Countries Where You Never Need To Leave A Tip

As the saying goes, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do," and when it comes to tipping in other countries, it's important you do your homework to ensure you don't offer a tip where it's unexpected — or, worse, could offend. While there are people you should never tip in the United States, such as bankers, doctors, and lawyers, there are other services where it's expected you do, such as a cafe or restaurant. And yet, when traveling, don't make the major money mistake of assuming that tipping etiquette is the same everywhere else. It definitely isn't, especially in French Polynesia, Fiji, Japan, China, and South Korea.

A 2023 Pew Research Center survey on tipping culture in the U.S. found that nearly two-thirds of Americans feel the tipping landscape has expanded of late. Of those surveyed, 72% said that tipping is now expected in more places compared to five years ago; which is why it can be easy to assume that tipping is the norm everywhere now. But the rest of the world hasn't exactly followed the U.S. lead here, with their attitude on tipping still being what it was in the past. So if you don't tip in the countries above, just know you won't fall in with the worst generation of tippers around.

Don't tip in these countries

As said, not all countries are like the United States when it comes to tipping. In French Polynesia, where Tahiti is the biggest island, tipping isn't expected, as it goes counter to the Polynesian culture of hospitality. Similarly, the communal culture of Fiji, which in 2023 saw a new mark of 929,740 visitors, makes individually recognizing one person out of many atypical.

For China and Japan, this is also the case, where a tip won't be seen as appreciation for excellent service but more as a cultural faux pas. Said Graham Bond, author of "Frommer's EasyGuide to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai," about tipping when traveling in China, "In my experience, offering a gratuity has usually been met with confusion, occasional embarrassment, and potential offense."

In Japan, the rule is simple: Follow the locals and don't leave a tip anywhere you normally would, such as a restaurant, hotel, or car service. Beth Reiber, author of "Frommer's EasyGuide to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Western Honshu," explained that in Japan, exemplary service is to be expected. As she told Frommer's, "Perhaps the no-tip custom stems from pride of work, no matter how small."

As for South Korea, you should also leave tips out of your food, hotel, and transportation budget, with experts saying an exception to tipping etiquette would be for tour guides. This said, while you may never need to leave a tip in any of these countries, you may be charged a service fee at some establishments.

Tipping confusion emerges in South Korea

In its survey on tipping in America, the Pew Research Center found that with the spread of tipping culture in the country, fewer are confident as far as when to tip and how much. Only 34% of survey respondents said knowing when and how much was easy, while another 39% said it was "somewhat easy," and 29% saying the changing etiquette wasn't easy at all. With confusion even in this country, it only stands to reason that Americans might not be exactly sure when traveling to other countries. This said, for China, Fiji, French Polynesia, Japan, and South Korea, you should forgo any tipping habits you may have.

On that note, South Korea has recently faced its own confusion over tipping. In 2023, the country experienced the arrival of tipping culture, and the people were quick to voice their disapproval. As reported by The Korean Times, tipping requests began to emerge at restaurants, cafes, and even ride-hailing services, with not only tip jars but also tip screens with suggested tip amounts. According to the daily, the public took to social media to push back against this new practice, while a survey of 12,106 people by SK Communications found that an estimated 70% of Koreans considered tipping to be "unacceptable." Suffice to say, most locals aren't likely leaving tips, and travelers shouldn't feel obligated to either, no matter the familiarity of a tip jar or screen. If anything, doing so now could hurt the people's campaign against it.