Did you know tipping can be insulting in some countries?
Tipping is one of the most unique worldly traditions where service is given a numerical, monetary value. Leave too little, you may get chased out of a great dining spot. Leave too much, locals may berate you for ruining local customs and changing the scene.
I’ve had friends in Greece slap my hand for trying to tip at some of the best spots.
To avoid embarrassment, or waiters chasing you down the Seine in Paris, here’s a simple guide worth bookmarking, with what to what’s expected with tip culture in 20 of the most popular destinations.
And just FYI, though these are centered around specific cities, the advice works all over the country…
New York City, United States Of America
New York City is a place created by bankers, and as such – you get what you pay for. Tipping is expected everywhere, on just about everything you do, and frankly – at some extortionate rates.
Standard Meal Tip: 18-20%, though New Yorkers are known to go higher. There are generally no discretionary charges added to the bill, so be sure to bring your calculator to work out the math.
Tip At Bars: If you’d like another round, before the next new year. At standard pubs it’s customary to leave a “buck” or two with each drink. At fancier bars where you’re running tabs, full on 18-20% tips are expected.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Yep, get a wad of $1, $5, $10 and even a few $20’s ready. Even cabs will expect a couple bucks for their effort, and if they do, you can bet the luggage porter and concierge will as well. The more, the merrier – for them anyway.
London, United Kingdom
Minus one political kerfuffle, Brits are extremely prudent people. Tipping in the UK is not over the top, is generally calculated into whatever you’re doing and is all in all, very civilized.
Standard Meal Tip: 10-12.5%, the tip is generally already added to the bill, though it’s great to check. Especially if you’ve had great service.
Tip At Bars: Pubs absolutely don’t expect tips with each round. In certain places, doing so may even identify you as an outsider. But hey, go for it. In high end bars, a 10-12% service charge will likely be added automatically.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Just like all working folks, cabbies, hotel staff and tour guides in London appreciate whatever you’re willing to part ways with. Tip cabbies what you can, figure at least £1 and up for hotel small talk and at least £15 for a tour guide.
Barcelona is a wonderfully artistic and laid back city. Fortunately for those who enjoy keeping loose change in their pockets, this generally extends to tipping too. Tips are always nice, but service industry workers in Spain are used to minimalist tipping European custom.
Standard Meal Tip: 5-15%. “Discretionary” services charges are less of a thing in Spain than elsewhere in Europe, so you’ll need that calculator again. No more than 10% is expected, and frankly, in less touristy spots- nothing much at all is expected. But 15% is as high as it gets.
Tip At Bars: Low key bars are very informal, but if you’re having a big time of it, enjoying the world class gin & tonics of Barcelona – figure on tipping 5-10%. Even if you don’t have to, it’s nice.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Hotel staff are used to doing freebies, but at least €1 per bag for bell staff or €5 for expert tips are a good basis to work off of.
Hong Kong is a city of blinding light, obscene wealth and opulent food and beverage options. Thankfully, their tipping culture is in check. Tipping is a standard thing in this beautiful land, but 10% is about as high as you’ll go- for anything.
Standard Meal Tip: 10%. This lovely round number is often already added to most dining bills, but it’s always worth a look. If it’s not 10% is the widely accepted “safe” number. Though we doubt anyone will complain if you’re feeling generous.
Tip At Bars: Definitely not expected at most places, but hotel bars, you may find a service charge added. If no discretionary charge has been added, anything is nice- but not fully expected.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: You can tip cab drivers, but you’ll be in the minority. As for everyone else, like hotel staff- expect to tip at standard rates found elsewhere. A buck a bag, five and up for complex concierge requests.
Some might say Australians have it figured out. Their minimum wages are amongst the highest anywhere in the world, so tipping isn’t really as much of a “thing” as elsewhere. As the globalized world gets more global however, reasonable tips have become a part of many daily experiences.
Standard Meal Tip: 10%. Tipping for meals is not mandatory, but for good friendly service, throw a friendly 10% in for your polite waitstaff. If you have cash to tip, a bit less is fine. Everyone loves cash in hand.
