Travel tips

Tipping Abroad

Last updated 7th June 2017

Tipping abroad differs greatly from country and culture. To avoid embarrassment on holiday, we help decode the tipping minefield with these…tips.

Unites states of America

When in doubt, tip – this is a rule of thumb in the States, and, like Canada, the tips are generous and factored into the workers’ wages. In restaurants, for meals it’s 15-20% minimum. At the bar tip $1 for every drink ordered. Pay an extra 20% for spa treatments, hairdressing and tour guides. $1 is the going rate for hotel bus boys, bell hops and porters for every bag or box carried. For this reason, it’s useful to carry dollar bills just for tipping.


To avoid taxi drivers having to deal in coins, it’s usual to round up your fare to the nearest note.


They like tipping in Canada. They tip everyone. They also tip a higher percentage in restaurants than elsewhere – 15-20% is the standard.


In mainland China tipping is not a part of the culture, and many establishments have a strict no-tipping policy. The big exception to the general rule is the tipping of tour guides and drivers who depend on the extra income to supplement their wages. Guides may expect $10 per day per person, and drivers $5. In Hong Kong, western ways are more prevalent.


In general, in large restaurants, 10% service charge is included in the bill, but it’s quite common to leave a tip too – INR 100 (approximately £1) in a casual place, up to INR 300 in a five star restaurant. It’s best to give a tip directly to staff in cash to be sure they get it. Carry a stock of small denomination notes separately from your other cash so they are readily to hand for tipping purposes. In hotels, it’s usual to tip bellboys or anyone who carries luggage about 50-100 Rupees per bag. Be warned – don’t allow someone to grab your bags if you don’t want to tip. 


It is almost true to say that there is no tipping in Japan. The Japanese consider that good service is standard and to tip is an insult. However, in high class hotels (ryokan) it is acceptable to give a tip – but never directly. It must be placed in a small sealed envelope and given discreetly with a small bow of the head.


Malaysians do not tip and they do not expect to be tipped either. The only exception to this is hotel staff. You are encouraged to tip porters, bellhops or room service anything from RM 2 (40p) to RM 10 (£2).


Tipping is part of the culture of Mexican economy, where people rely heavily on tips to supplement their weekly pay. It’s best to tip in cash so the waiting staff benefit.


Tipping has not been part of the culture of Oman but is becoming more so. A tip of 10% is considered the norm at more expensive hotels and restaurants or rounding up to the next Rial is acceptable. Tipping taxi drivers is not thought to be necessary as they may, as in other countries, inflate the price for tourists and also claim they have no change if you present them with high denomination notes. It is best to agree a fare before you set out.


Though Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world, the workers in the service industry are very poorly paid and rarely see the benefit of the (usually 10%) service charges in place in restaurants and hotels – so to tip for good service is an act of generosity. Even small amounts make a huge difference. It is most important to be discreet and respectful when you tip.


If paying by credit card, never add the tip to the bill but leave cash. There are tax issues that would complicate a pay out to waiting staff. Tipping is not considered customary for taxi drivers but you can round up the fare. In fact, you should negotiate and settle upon your fare before you get in.

South Africa

Tipping in South Africa is widely practised and well-received. In restaurants and bars, particularly in upper class suburbs, service charge is likely to be included in the bill – between 10-15% – and this is the standard rate to tip in the absence of that charge.


Tipping is not usual in Thailand although some Thais will leave loose change. In Bangkok, more western standards have been adopted. At hotel and upmarket restaurants, there’s 10% service charge. If there’s none, acceptable tipping for a tourist is either to round up to the closest 20 Baht or tip up to 10%. Taxi drivers don’t expect a tip. Some may try to return it if you try. Tips left at bars and nightclubs are thrown into a pot to be divided among the workers at the end of the night.


Sometimes, restaurants, hotels and bars apply a service charge, which is meant to be split amongst the staff. This may not happen so you might want to tip more, in cash, to reward good service. If no service charge is included at a restaurant, add 10-20% of the total to the bill. Tipping in bars is not always expected, but it will ensure quick service with a smile next time you buy a round. You can tip bellboys, valet parkers or porters about 5 or 10 Dirhams (80p-£1.70) a time. If you want to tip cleaners, leave 20 or 30 Dirhams.