A Guide to Tipping in Asia: Dos and Don'ts in Every Country

A Guide to Tipping in Asian Countries

To tip or not to tip?

Leaving a tip is perhaps the most popular way to show appreciation towards people in the service industry. Although born in the West, this practice has effectively made its way across the globe, with varying results. In Asia, tipping can be a tricky business. You might intend it as a gesture of generosity, but some cultures find the practice downright insulting. To help smooth things over, we’ve put together this simple guide to tipping in Asian countries.

Also read: 15 Best Beaches in Asia for Summer Travel

Tipping in Southeast Asia

1. Singapore

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Customers aren’t normally expected to leave tips in Singapore. Instead, a 10% service charge is usually added to the bill. This amount is paid directly to the company, instead of individual workers. That said, there’s no harm in leaving behind a tip in certain situations, as a thank you for the exceptional service received. If that is the case, 10% is a solid amount to tip. However, tipping at the airport in Singapore is against the law and expressly forbidden.

2. Malaysia

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Tipping in Malaysia is not a common practice, and you don’t need to leave a tip unless a venue states otherwise. Like Singapore, most restaurants add a 10% service charge to their bill to cover tips. If a person desires to leave a tip out of gratitude, the gesture is welcomed. There are also certain services in Malaysia like Grab or Foodpanda that allow customers to leave tips for the delivery riders. A 10% tip is the most commonly accepted amount.

Also read: Kuala Lumpur Nightlife Guide: 12 Best Bars & Clubs to Check Out After Dinner

3. Thailand

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In Thailand, tipping is not obligatory. As a nation renowned for its hospitality, tipping in Thailand isn’t just about the money. There are no mandatory amounts or specific percentages. Instead, it’s more about showing gratitude and making a connection with the people around you. The people of Thailand call this concept wai. Tipping, however, is widely encouraged and well-received, and the customary amount averages 10%.

4. Vietnam

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Vietnamese culture places a strong emphasis on providing hospitality and good treatment without the expectation of monetary encouragement. Therefore, tipping isn’t a common practice. Some locals might even be a little confused when you attempt to tip. But it’s not an offensive practice, so you can leave a tip if you want to. The usual range for tipping in Vietnam is between 5% and 10%.

5. Philippines

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Like most countries in Southeast Asia, tipping in the Philippines is more of a gesture of gratitude than a hard and fast rule. It’s a practice that’s widely encouraged, but it’s also important to understand how much to give. The general range for tipping in restaurants and hotels is between 5% and 10%. Also, you can opt to round up the bill when paying.

Tipping in East Asia

6. China

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Leaving a tip in China is an absolute no-no. The practice is uncommon and generally considered rude, as well as embarrassing. There’s no need to leave any gratuity if you’re travelling in China. In some situations, however, it’s acceptable to tip your tour guide or leave a tip when you’re dining in a high-end restaurant.

7. Japan

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As a general rule, tipping is not part of Japanese custom. Just like in China, there are instances when it is considered impolite. You might be allowed to leave a tip in certain inns or ryokans, and in instances where you receive an exceptional private tour. These gratuity offerings should be presented in a stylish envelope, along with a small bow, as is customary in Japan.

8. South Korea

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Despite having a bustling and globally renowned culture, South Korea is a no-tip zone. The act is sometimes considered rude, and leaving a tip isn’t expected in restaurants, hotels, taxi rides, or spas. It’s also important to never insist on tipping, and instead offer your patrons a small bow, alongside a genuine smile. It’s more than enough to make them happy.

However, if you do find yourself in a position to leave a tip, always remember to use an envelope, and use local currency.

Tipping in South Asia

9. India

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While India doesn’t necessarily have a rock-solid tipping culture, leaving one is generally expected in tourist-heavy destinations. Think of places like Goa, Agra, and Jaipur. The general range for tips in India is between 7% and 10%. On occasions where you’re very happy with any service provided, you are encouraged to tip a little higher.

10. The Maldives

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The Maldives is yet another destination in Asia where tipping isn’t compulsory, but highly encouraged. If you’re staying in an all-inclusive resort, leaving a tip is customary, with a range of 5% to 10%. This isn’t always a hard rule, so tip only if you’re happy with the service provided. On the smaller islands of the Maldives however, people lead a simpler life, and a little money can go a long way. So if you’re feeling generous, save your tips for the folk on the local islands as opposed to the resort islands.

Tipping in Central Asia

11. Uzbekistan

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Uzbekistan is another Asian country on this list that has a set surcharge for most services provided. Tipping isn’t really necessary here, but you can always do so at your discretion. In any case, the standard amount of 5% to 10% will do nicely.

12. Kazakhstan

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Just like other countries in Central Asia, leaving a tip is not part of the norm in Kazakhstan. A service charge is preemptively applied in places like hotels and restaurants. However, there may be instances where bellboys might expect a small tip if they’ve rendered excellent services. Don’t worry, you’re still free to tip (or not) of your free will.

Tipping in Western Asia

13. Turkey

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Turkey lies in the Western region of Asia. Here, leaving a tip is expected, particularly in restaurants. It is customary to leave a 10% or 15% tip on your bill. For other sectors of the service industry, like taxis or hairdressers, rounding up the fare is generally seen as a nice gesture.

14. Saudi Arabia

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Gratuity is expected in Saudi Arabia as a common practice, but there are no hard rules enforcing this. Generally, you’re expected to tip between 10% and 15% for restaurants, unless there is a service charge. It’s also customary to tip taxi drivers 10% of the total fare and leave some money on the bedside table for housekeeping when you’re staying in a hotel.

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As you can see, there’s a pretty wild difference in tipping culture across various countries in Asia. It’s important to keep these differences in mind because respecting local customs is an essential habit of any responsible traveller. Hopefully, this guide to tipping in Asian countries helps you do just that. Good luck!

About Author

Jeremiah Patrick
Jeremiah Patrick

A journeyman wordsmith wandering the creative lexicon, looking to craft a masterpiece. The only thing on par with Jerry’s love for a good story is the time he spends playing dauntingly difficult video games, reading works of fiction, and listening to horror podcasts. His mood shifts between dark brooding and cheery quips, depending on how much caffeine swirls in his system.