Skip to main content

A Guide to Tipping Around the World

In the U.S., it’s customary to tip your server at the end of a meal or your Uber driver once you’ve reached your destination. But what are the tipping customs in places like France, East Africa, or Thailand? Tipping, it turns out, varies widely by country and scenario, so we asked a few IU alumni who travel or live outside the U.S. to help us create a guide that highlights the tipping norms in some of the world’s most-visited locales.


Exchanging Currency

For the best exchange rates and to avoid hefty fees, order foreign currency from your local bank two to four weeks ahead of your trip. Another option, says Bill Bennett, director of IU Travels, is to withdraw local currency from an ATM once you’ve reached your destination. To avoid out-of-network and international ATM fees, ask your bank for a list of their international banking partners.

“It’s good to have a few hundred dollars, preferably in small change, in the local currency of the destinations you are visiting,” Bennett says. “But when making purchases, your credit card will almost always be the best method—there are often no fees as well as good exchange rates.”


Navigate to a specific destination using the following quick links.


Plaza Vieja, Havana
Plaza Vieja in Old Havana

Cuba

“Tipping is not common amongst Cubans themselves—they usually leave a little bit of change or don’t tip at all; however, with so many foreigners visiting the island, tips from visitors are expected and much appreciated,” says Adam Linderman, vice president of Cuba Educational Travel. “Keep in mind that most Cubans are just getting by with their salaries and live off of tips, so be generous.”

Currency: Cuban peso; however, Cuba is currently reforming its currency. Exchange rates are constantly changing, and there’s a large gap between rates in the formal exchange houses and the informal market. Most establishments and almost any vendor, taxi driver, or other service provider will accept U.S. dollars or euros. Most places will have prices in local currency but can quickly tell you how much things will cost in dollars or euros.

At restaurants: Some establishments have started to include a 10 percent service fee. Leaving a little extra on top of that is not expected but appreciated. For places that don’t include gratuity, 10 percent is standard, and anything above will make staff very happy.

At hotels: $1 per day for housekeeping; $1 for anyone who assists you in some way (carrying bags, bringing you a drink, etc.).

Tour guides and drivers: Tip your tour guide $2–$5 per day, and your driver an additional $1–$2. When using a public restroom, make sure to have $1 on hand to tip the bathroom attendant. Additionally, you’ll see and hear a lot of street performers in Cuba. If you decide to stop and watch, it’s encouraged that you tip a couple dollars.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? Yes! It’s best to pay in foreign currency.


Two elephants walking in Africa desert
Elephants walking on the grassland plains of Africa.

East Africa

“Tips in East Africa are always appreciated,” says Christina Hillsberg, BA’06, a former CIA agent who is an expert on the region. “Do not over tip or tip extravagantly. In most cases, 10 percent to 15 percent is fine.”

Currency: Varies by country

At restaurants: Tip at least 10 percent of the bill total. For parties of eight or more, there may be an automatic service fee applied to the bill.

At hotels: $5 per porter for luggage assistance; $15 per day for housekeeping staff or a private butler. The best way to tip hotel staff is to hand cash directly to them. In many cases, staff will assume that money left in a hotel room was accidentally left behind.

Tour guides and drivers: A $20 tip is appropriate for a tour guide or safari tracker; $5 for a taxi driver.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? Yes. Because there are several different currencies used in East Africa, U.S. dollars are widely accepted.


Camel in front of pyramid in Egypt
One of three ancient Egyptian Pyramids of Giza

Egypt

Tour guides commonly suggest starting a “tipping kitty” at the beginning of a group trip. Everyone contributes equally to the kitty (money pot); your guide then uses the money to tip hotel staff, guides, and drivers accordingly. Unused money is returned to the group at the end of the trip.

Currency: Egyptian pound

At restaurants: 10 percent to 15 percent is standard. If you’re looking to tip a street vendor, a small amount of loose change is appropriate.

At hotels: Tipping housekeeping 40 EGP–60 EGP per day is acceptable.

