The gentle art of tipping explained

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Dear Hillary,

We enjoy coming to Thailand every year but the one thing that completely confuses me and leaves me embarrassed is the subject of tipping – when and how much?  For example, if the restaurant charges a “service” fee, should you tip as well?  I am told that the wages are not high for some of the up-country people in bars and restaurants and they need the tips, but I do not want to throw money away on our holiday trips either.  I mean, the reason we come is because things are so much cheaper than at home.  If the prices go up here, then it isn’t worth the traveling costs.  What do you do as someone living there, for example.  What’s your tip about tipping?

George and Steph

Dear George and Steph,

What you have to look at with the bill is whether or not there is a service charge.  If the establishment adds on 10 percent for service (the usual amount), then as far as I am concerned – that’s the tip.  There are some places that no doubt pocket the Service Charge, but that’s not anything of our doing, nor can we change it.  That is something between the employees and the owners to work out, and believe me that does happen.  On the other hand, if I feel that the waiter or service staff has gone well beyond that which could be expected, then I reward them with a little extra something for that person, irrespective.  You know the sort of things I like – a little fawning, groveling and lots of compliments.  In an establishment that has no standard add on Service Charge, then it really is up to you.  Small change left over or up to 10 percent again is quite normal.  The service staff is grateful for anything you leave them.  It all adds up by the end of the day.