Tip At Bars: Tipping in bars is far less standard. Bartenders will naturally love a dollar or two as a polite gesture, or a bit more if you’re closing the place down – but don’t feel like you need to go overboard. You’ll quickly see not many others will.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Hotels follow the standard $1 or more a bag, and $5 for special requests. Cab drivers don’t expect tips necessarily, but definitely appreciate a couple bucks for their effort. 10% of the ride is generous, but not outrageous. Guides, figure $10 per day.
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul is a gorgeous, vibrant city, steeped in tradition. Tipping in South Korea is not a big deal, and is not regularly expected for the most part. That’s right – keep your money in your pocket. There are of course a few exceptions.
Standard Meal Tip: 10% service charge is standard at high end western restaurants. Tips are not at all expected in many other restaurants however. Of course your major western hotel may have a different policy – but get out and explore. No additional tip is required virtually anywhere you eat, making this a great city to dine out.
Tip At Bars: Same story. No tip is expected. Some hotel bars may add service charges, but it’s against cultural norms. Just say your pleases and thank you’s.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Cab drivers definitely don’t want your tips. They may even turn you down if you try. At hotels, there’s a service charge included, so don’t sweat having petty cash on hand for each interaction.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The UAE is the only place on earth where ‘seven star’ things theoretically exist. Dubai, just so happens to be the megastar in the area.
Standard Meal Tip: 10% is added to virtually any bill you may find in Dubai. How this gets divided will definitely vary from place to place, so if you have a few dirham on hand, it’s very kind to leave something in cash, even just a little something, when possible. An extra 10% is solid.
Tip At Bars: 10%. You’ll find the number magically applied to any transactions you make, so don’t sweat the math. But again, some cash on top of the standard amount is always enjoyed and appreciated by staff, so have at it. Again, throw in an extra 10%, if you comfortably can.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Cabbies don’t expect anything, nor do most industries. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Tipping a few dirham wherever possible is appreciated by staff in all service industries in Dubai and the UAE. If you don’t have any cash on you, don’t sweat it though.
Stockholm like most of Scandinavia is very expensive. But for the most part, what you see is what you get when it comes to expenses. Tipping has crept into Swedish and nordic society on the whole, but at very palatable levels.
Standard Meal Tip: 10% is a standard amount added to most bills. If no service amount has automatically been added to your bill, you’re not required to tip, but 10% is a nice solid, friendly amount. Just don’t overdo it, people are put off by this in most places.
Tip At Bars: Tipping at standard bars is very infrequent and unnecessary. Swedes love round numbers, so it never hurts to round up a 440 Krona tab to 500, but it’s not all that necessary and certainly not expected in most spots – if it’s not already included in the bill.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Unlike most places, tips are far less expected from drivers, hotel staff and guides. If you feel compelled to tip, there’s nothing wrong with it, and it’ll probably be appreciated, just don’t go over the top.
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City is an exciting and bustling metropolis, showcasing the best the world has to offer, in close proximity to extreme poverty. It’s a top notch place to visit and a food lovers paradise. The drinks aren’t bad either. The key to tipping in Mexico is cash in hand, so carry some with you- discretely.
Standard Meal Tip: 12-18%. Any tip in this range is right on the money- but be sure whenever possible to leave tips in cash. You’ll find an extra dose of gratitude once your friendly waiter sees that you’ve elected to leave pesos over penmanship.
Tip At Bars: Drinks in Mexico City are incredible cheap. Beers are often under $2. With that in mind, bring some extra pesos and tip as much as you can. It goes a long way in Mexico, especially if you’re a local.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Expect to part ways with 200 pesos per day as a gratuity for a great guide. For hotels, expect to carry at least 100 pesos on hand, offering 20 pesos per bag.
The city of love has a very lovable system of tipping. With some of the world’s best and most expensive restaurants on virtually every street corner, it’s a welcome reprieve. If you want to blend in, keep it simple with these figures.
Standard Meal Tip: Many restaurants are service included or “service compris”. If you see this on a bill, you’re good to go, unless you’d like to leave a few extra Euros in cash. If not, expect 10% as a nice standard tipping amount for all your meals.
