Smartours Tipping Required

Old Mar 17th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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Smartours Tipping Required

Hi - we just received our info package for our tour with Smartours. This is what it says:

It is customary to collect group tips and distribute them among the guides in each city. There will be one local guide and one driver in each city. The recommended amount is $3 per person per day for the local guide and $2 per person for your driver. Ofcourse it is also customary to tip your Tour Escourts/Guides for whom we suggest $5-$6 per person per day.

So basically we will be paying an extra $20 for the 2 of us per day!!!!!!! I think that is a bit excessive actually.

So I am wondering who has gone on this "AMAZING THAILAND" tour with them - and if you are demanded to give these tips or can you give what you want to give??
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 08:22 AM
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just about all the tour companies do this. I didn`t mind this too much but what irriated me was that the tour guide also gets a big kickback from all the shopping stops you have. I know in India it was 40% but hear it China it`s more like 50
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 08:39 AM
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Sorry, I hit the wrong key. Anyway, it was 30% in India. (We went back to a place to see). But I hear in China it`s up to 50%. Any place they give you all the time in the world to shop, you know the guide is getting a big kickback. I know in one jewelry store they took us to in Chaing mai, one guy spent over $5,000! I`m sure the tour director was jumping for joy! They keep you busy so that you don`t know if you will have another chance to get whatever it is you want. (I want a silk comforter in China) You certainly don`t have to buy anything though. Add that to the tip you are giving daily and those tour guides do quite well. I think they deserve the daily tips as they do work hard and it really isn`t much for the bus driver. As for the local guides, no big deal was made out of their tip. I didn`t go to Thailand with Smart tours, but with OAT, but I`m sure it`s the same thing.
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 09:02 AM
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I am ok with tipping but what I hate most is being told how much to give. the definition of a Tip is a token of appreciation or thanks. I hate being told that is should be an x amount or x percentage of something.

So my question is - do they regulate and ask for what I mentioned ($3 for guide, $2 for driver, $5-6 for tour escourts) or can I give whatever makes me happy?
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 09:13 AM
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You put your tip in an envelope, and hand it to the guide on the last day. They don`t know what you gave or who gave what.
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 09:20 AM
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I recently returned from a smartours trip to Thailand and Cambodia. These amounts are suggested amounts and in no way are you forced to give a specific amount. Use your judgement, but be aware that the guides depend on these tips as part of their salary. I tipped our guide and driver what was suggested because I thought that they deserved it. Our guide did not take us to alot of compulsary shopping stops, and I was grateful that she did not waste my precious travel time, so I tipped her accordingly. Have a great time. The trip was wonderful-well organized, well paced, and very interesting.
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 09:36 AM
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ok I will keep that in mind. thanks again for your replies!
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Old Mar 17th, 2007, 12:37 PM
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I've gone on several SmarTours trips and shelleyk is correct. No one knows what you're giving - the hint is that "we will be getting a different local guide tomorrow". Most of the time the tour guides deserve these tips, but we had one who was totally unresponsive (don't worry - I understand he no longer escorts for them) and many people did not tip him or gave him just a token tip. Collect some envelopes when you're in hotels as they come in handy. Use your leftover local currency. Some people on our trips gave the bus driver more money because he was pleasant and very helpful.
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Old Mar 27th, 2007, 10:57 PM
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When Thai people giving a tip
10 THB for car- park or Taxi driver ( no need to give tip to TUK TUK or if you wish too.. )
20 THB for the restuatrant that didn't including service charge
20-40 THB for the room service, house keeping
20 THB for the bell boy
50-100 THB for the massage 1 -2 hrs.
20 THB for the hair shampoo
40-80 THB for hair cut /curl

The average tip is now start at 20 THB.
But if you haven't been treat very well then no need to giving a tip at all.
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Old Mar 28th, 2007, 05:42 AM
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Just came back this weekend from the smartours Thailand trip. We had a tour escort and a bus driver and his helper. No local guide was used because our tour escort was always with us. The bus driver and helper split their tips or you could tip each one 1/2 of the suggested amount. Good idea to take a few envelopes with you. We did very few stops at shops and there was absolutely no pressure (other than the Thai merchants who do sort of hover over you but not in a bad way...just customary) Our tour guide was wonderful and deserved every bit of her tip. She actually has the April 2 arrival trip I believe. If you want any further info, let me know!
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Old Mar 28th, 2007, 02:14 PM
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We've traveled with OAT, who also have recommendations for tipping local bus drivers and guides. They suggest $1/day for the local driver and $2/day for the local guide. We found it helpful to take along a big stack on $1 bills and use those for the local tips. A full-time bus driver would receive more than that, about $3-$4 a day, and the primary guide, from $5 - $10. We've found OAT's guides so excellent that we've tipped at the upper end.
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