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Top tips for tipping: here is our global guide from the US to Japan and Thailand

For most of us, tipping around the world is a tricky exercise, whether it’s taxi drivers, in restaurants or the staff at our hotel. But we are only to blame for ourselves (or our ancestors).

The tip came into being in Tudor England a long time ago, when it became the norm for guests staying in private homes at night to leave “vails”, or a small sum of money for the servants who had attended them.

Since then, although we may have become fairly accustomed to the 12.5 percent extra that is often added to the bill of a restaurant here in the UK, tipping and tipping elsewhere is a cultural minefield of minor change and (potentially) a huge crime. So take a tip from us: here’s how it works in a few popular vacation destinations. . .

An image with a guide for 10 popular tourist destinations around the world

An image with a guide for 10 popular tourist destinations around the world

United States

Cash is still used much more here than in credit, debit and contactless card saturated Europe.

Make sure you always have a good range of one, two, five and ten dollar bills. It is worth noting that restaurant and bar staff really do ‘work for tips’ in the US, with wages starting at £ 5.50 per hour – hence why a 15 percent tip is absolutely mandatory for your waiter, with no less than 20 percent expected in the smartest restaurants.

Taxi drivers expect 15 percent, but round it off to 20 percent if they help with your luggage. Leave a few dollars a day in a hotel for the household – and pass on the same to room service and the hotel porter and concierge if they helped with bags or a booking.

Japan

If you are against the whole practice of tipping, welcome your happy place. Most Japanese restaurants require customers to pay for their meals at the front register, rather than leaving money behind with waiters.

In Japan, most restaurants require customers to pay for their meals at the front register rather than leaving money with waiters

In Japan, most restaurants require customers to pay for their meals at the front register rather than leaving money with waiters

In Japan, most restaurants require customers to pay for their meals at the front register rather than leaving money with waiters

The only possible exception to the ‘no tipping’ rule that applies throughout Japan is if you have a personal guide that does an exceptionally good job.

But if you decide to tip (no more than 10 percent of the cost of the service would be appropriate), don’t just take a yen out of your wallet because this is considered crazy. Put the notes in an envelope (preferably a decorative one) and discreetly hand them over to your guide, and bend slightly.

South Africa

The tip culture in South Africa is almost the same as the UK in almost all respects.

First is the car guard. If you park on the street in a big city such as Cape Town or Durban, it is almost certain that someone in a high-vis jacket will put your car in place.

Sometimes these guards are employed by the city and sometimes they are informal and self-proclaimed.

However, the habit is that you always have to give a tip between five and ten rand (25p-50p) on your return.

Also, almost all gas stations have employees who fill your vehicle with fuel while you stay in the car. Again, a tip of about five to ten rand is expected for this service.

Dubai

If a non-hotel restaurant adds service costs to your bill in Dubai (or Abu Dhabi), they break the law – it was banned more than ten years ago, considered to be against consumer protection laws.

Tipping is not expected, but is of course always appreciated by waiting staff and taxi drivers. During Ramadan there is a habit to tip more generously.

And it is worth remembering that any poor service during this period is due to fatigue because your guide or waiter has been fast throughout the day.

The tip originated a long time ago in Tudor, England, when it became the norm for guests staying in private homes to leave “vails,” or a small sum of money for the servants who had attended them

Australia

Relatively high wages for service and hospitality industry employees, plus service costs included in restaurants and bar bills, make a tip for most Australians – so don’t feel you have to leave a tip somewhere.

However, they are appreciated by guides and most waiters.

In Australia, a tip is considered more as a thank you for excellent service than as an obligation.

Thailand

You are never expected to tip a street food vendor in Thailand, but if you are in small cafes or restaurants, a small tip is expected – round your bill to the nearest ten baht (25 p).

Bangkok is notorious for taxi drivers who do not use their meter. If you are in a taxi where the driver uses one, round off your fare to the nearest ten baht again as a thank you.

If the meter is off, you must receive a quote before the journey begins.

Although the Maldives have their own currency (the rufiyaa), tipping US dollars is the norm

Although the Maldives have their own currency (the rufiyaa), tipping US dollars is the norm

Although the Maldives have their own currency (the rufiyaa), tipping US dollars is the norm

Maldives

Although the Maldives have their own currency (the rufiyaa), tipping US dollars is the norm.

If 10 percent is added to your bill at your resort’s restaurant, it is far from certain that your waiter will actually receive it, so try to leave your tip in cash.

Also keep in mind that the infrastructure of the Maldives, where resorts are always built on uninhabited islands, means that resort staff are often away from their families for months on end. A little extra on top of the usually low wages they receive can make a huge difference.

Czech Republic

The tip appears to be in a transitional phase in the Czech Republic, in particular in Prague, where the traditional trend of only closing the bill to the nearest ten crowns (33 p) is slowly being appropriated (mainly due to increased tourism from Western Europe) by the habit of tipping 10% in restaurants.

It is worth noting that being a waiter is one of the worst paid jobs in the Czech Republic (they earn around £ 4.50 per hour on average) and although it is unlikely that a waiter will complain if you just complete the bill, leaving a little extra is likely expect if you are a tourist.

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