Tipping in China? advice needed

Old Jun 29th, 2001, 09:28 AM
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Tipping in China? advice needed

We will be traveling in China in October and need up-to-date advice about tipping. I know that, at one time, tipping tour guides and drivers was a "no-no" (even Fodor's tipping guide on this website says that), but I understand things have changed now. If so, can anyone offer any advice on the proper amount per day to tip the guide and driver? There will be five of us, and we will have our own van/driver and guide. Any other advice on when and when not to tip? Thanks for all the help we've received from participants on this board.
Old Jun 29th, 2001, 02:32 PM
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I just returned last Sunday from my 12 day trip. As a general rule, we tipped our tour guides USD$2 per day per person and tipped the driver USD$1.50 per day per person. They will definitely be disappointed if you don't tip them. You can also give them USD as well as RMB. No need to tip at restaurants or shows. You may want to tip the bell boys in the hotel when they bring your luggage to your room ($15-$20RMB).
Old Jun 30th, 2001, 08:34 AM
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I think the tipping guide in Fodors is correct. Bellboys should get tips (10 RMB per bag, which is just over $1), taxi drivers don't get tipped. Despite what Fodors says, I don't know anyone (foreign or Chinese) who tips at all in restaurants - it's just odd in the way it would be to tip your mailman.

As the Fodors guide says, the only tour guides that are not allowed to get tips are the CITS guides - they are officially gov't employees (I might have the acronym wrong). But Fodors tips on other gifts are right on. Other guides can and should be tipped. I'd tip 10% of the tour price, drivers less.

I've lived in Shanghai for 3 years, and done more than my share of shopping in the markets and hitting the tourist spots, and I have only ONCE been asked for USD. I just don't think it's as commonly appreciated here as it is, say, in the Philippines, where prices are even posted in USD. If it would be a question of hundreds of dollars, sure, but in $1 and $2 increments, no. I would recommend against using USD, not only because I don't think they particularly value it more than the RMB equivalent, but also because you'll tend to overpay for things if you use USD (overpaying is more advice for buying things, not tipping).
Old Jun 30th, 2001, 11:57 AM
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Your tour operator is the best source for this type of information. If they tell you not to tip guides and drivers, they must have factored that in the price you paid.

As a former CITS guide (1985 - 1993), I know for fact that 99% of CITS guides accepted tips, not matter what the government said. Now it must be 100%. What you read in some guidebooks is misleading or just plain nonsense. They buy into the Communist propaganda without knowing how much disservice they've done to their readers. We did not spend 4 years in college to become a tour guide if we did not know tips would become a major source of income. Considering the lousy pay tour guides get, they deserve your generosity if you believe they have served you well.

Again, the best source of information on tipping is your tour operator. They should be able to specify who should get it and how much, based on the number in your party.
Old Jun 30th, 2001, 02:35 PM
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I joined quite a few tours during my 5+ week's stay in China last spring. All those tours except for "the Three Gorges" were with local Chinese tourists, and of course our tour guides spoke only Chinese. No tips were paid anywhere in any occasions whatsoever, including our tour guides. It is a fact, of no tipping, at least for local Chinese. Nothing to do with "communist propaganda".

For those tour guides serving overseas tour groups and speaking foreign languages, tips are anticipated, which is perfectly understandable, and justified. However, tipping itself, even in today's China, unlike in the western world, is still NOT a common practice.

During my "three gorge" tour, which was also with a local tour group, one English guy, one German, two Americans, signed up with my group as well. They didn't understand Chinese, but nevertheless, they all had a great time by mingling with Chinese tourists. We all plaied "Ma Jiang" together, gambling on the boat, and one night, the Germany guy got really drunk. None of them paied any tips simply because they were at the time becoming "unofficial Chinese" therefore tips were not anticipated.

I tipped a few times, privately, to some people providing excellent services. Everyone accepts tips and appreciates tips. But again, it is still uncommon and many aren't used to it, not yet.

The guidline? Except for your tour guide and your driver, you may want to tip only when you really want show your appreciation to the services. Never feel obligated to tip anyone, as you might do at home.
Old Jul 1st, 2001, 03:47 AM
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Hi Carol:

I just returned from China, including 11 days with a tour group, plus time on my own.

DO TIP the bellhops ($1 US per bag) in the hotels; it is expected and appreciated.

DO NOT TIP the taxi drivers, although you can give them a little extra change.

DO TIP your tour guides and drivers. I usually tip 1/2 of what I give the guide to the driver. Most guides are hired on an as-needed basis; they get more work if they get good reviews. If you have a good one, be sure to write the company that set it up for you to complement the guide.


A Fellow Traveller,

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