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Sunday, 6 December 2015
Etiquette 101: Your Guide to Tipping in 50 Countries
You just had a five-star meal in Qatar, or went scuba diving in beautiful Bohol in the Philippines. Well, lucky you! But how do you express your appreciation for the service you received? Tipping rules vary by country, by region, and by scenario—here's what you need to know.
Are you in a country where tipping is customary and required? Appreciated but not expected? Or virtually unheard of? The truth is, tipping rules vary by country, by region, and by scenario.A modest rounding up of the check may be fine in some places and insufficient in others. A few small bills left on a night table might be gladly picked up by housecleaning staff in one hotel and scrupulously shunned elsewhere. Such uncertainties can throw an uneasy shadow over even the most exhilarating jaunt in a new land. That's why we've spelled out guidelines for the most common tipping situations in 50 countries, from Switzerland to Singapore.
THE MIDDLE EAST
The tipping culture is often complex and subtle in this part of the world. "It's known for being very friendly and hospitable, with people providing too much service," says Rita Zawaideh, the Jordanian-born owner of Seattle's Caravan-Serai Tours, which plans trips to the region. In return, "people's hands are out a little bit more." While you may give more often in these parts, it's usually in small amounts—and it's deeply appreciated.
Dubai's government mandates adding a 10 percent service charge to all bills at hotels, restaurants, and bars. (Tips are usually divided equally among staff but sometimes go directly to the people who have helped you.) Feel free to top it off with a few dirhams (each is worth about a quarter). Parking valets and porters are the exception—they usually get 10 dirhams. Bag packers in markets might appreciate a few coins; cabdrivers don't expect anything, but rounding up to the 5-dirham note is good practice.
At Restaurants: The tip is included in the bill; add 5–10 percent above that.
At Hotels: One to two dollars a day for the housekeeper (pay throughout your stay to ensure great cleaning); $1 per bag for the porter; concierges are powerful and very helpful, so $10–$20 at the beginning of your stay will go far.
Guides and Drivers: Cabdrivers, 10–15 percent; guides (who never drive you), $20 per person per day; drivers a little less.
Dollars Accepted? Everything is accepted, and often preferable to local currency.
P.S. Guides are often well-trained Egyptologists whose function is not only to educate but also to divert the many locals who will have their hands out for baksheesh, whether they've earned it or not. James Berkeley, president of Destinations & Adventures, which arranges trips to Egypt and the Middle East, likes to tell "the biggest joke in tourism": A camel driver tells you, "No charge to get on my camel—but five-dollar tip." You pay, you lumber up onto the camel. Then he says, "$20 tip to get off."
Unlike Europeans, Americans can't travel independently in Iran; they must be with a government-approved tour, and tipping is encouraged. Zawaideh recommends each person leave a tip in a separate envelope and write a short note of appreciation. If restaurant service is really good, leave a few more dollars. In hotels, if you really want to express appreciation, says Zawaideh, give a small gift from the United States (a T-shirt or hat bearing the name of an American city or sports team). In a closed country like Iran, she says, "they love that stuff—it means a lot more." But if you do tip, dollars are accepted.
At Restaurants: As in European countries, the tip is routinely included in the bill; add a shekel per customer (they're about four to the dollar).
At Hotels: A couple shekels for the concierge for a small favor. Six shekels per bag for porters; six shekels per day for housekeepers.
Guides and Drivers: 10–15 percent for taxis; 90–120 shekels per person per day for tour guides, 120–150 shekels for driver-guides.
Dollars Accepted? Certainly, you will find people who will accept U.S. dollars or euros, but the preferred form of cash payment is still the shekel.
At Restaurants: Service is almost always included in the bill; add 5–10 percent for the waiter.
At Hotels: One dinar ($1.50) per bag for the porter, same per night for the housekeeper—or a bit more, as they tend to be impoverished Palestinians. Tip the concierge—in advance—only if you expect something very special to be done, like access to rare tickets.
Guides and Drivers: 10–15 percent for taxis; $30 per person per day for tour guides; private driver, $30 per day total.
Anyone Else? Bedouins in Petra—a tribe called Nabateans—control most tourism to the ancient city, part of a deal worked out with the king when the city was made tourist-friendly. They will sometimes keep asking for tips—even after you've already paid. It's okay to decline firmly.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, and euros, too.
P.S. Berkeley says to ask whoever arranged your guides—local or government-sanctioned—whether the tip has been prepaid. If so, refuse to pay more.
At Restaurants: Leave 15–20 percent.
At Hotels: Follow the standard for hotels in big American cities: $2 to $5 for doormen when they call a cab, $2 to $5 a day for housekeepers, and $2 to $5 a bag for porters.
Guides and Drivers: Tip $10 per person per day for drivers, $5 per person per day for guides.
Dollars Accepted? Yes.
At Restaurants: Tips aren't included, so leave 10 to 15 percent of the bill. And, says Zawaideh, asking for doggie bags is a no-no in the Middle East; uneaten food is taken home by kitchen staff or given to the homeless.
At Hotels: To ensure good service throughout a stay, says Zawaideh, "I give the concierge $20 to $25 when I get there so he remembers who I am." Give porters $1 to $2 per bag and leave about $2 a day in your room for housekeepers.
