We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Tipping in China

Israel
Level Contributor
53 posts
39 reviews
Save Topic
Tipping in China

I just read a book "China Survival Guide" that insists that tourists should not tip in China. Their message was that tourists pay a lot more for everything than locals and the Chinese are bemused that, on top of that, tourists give even more money away for nothing..

Can anyone advise what the accepted tipping rules are in China at hotels, restaurants, taxis, guides, etc. Thanks.

hong kong
Level Contributor
8,880 posts
160 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Tipping in China

No need to tip.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
Level Contributor
32,065 posts
330 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Tipping in China

Please don't start the habit.

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
40,058 posts
815 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Tipping in China

No tipping. you are right, in a country where you bargain for everything to pay more than the agreed price is not viewed as generous but rather as stupid.

But the Chinese are not stupid and will gladly take your money even though it is not expected. In some places however, an employee may lose his job for accepting a tip.

I recently got a brochure from a restaurant delivery company and it states that we should call them right away if the delivery boy gives a hint of expecting a tip.

California
Level Contributor
1,632 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Tipping in China

However, if you're on a tour, MOST tour guides will "suggest" that you tip them and the bus driver!

Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
40,058 posts
815 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Tipping in China

Right, and the Chinese tourists on such a tour would definitely not tip.

Shanghai, China
Level Contributor
2,237 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Tipping in China

On a local level you have hardly any chance to tip with money. What I do if I get a good service in a restaurant or bar: I ask the waiter/waitress to get the manager/supervisor. They are usually scared to death because they think I would complain. When the manager is there I tell him/her that I was very satisfied with the service of the staff. This is way more worth for this person than money as I have never seen Chinese doing that. In hotels I leave a note for the management that staff xy has gone the extra mile for me. Bring a carton of local cigarettes from your home country. If the boxes are red even better (lucky color in China). This is always good for males (concierges, drivers). And even if they don't smoke they use it as a gift to a friend to grease the "guanxi". Please be aware that the Chinese way to accept a gift is to say "No, no, no" and rejecting it for about 2 minutes.

I do tip taxi drivers who make sure that I get my flight by being flexible with the traffic laws and the waitress in my favorite bar who always makes sure that I get my favorite table on short notice but that is it.

Miami Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Shanghai Region
Level Contributor
6,512 posts
130 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Tipping in China

This is not a way for tourists to save money, as impied in the "survival guide." That is dead wrong.

Tipping is anticultural in China. It is considered a form of charity, a handout. It's like saying, "Pity you and your job. Since you are probably paid a low wage compared to more skilled occupations, here is a bit something to tide you over your poverty!"

For a nation which is obsessed with "face," such a suggestion or gesture is an insult to a normal Chinese person. Of course greed is everywhere and tour guides and certain others say, "screw principle; show me the money."

Most taxi drivers, restaurant servers and hotel maids will turn down a tip. It is a sign of being inferior to accept it. Besides, tipping a taxi driver in Shanghai is illegal! That is how deep the custom of no tipping runs.

Miami Beach, Florida
Destination Expert
for Shanghai Region
Level Contributor
6,512 posts
130 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Tipping in China

PS As laowai88 so well describes, the idea of a gift is something different. At New Years, a red envelope with cash is a gift of friendship, respect, and yes, great service.

So a gift is something conceptually different than a tip. After a long stay at a hotel, you might have a gift for an employee or two if they made your stay especially enjoyable.

Israel
Level Contributor
53 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Tipping in China

OK but we have several days with a private guide and driver. Do we tip them or not?

China
Level Contributor
110 posts
1 review
Save Reply
10. Re: Tipping in China

But you've already paid for the guide and driver.

Though they maybe suprise to find tip. But it is also OK, if you don't tip.