Feeling Tipsy? Tips for Tipping while Traveling Abroad

This post was written by Rachel Spillane

When traveling abroad, it is important to know how much to tip in restaurants, bars, hotels and taxis. We may be able to breathe a sigh of relief at not having to tip 15% for so-so service like we do at Chili’s in the States, but it is also important to note when and where being tip-happy can be offensive! In general, the best rule is to note what others are doing and follow suit, but here are some guidelines:

In Costa Rica, I really enjoyed not having to tip on already cheap cervezas, but service was also on Latin time. Generally, in Latin America, you don’t need to tip in restaurants and bars because service is included in the price. Be careful of gringo-oriented establishments where service and tax (IVI) aren’t always included in the price on the menu and an additional 10-20% will be tacked onto your bill. If you feel that service was great or have a few extra coins, leave them of course! In taxis, you are probably being overcharged anyways, so no tip is necessary, but if you feel they earned it, it doesn’t hurt.

Tipping in Asia is different for each country but pretty much follows the same rules. It’s not exactly that you have to do it, but it’s appreciated if you do. I think the general rule is not to over tip, because it makes them feel like you pity them. In Thailand, tipping isn’t really an obligation but it’s nice to do and how much you tip is up to you. (Since what you’re tipping on is pretty cheap, it doesn’t hurt to throw down a few hundred baht for your tuk-tuk driver, for instance). In Japan, never tip – it’s downright insulting (not at restaurants, not cabs, nothing!). In Japan the price is the price and that’s that. The same goes for Fiji and Singapore and some places in China, where it’s considered rude to tip.

In the Middle East and Africa, tipping isn’t really necessary. It’s not insulting to do so but you usually don’t have to unless you’re at a western resort of some sort. Since everything is so expensive in the Middle East anyway, it saves you some money.

In Western Europe, it’s often unnecessary to tip at restaurants, but if you feel the service merited a tip, 5-10% extra is standard. Taxis and inexpensive services usually earn a 1-2 € tip. In Eastern Europe tipping isn’t obligatory, but you may feel like leaving a tip in metropolitan cities if you’re at a “western” type establishment, or giving some small change for taxis.

For a breakdown of tipping by country, check out Magellan’s helpful chart.