Guides and Drivers: Give guides about $10 per person per day if you're going out alone or in a very small group, about $7 per person per day in a large group. Give drivers $5 per person per day; if they have assistants who keep the car clean and get water, give them $2 per person per day.
Dollars Accepted? Yes.
P.S. If you visit a mosque, leave $1 for the person who hands out robes for women to wear and 50 cents to $1 for the person who minds your shoes, which you respectfully doff at the door. "Don't make it obvious that you're tipping someone," advises Zawaideh. "Put the tip in an envelope for guides and drivers, palm it off with a handshake and a thank-you to the concierge, and slip it in the jacket pocket of the maître d' to get a good table." And keep in mind that most workers here are foreigners from, say, India or the Philippines. They depend upon your tips to support their families.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
At Restaurants: U.S. rules apply; tip 15 to 20 percent. In a so-called seven-star restaurant, which you'll find here, tip the maître d' $50 to $100 to ensure superior service (you're going to be paying $200 per person for the meal anyway).
At Hotels: Tip the concierge $30 to $35 every time you have a major request, like a special restaurant reservation. Tip porters $2 per bag, doormen $2 to $3 to hail cabs, and maids $3 a day.
Guides and Drivers: Guides get $10 to $20 per person per day, drivers $5 per person per day.
Dollars Accepted? Yes.
P.S. Unlike elsewhere in the region, don't tip bathroom attendants in the United Arab Emirates unless there is a coin dish in the restroom.
It helps, in some of the world's least developed areas, not just to be generous but to be thoughtful. Your porter in Johannesburg may be well versed in the way of tourists, but that doesn't mean he can easily exchange a ratty five-dollar bill.
At Restaurants: 10 percent is generous, but check to make sure the service isn't included in the bill.
At Hotels: Two dollars per bag to the porter; $10 to the concierge at the beginning of your stay, to guarantee good service; $5 per night to the housekeeper, preferably paid day by day.
Guides and Drivers: For cab drivers, round up to the next 10-dirham note; private drivers and guides should both get around $20 per day.
Dollars Accepted? Yes.
P.S. In Morocco, "tipping is best done quietly, perhaps off to the side," suggests Joel Zack of Heritage Tours, which specializes in travel to Morocco. He recommends the furtive handshake-with-cash-in-palm move, accompanied by a smile and a thank-you.
At Restaurants: 10–15 percent to the waiter.
At Hotels: A dollar per bag to the porter and per night to the housekeeper; $3–$5 to the concierge.
Guides and Drivers: Taxi drivers, 10 percent; private drivers and tour guides, $25 per person per day, says Joel Zack, president of Heritage Tours Private Travel.
What Else? South African authorities employ "car guards" and airport porters semi-officially to cut down on unemployment; most don't get salaries and rely on tips. When parking a car, you might be approached by a guard. If he shows identification, he's probably the real deal. Pay him 15–20 rand when you return; pay an airport porter 20 rand per bag max.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but not for car guards and airport porters, who'd have trouble changing them.
Latin America may be just south of the border, but tipping customs vary widely. "Whereas in the United States you'd leave 15 to 20 percent on a meal, in Latin America it's more like 8 to 12 percent outside of modern places in large capitals," says Clark Kotula, an expert on South American travel. And while tipping is not as much a part of the culture in Latin America as in the United States, workers still appreciate tips, even if they don't expect them.
At Restaurants: 10 percent to the waiter.
At Hotels: At least 25 pesos for a porter, and up to 45 for a particularly helpful one.
Guides and Drivers: Round up for taxi drivers; 10 percent for "remisses" (common local car services); 10 percent for a full-day driver, more for a really good one; 150–300 pesos for a full-day guide, a bit more for a great one.
Dollars Accepted? U.S. dollars are always accepted as tips, though you can't get USD in Argentina, so bring cash with you.
P.S. "Tipping is more expensive now than it used to be," says travel specialist (and native Argentine) Vanessa Heitner. "There were times when a 20-peso tip at the higher end meant a lot, but nowadays it isn't enough." Because of inflation, she notes, the proper amount is a moving target. Also, be sure to have plenty of change in your pocket for tipping—there's a serious shortage of it, and many shops and restaurants will refuse to break bills.
At Restaurants: No tip required; 10 percent is routinely included in the bill for "serviço."
At Hotels: $2 per bag for the porter; no tip expected for the concierge; $2 a day for the housekeeper.
Guides and Drivers: Round up for cabdrivers; for a private driver, give about $20–$50 for a full day, depending on the quality of the service; same for an all-day tour guide (they rely heavily on tips, so be generous).
Dollars Accepted? Yes, and encouraged, due to a favorable exchange rate.
Who Else? At ecoresorts in the Amazon, there are often boatmen in addition to tour guides. Tip them $10–$15 per day.
P.S. "Brazilians are discreet and subtle when it comes to business transactions," says travel agent Jill Siegel of South American Escapes. "It's helpful when tipping someone not to make a great display. You might verbally thank them, shake their hand, and express your appreciation while handing the bills folded."
