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How much I should tip guides, taxi drivers, and hotel staff when traveling to Southeast Asia?

America has a reputation for generous tipping. People often tip at least 15% at both bars and restaurants. But in some countries, especially in Southeast Asia, this could be confusing. Although tipping is not customary, tourist areas there still expect tips regardless. As a traveler, what do you have to do?

To avoid awkward situations, scan information below so you will know how much you should leave behind when you are in a restaurant or a bar to enjoy a meal or a drink in Southeast Asia.

1. Vietnam

Local Currency: Vietnam Dong (VND)

Ha Long bay Vietnam

At Restaurants: Tipping isn’t customary. Although some restaurants may include a 5% service charge, a 5 - 10% tip is always welcome for good service. You don’t need to tip if you are at a local restaurant or if you are not satisfied with the service. Leave loose charge or round up the bill when you are at a bar.

At Hotels: 1-2$ for porter carrying your bags and 2$ a day for cleaning staff but leave the money at the place where is easy to notice on the last day of your stay.

Guides and Drivers: Tip guides 8-10$ per person per day and drivers half of that. You don’t need to tip taxi drivers but you can round up the fare. Add on a few dollars to tip to cyclo drivers.

At Spas: Tip a massage therapist 5-10$ if you are in a fancy spa.

2. Thailand

Local Currency: Thai Baht (THB)

Angkor wat, Thailand

At Restaurants: Nice restaurants often include a 10% service charge in the bill, but it’s customary to leave behind loose charge in coins. At a more upscale restaurant, a larger tip of 5-10% is quite common.

At Hotels: Most hotels include 10% service charge in the bill so tipping in these places isn’t expected but is always appreciated. About 1-2$ for the porter carrying your bags to your room and 20 baht ($.61) left under your pillow for the cleaner.

Guides and Drivers: Tip 8-10$ per person per day to guide and driver half of that and round up the fare to the taxi driver.

At Spas:  Massage ladies in Thailand get only a pittance out of what you pay for the house so 100 baht is a gratuity for great service.

3. Myanmar

Local Currency: Kyat (MMK)

Golden Rock

At Restaurants: Tip is not expected however adding small gratuities will be appreciated. You can round up the bill to the closest 2,000kyat, or 10% of the bill.

At Hotels: Tip 1-2$ or 1,000kyat to the porter who carries your bags and the same amount per night to the room cleaner. Kyat is preferred but USD works too.

Guides and Drivers: Tip guides 10-15$ per person per day and 4-5$ per day to private driver. It’s not necessary to tip to taxi and tuk-tuk driver but you can round up the bill to the closest 1,000kyat.

At Spas:  10-20% of the bill will be hugely appreciated.

4. Cambodia

Local Currency: Cambodian Riel (KHR)

Khmer Dance

At Restaurants: There is no standard but 10% of the total bill is average. You can leave more if you feel the service is exceptional or don’t need to tip if you're not satisfied.

At Hotels: Generally, give the porter 1$ per bag that he carries to your room and 1$ a day to the cleaner.

Guides and Drivers: Your trip would not be enjoyable without a tour guide so tip him 8 -10$ per person per day and 4-5$ per person per day to your driver. Taxi drivers in Cambodia won’t expect a tip but you can let him keep the charge after rounding up to the nearest dollar. A small tip as 1$ is always welcome by the tuk-tuk driver.

At Spas:  Give your massage therapist directly 10-20% of the bill if you are happy with her service because massage therapists often have a very low wage.  

5. Bali, Indonesia

Local Currency: Rupiah (IDR)

Bali, Indonesia

At Restaurants: As other countries in Southeast Asia, restaurants in Indonesia often include a 5-20% service charge to the bill so it’s not required to tip. But if your waiter has done a good job, leave 5-10% tip of the total bill, in cash, and pay directly to him.

At Hotels: 2-4$ to porters and cleaning staff doesn’t mean much to you, but it means a lot to them.

Guides and Drivers: Pay 8 - 10$ to your guide if you’re happy with his efforts. Give your driver half of that. Round up the fare as a tip to the taxi driver.  

At Spas:  Your massage therapy won’t expect a tip but if you’re pleased with her job, you can tip her 5$.

6. Laos

Local Currency: Lao Kip (K)

Luang Prabang, Laos

At Restaurants: There isn’t much of tipping culture in Laos, but it’s recommended to leave a tip of 5%.

At Hotels: A tip of 10,000KIP per person per bag to porters carrying your bag and 10,000 - 20,000 KIP per day to cleaning staff is appropriate.

Guides and Drivers: Tip your guide 8 - 10$ per day and around half of that to your driver. If you have a half day cruise, tip 1$ per person to the boat crew and 2$ per person if you spend overnight on it. Cyclo and Tuk-Tuk driver will be appreciated if you give a small gratuity of 1$.

When you visit pagodas and monasteries, you can make a donation, which might be around 10,000 - 20,000 KIP, if you wish.

7. Singapore

Local Currency: Singapore Dollar (SGD)

Singapore

At Restaurants: In Singapore, tipping is discouraged. Most restaurants include a 10% service charge in their bills. You don’t need to worry about paying a tip for using any service in Singapore. But if you insist on it, tip what you’re comfortable with and hand the cash directly to the waiter.

At Hotels: Again, tipping isn’t required except for the bellhop. You can tip 1-2SIN per bag. Leave the cleaner a few dollars a day if you wish, but it’s not expected.

Guides and Drivers: You don’t need to tip but if you satisfy with their service, you can give 15-20SIN for a full day to your guide and he will split with the driver. Round up the fare and leave the change to taxi drivers if you wish but they rarely accept any tip.

8. Malaysia

Local Currency: Ringgit (RM)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

At Restaurants: Tipping isn’t customary as a 10 percent tip is usually included in the bill. The locals often round up the bill and leave the change. You can do the same or leave 10–15% more if you’re happy with the service.

At Hotels: Tip the porter 1$ per bag he carries to your room and cleaning staff 1$ a day on the first day of your stay. Leave the money on the pillow with a note when you leave the room in the morning.

Guides and Drivers: Give your private guides $5–$10 per person per day and give your drivers half of that. It’s not required to tip taxi drivers, but you can round up the fare if you want to.

9. Philippines

Local Currency: Pesos (PHP)

El Nido Palawan, Philippines

At Restaurants: Check your bill at the end of the meal to make sure whether or not the service charge appears. If it does, there would be no need to tip. However, if it doesn’t, you might like to pass a 10% tip over to your waiter.

At Hotels: Although 10% service charge is usually included, it’s a general rule to tip those most helpful to you. It’s a nice gesture to give the porter 1$ per bag and 4-5$ to the exceptional concierge. Tip cleaning staff 1-2$ per day only if you see them. They are not going to pick up money that left behind.

Guides and Drivers: Guides get 10-15$ per person per day and driver 5-10$ per person per day. Round up to the nearest 100 pesos to taxi drivers and give 10-20 pesos to trike drivers.

At Spas: Massage therapists in the Philippines won’t expect a tip. But if you feel they provide an excellent service you can tip around 10% of the bill.

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