Thai Tipping Protocol, Thai Gratuities, & Thai Culture
- DO dress stylishly and modestly. Keep your attire neat and clean!
- DO wear nice pants and a nice shirt with or without a tie, if you are a man attending a business function. For women, wear a nice dress or a skirt and blouse for business functions. Don't wear tank-tops, unless in a tourist beach area.
- DON'T wear shorts, short skirts, or tank-tops if you are a woman entering a temple.
- DO use a fork and spoon when eating. Chopsticks are no longer traditionally used in Thailand. Hold the spoon in your right hand and push the food into your spoon with the fork.
- DO leave a little bit of food on your plate when you're done eating to indicate that you are full.
- DO put your spoon and fork at the 5:25 position when you are done eating.
- DON'T use your left hand while eating.
- DON'T snap your fingers or yell to get a waiter's attention when dining out.
- DO give and receive gifts with your right hand, not your left.
- DON'T open a gift until later.
- DO give gifts such as liquor, books, or sweets.
- DO thank the gift giver with a wai.
Visting Someone's Home
- DO bring a gift for your host. A nice host gift would be brandy, flowers, cakes, fruit, etc.
- DO take your shoes off upon entering a home.
- DO expect men to primarily conduct business, although women are beginning to get more involved in Thailand's business world.
- DON'T rush negotiations. Business decision-making can be slow in Thailand.
- DO be subtle. Directness doesn't always go over well.
- DO expect to be addressed by your title and first name.
- DO introduce colleagues of a lower professional status before introducing yourself in a formal business introduction.
- DO dress conservatively. Women should wear long skirts or pants and covered shoulders. Don't wear sandals.
- DON'T take photos at a temple.
- DO remove shoes upon entering.
- DON'T sit with your feet pointing towards a Buddha. Sit cross-legged or with your feet tucked under you.
- DON'T touch a monk, give him anything, sit next to him, or sit above him.
- DON'T touch a Buddha image. They are sacred. Don't climb on top of it, move it, or even sit next to it to pose for a picture. It's disrespectful.
- DO understand the meaning of the "wai." Wai is when a person puts their hands together close to their body at chest level and gives a slight bow. The higher the hands, the more respectful the wai. It can mean "Hello", "I'm sorry", or "Good-bye."
- DON'T point with one finger. It's considered impolite.
- DON'T show affection in public or even touch someone of the opposite sex.
- DON'T pass something over someone's head. The head is considered sacred in Thailand.
- DON'T point with your feet or use your feet to touch something. Feet are considered dirty, because they are the lowest part of the body.
- DON'T talk with your hands or put your hands in your pockets while talking to someone.
- DON'T step on a threshold when going through a doorway. Step over it instead. Thais believe that a spirit lives in the threshold.
- DO greet with a wai if you feel comfortable. However, as a foreigner, you aren't expect to initiate with a wai, but you must always return a wai to be polite.
- DON'T greet children, waiters, vendors, etc. with a wai. If they greet you with a wai, simply smile and nod back at them.
- DO shake hands if not offered a wai.
- DON'T step on money (e.g., if you drop a coin and it is rolling away) as you are stepping on the King's image.
In Thailand, tipping is generally done as restaurants, leaving either your change from the bill or up to 10% at a finer establishment. Taxis may be tipped by rounding up to the next bill.
Our Thai Tipping Recommendations
- Taxis and Limos: Tipping optional, Round up to next bill/large coin
- Airport Shuttles: Not required
- Hotel Shuttles and Carpark Shuttles: Not required