At Restaurants: As in the United States, the gratuity isn't included, so tip the standard 15 to 20 percent, depending on the service.
At Hotels: Concierges who go out of their way for you should get $10 to $20 per favor; porters get $1 or $2 per bag. Housekeepers get $5 per day."Leave something for them daily," advises Mary Pyle Peters of Distinctive Journeys in Blaisden, California, which organizes Canada trips. The person who cleaned your room all week may not be the same one who comes in the day you check out.
Guides and Drivers: Tip them $10–$15 per person per day. Taxi drivers get 10 to 15 percent.
Dollars Accepted? Yes. Both coin and paper currency.
At Restaurants: A 10 percent tip is included in the bill; feel free to put down a few more bills amounting to another 5–10 percent. Nicer restaurants may also charge a 5–7 percent cubierto, basically a sit-down charge.
At Hotels: If you want extra-good service, consider tipping the concierge (if there is one) $20 up front. Porters get $1 per bag; doormen a few dollars if they hail you a cab; cleaning staff $2 a day (given at the end of your stay, preferably in person or marked for them in an envelope—otherwise they might not take it).
Guides and Drivers: Tip guides $10 to $25 per person per day, depending on how many people are in your group; $5 a day for drivers. With cabs, round up the fare.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but they may be harder for the recipient to spend than the Chilean peso.
P.S. An organized camping trek to, say, Patagonia could involve extra staff, who would be tipped roughly $10–$20 per person per day, with tips split among the expedition staff.
At Restaurants: Check the bill to see if the tip is included. If it is, it's usually 8–10 percent, and it's still common to tip more, up to 15–20 percent total.
At Hotels: If you're staying in a small rural hacienda, a family staff usually cooks, cleans, and tends the gardens, so leave a pooled tip of $5 to $10 per person per night at the end of your stay. In standard hotels, the usual tipping rules apply: about $1 to doormen and cleaning staff per bag or daily cleanup.
Guides and Drivers: Tip $10 per person per day for guides and $5 per person per day for drivers. You don't need to tip taxi drivers unless they really go out of their way to help you.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but try to tip in Colombian pesos. Credit cards are accepted widely.
P.S. When you put your dinner on a credit or debit card, you'll be asked, "Cuantos quotas?"—meaning over how many months do you want your bill payment broken up, a feature that is unique to Colombia, says Kotula. Just say one.
At Restaurants: Tip is included in the bill; anything additional is a pleasant surprise.
At Hotels: 25–50 cents per bag to the porter, $1 per bag at a fine hotel; leave $1 a day for the housekeeper.
Guides and Drivers: Tip cabbies a small amount if you have luggage; drivers get $2–$4 for a long drive, $1–$2 for a trip from the airport; $5–$10 per person for a full-day guide and/or driver.
Who Else?: On an organized tour involving several guides, there's usually a jar for tips to be divvied up among staff—leave $2–$3 for each person who's helped. On a boat, $5–$10 per person for the captain will be distributed among the crew.
P.S. At the Four Seasons, all tips are covered by a resort charge, so no need to add on. Costa Ricans generally get paid better than many other Central American guides. "Rarely do you find them standing around with their hand out for a tip," says Leigh Ann Cloutier of Rico Tours.
At Restaurants: A 10 percent tip is usually included in the bill, but feel free to leave an extra 5–10 percent in nicer restaurants.
At Hotels: Give porters $1 a bag, doormen $1 if they hail you a taxi, and cleaning staff $1 a day at the end of your stay—either directly or left in an envelope at the front desk.
Guides and Drivers: Guides get about $10 per person per day, drivers half that. An Andes trek may include a cook, who gets $5 per person per day, and a burro driver, who gets about $2–$3 per person per day.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, they are the currency of Ecuador.
P.S. Taxi drivers don't expect a tip but appreciate one of about 10 percent if they've been chatty or helpful. And many tourists in Ecuador go on Galápagos Islands boat excursions replete with naturalist guides, who get $50–$75 per person, and kitchen staff, who get $80–$100 per person, at the trip's end.
At Restaurants: 10–15 percent, cash preferred.
At Hotels: About 10–20 pesos per bag for the porter (you can leave it at check-in if you won't be there when your bags arrive); 20–50 pesos per night for the housekeeper; minimum 100 pesos for the concierge.
Guides and Drivers: About 100–200 pesos per full day per person for tours, 200–300 pesos per day for combined driver-guide.
Who Else? Gas station attendants should get 5 pesos per fill-up; use your judgment with parking attendants, doormen, and maître d's, depending on service.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but local currency is better (estimate 15 pesos to the dollar). "We must be sensitive to the fact that Mexico is not an extension of the U.S.," says Mexico specialist Adamarie King, of Connoisseur's Travel.
P.S. Tip discreetly, in an envelope if possible. If a craftsman gives a demonstration, it's better to buy a small piece of his work than to tip. Beware of boys wielding squeegees. "If you don't ward them off with a friendly shake of the head," says King, "you are giving tacit permission, and a small tip—20 pesos—is considered due."
At Restaurants: Leave an 8 to 10 percent tip.