Tip At Bars: Tips at bars are not expected. You certainly won’t get any famous French frowns by throwing (not literally) a couple Euros in cash at any bars staff though.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: 2 euros per bag is standard at hotels. 10-15% of your total ride is appreciated on most cab or car rides, especially to Charles Du Gaulle Airport.
Thailand’s currency will make anyone feel rich. Throwing 100, 200, 300 tips has never felt better. Mainly, because 100 Thai Bhat is the equivalent of roughly $3. There are varying tipping customs depending on how upscale you go, but fortunately for you, you’re in the know.
Standard Meal Tip: Street stalls don’t expect tips. For sit down meals, expect to leave 3-10% depending on how western the spot. Many Thai do not tip, and those that do often leave roughly 100THB per person, or about $3 per diner on expensive meals. Leave something, but don’t feel like you have to overdo it.
Tip At Bars: Not expected, but 50-100THB is thoughtful and nice. You’ll get a feel for what everyone else is doing, based on the spot. Low key places don’t expect much of anything.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Stick to the 50-100THB range for most one off services, if the service is good. Tips are greatly appreciated here, and do not need to big large to get recognized.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is a city of endless wonder, and also endless tipping. Just about everything is for sale in the stunningly beautiful city by the sea, but for most tourists, tipping won’t break the bank, thanks to the relatively weak currency.
Standard Meal Tip: 10-20% is the standard. The better the service, the higher on the sale. Minimum wage in South Africa is not very high, so tipping is a big part of life for restaurant staff.
Tip At Bars: 10-20% is great. If you have a top notch bartender or waitstaff, be sure to reward them accordingly. They rely largely on tips, so the more the merrier.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Private guides will expect at least R100 for a full days work. At hotels, a 10% service charge is generally added and evenly divided between staff. If one is not, you can opt to offer a tip to the staff. Obviously, they’ll take whatever you feel comfortable with.
Japan is a culture built on honor and pride. It’s a magic society of politeness, order and respect for fellow mankind. Surprisingly, this respect means that it’s a virtually entirely non tipping society. In fact, attempting to tip may get you in hot water. It’s seen as rude and a bribe.
Standard Meal Tip: No tip necessary. Some hotels may add a service charge, but in any normal restaurant a tip is absolutely not expected. As with many places, the more western (U.S. centric) the spot, the more this could sway towards tipping, but in general don’t.
Tip At Bars: Nope. Same story. If there is a charge, it would be added to the bill, but tipping is generally not a customary event. Some bars may have a fish bowl to drop excess yen in, so feel free to do that, if you see one.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Cab drivers don’t mind a little tip. Just throw a nice even number on top of the fare. For tour guides and traditional Japanese hotels (not your Hiltons, Marriott’s, etc) feel free to leave a 2,000-5,000 yen tip. But do it in an envelope. It’s the way to be respected.
Delhi puts the buzz in buzzing. The manic and wildly exciting city is an adventurous feast for the eyes, nose, mouth and ears. It’s also a place where lots of people are going to want your money. To avoid being chased through the streets, stick to these handy tips.
Standard Meal Tip: 10% is the standard tipping rate. Waitstaff generally prefer rupees in hand, rather than leaving it on a bill, if there’s any choice in the matter. Many restaurants have followed the world trend of adding a 10% service charge to the bill. If they do, see if you have any extra cash on hand, it’ll be noticed. Getting to 15% is the correct side of generous.
Tip At Bars: 10% is good. Many western bars may add a service charge, just like restaurants, but if they don’t – try to stay at 10% or above.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Full day guides expect at least 500 rupees (about $8) for an end of day tip. Hotels generally ask that you leave a tip for the collective staff at the end of your stay, but you should also still tip at least 50 rupees for any services, like carrying bags. 100 is generous and nice.
Rome, much like virtually all of Italy is a wonderfully romantic, old world place. Their views on tipping aren’t too different either. You’ll find tips aren’t generally expected in many daily functions, and even when they are, they’re very reasonable.
Standard Meal Tip: 10%. 15% max, no one expects more. A charge may already be added to your bill, so double check, but just leave a nice round figure around 10%. 30% and you’ll be seen as an obnoxious tourist.
