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Knowing when and how much to tip

tippingOne of the most frequent insecurities of a traveller is knowing whether to leave a tip. In some places it’s pretty much compulsory to leave some extra money after a meal or a taxi ride, while other cultures will be offended if you do. So here’s a rough guide to tipping – who to tip and how much – in some of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

USA

In  the USA it’s expected that you’ll leave a tip not just in restaurants and cafes, but in taxis, bars, hotels, hair salons and to repairmen and delivery people. It’s not unknown for waiters or taxi drivers to chase you down the street if you don’t leave a tip – especially in New York. Foreigners may think they’re being ripped off by having to pay more than the quoted price, but American service staff are usually paid very badly, and rely on their tips to pay the rent. An acceptable amount is usually in the ballpark of 20%, although there still isn’t a consensus.

Australia

It’s not a part of Aussie culture to tip, although barmen won’t mind if you buy them a drink.

Western Europe

In most of Europe, a service charge is included in the cost of a meal or a drink at a café, so tips aren’t customary.

Eastern Europe

Usually around 10% is expected at restaurants with table service.

England and rest of UK

Bridging the gap between Europe and America, people in England are often unsure whether they should tip waiters or not. It’s pretty much customary to reward good service in restaurants with a tip but nowhere else. The best thing to do is watch the other customers and follow their lead, providing they’re not dithering around the same as you. If there’s tipping, 10% is usually about right.

China

It may be polite to leave a tip in hotels and restaurants frequented by tourists, but it hasn’t yet become customary.

Japan

No tipping! It’s seen as rude.

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