Tipping in China Question

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Jun 11th, 2004, 05:39 PM
  #1
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Tipping in China Question

My husband and I will be leaving on a 13 day Pacific Delight tour to China next month. I understand that tipping guides and drivers is not expected; however, should we plan on tipping the staff on the Yangtze Cruise? If so, how much? The packet we received with our tickets has a list of suggested tipping for guides, tour directors, baggage handlers and cruise personnel. If we decide to go out on our own for dinner, is tipping in restaurants expected? Thanks for any advice or suggestions.
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Jun 11th, 2004, 06:34 PM
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There is no tipping in China.

Where a tour company advises you to tip, you should add the sums mentioned to the cost in the brochure to arrive at the real total cost. The exception would be any foreign tour director or guide who accompanies you throughout. To him or her foreign tipping rules apply.

This topic often comes up in these pages. For more detail, see:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...7&tid=34487183

Peter N-H
http://members.shaw.ca/pnhpublic/China.html
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Jun 12th, 2004, 05:06 AM
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We were requested to give a tip to the "naturalist-guide" provided by the boat on the Yangtze. We may have left a tip for the room cleaner, but I do not remember. It was a small amount.
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Jun 12th, 2004, 07:10 AM
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We are currently in the process of moving to Shanghai from Tokyo. (We are expats and have kept our home in Michigan). People that are supposed to be experts in teaching us the culture of the city around us says tipping for the most part is not expected. But...if one stays in the Western Expensive Hotels, a little something is expected. Taxi drivers don't expect to be tipped. I carry one dollar bills with me and have given them out when someone has done something extra for me.
Have fun on your tour, I look forward toward doing the cruise too down the river after our official move, July 6th. Myszka
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Jun 12th, 2004, 08:11 AM
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In this case people "who are supposed to be experts" actually are, and should be listened to. The "expectation" of a tip does not indicate anything more than that enough foreigners wandering through without paying attention to local standards have been handing out free money, although no Chinese would do so, and not an indication of any right, tradition, custom, or need. In the case of many hotels (Shangri-La for instance) a reminder not to tip is even written into the room directory. Many hotels will fire any employee found to be hinting a tip is necessary. This is a self-inflicted foreigner tax, and doesn't need to be promoted any further, especially not in the ridiculous and extremely patronising form of handing out one dollar bills. The currency of the PRC is the RMB yuan.

Peter N-H
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Jun 12th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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Yes, I do carry some one dollar bills with me. I do try not to be too patronizing when I hand them out when I do not have immediate access to the local currency.
In the business travel world, one travels so frequently here or there that sometimes it is not possible to exchange money immediately. Hence the dollars I carry with me. When I do get a chance, usually the next morning, an ATM is first on my list. It is much nicer to give tips using the local exchange. But I find when I arrive in a hotel, after being in several different countries, it might be better to offend with USA currency than nothing.
(I have also had to use dollars in Europe, when business takes one there suddenly.) Myszka
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Jun 20th, 2004, 08:52 AM
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Thanks to all who replied. The info has been quite helpful. I do have one more question - I believe that we will have a tour director that will be with the tour for the entire time - just what are the foreign tipping rules that Peter mentioned?
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Jun 27th, 2004, 01:48 AM
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In some respects, China can be pretty chaotic.

I commented - humourously - on the trip I made this last month, that the difference between the Japanese and the Chinese is that the Japanese make rules to be observed while the Chinese make rules to be broken.

If there are "foreigh tipping rules" they probably went out the window long time ago.

Generally, there is no tipping in China. However, like Myszka, I always carry a wad of US one dollar bills with me - they must be crisp, new bills!

I tip when I feel like it. Nobody is going to tell me - to tip or not to tip. It's my trip and my money. If someone does something for me and I appreciate it, I tip. For example, one day, in pouring rain, a Chinese bellhop went out of his way to get me a cab - I tipped him two yuan (less than 25 cents US). After that, he would give me extra attention and extra help. When I left the hotel, I tipped him another 5 yuan. The extra smiles and extra help were well worth the 5 yuan (about 60 cents US). Yeah, there's no tipping in China - but I tip when I feel like it. I would advise you to do the same.

Things are ever changing in China and it's not just because "foreigners" are handing out "free money". Or, a further erroneous comment, "not an indication of any right, tradition, or custom". This is a country with 3000 years of recorded history and over a billion people - lots of room for a great deal of diversity.

It is also an extremely poor country - don't let the glitz and glamour of some of the cities like Beijing and Shanghai fool you. In 2000, the average wage in the industrial north of China was 60 cents/hour (about 1/4 the average wage for Mexico at the time). Many people have to work 12 hour days and 7 days a week. People at the lower end of the job scale sometimes look like zombies because they are TIRED. Or bored. Or both. If a bellhop or someone helps me and I tip him, this mutual action brightens both our day, so why not?

If you really don't want to tip the people who give you good service, then might I suggest you follow a very old Chinese custom and put a few yuan in the bowl of a nearby beggar? China has no social security system, except for government workers. Giving alms to the poor and the maimed is, at least, a 2000 year old Chinese "tradition"/"custom".

On the other hand, China is one of the safest countries you could travel though in today's world. Poverty does not mean that the doors to mugging and robbery are open.

Enjoy your trip! Pacific Delight offers a good tour. I have had friends and relatives who have taken their tours. Let us hear of your experiences on your return!
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