 400 Baht tip.
Always ensure you tip in cash and hand it directly to your spa therapist so that they receive the gratuity and not the management!
Tipping a Tour Guide
In general, a tour guide will spend a significant portion of the day with you showing you local sights and enlightening you with interesting facts.
For Westerners, this most definitely warrants a tip of some kind. The standard amount for a full day of sightseeing with your tour guide is between $10-$20 US.
Make sure that some of this tip is also being shared with your driver.
Tipping Taxi Drivers
Generally, there is no need to tip taxi drivers, but keep in mind that it is standard for them to round up your taxi fair amount. You can count this as your gratuity to them!
Negotiate your fare before your journey when using tuk-tuks, a widespread and cheap form of transport throughout Thailand.
Tuk-tuks don’t run off a meter, and the fair is also generally round up by approximately 20 Baht.
Do Thai Locals Tip?
While you may not see many local Thai people tip their fellow service staff, it largely depends on the establishment.
Most commonly, local Thai people tend to tip the more high-end a restaurant, spa or hotel is.
For the most part, however, there isn’t much of a tipping culture between Thai people, but don’t let this put you off if you wish to show your appreciation.
If a Thai local does leave a tip, it’s generally in the form of ”giving extra”.
This is extremely common in market settings where vendors tend to give extra produce to friendly or regular customers.
Conversely, a customer may choose not to bargain with a vendor, but instead, willingly pay the full amount for produce from a local vendor.
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