Hong Kong Tipping Protocol, Hong Kong Gratuities, & Hong Kong Culture
- DO dress somewhat conservatively. Nowadays women wearing tank tops are spotted, but only occasionally. However, dress codes at restaurants, even nice ones, are uncommon, so going to an upscale restaurant without a jacket and tie is generally acceptable.
- DON'T wear blue or white in social settings. These colours tend to be for mourning.
- DON'T take your top off at the beach in Hong Kong. Public nudity is illegal.
- DON'T turn a fish over. It's bad luck because it represents a boat capsizing.
- DON'T pour your own drink first. Instead, make a toast about business or friendship. Pour everyone a drink, and even if the person's cup is filled, pour a few drops in.
- DON'T take the last bit of food in a serving plate. It's considered impolite. Also, leave a little bit of food left on your plate when you're full so the hosts know you are done, otherwise they'll bring out even more food!
- DON'T give a a clock as a gift in Hong Kong. Clocks are associated with death and funerals and a clock as a gift can be seen as a sinister action.
- DON'T give sharp objects that you can cut things with as gifts, such as knives or scissors. It can actually be an offensive gift because it signifies cutting off the friendship.
- DON'T give anything in sets of fours. Four is a very unlucky number Chinese culture, much like the number 13 is in many cultures.
- DO present your gift with two arms, and if you are given a gift, receive it with two arms.
- DON'T open the gift upon receiving it unless it is insisted upon. Instead, open it later.
- DON'T wrap a gift in white wrapping paper. White is traditionally an unhappy color. In fact, it symbolizes death or mourning, which is also why Chinese brides do not wear white.
- DO refuse a gift several times before accepting it. If a gift is accepted right away, it can be seen as being greedy.
Visiting Someone's Home
- DO give your host a gift. As a tourist from another country, a gift from your native country is appreciated.
- DO address a business associate with their professional title, or "Mr." and their last name. Women do not take their husband's last name so do not call her "Mrs." and her husband's last name.
- DON'T be late to an appointment. If you are late, apologize repeatedly. Apologize again and again even if the delay was no fault of your own.
- DON'T wear short skirts, low-cut shirts, and tight-fitting clothing, if you are a woman attending a business meeting.
- DON'T ask questions that can be viewed as personal, such as asking your colleague' wife, kids, financial status, or weekend plans.
- DO give and receive business cards with both hands.
- DON'T throw out or write on an a colleague's business card.
- DON'T point with your index finger. Instead, use your palm when pointing at something.
- DO offer a light handshake upon meeting someone. People in Hong Kong are generally reserved when it comes to the physical touch. Hugging and kissing are usually are not how to greet someone in Hong Kong.
- DO speak in standard English and avoid slang when speaking to people in Hong Kong. Many people in Hong Kong are fluent in English, because English education begins in kindergarten, but to make sure you are understood it's better to speak simply.
- DO allow time to go shopping. There are many markets and stores with treasured items such as jade, pearls, and silk. These items are very special to Chinese culture as well as being very beautiful, so come with a full pocketbook!
- DO bargain. The merchant will sometimes start off trying to charge you an outrageous price, so tell them that it's too expensive and point out flaws in the item. You will usually be able to get your item for a fraction of what they originally wanted to charge you.
Hong Kong Tipping Customs
Tipping in Hong Kong is customary in some situations, but it can create legal issues due to some Hong Kong specific ordinances prohibiting tipping for certain services such as public utilities. Waiters, who have already received a compulsory 10% service charge, may occasionally be given an additional gratuity. Restaurants: 10% is usually included in the bill presented to the customer, however this is rarely passed onto the service staff; Bars: tipping is not a normal occurrence, though some may round the bill; Hotels: service charge is always included, but bell-boys may expect a small gratuity; Taxis: the driver customarily rounds the bill. No matter how long the trip is, extra tipping is not expected.
Our Hong Kong Tipping Recommendations
- Taxis and Limos: Tipping optional, Round up to next bill/large coin