Photo: hfabulous via Flickr
No matter how much you travel, knowing when and how much to tip in a foreign country can be confounding.Gratuity rules vary by region and what you consider a token of your appreciation might be interpreted as an insult — regardless of the amount.
To help you avoid those awkward moments, we scoured the Internet and compiled a global tipping guide, starting with places where you tip least to countries where tips are greatly appreciated, if not expected.
Well, almost no tipping. With a few exceptions, such as Hong Kong, paying an additional gratuity is not common in Asia.
Restaurants: In China and Japan, offering a gratuity is considered rude as it can be interpreted to imply that the employee's work is undervalued by the employer. Westernized restaurants may add gratuity to the bill, however. In Hong Kong, adding a 10 to 15 per cent tip if it's not already included in the bill is fine for good service.
Hotels: High-end hotels in China may add a compulsory service fee of 10 to 20 per cent, and nothing is expected beyond that. In Hong Kong it's common to tip hotel staff HK$10-20, and if you make use of the porters at the airport, HK$2-5 a suitcase is normally expected.
Taxis: None in China or Japan. Round up the fare in Hong Kong.
Tipping is not a traditional practice in Australia or New Zealand, although travel agents say it is becoming more common in restaurants and hotels (especially in major cities), possibly due to more exposure to American practices. Even so, tipping tends to be reserved for particularly good service.
Restaurants: In Australia, 10 per cent in fine restaurants only. Some guides suggest not tipping at all in New Zealand, others recommend 5 per cent for the waiter.
Hotel porters: The equivalent of $1 to $2 per bag.
Taxis: Round up the fare in Australia and add 10 per cent in New Zealand.
England is credited (or blamed) for creating the concept of paying a gratuity, but tipping in England and other European countries is not as common as it is in the United States.
Restaurants: At table-service restaurants, tips are considered a bonus for exceptional service. Many countries, such as France, already include a 15 per cent service charge in the bill. Rounding up the total bill is also acceptable. In most countries, a 5 per cent tip is adequate, 10 verges on excessive, and 25 per cent or more is unheard-of.
Hotels: Porters, 1 to 2 euros or its equivalent; housekeepers, 2 to 5 euros per night. For concierges, it depends on the complexity of the request. 5 euros or more is fine.
Taxis: 5 to 10 per cent is ideal, although this depends on the city. A water-taxi in Venice is more expensive and rounding up may be more appropriate since a 10 per cent tip would be more than a taxi ride in other parts of Italy.
Tips are usually paid after a service has been rendered but in certain places tips are given beforehand to ensure prompt service. In India, tipping is referred to as 'baksheesh' or money for tea or coffee. 'Judicious baksheesh will often open closed doors, find missing items and perform other small miracles,' according to Lonely Planet.
Restaurants: A 10 per cent service charge is often already included in mid-range to high-end restaurants, so tipping is optional. In smaller places, where a service charge has not been added to the bill, a tip is warmly appreciated - the amount you give depends on how happy you are with the service.
Hotels: The equivalent of $1 per bag for the porter; $5 a night for the housekeeper.
Taxis: Round up the fare or tell the driver to keep the change.
Guides and Drivers: If a service charge is not included, tip guides and drivers approximately 200 rupees ($4) per day or 10% where appropriate.
Tipping is an integral part of the tourist industry in Africa.
Restaurants: Check if gratuity has already been included. If not, 10 per cent is customary in most countries. In South Africa, 10 to 15 per cent is the norm if the service charge has not already been included.
Hotels: The equivalent of $1 per bag to the porter and per night to the housekeeper; $3--$5 to the concierge. In Egypt, it is customary to tip the bathroom attendant 1 LE or $0.18 USD.
Taxis: 10 per cent.
Guides and Drivers: Private drivers, 10 per cent of total fare; tour guides, $10 per person per day.
Other: South African authorities employ 'car guards' and airport porters semi-officially to cut down on unemployment; most don't get salaries and rely on tips. When parking a car, you might be approached by a guard. It is customary to pay him a few rands when you return to your car.
Waiters, chambermaids and others who work in the tourist/hospitality industry are paid minimum wages as it is expected their income will be subsidized by tips.
Restaurants: In most restaurants a mandatory service charge will usually be included in the bill. If the service charge is not included, a 10 per cent tip is customary.
Hotels: If you're staying in a small rural hacienda, leave a pooled tip of $5 to $10 per person per night at the end of your stay. In standard hotels, the equivalent of $1 to $2 for porters and cleaning staff per bag or daily cleanup.
Taxis: Tips are not required, although you may round off the fare for convenience.
Drivers & Guides: Generally, if you go on a guided tour, a tip is expected. Groups should tip a knowledgeable guide about $5 per person per day. Tip the driver about half that. If you hire a private guide, tip about $10 per day.
The tipping culture in the Middle East is often complex and in some parts is quickly catching up to the U.S. Although tips are appreciated and sometimes expected, you should tip discreetly, say travel experts.
Restaurants: Tip rates vary from 10 per cent in Lebanon and Yemen to 15 to 20 per cent in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Hotels: Similar to hotels in major American cities: the equivalent of $2 to $3 for doormen when they call a cab, $2 to $5 a day for housekeepers, and $2 a bag for porters.
Taxis: Round up the fare.
Guides and Drivers: Tip $10 per person per day for drivers, $5 per person per day for guides. It is polite to put the tip in an envelope before giving it to the guide or driver.
Visitors who are accustomed to a compulsory service charge might be surprised to learn that many people who work in the service industry in the U.S. and Canada depend on tips for the majority of their wages.
Restaurants: Tip 15 per cent of the bill, based on the quality of service. If you receive good service, 15 to 20 per cent is customary. In most major cities of the U.S. however, 25 per cent or more is considered to be a generous tip. For the bartender, $1 to $2 per drink or 10 to 15 per cent of the total bill.
Hotels: $1-$2 per bag for porters, $2-3 per night up to $5 for housekeeping. For the concierge, the more difficult the request, the greater the tip. $5 or more is customary.
Taxis: 10-15 per cent of fare, based on service.
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