Experts to Americans: Easy On the Tipping!

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  05.21.07 | 8:11 AM ET

imageSure, in some countries a generous tip for great service is appropriate. But not everywhere. “In Japan, for instance, tipping is viewed as insulting,” writes Rosemary McClure in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times. “In other countries, it’s considered disrespectful to hand a tip to a waiter.” How to avoid being the ugly American shelling out too much money in tips overseas?

Read up on local customs in guidebooks, experts suggest. Ask a concierge.

McClure’s story includes a small chart noting appropriate tips in various countries. While no tip is expected in restaurants in Denmark, the chart suggests, 5 to 10 percent is appropriate in France and Germany. No tips are expected in Costa Rican restaurants.

My tip: Take the money you’ll save on tipping in Costa Rica and spend it on an extra night in Puerto Viejo—preferably on a place with a hammock. That shouldn’t offend anyone.

Related on World Hum:
* The Dollar-Euro Exchange Rate Blues
* Bali’s Bargaining Ballet
* The Art of the Deal

Photo by jopemoro via Flickr (Creative Commons).

6 Comments for Experts to Americans: Easy On the Tipping!

Jessica Lofbomm 05.21.07 | 12:52 PM ET

This is so true.  In South Korea, waiters and taxi drivers will get embarrassed and refuse any tip more than a couple of coins.  It is customary to leave no tip at all.  For good service, just give them a sincere bow and thanks.

Colinsito 05.21.07 | 7:16 PM ET

No, tips are not expected in Costa Rica, but they are greatly appreciated. 

When you work 6 days a week for $300/month, anything extra is very welcome.

LadyExpat 05.21.07 | 7:24 PM ET

This is a great post. I’ve lived in Asia for the past six years, and have gotten used to not tipping. For the most part, it’s not a custom in this part or the world. This past winter I traveled with a friend from Canada, and she refused to understand the “no tipping culture” in Asia. She tipped everywhere, refusing to believe me or the guide books. One incident that sticks in my mind is a restaurant at Angkor Wat. She left a tip, and the young waiter gave it back. He had no idea!

Eva 05.23.07 | 12:39 PM ET

On the flip side of course there’s the people from non-tipping (or lower-tipping) places that refuse to join in when they’re here. A British friend who visited told me she had no intention of tipping to the level generally expected, regardless of the quality of service - a bit harsh when you consider that in Ontario there is actually a separate (lower) minimum wage for servers, based on the assumption that they will be earning tips.

And then there was the Canadian girl that a friend of mine was embarassed to encounter in Cambodia, who informed the waiter that she couldn’t afford to tip him because she was “only a poor student.”

Plenty of different ways to be an ugly tourist, I guess…

Craig of 11.18.07 | 2:07 PM ET

Just stop tipping in the second and third world—it’s not done, and confuses folks. I once saw a man run down the street after a female friend of mine because he thought she’d accidentally left money on the table.

Fx Fars 09.13.08 | 5:41 AM ET

Some difference between Europe and third world. Its the cultural difference between two.
Tipping cultural and honesty are totally different.
One related with culture and another shows the moral value.

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