Tipping in Hong Kong Restaurants: Is It Expected?

Written by Jim Belt in Restaurant

Visiting Hong Kong offers a mosaic of cultural experiences, and dining out is a highlight for many travelers. You may find yourself wondering whether to leave a little extra for service at restaurants. This guide explains tipping etiquette and covers if gratuity is expected.

Tipping in Hong Kong restaurants is not a common practice as a 10% service charge is usually included in the bill. However, leaving small change or rounding up the bill is a way to show appreciation for good service.

Tipping Customs

Tipping not customary


  • A service charge is often included in restaurant bills, eliminating the need for extra tipping.
  • At upscale restaurants, tipping is a sign of appreciation for exceptional service.
  • It's typical not to tip at casual eateries in Hong Kong.

Understanding Tipping Culture in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the approach to tipping at restaurants is notably different from many Western countries. A service charge is often included in your bill, usually about 10%, which takes the place of tipping. Locals typically adhere to this and do not tip beyond the service charge.

If you're a tourist navigating the restaurant scene, be aware that while the service charge is commonplace, exceptional service at a dining establishment may warrant a small, additional tip for the staff. It's not expected, but it can be a pleasant surprise for the service team.

Remember, the practice of tipping remains largely discretionary. It reflects a customer's satisfaction with their dining experience, but it is not a strict obligation. If you do wish to express your gratitude through a tip, rounding up the bill or leaving a small amount in cash, around 5-10 HKD, is sufficient.

Here are some quick pointers:

While you enjoy the diverse culinary experiences in Hong Kong, just observe and take cues from those around you. Your attentiveness to local customs will genuinely be appreciated.

When to Tip at Restaurants

In Hong Kong, tipping at restaurants is not as straightforward as it might be elsewhere. Often, a service charge of 10% is already included in your bill. This means that additional tipping isn't expected.

However, if you receive exceptional service and you feel inclined to show extra appreciation, it's customary to round up the bill to the nearest even number or leave a small, discretionary tip in cash. It's generally considered polite to avoid making a show of your tipping; if there's a tip jar present, you can discreetly place your contribution there.

Keep an eye on your bill for the service charge, and only consider tipping extra if it's not included or if the service went above and beyond. Remember, tipping in cash can often be more beneficial for the waitstaff. If you're looking for specific guidance on how much you might tip a valet when dining at more upscale establishments, consider the norm and customary practices specific to that service.

Tipping at Hotels and Bars

When staying at hotels or enjoying a drink at bars in Hong Kong, understanding the local tipping customs can enhance your experience with the service staff.

Service Type Suggested Tipping Amount
Bellboys/Porters 20 HKD per service
Concierge 20 HKD for exceptional assistance
Maids/Housekeeping Small tip appreciated after stay
Valets Round up or tip small change
Bar Staff Round up or leave small change (if desired)

Hotel Tipping Practices

At hotels, you are typically not obliged to tip, but it's a nice gesture for services rendered. For services such as bellboys and porters who assist with your luggage, a tip of around 20 HKD is appreciated. If a concierge goes above and beyond in providing assistance, a similar token of appreciation is considered courteous. It's also thoughtful to leave a small tip for maids after your stay, especially if the cleanliness of your room was up to standard. For valets who take care of parking your car, rounding up or tipping small change can show your gratitude.

Bar Tipping Etiquette

In bars, tipping isn't expected, but if you've received excellent service or enjoyed a particularly good experience, feel free to round up the bill or leave a small change for the service workers. This act is seen as a polite way to thank the staff for their hard work and can be especially appreciated in busy establishments where the bar staff are working at a fast pace to serve customers.

Services Beyond Restaurants and Hotels

In Hong Kong, tipping customs vary across services, but understanding these can make your interactions with service providers more seamless. Let's look at what you might expect when utilizing taxi and transport services, indulging in personal wellness treatments, or engaging with tour guides during your stay.

Service Category Suggested Tipping Practice
Taxi and Transport Round up fare for convenience or for exceptional service
Personal and Wellness Optional, for staff that provide above and beyond service
Tour Guides 50 to 70 HKD for exceptional service and storytelling

Taxi and Transport Services

When you hop into a taxi, there is no direct need to tip the driver. However, rounding up the fare for convenience or for exceptional service is a common practice among both tourists and locals. For other transport services, like valets, tipping isn't a standard expectation, but a modest gratuity for exemplary service is appreciated.

Personal and Wellness Services

A visit to spas or hair salons might bring up questions about tipping. Generally, it's not obligatory to tip at such venues, but for service staff that go above and beyond, offering a tip is a nice gesture of appreciation. It reflects recognition of the quality and the personalized attention you've received.

Tour Guiding and Assistance

While not standard, tipping tour guides can be a thoughtful way to show gratitude for extraordinary storytelling or exceptional service. If a guide has enriched your experience with in-depth knowledge and personalized care, a tip between 50 to 70 HKD is a generous way to say thank you.

Handling Cash and Other Payment Methods

When you dine at restaurants in Hong Kong, you'll often pay with the local currency, the Hong Kong Dollar (HKD). Cash transactions are straightforward: after your meal, you'll receive a receipt detailing the charges. If you're paying in cash, it's handy to carry some coins, as this makes it easier to handle exact amounts or leave a small tip.

Most establishments also accept cards, including credit cards like Visa or Mastercard. When you're ready to pay, simply hand your card to the cashier. They'll process it and return it with a receipt for you to sign. If you prefer contactless payment options, many places now offer this convenience, allowing a quick tap of your card to settle the bill.

Always ensure the payment amount is correct before you confirm, especially when using card transactions, as it's at this point any gratuity for exceptional service would be added. Keep your receipts until you've verified the charges on your account statement.

Comparative Tipping Practices

When you dine out in Hong Kong, understanding tipping customs can help you navigate the experience with ease. Unlike in the United States, where a tip of 15-20% for restaurant services is standard, Hong Kong's tipping culture is more restrained. It's common to plan to tip around 10-15% in restaurants, but it's not always expected, as some places include a service charge.

In the context of Chinese culture, tipping is traditionally uncommon. However, Hong Kong, with its international influence, operates differently. A tea fee might be added to your bill when enjoying dim sum, so it's not necessary to leave an additional tip.

Here’s a quick reference for your next dining experience:

Location Tipping Expectation
Hong Kong Restaurants 10-15% if no service charge
US Restaurants 15-20% typically
China Mainland Restaurants Tipping not customary

Remember, your tip in Hong Kong should consider the complexity of the service, particularly at higher-end eateries. However, a simple rounding up of the bill can suffice in more casual settings. Your awareness of these comparative tipping practices enhances your cultural fluency, showing respect for both the local customs and hospitality workers.

Final Tips and Best Practices

When dining in Hong Kong restaurants, it's important to consider local tipping customs to show your appreciation to the wait staff appropriately. Despite not having a strong tipping culture, offering gratuities in certain situations is considered polite.

Remember, your interactions with the wait staff and receptionists are part of the wider dining experience. A smile and a thank you can often be as valuable as a monetary tip. Enjoy your meal and the unique hospitality of Hong Kong!

Published: 19-01-2024

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