Tipping etiquette: Top tips about tipping around the world • Art de Vivre
Tipping etiquette: Top tips about tipping around the world

Tipping etiquette: Top tips about tipping around the world

One of the easiest ways to immerse yourself in another culture when travelling is by going to restaurants or local vendors and eating local cuisine.

Knowing each country's tipping etiquette is so important: If you tip too small in some countries, it can be seen as offensive, while other countries don’t really accept tips. Here are some top tips for tipping around the world.

Tipping in the United States

Tipping is prominent in American culture and helps subsidise a waiter's salary. This tradition goes back to the 1850s and 1860s when affluent Americans travelled to Europe and found that servants were tipped when they carried out their job really well.

In the United States, you tip whether it's the valet or your hairstylist. If you want to be considered a good tipper, go for 15%-20% instead of the 10% you would give in other places such as England or France. This is important, especially in the hospitality industry, as they live off tips due to rules around minimum wage, with servers earning a minimum of $2.13 an hour.

Tipping in US

Tipping in Europe: More relaxed

The tipping culture in Europe is more relaxed than in the USA where tipped workers can legally earn less than the minimum wage. A tip in the EU is added to the bill as a service charge or tax so technically, you’re already paying a tip. In Europe, a tip is not considered a lifeline server so tips are seen as a reward for good service. Tips have been a reward for good service since the middle ages.

However, how much you reward a server for good service is lower than in other countries and depends on where you go in Europe. For example, you're not obliged to leave a tip in Spain but typically restaurants would expect a tip of around 5-10%.

In Germany, the word used for tipping is "Trinkgeld" which translates to drinking money, and the rate for tipping is 10%. At festivals, you usually buy tokens to exchange for food and drink, and a small cash tip is a norm at these events.

an Italian town perched on the shores of Lake Como

In France, a service charge is included in the fee, and tipping isn’t an obligation, so there isn’t a set fee. However, if you order a drink at the bar, 10-12.5% will be added to the final bill. This is because the service charge is part of French law.

Tipping is also added to the bill in Italy through a service charge called "servicio." You may also see you’ve been charged for eating the bread you were served at the beginning of a meal when dining in restaurants, known as "pane e coperto."

Austria also has something similar, as tipping isn’t a common practice, but a service charge will be added to your bill.

Gourmet meal and white wine

Tipping in Asia: Be careful not to cause offence

The rules on tipping change depending on which country you are in when travelling to a continent like Asia. It isn’t at the standard 10% (maybe 15% if you feel generous) in Europe or the 15-20% rate in America.

For example, in China, tipping is considered rude and can make someone feel embarrassed in the restaurant industry. It was even banned in the past as it was seen as a form of bribing. However, today it's expected for other professionals like tour guides.

Japan does not have a culture of tipping. They believe good service is a part of the culture, and providing a tip will cause a lot of offence. Here, saying a genuine "thank you" to the person who has served you — preferably in their language — goes a long way.

A tip is only expected if you are in Bangkok, but you are meant to round up the bill. If you go to Bangkok, you are typically charged a service charge. If not, the 10-15% rule or rounding up the bill usually applies. In India, you are encouraged to tip, with the amount being the standard 10-15%.

Restaurant in Japan

Tipping in Africa

If you’re travelling to a tourist hotspot, then it's more likely a tip is expected. If you want to tip for good service, maybe leave at least 10-15%. If you are in South Africa, 10-15% is usually added to the bill. In Kenya, a 50-100 shilling tip should be enough in a hotel. If you are in South Africa, 10-15% is usually added to the bill.

However, it is much easier to sign drinks and meals to your room and leave a small tip for an individual server, or bartender or add it on. Also, if you are staying at a hotel, you can tip the porter, typically $1 for every piece of luggage.

If you travel here, you might decide to spend some time on a safari or another form of organised tour. You might assume there’s no etiquette on tipping but the etiquette for a tour is that you tip drivers, guides and cooks as a group instead of individually. When on tour, the best time to give a tip is at the end of the session.

Upmarket lodges and camps will usually work on a full board basis (meaning breakfast, lunch and dinner are included in the price). The tips are distributed to all staff members to be fair to the backroom workers.

A general amount for tipping is $1 per bag for porters, $1-$2 per day for hotel staff, $3-$5 for personal butlers and drivers, and $10 for guides and drivers. However, you should always check with the lodge or camp for the best amounts to tip, as they can have different rules.
When travelling abroad, do take in mind that people in many countries, unfortunately, rely on tips to make a living and that when you tip, it makes both the giver and the receiver feel happier.

Hopefully, this guide to tipping around the globe will help you plan your budget for your next trip and make it easier and hassle-free.


And if you're thinking of what destination you should visit next, check out our hand curated selection of the best cities for theatre aficionados.


Photo credits: © Unsplash

Inspire our community

A global community of enthusiastic and curious ones. Diverse voices. Subscribe for free to share your vision and enhance our art-filled world.

To leave a comment you must sign in