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Tipping in South Korea.

Visiting South Korea for business or leisure? Read our guide about who to tip in South Korea, when to tip - and how much to hand over. Then avoid any tipping missteps with our handy tip calculator. We’ll also cover how to save on currency exchange with Wise, so you can tip generously and still have more to spend on yourself!

Save with Wise when tipping in South Korea.

If you love to explore new places, meet new people and head out on new adventures, you need Wise. Get a Wise travel card to save on both holidays and business travel. Open an account online to spend and send money around the world at the real exchange rate, with no hidden fees.

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Do you tip in South Korea?

It’s not a local practise to tip in South Korea. Unlike in many Western countries where tipping waiters, taxi drivers, and hotel staff is so common it’s almost automatic, in South Korea tipping can be considered rude. Tips may be turned down or cause embarrassment if they’re offered.

That said, there are still occasions when tipping may be appropriate. As a traveler visiting South Korea you’re likely to run into a few of these situations - so doing some advance research is a smart way to avoid cultural missteps. Read on for more about when to tip in South Korea.

Tipping in South Korea might not be customary, but you will still need some local currency to move freely around the country. For the best exchange rates, always use the Wise travel money card.

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Tip in local currency with Wise South Korean won travel card.

No matter where you are, it makes sense to tip in local currency. Want to save money on currency exchange so you can tip generously and still have more to spend on yourself? Get the Wise debit card!

With the Wise South Korean won travel money card it’s easy to top up in your local currency, and switch to South Korean won whenever you need to pay for your day to day expenses in South Korea.

With Wise you’ll always get the real exchange rate with no hidden costs. There’s just a low, transparent conversion fee - and then it’s free to spend any currency you hold. Simply top up your card and convert to the currency you need in real time using the Wise app.

No matter where your adventures take you, Wise has you covered. Hold and spend 50+ currencies with the same card, make ATM withdrawals and manage your account on the go using the Wise app.

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Tipping in South Korea in restaurants & bars

Tipping in bars and restaurants is not expected in South Korea, unlike in most countries in Europe and in the United States. The general rule is the service should be exceptional at all times, and with no expectation of extra pay. Tipping in South Korea can be considered rude and frowned upon.

Unless you notice a tip jar, or you visit a venue that is clearly adhering to the Western standards - don’t tip. Thanking your server politely when you leave is all that’s expected.

Eating out in South Korea? You can save on currency conversion fees when paying with our Wise travel money card

restaurant bill

Tipping in hotels in South Korea

It is not customary to tip in hotels in South Korea. Much like in restaurants in South Korea, you’ll find that hotel staff work with an unspoken rule of providing excellent service at no extra charge.

Unless you’re staying in a traditional South Korean style hotel, where hospitality and room-service is taken to another level you can refrain from tipping.

If you decide to tip, remember to do so gracefully to avoid any embarrassment. Prepare a clean envelope with South Korean wons banknotes and leave it for the hotel staff at the front desk when checking out.

Staying in a hotel in South Korea? You can save on currency conversion fees when checking out with our Wise travel money card.

tipping in hotels

Tipping taxi drivers in South Korea

Taxi drivers in South Korea won’t expect you to tip them, even when they help you with your luggage. As tipping taxi drivers in South Korea is not customary, trying to pay more than your agreed fare may cause confusion and embarrassment.

Don’t forget - if you’re using a regular taxi rather than a ride-hailing service like Uber, you’ll need to agree on the fare before your journey.

Hopping on a cab from the airport in South Korea? You can save on currency conversion fees when traveling with Wise travel money card

tipping taxi drivers

Tipping at a spa in South Korea

Time for a massage to soothe those weary muscles? Although in many places around the world it is appropriate to leave a small tip to your therapist, in South Korea there will be no such expectation.

Instead, be polite and respectful to the staff, and thank them at the end of the session. This acknowledgement will be appreciated more than a few South Korean wons.

tipping at a spa

Tipping tour guides in South Korea

Because tour guides and interpreters in South Korea work predominantly with foreign customers, tipping customs here may vary from the local norm. It’s now much more common for visitors to pay tips to tour guides to thank them for an exceptional experience. Your guide will understand it’s your own preference to tip, and won’t consider it a rude gesture.

Feel free to approach your tour guide at the end of the tour to reward them with a tip that feels right to you.

Going for a tour in South Korea? You can save on currency conversion fees when traveling with Wise travel money card

tipping tour guides

Tips for tipping in South Korea

Don’t insist on tipping
In South Korea tipping is not customary. If you insist on leaving a tip this may be seen as rude - and can cause acute embarrassment even if you think someone should be rewarded extra for their work. Instead, thank your hosts politely, and be respectful. In South Korea dignity always comes first!
Tip only in the local currency
If you decide it is appropriate to tip someone on your trip to South Korea it is important you do it in the local currency, that is in South Korean wons. This way you help your service providers avoid high fees on currency exchange.
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Hand over money in an envelope
There are exceptions to every rule - and even in South Korea where tips are not commonplace, there may be some situations in which tipping is appropriate. If you think tipping will be expected, prepare ahead - withdraw some KRW from a local ATM, and put it into a clean envelope. Hand it over politely, as is culturally sensitive in South Korea.
Tipping on a business trip
Don’t get caught out in an embarrassing situation at a business dinner. As tipping etiquette varies by country, it’s important you familiarise yourself with international tipping standards, to avoid doubt and awkward moments!
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Tipping in South Korea FAQ

Save on trip to South Korea with your Wise Travel Card

Save on trip to South Korea with your Wise Travel Card

Tip and spend in local currency with Wise South Korean won travel card.

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