At Hotels: Give porters about 50 cents a bag, doormen $1 to $2 if they hail you a taxi, and cleaning staff $1 a day at the end of your stay.
Guides and Drivers: Guides get $10 a day per person and drivers $5 a day per person.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but with 27 Nicaraguan cordobas to the U.S. dollar, it can be hard for locals to convert small bills, so consider just exchanging dollars for cordobas at the start of your trip.
P.S. "Tourism is now rapidly developing in the country, with more three- and four-star properties in the main tourist sites, not only the capital (and the very first five-star mukul at the beach), and people are getting trained," says Pierre Gedeon of Nicaragua Adventures. "However, the infrastructure of Nicaragua is still changing, so you may not get the same service as you will receive in a developed country."
At Restaurants: 10–15 percent for the waiter.
At Hotels: Three sols ($1) per bag for the porter, 3–5 sols per night for the housekeeper; tip the concierge only for special favors.
Guides and Drivers: Cabbies don't get tips, as the fare is usually negotiated; private drivers get $5–$10 per day; guides, $10–$20 per day.
P.S. Despite a heavy tourist influx to the Cuzco area, Peru is not a tipping culture (locals don't tip), but hawkers are a common sight, so give a little something if, say, you get your picture taken with a llama.
DON'T BE A JERK: TIPPING, CARIBBEAN-STYLE
In resorts throughout this necklace of islands, an all-inclusive service fee of 10 percent or more is a mainstay, the better to keep nagging tip calculations from cramping your blissed-out state. "I have yet to encounter a hotel in the Caribbean that doesn’t charge a service fee," says Terry McCabe of Paramus, New Jersey's Altour travel agency. Now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tip over and above the all-inclusive fee when the occasion calls for it—something that will largely be determined by the service you receive.
At Restaurants: If it's outside your resort package, check the bill to see if the gratuity is included. If not, tip 15 to 20 percent depending on the service. "I use the same tipping standards as at home," says McCabe. You're not expected to tip at all-inclusives.
At Hotels: Assuming there is a service charge, you might still tip the concierge for special favors such as nailing down hard-to-get dinner reservations. "Money talks," says Veith. "Hand the concierge whatever you think those seats are worth, $20 or $25, and they'll get them for you." Tip bellboys a few dollars per bag and maids $20 for a week's work, especially if you get to know them.
Increasingly, you may end up with a butler at top resorts, regardless of whether you want or need him. On a 2008 trip to Turks and Caicos, says McCabe, "I left my butler $50. But another guest had to call him back because he’d unpacked her things and she couldn't find where he'd put her bras."
Guides and Drivers: Most Caribbean tourists, when not vegetating on a beach, go off on bus tours and tip the guide a couple of dollars, but if you take a private tour, tip your guide about $25 and your driver about 15 percent for the day. Veith suggests another option: Ask a taxi driver what it will cost to take you here and there for a day, then tip 15 percent on top of that.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, except in the French Caribbean, which uses euros.
P.S. "If you charter a boat, they'll include the service charge,” says McCabe, "but if the captain takes you to 47 different little coves and jumps overboard to show you a conch, you can tip more." For spa treatments, tip 15–20 percent, "although you can probably do 10–15 percent in Mexico and the Dominican Republic and still feel pretty good about it," says Veith.
Tipping expectations vary widely throughout the region. "In India, they'll run after you and scream for money," says Sandy Ferguson, who runs Asia Desk, a Georgia travel agency, "but in Southeast Asia they don't," even though it's considered polite to tip. The only rule that applies universally? "Always give the bellman at least a buck a bag," he says.
At Restaurants: 10–15 percent for the waiter.
At Hotels: $1 per bag (in either Australian or New Zealand dollars, depending on where you are); $10–$20 to the concierge for a favor; $1–$5 per day to the housekeeper, depending on how messy you are.
Guides and Drivers: $5 for cabdrivers; $20–$50 per person for a private guide; $5–$10 for a bus-tour guide; $25–$50 per day for a private driver.
Who Else? 10–15 percent for beauty and spa treatments; tip Aboriginal and Maori guides exactly what you would others.
Dollars Accepted? Tipping should only be done in local currency.
P.S. "Twenty years ago, you'd be fired if you accepted a tip," says Donna Thomas of New Zealand Travel. Since then, tipping has spread "because Americans forced it on people." Be discreet and prepared to have your tip refused, especially in New Zealand, where people are particularly reserved.
At Restaurants: About $1 per diner for the waiter.
At Hotels: $1–$2 dollars per bag for the porter; service charge included for everything else at nice hotels.
Guides and Drivers: About $1 for taxis; $5 per day for private drivers; $10–$20 per person per day for tour guides.
Dollars Accepted? Yes; what's more, Sandy Ferguson of Asia Desk, a travel agency, discovered by chance that $2 bills open doors. Having gotten hold of a bundle of them in the U.S., Ferguson "almost caused a riot" in the airport when he paid that way. "Bring them to each hotel" for the porters, who consider them good luck—because of their rarity.
P.S. Ferguson says be prepared for unusually effusive thanks for a tip here. "Don't get embarrassed by that," he says.
