The Destinations Where it’s RUDE to Leave a Tip + Tipping Rules Around the World

Navigating tipping etiquette when travelling to different countries can be tricky, and even for the most seasoned travellers it can be difficult to remember what the rules are. Have you left enough? Is it insulting to leave nothing, or is it rude to leave too much? From restaurants to hotel staff, tour guides and taxis, how much is correct to tip?

As people start to prepare for summer holidays, Google searches for “tipping abroad” have risen by 166%, so travel expert Justin Chapman at Go2Africa gives his tips on tipping, and explains tipping etiquette around the world.

EUROPE

Tipping rules vary across Europe; in countries like France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, your restaurant bill will often include a service charge, but leaving 10-15% tip can be expected if the ‘coperto’ isn’t included. But in other countries, like Belgium, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands, tipping is less common – although rounding up bill to the nearest euro or leaving some change is a good way to show your appreciation. Taxis follow similar tipping rules across Europe, as do bars and coffee shops; a small tip, around €1 is expected in somewhere like France, but wouldn’t be expected in Denmark.

AFRICA

As well as searching for things like the best safaris and the best time to go to South Africa, do some research on tipping before you travel. 10-15% of your restaurant bill is customary, but check the bill for a service charge that might be included already.

When on safari, you would tip back-of-house staff, like cleaners, cooks, and guards, as well as front-of-house staff like guides, spotters or trackers, transfer drivers, and waiters or waitresses. Some lodges and camps will have a communal tip box, or you can leave your tip with the manager, where your tips can be evenly distributed amongst the staff, or you can give cash to individual staff members. Expect to tip $15 per day for general staff at the lodge or camp, $20 per day for a guide, $15 for a tracker, and around $10-20 for a guided city tour. There can be extras to remember too, depending on where you are – like tipping boat skippers in Mozambique, golf caddies in South Africa, and Maasai dancers in Tanzania and Kenya.

NORTH AMERICA & CANADA

Tips make up a significant part of server income in these countries, so expect to leave 15-20% of the bill in restaurants. In bars, $1 per drink is expected, and leave your change or round up when paying for coffee. When paying for taxis, rounding up the nearest dollar or adding a small tip of 10-15% is customary. And don’t forget the hotel staff; bellhops usually expect $2-$5 per bag, $2-$5 per night for housekeeping, and $5-$20 for the concierge, depending on the service.

CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA

In South America, waiters don’t rely on tips as heavily as they do in North America, but 10-15% is the norm in restaurants. In countries like Brazil, Chile, and Costa Rica, look out for cover charge or ‘cubierto’ on your bill; this generally means a charge for the table, not a service charge that goes to the waiter. In Colombia, you can expect to tip tour guides $10-20 per day, but in most Central and South American countries, around $5-10 per day is acceptable. In Brazil, tourism professionals rely heavily on tips, and appreciate more generous amounts of around R$100-200 (which is approximately £15-30.) Taxi drivers don’t often expect a tip in Central & South America, but you can round up the fare, leaving a little more if they help with your bags.

ASIA

Tipping culture varies greatly across Asia. In China, tips are seen as unnecessary and can even be seen as rude. In Japan, tipping in considered part of the service and can be considered offensive – a small gift might be better received if you really want to show appreciation. Similar to Japan, tipping is not expected in South Korea.

However, in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Vietnam, tipping is becoming more common in tourist areas; a small tip of around 10% is a nice gesture but isn’t expected. In Indonesia, 5-10% is appreciated if a service charge hasn’t already been included. Tipping taxi drivers and in bars and coffee shops isn’t generally expected across Asia. It can be best to err on the side of caution and not tip in Asia, to avoid accidentally offending someone – but you can ask a local, or staff at your hotel for advice. 

AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND

Tipping isn’t generally expected in Australia or New Zealand. Some high-end restaurants in tourist areas might have tipping built into the bill as a service charge, but 5-10% or rounding up the bill to the nearest AUD can show your appreciation for exceptional service – including taxis, hotels, and bars.

TIPS FOR TIPPING

Cash is king. When exchanging money into local currency before you travel, make sure you ask for some small bills, so you have tips available for people like taxi drivers from the airport and hotel staff helping with your bags.

Read the body language. In some countries and cultures, a simple thank you is the only thing that is expected, so pay attention to the server’s reaction to gauge if a tip is necessary.

Consider cost of living. In places with a higher cost of living, tipping tends to be more expected, and percentages may be higher. This can even vary within the same region; areas with a high tourist population tend to expect tips more than places that see less tourists.

When in doubt – ask a local. If you’re unsure on what’s expected and don’t want to risk offending anyone, ask at your hotel or accomodation, or locals in the restaurant, for advice and guidance on how much to leave (or not leave!)

Riya Sander

Riya is an inspired writer, passionate about traveling, lifestyle and encouraging startups. As a freelancer she understands the importance of productivity at work. She never stopped finding new ways to create her work productivity. Follow her on Twitter @sanderriya