Tip At Bars: Not very customary. No one will mind a Euro per drink politely added to the tab though. Always shoot for round numbers. If a bill is €8.25, leave €10.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Figure on €1-2 euros for most simple services like hotel staff assisting with bags. Rounding up is always appreciated, mainly because people love even figures.
Vancouver is a phenomenal eating city, with some of the best Northwest Pacific and Asian cuisine you’ll find anywhere. Though Canada is a wonderfully independent and culturally unique place, they generally employ a US system of tipping- meaning you’ll be doing it.
Standard Meal Tip: 15-20%. Very few restaurants will have the tip included, so figure on adding at least 15 percent to any food bill. Same logic applies here for tipping, all tips are appreciated, but few more than cash in hand, if you can.
Tip At Bars: Generally informal unless you’re at a posh cocktail bar. If you’re having beers, throw a Canadian dollar or two the bartenders way with each round. More for great service.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Expect to leave a 10-15% tip for cab rides. There’s no Uber in the city of Vancouver, so you’ll likely be taking a cab at some point. Guides, stick to 15 bucks a day tip. Hotel staff, figure at least a buck a bag, more for great service or concierge help.
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is a city with more natural beauty than just about anywhere else on earth, and that’s not just the landscape. The city, much like the culture of Brazil is wonderfully laid back and so is tipping in this oasis.
Standard Meal Tip: Most restaurants will add 10% service charge, so no tip is required. If you’re not sure, you can ask if 10% has been added. Tipping is not nearly as big of a deal here, but it’s nice to hook up 10% on your meals, if ever possible.
Tip At Bars: Very laid back. Tip 10% or just a steady flow of small bills throughout the evening, depending on the style of place. You may just get yourself an extra caipirinha.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: Tip at least $25 at the end of a full day private tour, and err or the side of $50. Tip cab drivers whatever feels normal, rounding up amounts to make things easy for all involved.
The Caribbean is jam packed with fantastic resorts, beaches and market fresh cuisine. Since most of the places you’ll eat and stay are resorts – the service may be included with your meals, but be sure to check first. If not, expect a pretty American approach to tipping.
Standard Meal Tip: 15-20% is good, if service is not included in your all inclusive, or your resort package. If service is included, you’re pretty good to go, though it’s always nice to slip someone a few bucks for great service or attention to detail.
Tip At Bars: Definitely check with the hotel desk at check in. If you’re out on the town, throw a couple bucks with every round, if ordering for more than one person. One person, a buck a drink is nice.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: If you’re staying for an extended amount of time and receive great service, figure on tipping at least $20 at the end of a few day/week day. Bell staff will expect a tip for carrying you luggage, so be ready with a dollar or two a bag.
China, like many ancient Asian cultures doesn’t really do the tipping thing on a large scale. As a rule of thumb, the more western or touristy the place, the more you can expect to tip. And if you’re in an authentically Chinese place, you won’t tip.
Standard Meal Tip: True Chinese restaurants frequented by locals generally do not require or expect a tip. Hotels, especially western chain hotels will usually add a 10-12% service charge to your bill. But don’t feel like you must offer anything outside of that amount.
Tip At Bars: The same logic applies here. Tips are not expected or necessary in local spots, but hotels or bars geared for tourists may add a service charge.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: 10-20 yuan, about $2-$3 per bag at hotels, tips aren’t expected in most other parts of your stay though.
Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealanders are lovely, reserved people and this extends to their tipping culture. You won’t find yourself in any shock encounters trying to tip on these wonderful islands. Just keep it simple, keep it round and be polite.
Standard Meal Tip: 10-15% is standard for great service. But no one will be highly offended if you don’t tip. Some places will include the tip in the meal, while others may politely say it’s not necessary at all. Hospitality is a way of life here. Do what you think is right.
Tip At Bars: 10% is great, if not generous. Again, no one would be surprised if you didn’t leave a tip, but if it’s comfortable and feels right, for some great drinks – do it.
Hotels, Drivers, Guides: 5 New Zealand Dollars for a cab ride, a buck or two per bag at hotels, 25 bucks for a private day tour. Keep it simple.