China, like many Asian countries, comes from a no-tipping culture. At a restaurant frequented by locals, you don't leave a tip; the same holds true for a hotel dominated by the domestic travel industry. But if you're staying at a hotel that caters predominantly to luxury overseas visitors, the luggage boy is waiting around for a tip (say, 5 RMB per bag). Fine hotels and restaurants in China may also add a service charge of 10–15 percent, so nothing is expected or even technically allowed beyond that. "It is not in the hotel's interest to encourage this behavioral practice in one aspect of operations," says Guy Rubin of Imperial Tours. "No manager in China is assuming that their staff is going to make an income on tips, other than perhaps the luggage boys in certain hotels." Tip quietly and out of sight if you do—and not in front of employers.
Massage Houses: No tipping.
Luggage Porters: Ten yuan per bag is standard, though tourists generally leave twice that.
At Restaurants: 10 percent to the waiter (or a few rupees at more modest establishments), though many posh spots now include a 10 percent service charge.
At Hotels: 50 rupees (about $1) per bag for the porter; 250 rupees a night for the (low-paid) housekeeper.
Guides and Drivers: 400 to 500 rupees a day for a car and driver. Taxi and rickshaw drivers aren't accustomed to tips, but you can tell them to keep the change—up to 10 percent.
Who Else? "A lot of hotels now ask that you use a tipping box at the end of your stay rather than tip individuals," says Victoria and Bertie Dyer, owners of India Beat.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but not usually preferred.
P.S. Small bills are very easy to get and useful for tipping.
At Restaurants: A 10 percent tip is included. "The locals will also throw down any loose change," says Diane Embree of Michael's Travel Centre in Westlake Village, California. "I tell Americans they should do the same, up to maybe 15 percent total."
At Hotels: A 10 percent service charge is included, "but my understanding from talking to locals is that employees sometimes don't see it," says Embree. Thus, it's okay but not required to hand out a dollar or two here and there to porters and cleaning staff. "It doesn't mean that much to us, but it means a lot to them."
Guides and Drivers: Guides should get $25–$40 per couple and drivers half that. Tip taxi drivers about 10 percent.
Dollars Accepted? U.S. dollars are accepted, but rupiahs are preferred.
P.S. If you go rafting or take an elephant ride, a modest tip is greatly appreciated. Ditto for spa services—think 15 percent.
Though it's largely a non-tipping society, providers of certain services may appreciate a tip, but only in yen (estimate a little more than 100 yen to the dollar). Others who may decline your offer of a tip: concierges, porters, and waiters.
Guides and Drivers: For a tour guide, offer 2,500–5,000 yen in an envelope. To tip a cab driver, round up for a very short ride. A private driver will usually expect to have you buy his lunch, around 2,000 to 2,500 yen.
At Hotels: A room attendant at a ryokan—a traditional Japanese inn—usually gets 5,000 yen for one or two nights—always in an envelope.
At Restaurants: A 10 percent tip is included, with locals rounding up the bill and leaving the change. You can do the same or leave 10–15 percent more if you're so inclined.
At Hotels: Per Tour Malaysia, tip the bellboys the standard $1 per bag, and cleaning staff $1 a day. There's no need to tip anyone else unless you really want to.
Guides and Drivers: Private guides and/or drivers should get $5–$10 per person per day.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but it's easier for locals to trade in ringgits, the local currency (with about 3.7 ringgits to a U.S. dollar).
At Restaurants: Check the bill—a 10 percent service charge may be included, in which case you might leave an extra $1–$2. If it's not included, leave a 10 percent tip or a bit more.
At Hotels: A 10 percent service charge is usually included, but you should still give porters $1 per bag. Tip cleaning staff only if you see them or if you leave it in a clearly marked envelope, says Jose C. Clemente III, president of Rajah Tours Philippines. They're not going to pick up money that's left behind. If a concierge goes out of his way to secure you good tickets or reservations, tip him $4–$5.
Guides and Drivers: Guides get $20–$50 a day, and drivers about $4–$5. Tip taxi drivers about 10 percent.
Dollars Accepted? "While tipping in U.S. dollars may be appreciated, tipping in the local currency is perfectly acceptable," says Clemente.
P.S. Men in blue uniforms who often help you park your car should get 10 to 20 pesos—about 20 to 50 cents.
At Restaurants: As in Malaysia, a 10 percent tip is included. Feel free to leave a bit more, but it's not expected.
At Hotels: Tip the concierge up to $10 if he does you a special favor like securing hard-to-get restaurant reservations. Bellboys get the standard $1 a bag. Leave cleaning staff a few dollars a day in an envelope if you wish, but it's not expected.
Guides and Drivers: Guides taking you out for a full day should get $15 to $20 per person, which they will split with the driver, if there is one. With taxi drivers, just round up the fare and leave the change.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but it's easier to spend Singaporean dollars. (One U.S. dollar is about 1.5 Singaporean dollars.) Hand cabbies U.S. dollars and they'll be screaming at you for giving them a hassle, confirms Alice Jong, a publicist for the Singaporean Tourist Board.
