In Hong Kong, tipping is an uncomplicated matter. Unlike the United States where you need a calculator and a mountain of spare change to tip appropriately, Hong Kong tipping is relatively straightforward.
Service workers in Hong Kong receive salaries that aren’t set artificially low with the expectation that it will be bumped up by tips from customers. The cost of service is already built into the price of your food, drinks, or other services provided.
Before you travel to Hong Kong or anywhere else in Asia, it's critical to understand the concept of face, which is an incredibly important part of the culture. It's about respecting your server and making sure that you don't cause anyone to lose face, or be dishonored, by your actions. In regards to tipping, whenever you are leaving a tip, never wave your money around or in general make a big deal out the fact that you are leaving your server a tip. Doing so highlights the fact that you are more important than the person serving you and is considered bad manners.
At hotels in Hong Kong, there's no need to tip in most cases. However, if you receive good service from the bellboy or from room service, you can show your appreciation with a small tip. However, doormen and valets at upscale hotels might expect a small token of appreciation of about 20 Hong Kong dollars (HKD), which amounts to about $2 USD.
Restaurants and Bars
Most restaurants in Hong Kong will put an extra 10 percent service charge onto your bill, which will usually be mentioned on the menu and will be visible on your final bill. Remember that cash is the only way to ensure that your server actually gets the reward for their hard work and good service, rather than their employer, so have some Hong Kong dollars on hand.
- For waitstaff, you don’t really need to contribute more than this 10 percent. However, if the service really has been excellent, it would be acceptable to discreetly give a few more dollars on top of the service charge.
- If you are ordering directly from the bartender, it's not expected to leave a tip in a bar or pub in Hong Kong. You can leave more money if you receive excellent service, or if you are purchasing large rounds of drinks for a large group of people, you can round up and leave a little change for the bartender.
Taxi or cab drivers don’t expect to be tipped, but it is normal to leave the driver a small tip by rounding up your fare to an even number and letting them keep the change.
It's common in Hong Kong establishments to find an attendant in the bathroom, especially in upscale restaurants. These attendants go above just handing you a towel, and some will even dry your hands or give you a spritz of aftershave or perfume before you go. Even if you turn down the personal hand-dry and perfume, it's customary to leave a few coins for the attendants as they are also responsible for keeping the bathroom clean.
Spas and Salons
Beauty salons are one of the places where tips are generally expected in Hong Kong. How much you tip largely depends on the final price or the complexity of the service received.
- Hairdressers will expect a tip of 10 percent up to $100 HKD. At hair salons in Hong Kong, it's common to see a tip jar where you can place your tip.
- If you purchase a treatment at the spa, a tip won't be expected. However, if you would like to, you can round your bill up to the nearest even number or leave some change.
Lai See Tips
If you are in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year, you might notice locals handing out red envelopes to each other everywhere you go. This is a part of the tradition of Lai See, in which these cash-filled envelopes are given out not just to family members, but also to workers who provide you with regular service throughout the year, such as security guards, receptionists, and hairdressers. This is a local tradition with many rules on how much to give based on age and marital status, and in general, short-term tourists are not expected to participate