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Tipping in Malaysia: Everything You Need to Know

As a traveler visiting somewhere for the first time, it’s typical to be curious about the tipping culture in the destination. So, is tipping in Malaysia typical?

Well, the short answer is no; tipping is not customary in Malaysia. However, there are many scenarios where a tip is expected and other times when it’s already included.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about tipping etiquette in Malaysia, including the amounts and when it’s appropriate to tip in various situations. So, let’s dive in and ensure your gratuity practices align with Malaysian customs!

In Malaysia, the currency is the Malaysian Ringgit; at the time of this article, $1 US is 4.73 MYR.

Tipping in Malaysia at Restaurants

a rich flavourful seafood Chinese noodle dish from Lai Foong Lala Noodles restaurant in Kuala Lumpur

At your typical restaurant where you have a waiter/waitress, you should plan to tip anywhere between 10% and 15%, depending on how you found the service.

That being said, it depends on the restaurant you’re dining at because some restaurants in Malaysia add a 10-15% service fee to the bills, which is essentially an automatic tip that goes to employees. Don’t worry, restaurants clearly state on menus if they have this policy.

If you dined at a restaurant where a tip service fee is automatically charged to all bills, there’s really no reason to tip in this scenario.

But if you were at a restaurant where the service was beyond, you could add a small tip to the already service fee charge.

Dining at open restaurants like cafeterias, large mall food courts, and night markets (hawker stalls), you don’t need to tip, and it’s not expected to tip at these places.

Though street food stall owners work very hard and work long hours operating their food stalls, usually seven days a week, I always tip street food vendors, at least something!

Tipping in Malaysia at Bars & Cafes

a bartender making a drink on a rooftop bar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

At the typical bar and cafe in Malaysia, tipping is not expected, so any tip given to staff is well-appreciated.

When visiting bars and cafes in Malaysia, you can round up your bill for your tip to make things simple.

But say you’re at a fancy cocktail bar or upscale cafe where there’s an actual craft to making one’s ordered drink by a bartender or barista; tips in such establishments are expected.

In this scenario, adding a tip similar to one you’d give at a restaurant would be appropriate, depending on how you found the service, which is 10% and 15%.

Tipping in Malaysia Taxi or Grab Driver

classic red and white Malaysian taxis parked outside of a popular mall waiting for customers

Should you tip your taxi or Grab in Malaysia? It’s not expected, unlike restaurants where it’s more commonly expected to tip; it’s not common to tip taxi/grab drivers in Malaysia.

But it would be appreciated if your trip was for a longer journey, for example, you were going to the airport, and the driver helped you with your luggage. The following applies to both Taxis/Grab drivers.

Other factors may suggest whether you should tip a driver or not; for example, perhaps you shared a few laughs with your driver and had some good conversation, or they suggested a few restaurants for you to try (I always tip a taxi driver anywhere in the world if they suggest a good local restaurant).

For short trips, tips aren’t expected but, again, are appreciated. However, for short trips, there’s no reason to tip unless you really want to!

If you’re unfamiliar with it, Grab is a popular ridesharing app that operates all around Southeast Asia, and it’s very convenient to use when getting around in Malaysia. Similar to how UBER operates in the US, you request a ride, and you’re given a set price for your trip.

After your Grab driver has dropped you off, the Grab app will prompt asking you to rate the trip/driver from 1-5 stars and suggest various tipping percentages, 10%, 15%, and 20%; the company states all 100% of the tip goes towards your driver.

If you’ve ordered food for delivery on Grab, a tip is recommended; similar to riding with Grab, the app will prompt the percentages as the suggested tip amount for your Grab driver delivering your food order. You can also always round up the amount to make things easier!

Tipping in Malaysia for a Massage

many stones on a womans back as she reserves a hot stone massage

Walking around in many cities in Malaysia, you’ll notice plenty of massage parlors, while many masseurs consistently ask you if you’d like to come in for a massage. Nothing beats a good massage after a long flight, right?

Anyways, you most certainly should tip after you’ve received a massage in Malaysia. Tipping after a massage is customary worldwide.

Tipping around 20% to 30% for your massage is appropriate. This comes down to how much you enjoyed the massage and the effort you felt your masseur put into your massage.

It’s not an easy job, and throughout your massage, you will notice many masseurs are massaging well to work for a tip from their client. This means that tips are expected by masseurs in Malaysia.

Tipping in Malaysia after a Tour

view of a pond area and the Petronas Towers on a clear sunny day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia / Is Kuala Lumpur expensive to visit

A great tour guide can make or break an entire day trip, so if you’ve had a great experience with your tour guide on your day trip in Malaysia, you should tip them at least 10%.

Tipping your tour guide in Malaysia is expected, and this standard percentage is typical whether you’re taking a casual walking tour, a day trip with many, or a private tour.

Like when receiving a massage, you’ll notice effort being put into the service; during your tour, your tour guide will most likely tell you interesting facts about where you’re visiting.

If you’re on a private tour and bond well with your tour guide and feel generous, a 20% tip would be appropriate, considering you’re the only one with them, and it’s a private tour.

Another optional way to tip your tour guide after a tour is to leave them a great review; many tour operators sometimes give the tour guide a bonus for excellent reviews. After all, great reviews for a tour help other travelers discover the tour

There are many free walking tours in Kuala Lumpur to check out; if you decide to attend one, you most certainly should tip. Most of these tours are made possible by tips; any tips you give are income to the guide. It would be rude not to tip in this instance.

several tourists hiking up the many colourful stairs at the famous Batu Caves, Hindu shrine in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tipping in Malaysia — Final Thoughts

When tipping in Malaysia, always give tips in the local Malaysian Ringgit currency. Foreign currency only means a foreign currency exchange fee will then have to be applied, and the person will receive a lower tip than what you intend to give them.

As mentioned earlier, many restaurants in Malaysia automatically add a 10% service charge on top of all bills. So check your bill twice before deciding whether you’d like to tip on top of that service charge at the restaurant.

Remember, you’re a guest in Malaysia, and if you felt a warm reception and great service, it would be appropriate to tip.

Many of these jobs are tough, with long hours and lower wages, so any tips received are often greatly appreciated.

several tourists crossing the at the busiest crosswalk in Kuala Lumpur at night / is Kuala Lumpur safe at night

How much do you tip in Malaysia?

It depends on where and to whom, but at a restaurant/bar, it’s expected to tip 10-15%, depending on how you found the service.

Is it polite to tip in Malaysia?

It is polite to tip in Malaysia. Tipping is not customary in Malaysia but is expected in some places like restaurants and bars.

Do you tip taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur?

You can tip your taxi driver in Kuala Lumpur for longer rides, especially if they help you with your bags; you can tip them 10-15% or just round up. It’s up to you and how you find the service for a short ride.

Do you tip Grab in Malaysia?

For a longer ride, you should tip your driver something. On the Grab app, you will receive a prompt with suggested amounts, or you can select a custom amount.

For a shorter ride around that city, it’s up to you, but any tips are appreciated, and 100% of the tip on Grab goes towards the driver.

Happy & Safe Travels

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