Tipping Etiquette Around The World

February 19, 2015 8:00 AM

Travelers are faced with many different challenges, especially while traveling in another country. Customs vary from country to country, making it challenging to fit in and not boldly label yourself as a tourist. Tipping is one of those customs that varies from country to country and is the quickest way, besides your accent, to show people you are not a local.

Some countries view tipping as a customary and polite practice to thank servers for their assistance. Other countries view tipping as an insult. In addition to understanding where tipping is customary, it is also important to know how much. Every country has its own standards on how much of a tip is expected and accepted.

Here is a brief guide to tipping around the world.

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Africa

One might not expect to have to leave a tip in some of the world’s least developed areas. But the services received in these areas are often more exceptional than in any other region of the world. Tipping when visiting Africa is considered to be a very generous and thoughtful gesture. Feel free to leave a 10-percent tip at restaurants, just check to make sure it is not already included in the bill. Also, giving the porter, concierge and housekeeper a tip per day is also a welcome gesture.

Asia and South Pacific

It is customary to leave a tip of 15 percent for different services received at restaurants and hotels while traveling through India. In fact, housekeepers are not paid very much and tipping them for great service is customary and almost always expected. Just be careful when traveling to India, because some people will ask for a tip when they have done nothing for you.

No tips are expected for any service in countries such as China or Japan. However, leaving the bellhop with a dollar per bag is a polite and customary gesture. Tips are also a nice gesture when receiving a massage or other spa services at a non-hotel location.

It is customary to tip 10 to 15 percent of the bill to your server when dining in Australia and New Zealand. When staying in a hotel, it is a nice gesture to leave the porter with one dollar per bag and to pay $1-$5 to the housekeeper. If the concierge does you a favor, feel free to leave him or her $10-$20 (depending upon the favor). When treating yourself to beauty and spa treatments, a 10- to 15-percent tip is expected. Tip private, Aboriginal and Maori tour guides $50 per person for a private tour. If taking a bus tour, tip $5-$10 to the guide and $10 to the driver.

Small tips are expected when visiting Cambodia and Thailand. For example, approximately $1 per diner is paid to the server. A service charge is added to your bill when staying at a hotel that covers all gratuities, with the exception of leaving the porter with a dollar or two per bag. Leave a tip of $1 for taxi drivers and $2 for private drivers. If taking a tour, tip the guide $10-$20 per person per day.

A 10-percent service charge is added to just about everything you do when visiting Indonesia. However, it is also customary to leave any loose change you may have on the table before getting up from a meal. The same 10 percent is added to most services in Malaysia and Singapore as well, however many of the locals round up their bills to the nearest dollar. Leaving additional tips for exceptional service for bellhops, housekeeping, tour guides and drivers is also customary in Malaysia.

Tipping in Pakistan is not really customary nor is it included with the bills. It is up to the individual to determine is a small tip will be left.

A tip of 10 percent is usually included with just about any bill received in the Philippines. However, take a close look at the bill, because if it is not included, it would be a nice gesture to leave a 10-percent tip. Only leave a tip in a clearly marked envelope or face-to-face with hotel staff. Most Filipinos will not pick up money that is left behind, so handing it directly to them will ensure they receive it.

South Korea is a non-tipping society, so do not leave a tip of any kind. The only exception is when taking a guided tour ($10 per person per day) or using a hotel porter ($1 per bag). Check all bills when traveling through Taiwan and Vietnam, because about half of the locations, hotels and restaurants, will add a 10-percent service fee to the bill. If it is not included, leave a 10-percent tip for your server, $20 for the concierge and dollar tips for porters and doormen.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


The Americas

Every country in the Americas has a different view on tipping. Some locations include the tip in the bill, while others do not. In fact, some countries will not even accept a tip if it is offered. For example, in the United States and Canada, it is customary to tip an additional 15 to 20 percent of the bill. Staff at Canadian hotels go out of their way to help guests, which is why a $10 to $20 tip is commonly offered and accepted.

Argentina does round up the bill by adding a 10-percent tip into the bill at restaurants. However, if you want to tip a little extra, that is okay. Just remember to keep some change to do so as most places refuse to break bills. When dining in Brazil, your 10-percent tip is included in the bill and in most situations, any additional tips will be refused.

In Mexico it is customary to tip 10 to 15 percent in cash at restaurants. Tipping five pesos to a gas station attendant is also a widely accepted practice throughout the country.

Other tipping customs throughout other parts of the Americas include:

  • Chile and Ecuador: 10 percent is included in the bill at restaurants (but you can leave a little extra); it is optional to tip porters, concierge and housekeeping; $10-$25 per day per person to tour guides and $5 per day for drivers
  • Colombia: 8-10 percent is generally included, but it is customary to tip more; pooled tips of $5-$10 per person per night for accommodation and staff; $5-$10 per person per day for tour guides and drivers
  • Costa Rica: Tips are included with all restaurant bills; small tip per bag for porters and per day for housekeeping; tips from $2-$10 for taxi drivers and tour guides based on distance of trip
  • Nicaragua: Leave an 8-10 percent tip at restaurants, 50 cents to one dollar per bag for porters and $1 per day for cleaning staff; $10 per day per person for tours and $5 per day per person for drivers
  • Peru: Leave 10-15 percent at restaurants; tip per bag for porters and per day for housekeeping; only tip the concierge when receiving a special favor and taxi drivers do not get tips

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The Caribbean

Most resorts in the Caribbean are all-inclusive, meaning gratuities are paid for upfront. These include gratuities for housekeeping, porters, butler service and concierge. However, that does not mean you should not leave a little something extra when receiving exceptional service.

