Tipping in China: To tip or not to tip?

One of the great attractions in China is that there is NO TIPPING. Many foreigners ask themselves during their stay or while traveling through Mainland China whether they need to give a tip in restaurants or when using services.

Not to give a tip in China is acceptable as it is not generally expected, so anyone can choose to leave a tip or not. You have your choice of giving or not giving since tipping is a personal matter. Conveniently for travelers in Asia specifically China, tipping is not something you need to worry about, since tipping is not part of the culture and most establishment actually have a no-tipping policy. This includes almost everywhere, where one thinks giving a tip would be necessary. This can be a welcome respite for those of you who feel calculating how much one should tip is a headache.

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The level of service in China is already good enough that it does not need anything to make it better. In some locations of China, tipping is extremely uncommon and against the law, so it is highly discouraged and it can even be considered as insulting in certain quarters as it can be taken to imply that one’s work is undervalued by the employer. In some places, if you do decide to leave a tip (like the change left over after a meal) your waitress may even chase you down the street thinking that you absentmindedly left money on the table and will attempt to give you your money back.

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But in larger cities wait-staff are becoming used to a foreign visitors leaving tips so they will probably happily keep it. And in some locations, tipping has totally become common place. Waiters and maids in high-level Western restaurants and hotels, for instance, might expect you to tip, as might the bellboy who takes your luggage to the room at your luxury hotel. The same goes for tipping tour guides and drivers on an organized private or group tour, etc. They generally rely on tips as a large part of their income.

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However, the bottom line is, in China, it certainly is neither necessary nor expected to tip. The Chinese natives will not tip anyone inside their own country. A tip is something that you give when you are very happy with the unexpected service in a restaurant, a hotel, a tour guide, taxi driver, and so on. If you encounter someone who goes way above and beyond their normal duties, then a tip might be appropriate.

Hong Kong and Macau, with all of their Western influence from their colonial pasts, differ dramatically with Mainland China when it comes to gratuity. First of all, a service charge will be inevitably added to bills in hotels and restaurants. On top, you may want to leave a small, additional tip to ensure that employees truly are rewarded for great service.

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Written by Helen Abomsa.

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