Contrary to most countries across the globe, tipping is not very common in China. The culture is different here than in the west.
Even though more people are slowly embracing tipping culture, it’s still not a very good gesture to many Chinese.
If you are a traveler, you want to be part of the natives by doing the right thing. This is why you must be careful, therefore, on what you do.
Tipping is one thing you don’t want to do openly here, as it may send a wrong message. So today, we answer your question about tips or not to tip.
We tip everywhere else; why is it questioned in China?
The answer is: we have different cultures, and of course, the Chinese, like anyone else, hold on to theirs. It’s not part of the Chinese culture to tip them for service in say a hotel.
They may even consider it rude that you left them money on the table. This is the main reason why you ought to be very careful if you feel the need to do it.
To us, tipping is an indication that the employee is not as valued by their employer. This sends a wrong vibe message to the employer and the recipient. Also, it may look like you are saying you are better than them.
The good thing though, is that the Chinese are slowly embracing the tipping culture and thus making it acceptable. Remember, though, not all places do.
We will see how you can tip and places you can use tips if you want to.
Where can I tip?
No one expects you to tip them in China and it’s not even required. Remember, some places will even frown at the thought of you tipping them.
Nonetheless, if you are in a hotel where they solidly cater to westerners, you can tip them, and they will find it just okay for you to do so.
If you feel like tipping them, therefore, you can use cash, or at other times you can use gift them with your small things.
Can I tip in the hotels?
It’s important to note that in hotels, no one expects you to tip them. But if you are going to the high-end hotels, you can decide to give them some dollars for the service.
For example, consider offering your concierge at least $10 per bag they carried.
If you don’t know how much to tip in the hotel, you can choose to gift them at least 10% of your bill.
Notice, sometimes the room service will have a service charge already. As such, you can give out a few dollars.
If you, however, went to the inns or hostels, don’t even think of tipping. Hostel tipping looks disrespectful.
What about Hong Kong?
Of course, the same story goes for Hong Kong. Only consider giving your concierge at least 10 or 15 per bag they will carry for you. You could also consider paying a percentage to your room attendants.
Tipping the tour guides
At least this is not as strange to the tour guides. Of course, the tour guides have a good salary and performance allowance.
But since they have handled western tourists, they have gotten used to the thought of tipping from the westerners.
In fact, the tour guide is the only one you will need to the tip of all places. They somehow expect you to do it. The tips are part of their income, so it’s okay to give them.
I know you may not know how to give them the money, and you can give them $10 per day. If you want, though, you can provide higher tips.
Remember, tipping is more about what you would like to give them. You can also provide an amount to the driver.
But of course, the tip you give depends on the amount you are willing to use or their service.
Tipping in your restaurants
Unless you are in upscale restaurants, you don’t need to tip in the restaurants. The upscale restaurants, though, influence western culture. Tipping at any fast food or any other outside joints is not required.
If you are, however, in larger restaurants that have western influence, you can tip them.
You don’t yet, have to spend a lot on the same; just a percentage of the bill is enough. Now since you won’t know whether to tip or not, you may as well leave the cash on the table than give them.
When you are in Hong Kong, you can give $5-$10 when choosing an inexpensive restaurant. Nonetheless, for some restaurants, this will go into the service charge.
Tipping the room service
The other parts of hospitality that may be pleasing to you are the rooms. Still, it would help if you did not tip them unless you are sure it’s okay.
Like the ones above, if you are in a high-end hotel, it’s okay to leave some percentage, but otherwise, no, don’t go tipping.
Tipping taxi drivers
Unless you hired a car to drive, you might use a taxi for your movements. You may want to tip the drivers, but you shouldn’t as it’s not something they require you to do.
Remember, some companies may have a rule that says it’s illegal for you to start tipping them.
If the driver helped you with some luggage, though, you could give them a tip based on the number of bags they carried for you.
It’s something ingrained in Chinese culture not to accept tips, and as such, you can have them resist it sometimes.
Tipping the hairdresser and at the spa
You aren’t expected to give tips in China, so they may resist your tip. The good news, though, is that in huge hotels, they have a large service charge. Even if you didn’t tip, they would still get some extra.
Follow the tips below if you feel like you have to tip
Remember, as we have already said, you don’t have to tip, but if you feel the need to do so, then do it as follows.
