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The Ultimate Guide to Global Tipping Etiquette

By
Stuart Cooke
on
October 1, 2019

Some basic guidelines to tipping across the world...

When on holiday you will use a variety of services that will make you question whether or not to give a tip.

Whether to tip depends on the service and your destination, as tipping can vary. However, even if it is not customary to tip, in most cases it will be considered as a great acknowledgement of good service. But there are a few countries where tipping is considered rude.

To help you navigate through this cultural minefield we’ve created the ultimate guide to global tipping etiquette. Find your destination below:

Europe

In Europe, the tipping culture is fairly laid back. The standard approach is to tip when you receive excellent service or really enjoy your customer experience. However, attitudes toward tipping will vary between countries. We’ve outlined some of the top destinations in Europe below and whether you will need to include a tip.

UK & Ireland

In the UK & Ireland, tipping is reserved only for restaurants. You do not need to tip at your hotel or at a bar. It is commonplace to include a 10%-15% tip to the cost of your restaurant bill. However, it is not essential and if you did not have a good experience you are under no obligation to tip. Remember to double check your bill as some restaurants will add a 10% service charge onto your bill, so your tip is included in the overall cost.

France

Tipping in France is usually reserved for receiving great customer service, like when your taxi driver helps you with your bags or the receptionist at your hotel gives you information on where to get the best crepes in town. It is not a given and staff members do not expect it.

When eating out, round up the bill leaving the rest for the staff. You could alternatively leave a few Euro coins. When eating out at an expensive restaurant then you should use the 10-15% tip method.

Germany

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Tipping in Germany is the same as France, just remember to tip for exceptional service and that when in a restaurant to round up the bill or leave a 5-10% tip.

Italy

In Italy remember to tip when you receive amazing customer service. A few euros here and there at a restaurant or at a cafe will go a long way. Wages are typically lower for hospitality in Italy so when you do give a tip, it will be greatly appreciated.

Spain

Tipping in Spain isn’t really a thing, it can be seen as quite unusual. So only tip again if you experience excellent customer service or if you are in a tourist district and find that a tip has been added to the bill. A few euros is more than enough for a tip at a restaurant or cafe. Don’t worry about calculating any percentages.

USA & Canada

The USA & Canada are the home of tipping. Here, it is a must.

Tipping seems to be an unwritten rule and everyone gets one from your taxi driver, bartender to the waiter.

It is recommended that you leave a tip of between 15-20% for the hospitality industry and for your taxi driver, then $10 for your hotel valet. However, with tipping being the standard custom, when in doubt always tip.

Africa & Middle East

Tipping is seen as a given in the Middle East, with many countries including a service charge in their bill. In Africa, a tip is often seen as an important fee that tops up already low salaries. So you will be expected to tip in these regions.  

UAE

Tipping in the UAE is something that you will be expected to do. There are no guidelines around the practice, but as this region is known for its outstanding customer service, you will often be expected to leave a tip, so remember to budget for this. Prepare to pay a service charge when you visit restaurants and an extra tip of 15-20%. You will also be expected to tip for services at your hotel, at a cafe or when you take a ride in a taxi.

South Africa

You will be expected to tip when you are travelling in South Africa. Be prepared to pay a 10-20% tip on all services, including hospitality, taxi services and for your safari guide. Wages are low, so these tips are used to top up employees salaries.

Asia

In Asia, there isn’t much of a tipping culture. In some Asian countries tipping is seen as an insult but in others, it is welcomed. Tipping etiquette and percentages vary from country to country, so it’s best to check before you head off.

India

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There is no unwritten rule regarding tipping in India. Some hospitality providers may expect a tip, whereas some won’t. Some tours or drivers may request it but it really just depends. If you feel you have experienced good service, then, of course, leave a tip. It’s recommended to give 10% of your overall bill. Look out for service charge at some restaurants and hotels as this will often be included in your bill.

Singapore

Singapore is a popular destination in Asia that sees millions of tourists visiting every year. There is a tipping culture here because of this. Tip 5-10% of your overall bill, and offer a tip to your hotel staff and tour guides. The only place you should not tip in Singapore is the airport, staff members are not allowed to take tips here, so remember this, so you don’t put them in an awkward situation.

Thailand

Tipping is generally expected of tourists in Thailand. Wages are incredibly low so locals in the tourism industry will use their tips to top up their income. Budget to pay at least a 10% tip for services such as restaurants, your hotel stay and for any tours. Although Thai people generally do not have a tipping culture, it is expected of tourists.

Vietnam

Similar to other Asian countries, tipping isn’t really a thing in Vietnam, although it is starting to take off in the tourist industry. You don’t need to worry too much about leaving a tip, however, of course, if you experience exceptional service you can tip. The recommended amount in Vietnam is 5% of the bill or overall cost. This is a lot lower than in other countries to match the low cost of living in Vietnam.

Australia & New Zealand

Similar tipping culture to the UK & Ireland. Tipping is only necessary when you receive an exceptional customer service experience. Tipping is only really in restaurants or jars at cafes, you do not need to tip a taxi driver or hotel staff, although again, if you’ve felt you’ve received amazing service you can, of course, leave a tip, which will be a very pleasant surprise!

Countries it is offensive to tip in...

Did you know that in some countries tipping can be seen as offensive? Tipping etiquette can greatly differ around the world, so much so, that in some countries tipping is seen as rude. Be wary and expect your tips to be returned in the countries mentioned below.

Japan

In Japan remember not to tip as this could be interpreted as insulting. There is no tipping culture in Japan, in restaurants, staff work as a team to provide you with the best customer service, their reward for this is your repeat custom, not a tip. This is something to be wary of, as you do not want to cause accidental offence to anyone whilst on your holiday. Japan has some of the most polite and respectful customs in the world, so it would also be worthwhile brushing up on some basic Japanese etiquette before heading there.

South Korea

Similar to Japan, tipping can be seen as insulting, there is a big culture here to not tip. However, you may have a 10% service charge added to your bill in some restaurants. And if you have an exceptional tour guide, you can, of course, offer them a tip. These are the only exceptions.  

China

In China, tipping can be interpreted as insulting. If you are in a popular tourist area, there may already be a 10% service charge added to your bill. If not and if in doubt ask if it is a common practice. It is not the custom to tip in China and if you do, you may find that your tip is refused by your waiter.

Written by Stuart Cooke, Digital Marketing Manager at MyBaggage.com. They help thousands of tourists each year to take some of the hassle out of international travel.

Stuart Cooke
Written by Stuart Cooke, Digital Marketing Manager at MyBaggage.com. They help thousands of tourists each year to take some of the hassle out of international travel.

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