Is it Rude to Tip?

There are a lot of things to think about when you’re visiting foreign places, including what may be considered rude that isn’t rude where you are from.

Otherwise, you never know who you might offend, or why! 

But, what about tipping? Is it rude to tip? Read on below and find out!

Is it Rude to Tip?

Tipping is not seen the same in the East, as it is in the West. Sure, an eastern destination with Western staff may see it similarly to a western visitor, but the similarities end there.

The facts are this: in Western nations, tipping is rarely ever seen as rude and is more often than not expected of you, but in Eastern countries, tipping may be received like a slap to the face or a shot to the foot.

Western staff is used to gratuities, and more often than not rely on them to survive (due to low wages). In the East, like China, Korea, and Japan, staff are paid well enough that tips are not needed.

How Rude Is it?

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On the rude meter’s scale of 1 to 10, tipping rates 1 in North America and Western Europe. 

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That said, in countries like China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, tipping rates 9 out of 10 on the rude meter.

If you don’t know whether or not it’s rude to tip, have a look around and see what others are doing when they get up from their tables and pay their bill.

In the worst-case scenario, it is better to ask the staff what the policy about tipping is, and judge whether or not it would be rude by their explanation and physical reaction.

Why is it Rude?

Tipping in Eastern countries such as China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan is considered extremely rude. Between locals, tipping is a massive insult. 

When a foreigner tips in an Eastern nation, it is often forgiven and written off as ignorance… the first time you do it. The second time may be taken with a bit of hostility.

Why is it Not Rude?

In Western European nations and North America, tipping is part of the culture and is the last thing in the world that is rude. 

In fact, not tipping someone is far more often considered rude in the West than tipping is, in general.

Western staffers are often not paid as well as their Eastern counterparts, they are often working for less than half of the minimum wage. 

Therefore it is no wonder that they expect tips from customers whom they serve.

Common Questions

Is it offensive to tip?

Tipping is only offensive, in the West, if it is done with malicious intent.

Otherwise, tipping is almost always welcome (regardless of “company policy”).

In the East, however, countries like China and Japan frown upon tipping. It is indeed offensive in many eastern cultures to tip.

Is it disrespectful to tip in Europe?

Europe is a bag full of mixed fruits and vegetables… with a few shrubs, herbs, trees, and flowers thrown in.

In other words, everyone gets along just fine, but each nation has its very own idea about tipping.

Most European countries don’t expect you to tip their staff, but won’t be offended either.

What countries find it rude to tip?

The main countries you do not want to tip in are China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

Other Eastern nations have similar stances on tipping as well. In the West, you are more than welcome to tip, however.