Tour guides and drivers: 80 EGP–100 EGP for a tour guide; 50 EGP for a personal driver. It’s not customary to tip taxi drivers.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? No.


Les Invalides in Paris at night
Les Invalides in Paris

France

“[At a restaurant or café,] don’t hand the tip to the server, just leave it on the table,” says Vasilis Onwuaduegbo, BA’17, who lives in Paris. “It isn’t common for French folks, but people expect Americans to tip.”

Currency: Euro (symbol €)

At restaurants: A 15 percent service charge is reflected in menu prices; however, tipping in France is a sign of good service. After a cheaper meal, a euro or two is appropriate. In a fine dining situation, it’s customary to leave an additional 5 percent to 10 percent. You won’t see a gratuity line on your credit card receipt, so make sure to have euros on hand. The tip can be left on the table or dropped in a tip jar, if available.

At hotels: It’s not expected, but leaving €2–€4 a day for housekeeping is a nice gesture.

Tour guides and drivers: €1–€2 for Uber and taxi drivers; at least €2 for long-distance drivers. As for guides, €1–€2 is acceptable. If the guided tour lasted all day, consider tipping 10 percent of the total excursion cost.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? No.


Regnitz river in Bamberg on a sunny day
The colorful town of Bamberg, Germany

Germany and the Netherlands

“Be kind and generous, but not philanthropic in your tipping,” says Gene Coyle, BA’73, MA’74, an ex-CIA operative and retired IU professor. “Even if you don’t speak that country’s language, everyone understands ‘thank you’ and a smile. Aside from the money they are receiving, guides, waiters, porters, etc. all appreciate compliments.”

Currency: Euro (symbol €)

At restaurants: A service charge is typically added to the bill or reflected in menu prices. However, tipping an additional 5 percent to 10 percent is a nice gesture. Leaving the tip on the table is frowned upon—hand it directly to your server instead.

“The German word for this extra tip for many years was called ‘trinkgeld,’ meaning ‘drinking money.’ Supposedly because the waiters could hide this amount from their wives and be used for drinks with their friends,” Coyle explains.

At hotels: If a porter assists you with your luggage, €2 is an appropriate tip. As for housekeeping, tip them a couple euros per day.

Tour guides and drivers: Free tours are very popular in Germany. While you aren’t required to tip, €5–€10 euros per person is encouraged. If you’re taking a bus tour, make sure to tip the driver and the tour guide. Drivers only expect a few euros.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? A few large department stores might accept dollars for large purchases, but at a very poor exchange rate.


Blue-domed church on a cliff in Santorini
Blue-domed church on a cliff in Santorini

Greece

It’s customary to tip the bathroom attendant €1 (after you wash your hands, of course).

Currency: Euro (symbol €)

At restaurants: For exceptional service at a café, round the bill up to the nearest euro or drop a euro in the tip jar by the cash register. If your restaurant bill doesn’t automatically include gratuity, leave 5 percent to 10 percent. Some restaurants may refuse gratuity. If that’s the case, just go with it.

At hotels: Leave housekeeping €1 per day. The same amount is customary if someone assists you with your luggage.

Tour guides and drivers: Tip your tour guide €2–€5 euros per person. If you’re on a private tour, €20 per person is appropriate. Round up to the nearest euro when tipping your taxi or Uber driver.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? American currency may be accepted at select resorts.


Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in Venice
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute in Venice

Italy

If you see the word “coperto” on the bill, it’s the service charge that covers any bread, olives, or other extras brought to the table.

Currency: Euro (symbol €)

At restaurants: Servers in Italy don’t live off tips. Tipping 10 percent to 15 percent above the bill is simply a nice gesture. It’s even more uncommon to tip your bartender, but if you’re feeling generous, you can round the tab up to the nearest euro.

At hotels: Tip the porter 1€ per bag; and the hotel doorman 1€ if they hail you a cab. It’s customary to leave housekeeping 1€ a day.

