Tipping Around the World: A Traveler's Guide

Posted Jan 10th 2011 12:17 PMUpdated Jan 10th 2011 12:19 PM


How to Tip Around the World

Martin Kingsley, flickr

It's a common conundrum when traveling: what do you tip? Don't tip enough, and you're an ungrateful guest. Or leave a gratuity, and it's considered an insult. Rather than anxiously wring your hands over the rights and wrongs of gratuities abroad, use our guide to make your life a little easier.

Hotel tips here are pretty standard, starting with $2 per bag for bellmen who do your heavy lifting and $2 for requests from the concierge (though the more labor-intensive or unique, the higher your tip should be). In Paris, make sure to drop your doorman a Euro and leave a couple for your maid every day. It's the same in Rome and London -- though the latter obviously expects pounds. Tip your cab driver 10% of the fare. You can breathe easy when the bill comes at the end of the meal -- more often than not, the service charges are included. But add another five to 10% on top of your bill, just to be safe.

How often do you tip hotel maids?
I tip daily, leaving a few dollars in the room each morning.1 (33.3%)
I only leave a tip in the room before I check out, even if I stay more than one night. 1 (33.3%)
Never.1 (33.3%)
China and Japan
Visitors to China tend to take hotel cars, for which you should tip five to 10%. But in Hong Kong, tipping is a little more lax -- just round up on your fare. Once you get to your hotel, tip your porter $2 to $3 per bag, and your hotel concierge deserves $3 to $5 for the basics (more for the complicated queries.) Make sure you leave a couple of bucks for your maid -- per person, per day -- when you're in Hong Kong. Dining in a restaurant means rounding up the bill in China, though it's suggested you tip more in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Restaurants in Hong Kong tend to include service in your tab (tip 10 to 15% if they don't). Meanwhile, tips are not necessary in Japan and might lead to your confused waiter chasing you down the street with your change.

Tipping is pretty basic here. Restaurants require the standard 10 to 15%, but there's no need to tip your cabbie (hotel cars expect a 10 to 15% gratuity). At your hotel, give your bellman $1 or more for each bag they cart up to your room, and if you're asking for assistance from the concierge, make sure you have anywhere from $2 to $20 to thank him or her for helping you out with your request.

Hotel concierges can be an incredible help here, which is why you should be prepared to hand over at least $2 for your request, or up to $20 if you make it a bit outlandish. Porters look for $1 or more per bag, while hotel cars want 10 to 15% for their services. Taxis? Shell out 10% for their services in major cities, and if you're eating out on the town, the tip is included in your bill more often than not. When in doubt, tack on an extra 10 to 15% for good service.

Australia and New Zealand
Spending time down under means tips all around. Eating out means a 10 to 15% addition, unless they include it in your bill -- double check, just to be sure. Grabbing a cab? Add 10% to the fare in Australia, but not in New Zealand – just round up. Hotel porters look for $2 per bag and concierge tipping is roughly the same as everywhere else, asking for at least $2 for services. But if you ask for the moon and the stars, be prepared to shell out up to $50 to have your request met. Take care of housekeeping, too, with a buck or two per person for each day you stay.

How to Tip Around the World

lrargerich, flickr
South America
When you're bouncing around all points south, skip the tip on taxis... unless you're in Brazil or Argentina. There, they look for a 10% add-on for their driving skills. At restaurants, it's a little tricky. You'll want to add 10 to 15% to your bill, unless there's already a service charge. However, double check with your waiter what the charge covers -- it usually won't include the staff's cut. At the hotel, bellhop services should garner $1 to $3 per bag, while concierge requests are usually rewarded with $2 to $10, depending on how labor intensive your query. In Buenos Aires, make sure you leave three to six pesos per person, per day for housekeeping.

Mexico and Central America
Skip the tip if you're eating in Costa Rica or Belize, as they add in a 10% service charge. In Mexico, some places add a service charge, and some places don't. For the restaurants that don't, give 10 to 15%. But if you're in Guatemala, Nicaragua or Panama, drop 10% on your total bill. From there, it's the same straight across the board. Cab drivers don't expect a tip, so just round up. Porters appreciate $1 to $5 per bag, and concierges will want anywhere from $2 to $20.

