If you’re planning a trip to Thailand to train or compete in Muay Thai, you may be wondering about the etiquette surrounding tipping. And, more specifically, what is common courtesy within the Muay Thai community when it comes to tipping.
- Tipping Culture in Thailand
- Tipping for Training
- Tipping after Fights
- Tipping from Gamblers
- Other People to Tip
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Tipping Culture in Thailand
Although tipping is not mandatory, it is a fairly common practice in Thailand. “It’s not required but appreciated” is probably the best quote to pull when describing it, even when it comes to Muay Thai.
Therefore, it’s important to understand when and how much to tip to show respect and appreciation for those who have helped you on your Muay Thai journey while you’re in the country.
Tipping for Training
The most obvious person to tip is your trainer. It’s customary to tip them for their time and expertise. Yes, they are receiving a monthly salary from the gym they work at. But the reality is that trainer wages are pretty low in Thailand and do not fairly compensate them for the amount of time (5-8 hours a day), effort (being a trainer also entails being a caretaker for their fighters), and potential bodily harm (it’s physical labor).
Giving a tip to a trainer relatively in the beginning of your stay can be an indirect way of saying, “I really enjoy training with you. Please consider teaching me more during my stay.” Bottom line: money talks.
Tipping later on (middle or end of your stay) shows that you appreciate their efforts and are grateful for their guidance. The amount you should tip depends on the duration of your stay and the quality of instruction you receive.
It’s difficult to give a hard number on how much you could give, because there are factors such as location and the trainer’s individual level of motivation and satisfaction. The following are just some numbers to consider, but are no means definitive:
- For short stays of a few days to a week, a tip of 100-200 baht per day is standard.
- For longer stays of two weeks or more, a tip of 1000-2000 baht per week is more appropriate.
- If you are planning on staying long-term, give your trainer a cut of your fight purse (more on this later).
- If you receive exceptional instruction and personalized attention, and or if you fight during your stay, you may want to consider tipping more.
Again, note that tipping your trainer is not required, but it’s appreciated. If you can’t afford to tip, expressing your gratitude with a sincere thank you is also a great way to show your appreciation. You can also buy them a gift before you leave – clothes, shoes, and alcohol are generally received well!
Tipping After Fights
If you compete during your stay, consider giving a portion of your purse to your trainer. They put in hours of work to help you prepare for the fight, and they deserve a share in the rewards of your performance. A percentage of fight purses is usually how it’s done with the professional Thai fighters; trainers get their salary and a cut of their fighters’ purses as a “bonus”.
Again, there is no hard number to give, but if you are an entry-level fighter, 1-2k baht is a good amount to give. If you are a mid- or high-level fighter, consider giving more of your purse (3-5k).
If there are gamblers present, they may give you a tip for winning the fight (it usually means they won a decent amount from betting on you – more on this in the next section). If you receive such from a gambler, take this into consideration as well when tipping your trainer.
Tipping from Gamblers
Gamblers may approach you at any time – before the fight, during the fight, and after the fight.
If gamblers approach you before a fight, proceed with caution. While they’re usually doing some research on who is better to place their bets on (you or your opponent), some try to manipulate the outcome of a fight by offering a fighter a large tip in exchange for a certain result. The money is usually awarded after the fight, after you’ve carried out your end of the deal. This practice is considered unethical. Gamblers and fighters who collaborate in manipulating outcomes can be banned from the sport in Thailand.
If you do receive a tip first from a gambler before your fight, it’s important to use your judgment and assess the situation. If the tip is offered freely and without any expectations, it’s likely safe to accept. However, if the gambler seems to be pressuring you or asking for a certain outcome, it’s best to decline. You may even want to report the incident to someone at your gym, like your trainer.
During the fight, gamblers can approach you and offer you an “injection” to win. They “inject” money into the fight to motivate fighters to perform better so they can get the W. The amount they inject is upfront. They’ll tell you, “I’ll give you 1000 baht if you win.” Big-time gamblers can offer more (I’ve seen gamblers offer fighters 50k baht!).
After the fight, gamblers who made a good amount off a fighter and was impressed with their performance may want to tip the fighter (mentioned in previous section).
Other People to Tip While in Thailand
In addition to general service workers, don’t forget about the people who work for the camp that are not trainers. This includes the people who cook your food, clean your room, etc. Giving them any amount and/or buying them gifts is always appreciated, and they will certainly remember your generosity.