China

Tipping is a lively issue among seasoned travelers to China.  Generally, no one tips anyone in China, with one large exception. 

Group tour guides catering to foreigners frequently depend on tip income. The dichotomy is that the Chinese natives will not tip anyone inside their own country, while foreign tour wholesalers (in any language, including Mandarin and Cantonese) bid so low for western business that they tell the guides and drivers to depend on tips for their income.  These workers serving foreigners are forced to solicit (some say beg) for tips. Consider it a required "service fee" which should have been revealed  to you as such before you booked the tour.   Thus, that USD$1499 per person group tour might really be more like USD$1699 after required (or incessantly requested) tips.

The foreigner group tour guides and drivers depend on this tip income, along with shopping stop commissions, to form the bulk of their income.  The shopping commissions come from the merchants paid to the guides and drivers in return for stopping at their establishments.  Prices are raised at these group tour shopping stops in order to pay the commissions up to 50%.   

Private or independent guides work for an agreed fee and tipping in cash is not necessary or expected. However, you should be picking up the incidental expenses of the tour guide, such as meals taken with you and transportation.  

While tour drivers many times expect tips from foreigners, taxi drivers in China will not accept them.  In most places, tipping taxi drivers is against the law, so ingrained is the Chinese culture to not tip.  Many Chinese consider tipping a remnant of the Chinese warlord and feudal system during the Empire period ending over a century ago.  

Since tipping is not a part of the culture, most establishments actually have a strict no-tipping policy. This includes almost all restaurants, massage studios, etc.  In fact, offering a gratuity may be considered impolite in certain quarters as it can be taken to imply that one's work is undervalued by the employer. The only place where a tip might be expected is at a high-end hotel catering to western tourists. And the only reason tipping may be expected there is because western tourists have conditioned the behavior of bellhops and concierges. Still, declining to tip will not offend the service worker.   And if you have someone go way above and beyond their normal duties, then a tip might be appropriate. 

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There have been a number of inquiries and reports concerning 'mandatory tips' payable by persons taking organised group tours to China. This has led to some confusion for other travellers who are not taking such trips. However, the advice remains that tipping is not necessary in China and it has been suggested that group tour organisers are using the term 'tip' inaccurately.  Some tour companies should label "plus tipping" as a service fee, as it is not optional in many cases.

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Hong Kong

Tipping in Hong Kong is more acceptable. In Hong Kong, just like the many parts of the world, tipping makes the world go round.

Some guidelines in Hong Kong: Taxi drivers will usually round up to the nearest dollar amount as a tip to himself. For example: if the meter read $ 16.40, then you would pay $ 17.00 and the taxi driver will most likely NOT give you back the small change.

For bellboys- $2-3 per piece of luggage carried for you.

Restaurants- a 10% service charge is usually already included in most restaurants, unless specified NO service charge. One usually leave the coins (if paid in cash) or if by credit card, then you would round up to the dollar amount you wish to leave as tip. Leave more if you are happy with the service, leave none if you are not happy at all.

Hotels and fine dining restaurants sometimes charge 15% as service charge, especially for large groups usually over 10 guests.

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