Whether you’re traveling in Japan or taking a tour of Thailand, knowing how to tip in Asia can be tricky. Like many other social customs, the rules for tipping in India and other parts of Asia are much different from those of the West.
In Asia, travel tipping guidelines differ from nation to nation. Customs for tipping in India vary widely from those for tipping in China. In some Asian countries, tipping is considered rude, or isn’t understood–with servers sometimes running after customers, believing they’ve forgotten their change.
How to Tip in Asia
Researching the customs and etiquette of the Asian countries you plan to visit can make a huge difference in your travel experience. This is especially true when it comes to the rules for leaving a tip in Asia. Not knowing when, or if, you should tip in some Asian countries can leave you in a very embarrassing situation in which you, unknowingly, insult your hosts.
When Not to Tip in Asia
Some Asian countries have no cultural reference for tipping. In such cultures, a person does their job well as a point of personal pride, and taking money in the form of tips is thought to diminish the dignity of a service person’s work. Leaving a tip in Korea, Japan, Malaysia or Indonesia may earn you a confused look. This is also true in some cases when tipping in China.
In other Asian countries, tipping is a serious faux pas. In parts of Singapore, tipping has been outlawed by government mandate. Some tipping in China, and in various service sectors of Japan, is also frowned upon.
When Should You Tip in Asia?
In Hong Kong, tipping in restaurants and hotels is expected. Tipping in India and other poorer Asian countries is not mandatory, but is greatly appreciated. In Thailand, tipping is considered a matter of personal choice, with no clear rules for or against the practice.
Get a Travel Tipping Guide
A quality travel tipping guide should be able to tell you when tipping in a particular Asian country is appreciated and when you should keep your wallet closed. Be sure to purchase a travel tipping guide that is up-to-date with the most recent tipping etiquette.