Singapore is undeniably one of the most exciting places on Earth, with its vibrant culture and bustling atmosphere drawing in tourists from all over the world each year. But, as with any other country you visit, it’s incredibly important to observe traditional practices and customs, and this is particularly important with tipping.
Below, you’ll find all of the information you need to know about tipping in Singapore, including who you should and shouldn’t leave a tip for. Follow this advice, and you’ll be able to navigate Singapore while respecting traditional values and without causing any embarrassment or offence.
What is the Tipping Culture in Singapore?
Tipping is not common practice in Singapore and certainly isn’t expected in most situations. Instead, a service charge is usually added to bills in most restaurants and hotels in Singapore, and this is used to compensate staff for providing exceptional service.
However, tourism and Western influence have meant that while tipping isn’t expected in Singapore, staff understand that it is a sign of thanks from the customer and is appreciated.
Why is Tipping Uncommon in Singapore?
Tipping in Singapore is uncommon because the culture puts such an emphasis on providing quality service as standard, which simply means that service staff don’t expect any extra compensation for going the extra mile.
Also, unlike many other countries, service staff in Singapore are paid a regular wage, so there’s also less reliance on tipping to bring their salary up to a higher amount.
When Should You Consider Leaving a Tip?
Although tipping is never expected in Singapore, many restaurant and hotel staff understand that tourists may want to leave a tip as a sign of appreciation. So, if you feel you’ve received truly exceptional service and want to reward that, here are some instances in which tipping in Singapore is acceptable:
You can tip servers in restaurants and bars in Singapore, although there will already be a service charge added to the bill automatically.
What is a Fair Tip to Leave a Server in Singapore?
A tip of around 10%-15% is the suggested amount for a server in Singapore. So, should your bill come to $100 SGD, a tip between $10-$15 SGD ($11-16 AUD) would be enough.
Tipping Hotel Staff
Tipping culture in hotels is a little more complicated to navigate, and the amount of money you’ll tip will change depending on whether they are housekeepers, porters, or a concierge.
What is a Fair Tip to Leave Hotel Staff in Singapore?
A tip of $5-$10 SGD ($5.50-$11 AUD) per day would be an acceptable tip for housekeeping staff, while porters should only be tipped $1 SGD ($1.10 AUD) per bag. Concierge, on the other hand, can be tipped as much as $15 SGD ($16 AUD), depending on the service provided.
Tipping Taxi Drivers
It’s seen as a nice gesture to tip taxi drivers if you had help with your luggage, if the journey was stress-free, if the vehicle was clean, or if there were amenities for passengers (such as bottles of water or phone charging ports).
What is a Fair Tip to Leave Taxi Drivers in Singapore?
For shorter journeys, you can tip your taxi driver by rounding the bill up to the highest dollar. For longer journeys in taxis, a tip of around 10% of the total fare is appreciated.
Tipping Tour Guides
Tipping a tour guide is becoming increasingly common in Singapore, especially if it is a private tour or you asked for a tour to be designed specifically for your interests.
What is a Fair Tip to Leave a Tour Guide in Singapore?
The standard amount to tip a tour guide in Singapore is 10% of the tour cost. This is the same recommended amount, whether the tour was private or if you were part of a large group tour.
Singapore Tipping Etiquette: How to Give a Tip?
To ensure you maintain cultural sensitivity when tipping in Singapore, there is certain tipping etiquette you’ll need to follow. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that Singapore values modesty, so you’ll need to either discreetly hand your tip to the recipient or leave it on your table for them to pick up once you have left.
You should also make sure you only leave a small tip, as there really isn’t a strong emphasis on tipping, and a larger amount could result in accidentally causing offence by insinuating that the service could have been better.
When you do want to leave a tip, you should also make sure that you tip in cash, as this will ensure that the tip goes to the recipient directly. You’ll also avoid expensive International Transaction Fees associated with card payments, so it’s a win-win situation.
Top Tip: Make sure you have plenty of cash on you for tipping before heading to Singapore. Find the best rates for AUD to SGD here.
Are There Any Cases Where You Should Avoid Tipping in Singapore?
As we’ve detailed above, tipping is never expected in Singapore, and while there are some instances in which you can tip, there are also situations where tipping should be avoided.
The first of these is in spas, where massage therapists and beauticians simply won’t be expecting a tip, and doing so may accidentally cause offence by implying that the treatments you received were subpar.
You also don’t need to tip anywhere the service charge has already been added to the bill, and while you can provide an additional tip on top of the service charge if you wish, there isn’t any need to feel obliged to do so.
Just like anywhere else, you also shouldn’t tip if you’ve received bad service in a restaurant, hotel, tour, or in a taxi.
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