When dining outside of your resort package, take a close look at the bill to see if a tip has been included. If not, leave a tip of 15 to 20 percent, based on level of service. If you use a travel guide, tip about $25 to the guide and $10 to the driver at the end of the tour.

Europe

When tipping in Europe (or anywhere else in the world), it is recommended to leave your server a cash tip. In some countries, a tip on a credit card doesn’t guarantee the server will receive his or her tip, leaving them upset that you did not reward them for their hard work.

Different restaurants throughout the United Kingdom will add a service charge to the bill. If this charge is not included, a tip will be expected. Average tips range from 10 to 15 percent of the bill in restaurants. It is not customary to tip when visiting a local pub.

While dining in France, take a close look at your bill. It if says “service compris,” you are not require to leave a tip. Plus, in France it is only customary to tip if you received exceptional service. In Italy, tipping 10 percent is commonly accepted, but do not tip more than that. Plus, it is not customary to tip gondoliers and vaporettos.

No one will protest if you get up and leave without tipping in Spain, especially if you received terrible service. However, if you feel you received exceptional service, feel free to tip seven to 13 percent at restaurants.

Other tipping guidelines for Europe include:

  • Croatia: Leave the change when getting a cup of coffee and tip about 10-15 percent in restaurants; tip bellboys $1 per bag; tip 10-20 percent of the tour to the guide directly; leave the change when tipping the taxi driver
  • Czech Republic: Tips are included with the bill, but feel free to leave more; $10-$20 if the concierge does something special; $1-$2 per bag for bellhops and $3-$5 per day to the cleaning staff; $10-$20 per person per day to tour guides, depending upon size of group
  • Estonia: Tipping is not customary here, but is a nice gesture for exceptional service to porters, drivers, tour guides and concierge
  • Germany: Add 10-15 percent to the bill for waiters and bartenders; tips are also appreciated by helpful housekeepers, porters and concierge
  • Greece: Round up your bill in a restaurant; leave a small tip for porters, housekeepers and concierge for exceptional service; no tips are expected for taxis
  • Hungary: Leave 10 percent for great service at restaurants; $20 for special favors received from the concierge; $1-$2 per bag for porters and $3-$5 per day for housekeeping
  • Iceland: 15 percent is already included in restaurants (leave no more than 5 percent additional); no tipping is accepted in hotels and tipping is not expected by drivers and tour guides
  • Italy: Leave 10 percent of bill at restaurants and tip a few dollars for porters and housekeepers
  • Russia: Hand 10 percent directly to the server at restaurants; tip cabbies and drivers 10 percent; give the porter $3-$5 for each trip made to your room and tip housekeepers $2-$3 per night; you can also tip the concierge $10-$20 for special services
  • Scandinavia: Tips are usually included in the bill, if not, tips are not expected and in most cases not accepted
  • Switzerland: Most places add a 15-percent tip/service charge automatically to your bill, but you can leave additional if you feel you have received exceptional service
  • Turkey: Leave a 10-percent tip in cash at restaurants (do not leave it on a credit card); tip porters $2 per bag; taxi drivers are usually tipped, but you can leave the change when paying for the ride
  • Ukraine: 10 percent at restaurants; pocket change for hotel cleaning staff and $15-$20 for tour guides per person per day
The Middle East

Many in the Middle East who offer services will put their hand out for a tip. However, it is customary to tip in smaller amounts in this region. This is mostly because a small percentage has already been included with the bill, however, this amount is usually divided among everyone who has helped with the service (even behind the scenes) at restaurants, bars and hotels.

For example, Dubai places a 10-percent service charge on bills at hotels, bars and restaurants, which is divided among everyone. If you feel your direct server deserves more, it is okay to add a little extra behind. Israel also includes a tip in the bill, but it is customary to tip a little extra when receiving services from the concierge, housekeeping and porters.

In Egypt, the tip is included in the bill, but feel free to leave an additional five to 10 percent when dining at restaurants. It is also customary to tip the housekeeper a dollar or two a day and the porter one dollar per bag. If your concierge goes out of his or her way to help you, feel free to give them a little something for their assistance.

If taking a government-approved tour through a closed country like Iran, most gratuities are included in the cost of the tour. However, if you feel you have been treated to exceptional service, you can leave a little something extra for the server in a restaurant. In fact, one of the best gestures you could offer your server is a small gift from America. Being a closed country, servers love being treated to something they would not normally have access to.

In Jordan, the tip is usually included in the bill’s total, but you can always leave a little something extra. It is also customary to leave a tip for your porter ($1.50 per bag), housekeeper ($1-$2), tour guide ($30 per person average) and taxi driver (15 percent average).

Tipping customs in other countries in the Middle East include:

  • Lebanon and Syria: 10 percent in restaurants; $2 for porters and doormen; a few dollars per day for housekeeping; $20 for the concierge upfront to guarantee great service during your stay; tour guides $10 per person per day; drivers $5 per person per day
  • Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates: 15 to 20 percent in restaurants; $2-$5 for doormen (when hailing a cab), housekeeping (per day) and porters (per bag); $5-$10 per person per day for drivers and your guides
  • Yemen: 10 percent in restaurants; $2 per day for housekeeping; $20-$25 for the main guard when being escorted out of the capital of Sanaa

As you can see, tipping customs vary from country to country and situation to situation. Most tips are based on the level and quality of service you receive. Though it is polite to leave a tip, make sure it is not already included with the bill and that the person serving has done an exceptional job.

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Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.