To Tip Or Not to Tip?

Now that leisure travel is slowly resuming, we can finally dust off our luggage and put those freshly renewed passports to good use.

Are you a tourist planning a trip to Singapore? Or are you a curious local who wants to know how the tipping culture differs around Asia?

Whichever the case, read on to learn more about the tipping culture in Singapore versus other Asian countries!

Tipping is not a common practice in Singapore

In Singapore, it is not common for locals to tip for dining, transport or hospitality services.

Dining: You do not need to tip your server when you are dining in a restaurant, but you can occasionally spot some “tip” boxes at cashier counters. So, feel free to drop loose change if you feel the service is satisfactory.

If you’re dining at a hawker centre, it is also not necessary to leave a tip for the sellers, though you can opt to let them keep the change.

However, when it comes to ordering food delivery on platforms such as foodpanda and GrabFood, there is the option to tip your delivery person. While it is not a requirement to do so, that is a way in which customers can show their appreciation.

Transport: Whether you’re taking a taxi or a private-hire car, you are not expected to tip your driver. Some booking apps like the CDG Zig App do not have the tipping function yet while others do.

But, there have been instances where customers have chosen to tip them as a token of appreciation or have asked drivers to keep the change, especially during COVID-19 when demand fell.

Once, a ComfortDelGro cabby returned S$1.1 million cash to the passengers after they had accidentally leave their bag behind in the taxi. In gratitude, they tipped him a few thousands for his honesty!

So, it’s really up to you if you feel that the driver deserves some tips.

Hospitality: When checking in and out at a hotel, it isn’t a requirement to tip the service staff.

Did you know? Tipping Changi Airport staff is not accepted!

Tipping culture in other Asian countries

In Japan, service staff place great importance in giving quality service, and do not expect tips in return for their efforts. They will also most likely politely refuse if you offer to tip them!

However, when it comes to “ryokans” (Japanese inns) or private tour guides, you may leave a tip if you enjoyed the service provided. To do so in a polite manner, put your tips into an envelope before passing it with both hands to the receiver.

South Korea is another country where tipping is not expected, whether it is at a Korean restaurant, hair salon, or spa. However, you may choose to tip when you’re dining at a Western-owned restaurant, or opt to let your driver keep the change when taking a taxi.

When in Hong Kong, tipping is not expected at places such as hotels or restaurants. But, it’s common to tip 10% of the bill at hair salons, or a few dollars for washroom attendants that you may find at certain restaurants.

For countries like Thailand and Vietnam however, tipping is not required, but is considered a nice gesture. While you don’t usually tip when dining at street stalls, you may leave a tip (around 10% of your bill) at posher restaurants. And if had you enjoyed the service provided at the bar or massage parlour – feel free to tip the service staff!

Before you get all excited and hop on to your next flight, make sure to convert your money and always tip in the currency of the country you’re visiting!

Exploring Singapore? Download the CDG Zig App for all your mobility and lifestyle needs.

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