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How to Tip in Asia: When, Who, and How Much

Billie Cohen | May 5, 2015

Sure, you can navigate tiny airports in far-flung locations, gesticulate wildly with locals to find your off-the-beaten-path hotel, and breeze past would-be scammers without so much as a flinch. But when the bill arrives at a restaurant, even the savviest of travelers can feel like a novice with no clue. Should you tip? If so, how much? In this series, we’re asking our Trusted Travel Experts to share their local knowledge for regions around the world. Read on to find insider tipping advice when traveling in China, Southeast Asia, and more. Have useful insight to add? Tell us in the comments.

Bali

Uma by Como, Ubud, Bali

Uma by Como, Ubud, Bali. Photo Courtesy Como Resorts

Service is included at almost every restaurant and hotel in Indonesia. However, even the locals throw down whatever loose change they have when they dine out—anywhere from 500 to 5,000 rupiahs (from 4 to 40 cents). Diane Embree, Trusted Travel Expert for Bali

Read Diane’s Insider’s Guide to Bali

Beijing

Aman Summer Palace, Beijing.

Aman Summer Palace, Beijing.

Tipping is not a day-to-day part of the culture in China, but it is becoming expected in fine hotels and in the travel industry in general. The guides and drivers who work in English generally do expect a healthy tip of around $25 per day for the guide and $15 per day for the driver. Mei Zhang, Trusted Travel Expert for China

Read Mei’s Insider’s Guide to Beijing

Bhutan

Paro, Bhutan

Paro, Bhutan. Photo courtesy Antonia Neubauer.

A service charge is typically included in restaurant bills, but adding 2 to 5 percent on top of that is customary when you’re happy with the service. Antonia Neubauer, Trusted Travel Expert for Bhutan and Nepal

Read Antonia’s Insider’s Guide to Bhutan

Cambodia

Kohker, Cambodia

Kohker, Cambodia. Courtesy Journeys Within

Though it may be surprising, Cambodians these days expect tips. We recommend tipping just as you would at home. Guides are used to $10 to $20 per day, and we recommend a dollar or two for the bellboy or for your tuk-tuk driver. In a country where the average income is so low, this small gesture means a lot. Andrea Ross, Trusted Travel Expert for Southeast Asia

Read Andrea’s Insider’s Guide to Cambodia

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Via Helicopter

Hong Kong viewed from a helicopter. Photo Courtesy David Allardice.

An extra 10 percent in restaurants is normal; taxi drivers routinely get leftover coins. David Allardice, Trusted Travel Expert for China

Read David’s Insider’s Guide to Hong Kong

Japan

Shibuya at night, Tokyo, Japan

Shibuya at night, Tokyo, Japan. Photo Courtesy Trane.

Tipping is generally not part of Japanese culture, even in restaurants and taxis. The only exception might be a tour guide, since guides typically spend many hours with you during your trip. If your guide is truly stellar, I’d recommend $50 to $100 per day. Duff Trimble, Trusted Travel Expert for Japan

Read Duff’s Insider’s Guide to Japan

Rajasthan

Rambagh Palace, Rajasthan

Rambagh Palace, Rajasthan. Photo courtesy Rambagh Palace.

Ten percent in restaurants is considered normal. You should tip in the local currency (Indian rupees) and not in foreign currency. Bertie and Victoria Dyer, Trusted Travel Experts for India

Read Bertie and Victoria’s Insider’s Guide to Rajasthan

Shanghai

The Bund at Night, Shanghai, China

The Bund at night, Shanghai, China

There is a service charge on restaurant bills, but often the service staff does not get any of that money, so leave an additional 5 to 10 percent. (Unlike in more remote areas of China, tipping is now common in Shanghai.) Gerald Hatherly, Trusted Travel Expert for China

Read Gerald’s Insider’s Guide to Shanghai

Sri Lanka

Sunset in Tangalle, Sri Lanka.

Sunset on a beach in Tangalle, Sri Lanka.

At hotels the easiest way to avoid the stresses of tipping every waiter, porter, and bellboy is not to tip anyone on the spot but instead to ask for the “tip box” when checking out. You need not feel awkward when the bellboy brings the luggage; simply say thank you and mention you will leave a tip in the tip box at the end of your stay. Always smile. A good tip is $10 to $20 per room per day. Miguel Cunat, Trusted Travel Expert for Sri Lanka

Read Miguel’s Insider’s Guide to Sri Lanka

Thailand

Bangkok Banyan Tree Thailand

The Vertigo restaurant at the Banyan Tree Bangkok..

Tipping in restaurants is not necessary, since a 10 percent service fee is usually included. In a taxi, round up to the nearest 100 baht;, so, if the meter reads 250 baht, give 300. If you have a guide for the day, the standard is 300 to 500 baht per person per day and drivers get half that, but tipping is at your discretion. Sandy Ferguson, Trusted Travel Expert for Southeast Asia

Read Sandy’s Insider’s Guides to Bangkok and Thailand

Uzbekistan

Tilla Kori Medreseh, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Tilla Kori Medreseh in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Photo courtesy Zulya Rajabova.

Tipping is customary in Uzbekistan. Restaurant waiters get 10 percent; guides and drivers should get $15–$25 per day, depending on your satisfaction with their services.Zulya Rajabova, Trusted Travel Expert for Uzbekistan and the Silk Road

Read Zulya’s Insider’s Guide to Uzbekistan

Vietnam

Tam Coc-Bich Dong, Vietnam.

Tam Coc-Bich Dong, Vietnam. Photo courtesy Andrea Ross.

Travelers are sometimes surprised at the level of tipping in Southeast Asia, but as life in the cities has gotten more expensive, guides and drivers increasingly depend on tips. We recommend $10 to $20 a day for a guide and about half that for the driver. For hotel staff, we recommend $1 or $2 for porters, and the same per day for room staff. Andrea Ross, Trusted Travel Expert for Southeast Asia

Read Andrea’s Insider’s Guide to Vietnam

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