There's really no tipping culture in South Korea. The exceptions include excursion guides, who get the standard $20 per person per day, and drivers, who get half that. Hotel porters should get the usual $1 per bag, says Walter L. Keats, president of Asia Pacific Travel. "Most Asian countries don't tip, and Korea is no exception, but guides, drivers, and bellmen who are used to dealing with Americans have come to expect a tip, and understand it is for good service, but not required.... One can also just tell a taxi driver to keep the change on a fare as well."
At Restaurants: Check the bill; about half the restaurants include a 10 percent service fee. If yours doesn't, leave 10 to 15 percent in a top restaurant and 10 percent in a regular one.
At Hotels: You may tip the concierge $20 or so if you're in a group, when you check in or out of the hotel; cleaning staff $2 per day (left in the room), porters $3–$5 a bag being delivered to your room, and doormen $1–$2 if they call a cab.
Guides and Drivers: Tip 10 percent of their fee.
Dollars Accepted? In Taipei, yes; outside the cities, tip in the local currency.
P.S. They don't have tipping in the culture, but if you tip people, they'll be really happy, says Raymond Woon of Edison Travel Service in Taipei.
At Restaurants: About $1 per diner for the waiter.
At Hotels: About $1–$2 per bag for the porter; no tip necessary for the housekeeper or the concierge (service charges are included at hotels of two stars or above).
Guides and Drivers: About $1 for taxis; $2 per day for private drivers; $10–$20 per person per day for tour guides (who also tip tour drivers, so don't worry about that).
Who Else? If you ever find yourself at a local masseuse, a $3 tip at the end of the massage is about right.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, preferably $2 bills (see Cambodia); otherwise, tip in Thai baht.
P.S. A common feature in Thailand is the ubiquitous bathroom attendant. Some of them might even throw a towel over a man's shoulders while he's at the urinal. Fifty cents, or about 20 baht, should do it there.
At Restaurants: Scan the bill first: The gratuity usually isn't included, in which case you should leave about 10 percent, preferably in cash, and a bit more if you tip on a credit card. If the gratuity is included, throw a few more bills in on top.
At Hotels: Give the concierge about $20 if he does you a favor (like securing special reservations outside the hotel). Cleaning staff get about $2 a day, left at the end of your stay on the nightstand, where it's easily visible. You don't need to tip doormen.
Guides and Drivers: Guides get $15 per person per day and drivers half that, given at your last encounter if you venture out more than one day. You don't need to tip taxi drivers, but you can round up the fare (so if the fare is 45,000 dong, leave a 50,000-dong bill). Work out the fare in advance with drivers of cyclos, or bicycle carriages, which are common and usually charge about $10 per hour. It's okay to add on a few dollars' tip.
Dollars Accepted? Yes.
P.S. Tip a massage therapist in a fancy spa $5 to $10. If you go to a days-long spa—the kind "where they make you drink green tea till it's coming out your ears," says Ferguson—they'll tell you the tipping policy in advance. "Bring all the $2 bills you can," advises Ferguson, "and use them to tip porters. The $2 bill is rare in Vietnam and is considered lucky."
HOW NOT TO TIP IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
"Bali Ha'i may call you, any night, any day," as the song goes—but that doesn't mean that folks there or in any other part of the South Pacific, including cities on the "big islands" of Australia and New Zealand, are calling for your Western-style tips. "One of the real selling points about going to these places is that you don't have to tip,” says Kleon Howe of The Art of Travel, in San Diego, which books trips across the region. It's just not part of the indigenous cultures here. "For the island groups, the first time you arrive you are an honored guest, and people would never in a million years suggest that you have to pay for service," continues Howe. "The second time, you are family, and they would never ask a family member to tip." Not that those old island ways aren't increasingly coming up against Western notions: Many resorts now have so-called Christmas-fund jars up front where you can indulge your American tipping itch by stuffing in a few dollars daily (the money is divvied up among the staff).
There are other subtle exceptions to the no-tipping norms. "If you go into a restaurant that you think is three-star and they blow you away with service and food, tip as high as 10 percent," suggests Matt Knowles of Sea Escape Travel in Folsom, California. In many resort restaurants, a 10 percent tip may be included, and you don't have to add to it. Really. In hotels, you can try to give porters a few dollars for carrying your bags, but according to Knowles, "they are not going to be standing there with their hand out." Ditto the cleaning staff: If you tip a few dollars, do it face-to-face or leave it with the front desk in an envelope at trip's end, because otherwise they won't take it. As for concierges, if they do something really special for you at a luxury resort (such as Kangaroo Island's Southern Ocean Lodge or Fiji's Vatulele Island), tip accordingly. Some top resorts also have butlers, whom you should tip $5 to $10 a day, depending on what they do for you.
Other instances where you might tip around $10 per person: after top-notch spa treatments, during winery visits where staff go out of their way to welcome you beyond the simple pour, and on group tours with a really great guide and scuba outings helmed by a virtuoso dive master. Always show your appreciation in the local currency, not in U.S. dollars (they're difficult for locals to trade).
But most of all, try to reconcile your brawny American sense of tipping with native ideas of what's proper. Howe puts it all in perspective: "Let's say you decide to do a private picnic on one of the little atolls and somebody takes you out there in a boat and comes back for you later. It would be acceptable to give him a 10–15 percent tip but not expected." Paradise, then, in more ways than one.
As Eastern and Central European countries become tourist enticers alongside Western European favorites, you're left to wonder what to tip where, and when to put down dollars, euros, or local currency. One rule applies across the board: "Tip in cash," not on a credit card, says Gwen Kozlowski of Exeter International in Tampa, Florida. "If you don't, the server won't necessarily get it."
At Restaurants: If you're ordering just coffee or a drink, leave the change. For a quick, casual dinner at a konoba, as taverns are called, leave about 3–5 percent of the bill. For dinner in a nice restaurant, where tips usually are not included, leave about 10 to 15 percent.
At Hotels: Concierges aren't common, but tip them $5–$10 at a smaller hotel and $10–$20 at a luxury hotel if they do something special for you, says Wanda S. Radetti of Tasteful Croatian Journeys in New York. Cleaning staff get $1–$2 per day in an envelope at the end of your stay; bellboys get $1 per bag. You might also want to leave the dining-room breakfast staff $1–$2 per day on the table if they've taken good care of you.
Guides and Drivers: Tip them separately 10 to 20 percent per day. With taxi drivers, just leave the change.
Dollars Accepted? Not so much; use euros.
P.S. If you're sailing the Croatian coastline on a chartered boat, at the end of your trip leave about $50–$60 per person for the skipper and crew. On the larger yachts, standard gratuity is 10 to 20 percent of the overall cost, given to the captain to be distributed to the chef and staff.
At Restaurants: There's usually a service charge, but consider tipping on top of it—up to 15 percent total. When it comes to good service, Czechs get it, says Kozlowski admiringly. "They regularly serve the British market, English is widely spoken, and they'll find a way to make things special for you."
At Hotels: Tip concierges about $20 if they do something really special for you. Bellhops get $1–$2 per bag, cleaning staff $3–$5 a day.
Guides and Drivers: Tip guides $15–$20 per person per day for small groups and $10 per person per day; tip drivers half that. In taxis, round up the fare.
Dollars Accepted? Yes. Euros, too.
P.S. If you get a special backstage tour—at, for example, Prague's Estates Theatre, where Mozart debuted Don Giovanni—tip the guide a few dollars.
At Restaurants: Tallinn has moved toward Western Europe in tipping practices, though at rates lower than Paris, says Greg Tepper, president of Exeter International. Most locals leave nothing at all on meals during the day. So leave just a few coins; at night in a nice restaurant, tip 5–8 percent—in cash.
At Hotels: Tipping culture is largely like the rest of Europe now. Porters get one euro per bag. You might give a concierge five euros if he goes out of his way for you.
Guides and Drivers: Guides get 30–35 euros per day, drivers 20 euros per day. With taxis, you can round up the fare, but you don't have to.
Dollars Accepted? Tip only in euros.
At Restaurants: The words service compris on your bill mean no tip is required, but most locals leave up to 10 percent. Tipping at bars is not expected.
At Hotels: Two euros per bag; one to two euros for a housekeeper; 10–15 euros per restaurant reservation made by a concierge.
Guides and Drivers: About 25 euros per person per day for guides, and up to 50 euros for one who's nationally certified; a separate driver should get about half of that. Give 10–20 euros for private airport transfers, depending on the driver's wait time and the in-car amenities, and 10–15 percent tip for taxi drivers.
At Restaurants: 10–15 percent to the waiter or bartender—just add it to the bill.
At Hotels: One to three euros per bag for the porter; five euros per night for the housekeeper; 20 euros for a helpful concierge.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but euros are recommended.
P.S. Despite its reputation for precision, Germany has no hang-ups about generous tipping.
At Restaurants: It is customary to tip maximum 5–10 percent depending on the amount of the bill (10 percent for an inexpensive bill, and 5 percent for a more expensive meal).
At Hotels: Porters, a euro per bag; housekeepers, a euro a day at most; concierges only for something very special.
Guides and Drivers: No tip expected for taxis—round up and they'll be delighted; private drivers, 20 euros per day, up to 40 if they've gone out of their way. Group tours, 4–6 euros per person; personal tours, 40–60 euros for a full day.
Who Else? It is customary to tip the captain and crew from 5 to 15 percent of the base cost for a yacht charter; it's also customary for guests to put the tip in an envelope for the skipper to then distribute to the crew at the end of the cruise, says Leftheris Papageoriou, founder of Hellenic Adventures.
At Restaurants: When it comes to great service, "Hungary isn't quite there yet," says Kozlowski. "If the service is good, I leave 10 percent of the total bill in cash, tops. If it's just coffee, I leave pocket change."
At Hotels: Tip concierges about $20 if they do something extraordinary like secure you hard-to-get tickets. Porters get $1–$2 per bag, cleaning staff $3–$5 a day.
Guides and Drivers: Tip guides $15–$20 per person per day for small groups and $10 per person per day for larger groups; tip drivers half that. In taxis, round up the fare.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, if they're undamaged and crisp, and never give American coins.
P.S. Expect to tip train porters $1–$2 per bag. Spas will probably include a 10 percent service fee, but you can tip 10 percent on top of that.
At Restaurants: A 15 percent tip is built in, and don't leave more than 10 percent on top of that. Overall, "there's no tipping in Iceland," says Tor D. Jensen of Jensen World Travel in Wilmette, Illinois.
At Hotels: There is simply no tipping of any sort, says Jensen.
Guides and Drivers: You can give guides about $20 a day and drivers $10, but it's not expected. "You might treat them to lunch," says Jensen.
Dollars Accepted? Yes.
At Restaurants: Leave as close to 10 percent as is convenient, but no more.
At Hotels: Porters, 5 euros; housekeepers, 1–2 euros per night, more for extra service.
Who Else? Despite the old-world romance of a ride on the canal, tipping gondoliers and vaporettos isn't customary.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, but euros are much preferred.
P.S. "There is no fixed percentage as in the U.S.," says Filippo Curinga, of Italy-based I.D.I. Travel. Another travel agent recommends insisting if your tip is first refused—it's a common demurral in Italy.
At Restaurants: Give 10 percent in cash directly to the waiter; leave it on the table and management might pocket it.
At Hotels: Porters, $3–$5 per trip made; housekeepers, $2–$3 per night; concierges, $10–$20 for good service.
Guides and Drivers: Always negotiate a fare before you get into a taxi. Cabbies, 10 percent; drivers, $30 per full day; private guides, $50 per full day.
Dollars Accepted? It's best to tip in rubles.
P.S. "A personal touch goes a long way in Russia," says Greg Tepper of Exeter International. "Writing a heartfelt thank-you note will be as appreciated as the cash accompanying it."
Tipping here is fairly formalized; either the service is included in the bill, or tipping isn't done. Taxi drivers don't expect tips, and even many porters and coatroom attendants have fixed fees and don't expect a penny more. Hotel and restaurant bills usually include service charges. Scandinavia is an expensive place, but since you won't have to shell out much more than you see on the bill, at least you know what you're getting into.
At Restaurants: If the service is good, round up the bill to anywhere from 7 to 13 percent and leave it in cash, not on a credit card, says Virginia Irurita of Madrid's Made for Spain travel agency. If the service isn't good, she says, "you can leave the table without giving a tip and nobody will say a word. Americans are coming here and leaving 20 percent, so some waiters are getting spoiled."
At Hotels: Tip concierges who do you a special favor 5–10 euros, cleaning staff about 5 euros a day (up front if you want them to treat you extra nice), and bellboys about one euro per bag.
Guides and Drivers: Leave guides 30 euros per person per day (up to 40 if they're really good), drivers half that. With taxi drivers, round up the fare.
Dollars Accepted? Always tip in euros.
At Restaurants: Generally, between 5–10 percent is fair, but not expected.
At Hotels: A service charge is included in the bill, so tip the concierge $10–$20 only if he makes you a special reservation. Hand the cleaning lady $5–$10 on the spot if she goes out of her way for you.
Guides and Drivers: Really good guides get about $40 per person per small group per day, drivers half that. With taxi drivers, tip 5–10 percent or round up the fare.
Dollars Accepted? Only tip in Swiss francs.
At Restaurants: Ten percent or a bit more, in cash—you can't put it on your credit card.
At Hotels: "There usually isn't a service charge included in a hotel bill," says Jack Shaw, co-founder of Epic Europe Tours, a luxury adventure travel company specializing in custom travel for small groups. "The concierge tip depends on how nice the hotel is, but I would guess that five-star concierges are used to better than 10–20 Swiss franc tips."
Guides and Drivers: Taxi drivers aren't generally tipped, but rounding up works, and drivers will sometimes just take the initiative and keep the change. Private cars get $35–$50 per day, regardless of the size of the group. Tour guides get $10–$15 per day per person; private tour guides, $75 and up.
Who Else? At Turkish baths, the masseur gets $20–$25. If you charter a boat, give the crew 5 percent of the price; if you rent a boat cabin, $15 per person per day.
Dollars Accepted? Yes, and euros.
P.S. "Tipping is at one's own discretion," says Earl Starkey at Protravel International, which specializes in planning trips to Turkey. "If you are not pleased with the services rendered, don't tip. It isn't like New York, where the waiter might follow you out onto the street."
At Restaurants: Service is often included; if not, tip 10–15 percent. Sometimes you'll see an "optional" charge added to the bill; make sure you're not just blindly paying it but adjusting to the level you feel comfortable with. And feel free to round to the nearest pound—up or down. Tipping in pubs is not customary.
At Hotels: Porters, 1–2 pounds per bag; housekeepers, 1–2 pounds. Go up to 5 pounds apiece at the five-star hotels.
Guides and Drivers: Tip the cab driver whatever small change you have; tipping optional for a narrated boat tour through the Thames—they'll certainly ask. Give 20 pounds per day for a guide and 10 pounds for the driver at the end of the day, or maybe take him to lunch. Not much more is expected, as Brits don't always expect to tip when they're abroad.
Dollars Accepted? Pounds much preferred.
P.S. Tipping is said to have originated in 16th-century England, and though it has since spread across the globe, England has by and large gone the way of most of Europe: Tips are included in many bills, especially in formal settings, and discretion is key in handing them over.