Tipping Etiquette Around the World
Even the most frequent travelers can get confused about local tipping etiquette around the world. Conde Nast Traveler offers you a handy guide to keep in hand, for most regions of the world and the most common situations. Below, find a few key takeaways for each region from their guide — for an in-depth look at each country, check out the article here.
THE MIDDLE EAST
The tipping culture is often complex and subtle in this part of the world. “It’s known for being very friendly and hospitable, with people providing too much service,” says Rita Zawaideh, the Jordanian-born owner of Seattle’s Caravan-Serai Tours, which plans trips to the region. In return, “people’s hands are out a little bit more.” While you may give more often in these parts, it’s usually in small amounts—and it’s deeply appreciated.
It helps, in some of the world’s least developed areas, not just to be generous but to be thoughtful. Your porter in Johannesburg may be well versed in the way of tourists, but that doesn’t mean he can easily exchange a ratty five-dollar bill.
Latin America may be just south of the border, but tipping customs vary widely. “Whereas in the United States you’d leave 15 to 20 percent on a meal, in Latin America it’s more like 8 to 12 percent outside of modern places in large capitals,” says Clark Kotula, an expert on South American travel. And while tipping is not as much a part of the culture in Latin America as in the United States, workers still appreciate tips, even if they don’t expect them.
Tipping expectations vary widely throughout the region. “In India, they’ll run after you and scream for money,” says Sandy Ferguson, who runs Asia Desk, a Georgia travel agency, “but in Southeast Asia they don’t,” even though it’s considered polite to tip. The only rule that applies universally? “Always give the bellman at least a buck a bag,” he says.
As Eastern and Central European countries become tourist enticers alongside Western European favorites, you’re left to wonder what to tip where, and when to put down dollars, euros, or local currency. One rule applies across the board: “Tip in cash,” not on a credit card, says Gwen Kozlowski of Exeter International in Tampa, Florida. “If you don’t, the server won’t necessarily get it.”