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This is to "Joe",

If you've never been a server, don't assume that waiters and waitresses aren't treated like scum. Also, if you tip well, why are you so offended by my comment?

I've known nice guys who happened to be non-tippers. And in that case, I pour their coffee, serve them, go above and beyond simply for the kindness, though I do assume they don't understand or care how little I make to run around for their benefit.

I've also known true slimeballs when it comes to serving. There was a guy who used to claim he should eat for free, so he would always try to sneak out before I got his bill. I learned quickly, so I gave him his bill directly after he got his meal. He never tipped me, but came in almost daily and used to argue against paying for his meal. He used to smear gravy all over his seat, literally... daily. And each day, being that he requested to sit in my section, I had to deal with him. Let's just call him "Joe Shmoe" (Sorry, your name's Joe?). Well, some days I have anywhere from 5-10 "Joe Shmoe"s that I wait on, so I don't want to hear you complaining that waiters and waitresses don't get treated like scum.

I have always given the customer the benefit of the doubt. They can appear to be a miserable or crude person, but until I express my kindness, give a smile, keep the orders straight, I give the person plenty of opportunity to show some sort of kindness in return. I don't even mind the cruel people who tip only because they understand tipping. But there are people out there who take one look at you and decide they're going to make your day a living hell, and possibly not even tip, to boot.

You should work at a restaurant sometime, learn about humanity, perhaps?

January 14 2011 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People need to understand that it's important to tip if you're in a country that requires tipping. Some restaurant establishments do business with upwards of 2/3rds of its customers being international, most of which don't seem to understand tipping in America. And if your wage depends on tips, waiting on international people just doesn't cut it.

Some waitresses run the other way when they see a messy, demanding foreigner because they expect them to be the ones who don't tip simply by the look of them. No one wants it to be that way, but it is. It's nice when the rare foreigner tips and proves you wrong.

January 14 2011 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a bunch of nonsense. This was written by a tourist who knows nothing about the local cultures. I'm sure this is fine for turists but the locals would never tip the way the writer suggests. I was born and raised in Europe and no one tips beyond a basic small gesture, like a dollar or two. Get real!!

January 13 2011 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George Roniger

Shame on you for printing this sales job for tipping. When in Europe, I regularly ask locals about tipping in restaurants and regularly am told that it is not neceszsary to leave anything, but that rounding a bill up is qa nice gesture.

January 13 2011 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert Almanza

Airport wheelchair service tips were not mentioned. No where are they expected and sometimes they seem to be accepted unwillingly. In France a man actually said, "We get paid for this service." Only upon arrival to the US do you find an extended hand. I once offered $5 and the girl said, "Too little for so much work."

January 13 2011 at 9:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I tip everywhere I go 15-20% where necessary. When I see someone go out of their way for me to give me exellent service I will give them an outstanding tip.I once tipped a hairdresser 10.00 for a trim just because she took the time on a VERY busy day to take time to listen to me and my needs.We need more GOOD customer service now a days!!!

January 13 2011 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Christine fron NZ..you people have some sense left. Some day...traveling to NZ is on my "bucket list."

January 13 2011 at 8:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am from New Zealand and there is NO tipping there.

January 13 2011 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is getting way out of hand in tipping. Some door men are making more than PHDs or engineers now adays. There is no fair pricing. I tip according to what thet person should make an hour. not what protocol is.

January 13 2011 at 7:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A few years ago, I was in Ekaterinburg, Russia, and had dinner with a couple of Russian friends in a very exlusive restaurant. The bill came to over $500.00 for three of us. Not sure of the tipping custom in Russia, I asked my guests for guidance. They said absolutely no tip is required...As we walked out - without leaving a tip - I received the dirtiest looks from the waiters ever.
Conversely, in another restaurant when I tried to tip the coat attendant, he looked at me like I just called his mom a derogatory name.
What is one to do...I say - abolish all tips. Actually, TIP means: To Insure Prompt Service, yet it is expected at the end..
I have left large, very large, tips when I received exceptional service, yet next time in the establishment...I received sub par service by the same waiter. My conclusion...NEVER leave a tip over 10 percent, and that is only if you get great service.

January 13 2011 at 7:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply