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Tips on Tipping


On a culinary Journey across the region, tipping protocol varies as widely as the cuisine. Here we offer our guide to gratuity. BY MERRITT GURLEY

Published on Jul 29, 2013

It is not customary to tip, but 10 percent at nice restaurants where service charges are not included is becoming pretty standard, and even at casual eateries, the employees will be delighted if you leave a little something.

For casual dining, a few rupees will suffice. For fancier fare, estimate 15 percent.

There’s no set percentage that is expected in Cambodia, but even just US$1 to US$2 will go a long way.

Tipping is not expected, but it will definitely be appreciated—anything above Bt20 will be met with a smile, while in upscale restaurants 5 to 10 percent is a good rule of thumb. Even at street vendors, if you sit at a table, it is considered polite to leave the small coins you receive as change. In cabs, round up to the nearest 10 baht.

There is a service charge on most bills, but often it does not go to the waiter. The staff is not expecting gratuity, but if you’d like to give it anyway, hand it to them directly to make sure it goes into their pockets, instead of to the restaurant.

In high-end establishments, a service charge is sometimes included, but round up the figure if the waitstaff is good.

Tipping is not expected, and can even be awkward, unless you are at a ryokan. If you are going to tip, put the money in an envelope, rather than handing over cash, to avoid embarrassingthe staff.

Don’t tip waiters or cab drivers. At ritzy hotels or on an organized group tour, a small tip to recognize good service is appropriate. But be careful at smaller local restaurants where it could be misconstrued as a handout, and an insult.

Hong Kong
If service charge is not included on the bill, 10 to 15 percent is a safe bet.


Tipping isn’t required, but you might want to leave your small-money change behind. For expensive meals, leave about 10 percent—but even if you’re paying with a credit card, tip in cash to make sure the waiter receives it. At spas and salons, VND50,000 to VND100,000 per therapist is good regardless of the cost of treatment.


Tipping is more of a requirement in the Philippines than the rest of the region, so expect to spend at least 10 percent on top of the bundled 8 to 12 percent service charges.

Tipping used to be unusual but is slowly becoming standard practice, at around 10 to 15 percent. And many restaurants charge extra for eating in the restaurant, as opposed to take out, which is essentially a service charge.

If the staff is helpful, a small tip is suitable. It is a good idea to carry a stash of Rp1,000 notes for just such occasions.


If service is good, it is a nice gesture to round up your bill and even add a little extra—especially in countries like Laos and Cambodia where the minimum wage is very low by international standards. But exactly how much to leave depends on the quality of service, the local etiquette and cost of living. Often expats over-tip while backpackers may not leave quite enough. The rules across the region are changing as tourism recalibrates the norm, but here are a few general conventions.

Hotels If you are at a nice hotel, give your porter US$1 to US$2.
Spa Professionals Tip the practitioner US$2 to US$5.
Taxi drivers If the change comes in small coins, just round up the fare.
Restaurants Read each country’s guide for specifics, but you can use 10 percent as a benchmark.

Photo credit: fabbio / Foter / CC BY-SA


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