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Tipping abroad

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Tipping abroad

Which? guide to gratuity: How much to tip restaurants, hotels, bars, taxis and tour guides when you're away.

 

Tipping is a social custom and varies so much between countries that even seasoned travellers can find themselves puzzling over how much to offer their waiters and tour guides.

Saying 'thank you' before receiving your change in a restaurant in Poland tells waiting staff that you’re happy for them to keep it all. However, if you do leave a tip after a meal in Japan, you may find your waiter returning your 'lost' money to you.

As global tourism has grown, so have expectations around tipping, even in cultures where it wasn't previously the norm. 

In many European countries, where rounding up was once the standard, customers are now expected to add 10% to the bill at the end of their meal. And visitors who haven’t been to the States in a while will be surprised to find that tipping 10% is more likely to bring a scowl from the wait staff than a thank you. From the taxi driver in Athens to your safari guide in South Africa, we reveal how much to tip, and when you should keep your hand firmly in your pocket.

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Tipping Guide
  Restaurants and Bars Hotels Taxis Tour Guides
France Hotel, cafe and restaurant receipts should include "service compris" (service charges) of around 15%, meaning you are not obliged to tip. If you want to reward good service add a further 10-12.5%. The word for gratuity is "pourboire", which means "drinking money", however, it's not customary to tip in bars. If a porter carries your bag €1-2 is expected. Not necessary, but round up to the nearest euro. Discretionary. From €2-5pp/pd, plus €1-2pp/pd for the bus driver.
Spain Tipping is discretionary. In tapas bars round up the bill to the nearest euro or leave your change. But at higher-end eateries add 5-10%. In bars, round up to the nearest euro. Not necessary. Not necessary, but round up to the euro. Reward good service with €5-10.
Greece Service or cover charges are usually included in the bill. While discretionary, a 5-10% tip on top is common with tourists. In bars, tipping is not expected. It's customary to leave €1 a day for cleaners and €1 per bag for porters. Not necessary, but round up the fare if you'd like to. For a group tour tip €2-5pp, and for a private tour up to €20pp/pd.
Poland In Krakow, Gdansk and other popular cities a 10% tip is expected, although not in bars. Not necessary except in five-star hotels. It is customary to round up to the nearest 5zl or 10zl. Tip private guides 10%. Government guides at historical sites don't expect a tip.
Italy "Servizio" (service charge) and "coperto" (cover charge) is often included on Italian bills. You are not obliged to tip on top of this. If service hasn't been added (or to reward good service) round up to the nearest €5 or €10. In bars, tipping is at your discretion. A small tip (€1-2) is more common in tourist cities. Be aware, table and bar service can be priced differently. Discretionary. Offer €1-2 for porters and housekeeping. It's polite to round up to the nearest euro. Not expected but €5-10 is appreciated.
Australia Tipping was not the norm in restaurants till recently, but nowadays 10% is standard. In bars, it's discretionary. If a cocktail mixologist has prepared something special, tip them a couple of dollars. It is not necessary to tip hotel staff. Not necessary, but telling your driver to keep the change is appreciated. Not necessary.
Japan Do not tip. Do not tip. Do not tip. If they experience with international tourists, then your guide may accept a tip, but make sure it is presented in an envelope.
South Africa A service charge is often included in the bill, if not leave 10-15%. In bars add 10% to the total bill. Give R20 a night for the housekeeper and R20 per bag for the porter. Round up to the nearest R20. At safari lodges leave one tip of 10% or more at the end of your stay. This is equally distributed to front and back-of-house staff.
India For high-end eateries tip 10% on top of the 5-10% service charge, which should be on your bill. For casual ones add 5-10%. In bars, it's not necessary. A service fee is often added to your bill. Give 100-200 Rupees per bag to porters and per day for housekeeping. Round up the fare. 100-300 Rupees per day. For group tours 30-50 Rupees per day.
USA Nowadays in popular tourist spots a 20% tip is standard. If you're impressed with the service then reward on top of this but make sure any tip is based on your bill before tax. Outside of large cities and tourist areas 15-20% is acceptable. For a buffet, tip each person who collects your plate $1. In bars tip $1-2 per drink. It's customary to leave this on the counter after you've paid. Tip the bellhop $1 per bag unless you're staying at a five-star address where a $5 per bag tip is expected. Don't forget doorpeople, valets, casino staff (5%), housekeeping and room service (15-20%) will also expect a tip. For spa treatments 15% of the bill is considered reasonable. 10-15% of the total fare then a further $1-2 per bag if anyone assists you. This depends on the type of tour and can range from $3-10 per day to a whopping 10-20% of the cost of the trip for bus tours. If it's a free tour, tip $5 per person.

Tipping Advice

  • Opt for all-inclusive

If you want to holiday without worrying about tips, book in at an all-inclusive hotel or resort. Generally, gratuity is included when you purchase this type of package, except at any a la carte restaurants.

  • Cost of cruising

Check with your cruise operator when booking whether gratuities are included in the headline price. Brands such as Saga and APT River Cruises are all-inclusive. Otherwise budget per passenger, per day for tips for ship staff and your program director (Viking suggests £15pp/pd), as well as local guides and drivers. Look out for cruise lines such as Oceania, which automatically add £12pp/pd to your account. See our ocean and river cruise reviews online to find out each cruise lines’ tipping policy.

  • Tip before tax

When calculating how much to tip, you should base this on the figure before tax is added. There are free apps which can help with quick calculations based on your bill, such as Gratuity.

  • Don’t double tip

Paying by card? Be aware that if you pay by credit card, staff may never see the tip. And if you’re using the chip and Pin machine, make sure you don’t accidentally add another tip when it’s already been included in your receipt. It’s always more straightforward to tip in cash, if you can.

If you still need to get your travel money, see our guide to getting the best rates on the high street.

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