An American 5 dollar bill underneath a glass of beer

How much to tip on holiday

No-one enjoys feeling a bit daft having under or over-tipped at a café or restaurant. Never fear – just read our guide to globetrotting tipping and strike the perfect balance of generous and polite, without going overboard.

Never fear – just read our guide to globetrotting tipping and strike the perfect balance of generous and polite, without going overboard.

Europe

In most of Europe, tipping is very common. In many cases, it’s just built into part of the bill – very similar to the UK. Tip sizes vary from country to country, but if you get stuck or you’re strapped for cash – just add on 10%, or round the bill up to the nearest €5 or €10.

As in all countries, it’s polite to tip porters, taxi drivers and the people cleaning your hotel room – the expected tip is much smaller than the standard in bars and restaurants.

If the service has been poor, don’t hesitate to hold back on the tip. As in the UK, it’s meant to be a reward for good service.

Austria: In restaurants, tipping is very similar to the rest of Europe. As always, keep an eye out for service charge – usually 12.5%. Pay the charge (it’s the tip) and then round the bill up to the nearest Euro. Saying ‘Danke’ (meaning thank you) when you’re paying tells the waiter to keep the change – so keep that in mind. If you’re pleased with service elsewhere, a tip is appreciated but not expected.

France: French law requires all service charges to be included on the bill. That means tipping is much the same in the UK – a reward for good service, not an obligation. If there is no service charge, tip around 10-12.5%. Taxis, hotel staff and tour guides won’t necessarily expect a tip – but they will be appreciated.

Germany: Tip 10%. If a service charge is included, just round the bill up to the nearest Euro. And remember – tap water isn’t free in Germany, so don’t be surprised when you see it on the bill.

Greece: Tip 5-10%. There may be a service charge, but this will usually be a few Euros to pay for bread and water with your meal – it probably won’t go to the waiter. If you take a taxi in a tourist area, you might be expected to tip – but don’t feel pressured to  do so.

Italy: Tip 5-10% – just round the bill up to the nearest €5 or €10. Keep an eye out for the ‘pane e coperto’ – the restaurant charging you for bread. That’s a general charge that’s different from ‘servizio’ – service charge. You’ll be expected to pay both charges, though don’t feel obligated to include a separate tip as well – especially if the charges are a bit high.

Poland: Tip 10-15% in restaurants. Saying ‘dziękuję’ – pronounced djen-kooyeh – when you pay means you’re telling your waiter to keep the change. Tipping outside of restaurants isn’t common, or expected.

Spain: Service charge is usually included, especially in tourist areas. However, it’s polite to add a few Euros – 5-10% on top of the bill. If there’s no service charge, pay 15%.

Turkey: In Turkey, tip between 5-10%, depending on service. The more luxurious the restaurant, the higher the expected tip.

Asia

In many Asian countries, tipping isn’t especially common. If an area is popular with tourists, it’s more likely that tipping will be expected.

China: You will not be expected to tip in China. However, tourist industries – like tour bus drivers and tour guides – are very likely to expect a tip.

Hong Kong: Tipping is more acceptable and commonplace than in mainland China – restaurants may add a service charge of 10-15%, and taxi drivers will usually expect to keep small change from your fare.

India: Leaving a tip of 5-10% in restaurants is fair. Outside of restaurants, tipping is usually not expected.

Japan: Leaving a tip isn’t a part of Japanese culture. Good service is considered to come as standard, meaning there’s no need for a tip. Trying to tip in a restaurant may lead to staff attempting to return your money – so to avoid embarrassment, don’t tip.

Staff working for companies connected with tourism – like tour guides – may be more likely to accept a tip. In that case, it is considered polite to place the tip inside an envelope, not to hand it over directly.

Thailand: In Bangkok, tipping is expected. Hotels and bars may add a service charge on to the bill – if they don’t, tip 10% or round up to the nearest 20 Baht. Leaving a tip in cash and handing your bill directly to your waiter means it’s more likely that they’ll get to keep it.

Outside Bangkok, rounding up a bill or fare will be considered a fair tip – tipping isn’t usually expected.

North and South America

There’s a big north/south divide in the Americas.

In North America – the USA and Canada – you’re expected to tip bartenders, taxi drivers, hotel staff, tour guides and waiters, even if you weren’t especially impressed with their service.

In South America, tipping is more like Europe. It’s not usually expected outside of restaurants and hotels – so only tip if you feel that it’s justified.

Argentina: Tip 10-15% at a restaurant, but watch out for the ‘cubierto’ charge – which is essentially an extra charge per person, like Italy’s ‘pane e coperto’. It doesn’t count as a tip – it goes to the restaurant, not the staff.

Canada: Like the USA, tipping is very much the norm – bartenders, taxi drivers, hotel staff, tour guides – will all expect a tip. Expect to tip between 10-15%, depending on service.

Mexico: Tipping is expected, but staff do not insist on tips as in the USA and Canada. Tip between 10-15% at restaurants, and tip 50 pesos to whoever carries your bags – in other situations, tipping is only expected if you’re very pleased with the service

Keep an eye out for service charge – called propina. If this is added to your bill, don’t worry about tipping more.

USA: Tipping is always expected. Staff in every service industry will expect a tip – hotel doormen, bartenders, taxi drivers, pizza delivery drivers – the list goes on. Not tipping can easily be seen as rude. Always carry a few dollar bills, just in case.

When it comes to restaurants, tip 15-20% of the bill (before tax). When a bartender serves you a drink, leave $1 or $2. Any food delivery person that comes to your door – like pizza or Chinese – will expect 10-20%.

As for taxis – between 15-20% is acceptable. If anyone handles your bags, tip between $1-2 per bag.

As a general rule, 15-20% will never go amiss.

Africa

Tipping in Africa depends on where you’re visiting. Tourist hotspots almost always mean that a tip is expected. However, the further you go from major tourist locations, the less common it will be.

Kenya: Tip 10% of the bill if you’re happy with the service at a restaurant. Tipping hotel staff at least 50-100 shillings for good service will also be appreciated.

South Africa: Leaving a tip is expected in South Africa – and in many cases will be included in the bill. Aim to leave between 10-15% in restaurants.