Tipping is complicated, and is only made more so when traveling somewhere new. Standards are different almost everywhere you go, and different establishments often have different tipping expectations.
Trying to "fit in" in Asia can be difficult for many people and understanding when and how to tip can help you adjust to the culture and intricate social rules. Tips were not common at one time, but with ever-expanding Westernization, many establishments now expect you to tip. Tipping is most common in big cities. Top restaurants now usually add a 10 percent service charge to the bill that acts as the tip. Down-scale restaurants or places without a waitstaff generally do not expect tips. The practice can be quite contradictory, as locals may not tip but "foreigners" may be expected to.
A service charge is often added to the bill and require no additional tip. If you order your food at a counter you usually don't tip. The menu may note that the service is included meaning that the prices listed in the menu already have this charge built in. Fixed-price tourist deals include usually service.
Here is a basic guide for what to tip in different areas of Asia.
Tipping is not practised in China (except in Hong Kong and Macau in more westernized areas). In the worst cases, tipping can be insulting. Many service staff are forbidden from accepting tips by their employers, and doing so may cost them their jobs. Even if your tip is accepted a restaurant, note that more often than not, it is the boss and not the waiter that gets to keep the tip. Compliments are expressed in an implicit way, such as treating someone, like a bartender or a pub owner, to a drink. Staff working in tourist industries with American tourists have started to expect tipping.
Most restaurants in Hong Kong assess a 10 percent service charge, but this tip usually goes to the owner - not the staff.
Tipping in restaurants is not mandatory, but fairly common. In prestigious hotel restaurants a 10 percent service surcharge is added to the bill. In smaller eateries, the tip is not a percentage but usually consists of just leaving a few rupees.
Some restaurants will include 5 to 10 percent service charge to their bill. Informal or walk up establishments do not require a tip, but at restaurants not issuing a service charge, leaving the change is appreciated.
In Israel, tipping in restaurants and bars is expected. In restaurants and cafes 10 to 15 percent is a good scale, 10 percent at a minimum with 12 percent as an average tip.
In Japan, tipping is not a part of the culture. It is normal to pay a restaurant or bar bill at the register instead of giving money to the waiter/waitress. Many Japanese people are uncomfortable with being tipped, and may be offended.
Westernized establishments in Kuala Lumpur expect tips and there may be a 10 percent service charge.
Outside of this area, people don't normally practise tipping. In some places, the waitstaff will return bills but keep the coins. In crowded bars/pubs/clubs you may tip the waiter RM5 or RM10 to get a chair or better service.
Tipping is becoming more common in service-oriented places. Usually this is in the form of a service charge of 8 to 12 percent. However, it is most common to tip on a more general scale than percentage. For example: 20-40 pesos for a restaurant bill of 1000-1500; 50-100 for a restaurant bill of 1500-3,000; for a restaurant bill of 3,000+ tip no more than 150 or 200.
Manila is accustomed to tipping and it is customary to add 5 to 10 percent to your bill, even with a 10 percent service charge. The service charge is often designated as "SC" on machine printed receipts, or "SC not included" when it is not.
In Singapore, tipping is not the norm. In some places, there is a 10 percent service charge. At the airport and some hotels and restaurants, there is a 10 percent service charge included in the bill and additional tips are discouraged.
Tipping is not customary and customers may even receive complimentary food or drinks known as "service". Some foreign restaurants (i.e. Italian) may add a 10 percent service charge.
Tipping is rare in Taiwan. Some restaurants add a 10 percent service charge.
Tipping, or bahs, is usually optional. Not customary in rural areas, many cities are adopting the tradition. A 5 to 10 percent tip may be left by leaving the change. In luxury restaurants, tip 10 to 15 percent.
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