Tour guides and drivers: Drivers don’t expect tips, but tour guides do. It’s appropriate to tip guides €5–€10 per person, or 10 percent of the total tour cost.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? No.


The Hakone Shrine on the shore of Lake Ashi
The Hakone Shrine on the shore of Lake Ashi in Hakone

Japan

Tipping is not customary in Japan—and in many cases will be turned down—especially at a restaurant or bar. In a scenario where a tip is appropriate, there is a proper way to present the money. It’s considered crass to pull out your wallet and hand someone cash. It’s best to place the bills into an envelope and hand the recipient the envelope with both hands, slightly bowing. Don’t have an envelope? Wrapping the bills in a clean sheet of paper is also appropriate.

Currency: Yen (symbol ¥)

At restaurants: It’s unlikely that tips will be accepted. The Japanese take great pride in their work, and tips are often seen as insulting or rude.

At hotels: If you stay at a traditional Japanese-style inn, it’s acceptable to tip your room attendant and the proprietor at the end of your stay—but only a few yen.

Tour guides and drivers: Guides don’t expect tips, but it’s become more acceptable over the years to tip a few yen as a sign of appreciation. Taxi drivers, however, will not accept tips.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? No.


Wat Arun in Bangkok at night
Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple, in Bangkok

Thailand

“Since the foreign exchange rates fluctuate every day, it’s best to exchange U.S. dollars for Thai baht, so you don’t have to argue with the drivers/sellers/restaurant owners,” says Photjanee “Mian” Pinijsakkul, BS’06, who was born and raised in Bangkok.

Currency: Baht

At restaurants: Tip 5 percent to 10 percent if the restaurant doesn’t charge service fees. If you’d like to go above and beyond the fee, tip your waiter an additional 100 baht–200 baht. No tips are required when purchasing street food.

At hotels: If someone assists you (carries your luggage) at a mid-tier hotel, 50 baht is an appropriate tip. At a 4- or 5-star hotel, 100 baht is recommended.

Tour guides and drivers: Depending on the length of the tour, 10 percent to 20 percent of the total tour cost is an appropriate tip for a guide. It isn’t customary to tip drivers.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? No.


Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle in North Wales

United Kingdom

At higher-end hotels, you can opt for a service charge to be added to your bill. This will cover tipping staff for the duration of your stay.

Currency: Pound sterling (symbol £)

At restaurants: At most restaurants, a 12 percent to 15 percent service charge will automatically be added to your bill. If that’s not the case, a 10 percent to 15 percent tip is standard.

At hotels: If someone assists you with your luggage, £1–£2 pounds is appropriate. It isn’t customary to tip housekeeping, but feel free to leave a few pounds in the room before checking out.

Tour guides and drivers: For a metered taxi ride, tip 10 percent of your total fare. At the very minimum, you should tip tour guides £2–£4 pounds per person. 10 percent to 15 percent of the total cost of the tour is also acceptable.

Are U.S. dollars accepted? No.

Written By

Samantha Stutsman

Samantha Stutsman, BAJ'14, is a Bloomington, Ind., native and a senior content specialist at the IU Alumni Association.

Related stories

Deanna Fry’s Rise in Broadcast Journalism is Defined By a Sense of Humanity and Justice

Deanna Fry, BAJ’06, is the senior broadcast producer of the BET and CBS News newsmagazine show "America in Black."

Taylor 101: Dispatches from the World’s First Taylor Swift Conference

Taylor Swift: The Conference Era took place in November 2023 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in downtown Bloomington. Here's a recap.

Michael Koryta’s Lost Man’s Lane is a ‘Love Letter’ to Bloomington

"Lost Man’s Lane," a supernatural thriller by Michael Koryta, BA’06, and set in Bloomington, was published in March 2024.

Excerpt: Lost Man’s Lane

For a sixteen-year-old, a summer internship working for a private investigator seems like a dream come true—particularly since the PI is investigating the most shocking crime to hit Bloomington, Indiana,…