What is your tipping point? If you're like us, you'll be staring at the strange, colorful denominations in your palm, unsure what you should be giving the driver, porter, waiter, hairdresser, barista, police officer as they smile patiently. Tipping etiquette varies across cultures, generations, locations, and occupations. In North America it's become so ubiquitous, pretty soon they'll have "tip jars" in emergency rooms. So where and what should we tip? Here are some ideas we came up with:
1. Research where you are going. In some places like mainland China or Japan tipping can be considered insulting. So do a little reading, save your cash and don't get labeled a rude tourist. For general ideas on tipping in prospective countries we've put together a brief list:
- If you travel in Australia: generally tipping is not expected.
- If you travel in North America: 10–20% depending on level of service (15% is a generally a good guideline), but if the service is terrible, don't feel obliged to leave anything.
- If you travel in China: tipping isn't required (outside of Hong Kong).
- If you travel in Egypt: tipping is expected everywhere, so it's good to have small change available at all times. For restaurants/taxis 10–20% is the standard.
- If you travel in France: service charges are automatically added to the bill, generally 15%.
- If you travel in Hong Kong: read your bill, as a service charge (generally 10%) has probably already been added by restaurants and hotels. For taxis, just round up to the next Hong Kong Dollar.
- If you travel in Japan: don't tip. Some places will actually find it insulting if you do.
- If you travel in Malaysia: tipping generally isn't expected.
- If you travel in Thailand: traditionally tipping hasn't been expected, but it is becoming more prevalent. Many restaurants/hotels have already applied a 10% service charge, so check your bill. For taxis, provided you are using a meter, 3–5 Baht is plenty, 10 Baht if the total is over 100.
- If you travel in Mexico: similar to Egypt as tipping is expected everywhere, so it is best to have some small change on you.
2. Remember to read the bill. As previously noted many restaurants and hotels will automatically add a gratuity and should be giving the tips to the staff.
3. If you're unsure what to tip, just ask. Most people will give you an honest answer and let you know what is adequate.