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Tipping in Asia: To Tip or not to Tip?

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Tipping in Asia consists of unwritten rules that every tourist and local should know. Do you remember one case in your life when you were too anxious over thinking about how to pay back the services of your porter? In an instant, you are no longer aware as to how to get your composure back and give yourself a good answer to the question, “how am I going to tip this person?”

To do the right thing and be equipped with helpful tips about tipping in Asia, check out the following reminders and remember every bit of them to save yourself from embarrassment and undesirable circumstances.

Tipping in Asia: Some Helpful Reminders

If you are in Hong Kong, Manila, and Bangkok, tipping is a rule of thumb. In Jakarta, Seoul, and Kuala Lumpur, some establishments do not expect tips but if you give them extra money for their services, they gladly accept it. However, Japan, China, Taipei, and Singapore are not tipping societies. If you want to show your gratitude over the services rendered to you, a simple “Thank you,” Arigato gozaimasu,” and “Xie xie” will suffice.

With the massive influence of Western culture in many cities around Asia, the custom of tipping has changed. Although at some point an act of gratuity is not expected by Taiwanese, Japanese, and Chinese, they can still bend the rules. Staff working in international hotels and high-end restaurants such as Italian restaurants and Western establishments are not offended when you give them extra money for their services.

In Manila, when you tip your concierge, you expect a perpetual form of service, especially if you give more than the expected 10% service charge. In Bangkok, waiters of posh restaurants do not mind receiving tips. In Hong Kong, when you give extra Hong Kong dollars, say, HK$100, the money goes to the pocket of the owner and not to the natty staff who served you. In Jakarta, if you are pleased with how the restaurant served you, 1,000 rupiahs as a tip is enough. Small food stalls in Kualu Lumpur, Manila, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Jakarta do not mind whether or not you give them tips. In fact, it is a fun experience to haggle and bargain rather than thinking about tipping.

Metered taxis run on city roads of major cities in Asia. Therefore, if you take a taxi in any city in Asia, it is customary to round up your taxi fare to the nearest HK dollar, five peso, five baht, 500 rupiah, nearest ringgit, Singaporean dollar, or NT$5. But if you are in Seoul, keep all of your change for yourself, since taxi drivers do not expect extra fares.

To some extent, porters in every Asian city are difficult to manage. As general advice, you have to base your tip on the number of bags you asked them to carry. In Manila, 20 pesos for each bag, 20 to 50 baht in Bangkok, HK$10 to HK$20 in Hong Kong, a hundred rupiah in Jakarta, one to two ringgit in Kuala Lumpur, 500 to 1000 won in Seoul, S$1 in Singapore, and NT$50 in Taipei.

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