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When and should I tip in China?

Listen up. Particularly if you are from a non-tipping country like Australia, New Zealand and the UK, where tipping is not common.

Tipping isn't generally expected in China. In fact, if you leave a tip or some leftover change at the table for the waiter/waitress, they will either look puzzled, or possibly chase you down the street with your left change. In more cosmopolitan cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, there is possilbly more expectation of tipping, and some cafes might even have a jar marked 'tips'.

Don't bother tipping at your hotel unless they provide excellent service - they usually add a service fee of 15% anyway.

How about tour guides? Most tour guides are hoping for a tip at the end of their work with you, especially if they have saved you money on hotels, shopping, etc, and also if they have worked beyong the normal working hours.

However, please be aware that many tour guides that work with large groups, and are contracted through an agency like CITS, rely on tips and commissions for their income. So if you are with a group and your Chinese guide takes you to shop after shop, rather than show you the place, they are probably trying to get some kickbacks.

Personally, as a guide, I dislike this behaviour, and don't want my guests paying inflated prices for goods to line the pocket of the tour guide. So I never take my guests to shops unless they specifically request it and then I help them bargain for a good price.

Recommended rates for  guide are anything from 20-100 yuan per day. But it is totally up to you. Don't reward bad service or feel pressured into tipping. But do appreciate that they have gone out of their way to help you, and that what you earn and have is often 10 times or 100 times what they have.

It doesn't have to be financial either. You can give them something from your country, cigarettes for example, or even some coins from your country.

A quick survey of local guides rates these countries' travellers as the best and worst for tipping:

Best - USA

Worst - France, Australia