UnderCover Waitress: Guest Post: Tips On Tipping In Foreign Countries

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Guest Post: Tips On Tipping In Foreign Countries

Marcela De Vivo writes today about tipping in foreign countries. Thank you so much, Marcela! 

Tips On Tipping In Foreign Countries

Traveling to a foreign country is one of the most exciting experiences an individual can have. While being somewhere new can be fascinating, it can also be difficult to figure out what customs you’re supposed to follow as a traveler.

In the United States, you likely already know how to tip. You know that tipping is expected in restaurants, bars, airports, hotels and pretty much every other place you might go in the U.S. You probably even know how much you’re expected to tip for a particular service, in any given situation.

When in a different country, however, you may not be clear with the rules. In some countries, tips are expected. In others, they’re frowned upon.

Taking the time to learn about the country you’re traveling to and what standard tipping practices are can be very helpful. You will feel less awkward when the time comes to pull out your wallet or leave it in your purse or pocket.

Hotel staff members expect tips of some kind in most countries / Image Courtesy of Flickr

A trip to Africa is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people and it will likely be an incredible one. While visiting Africa, you should know that tipping is common; however, the amounts people normally tip are generally less than what they usually are in the United States.

As a guest in a restaurant, tipping between 10 and 15-percent is normal; however, service charges are sometimes included in more upscale restaurants, therefore, you do not have to feel obligated to tip more. Taxi drivers usually get about 10-percent tip; hotel porters about $1 per bag and about $10 per day for tour guides.


Tipping in Europe varies from country to country. In some areas it’s fairly common, while in others, such as Italy, tipping isn’t necessary or common, except for exceptional services. In many restaurants in England and France, a service charge is automatically included to your meal, which makes tipping at the table unnecessary.

Dissimilar to the United States, most bartenders don’t expect tips in Europe. In fact, oftentimes it’s only Americans who give European bartenders tips.

When tipping in a hotel, porters and housekeepers usually get about 1 to 2 euros per bag as well as between 3 and five euros per night. Tipping between five and 10 percent of the fare in a taxi is standard. 


Tipping is very common in India. In fact, tips are generally expected by people in service industries. In most restaurants, a 10-percent service charge will be added, but you can certainly tip above this amount when provided with excellent service. Tipping graciously is fairly common in mid-to-high-end restaurants.

Typically, porters receive about $1 per bag, while housekeepers usually expect about $5 per night. For taxi drivers, rounding up the fare to the next dollar is fairly common.


In Asian countries, like Japan and China, tipping is actually considered rude, therefore, make sure you put your change in your pocketbook before you head out the door of a restaurant. Tipping is also considered rude in taxis, hotels and on tours in most Asian countries.

The exception to the rule is Hong Kong, where tips that range from 10 to 15-percent are commonly expected for food service. Hotel porters typically receive about $HK 2-5 per bag. In Hong Kong, rounding the fare up to the dollar for a taxi ride is standard.

Tipping is generally frowned upon in Asian countries. / Image Courtesy of Flickr 
The Middle East 

Tips are generally expected almost everywhere in the Middle East. In fact, many people from the United States will feel comfortable tipping in the Middle East, as practices are somewhat similar.

In parts of the Middle East, like Turkey, tipping 10 to 15-percent is common. In other places, such as Yemen and Qatar, the more American standard of 15 to 20-percent is expected.

For American travelers, there is one fundamental piece of advice: tip what you would tip in the states and you’ll always be appreciated by service staff.

Central and South America

In Central and South America, tipping is pretty standard, as many people in service industries are paid only minimum wage, therefore, tips help to subsidize their paycheck. In most restaurants, a service charge will be added, but you can tip above that if service was excellent.

In hotels, about $1 to $2 per bag is common and an additional $3 to $5 should be left for the cleaning staff. Taxi drivers don’t expect tips, but rounding up is always appreciated.

Tour guides do expect to be tipped about $5 to $10 per day.

There are very few countries where tipping is actually considered rude, therefore, if you’re traveling somewhere and you don’t know about a certain country’s tipping policies, play it safe and leave a small tip. Better yet, ask your hotel’s concierge about tipping standards.

Chances are that they will be happy to help you; they’ll likely appreciate that you want to follow the customs of the region.

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Los Angeles who loves traveling, finding the best travel deals, and writing about her experiences. She’s been around the world with her family, but back home she writes about everything from social marketing, real estate, and technology, to music, health, and fitness. 

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