- Check their policy on tipping.
The moment you visit the establishment, confirm that they don’t have this policy that states clearly that they should keep the tips.
Most of the establishments that are against tipping will have these indications. If it’s the case, there then you know what to do.
- Be secretive with it.
Tipping is often something secretive, but some people don’t just know how to be secretive about it. You don’t want to show it and cause an embarrassing situation for both you and the recipient.
- Gratitude is magical.
As you are giving them a tip, remember to be grateful. Thank them for the different services you appreciated. That will make an even lasting impact.
- Use an envelope
The best way to win them over therefore is to use an envelope. Please give them the envelope as a gift and then don’t mention it again.
Notice that the recipient will not open the envelope or look at the package until later when they are alone. So you will have done your part.
It would help if you were cautious when tipping.
Bottom-line when you’re tipping, you want to be cautious not to offend anyone. While you expect that the tip will brighten their faces, it doesn’t; it may cause a wrong face in most cases. It could easily ruin someone’s mood rather than uplift them.
If you didn’t use the right tipping method, you are sure it’s going to send the wrong message. They feel like you are saying you are better than them.
Also, if you use the coins, then it will send the signal that the coins mean a lot more to them than you.
Tipping began in England, and it has spread across the different continents but particularly America. This means that tipping is a western thing, and so far, it’s still not very welcomed in China. Sadly, a cultural mutation can cause unforeseen problems.
The downside of tipping is that the staff categorize you and serve you based on whether they think you will tip them. This can easily cause a biased service.
Speaking from experience in countries where this is common, you will find them treating the locals shoddily while they almost worship the foreigners.
Also, some establishments will never offer the staff a pay rise because they know you receive tips. Besides, they won’t even give you good wages, and of course, some of the staff have learned to survive with the tips.
In a nutshell
Never worry about giving a tip in China because you don’t expect to be treated any better. They won’t expect tips in:
The restaurants: If you are going to sit in restaurants or fast food ones, you don’t have to think about it. If you are in larger cities, though, you can tip if you would like to. Remember, it won’t give you any better service.
Chinese bar: they don’t expect you to give tips because it won’t give you a larger drink.
The hotels: even with someone who will carry your bags, none of them expects anything from you. If you do it, though, don’t expect to be treated better or worse.
Taxis: they will always be accommodating with their work but remember they will only expect their pay nothing more.
I like the Chinese culture mindset as it makes us all feel equal. So no one will expect any better treatment than the other. It’s vital to mention that this culture, however, is slowly changing.
Of course, no Chinese service worker will think of giving you better service just because you will provide them with better service.
You see, unlike other places where they will give lower wages just because they know you will receive tips, this isn’t true here. The staff is given fair wages so they won’t suffer just because you don’t tip them.
Is it ever openly acceptable to use tips?
A few occasions allow you to tip them but remember again; they don’t expect the tip. Just know that the service workers may look at you as though you are crazy about handing them the cash.
They will sometimes have a collective jar where you can place your monetary tips for them to share among themselves.
You will find coins, notes, and much more. Here, the money isn’t for one person as they will divide it among each other. This is only applicable if the organization doesn’t forbid it.
How much tip is okay for me to give generally?
We did a breakdown for this already above, so depending on where you are, you can use the guide we already gave you above.
No one rule will work for all. I prefer to use a percentage as a guide. Often I will give 10% of my bills to the service provider. You can also choose to give them between 10-20 dollars per person.
It‘s not supposed to stress you out.
Contrary to what the tipping culture was meant to do, today, it seems to have lost its meaning. In some places, it seems mandatory as opposed to a good gesture.
In fact, some time will come out as a bribe to have the people treat you better. It shouldn’t be that way; I feel like it should be for that person you appreciate.
It’s a good idea that you don’t have to think a lot or even stress about it to receive better treatment.
Even if you gave a Chinese tip or didn’t, it isn’t that much of a big deal. Nonetheless, taking a trip in China has a little bit of cash since tour guides expect you to serve them with tips.
Remember to tip the right way not to look like you are disrespectful. With that said, you have everything you need to know about tipping, and you are ready to visit China, so start going. I hope you will have a nice trip and if you still have more questions, comment below.