Asia’s best and worst tippers revealed

Written by editor

Considering an Asian adventure as a barman or waiter?

Avoid Japan, head for Thailand.

Considering an Asian adventure as a barman or waiter?

Avoid Japan, head for Thailand.

That’s the message from a new survey from MasterCard Worldwide that asked around 7,000 people this year about their tipping behavior.

A massive 89 percent of Thai bar and restaurant-goers regularly tip, while a paltry 3 percent of Japanese said they do the same.

A tenth full, or nine-tenths empty? Depends if you’re in Thailand or Japan. Mark Hiratsuka, sheds a little light on why the Japanese come bottom of the tip jar: “Tipping just isn’t part of the retail landscape here,” he said, “You pay for a service, close your wallet and that’s it.

“That old saw about gratuities causing confusion in Japan is actually true – if you leave a little behind in a restaurant, bar, or wherever, someone’s sure to chase you down and return it.”

Land of smiles, especially for waiters
In Thailand, however, the reverse is true. It would appear tipping comes as naturally to Thais as the spectacular food.

Making up the top three are the Philippines and Hong Kong, with 75 percent and 71 percent respectively, saying they consistently tip.

South Korea (13 percent) and Taiwan (17 percent) make up the bottom trio, along with Japan.

“The research indicates what a diverse set of markets make up the Asia/Pacific region,” said Georgette Tan, at MasterCard, “It is a truly remarkable mix of cultures and understanding them is a big challenge for global businesses.”

Men said they would tip more often than women, except in Indonesia, Philippines, and Singapore. Maybe that has something do with another survey conducted by MasterCard that found women are more money-conscious than men.

Most consistent tippers in Asia-Pacific:

1. Thailand – 89 percent

2. Philippines – 75 percent

3. Hong Kong – 71 percent

4. India – 61 percent

5. Australia – 55 percent

6. Malaysia – 40 percent

7. Indonesia – 40 percent

8. Singapore – 33 percent

9. Vietnam – 30 percent

10. China – 28 percent

11. New Zealand – 20 percent

12. Taiwan – 17 percent

13. South Korea – 13 percent

14. Japan – 3 percent

About the author


Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.