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Tipping Around The World: Part 1

By: John Tunningley

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While most of our posts focus on trips around the world and the best credit card deals currently available to you, it’s also important to be cognizant of the cultural differences that exist while traveling.

When traveling, we are all ambassadors and it’s important to make sure that we create positive impressions so that those who come after us can have great experiences too.

With this in mind, we thought it was important to discuss how to tip around the world. In this post, we’ll look at the Americas, Asia, and Africa. We’ll discuss Europe and the Middle East in part 2 next week.

We will break down region and, in most cases, country. Also, most of the tips are in US dollars unless the local currency is specifically stated. I’ll also try to point out where dollars are preferred or a better method for tipping.

THE AMERICAS

Across many countries in Latin America meals can be tipped 8-12% rather than the 15-20% expected in the US and Canada. Tips in Latin America can often be included in the bill for restaurants and while tips are not necessarily expected they are always appreciated.

Argentina

At restaurants, a 10% tip will suffice and 10% is also acceptable for remisses or even a full day driver. While at hotels, 25-40 Pesos for a porter is considered appropriate. For cab drivers, your fare can simply be rounded up and for a full day guide, 150-300 Pesos is standard. If someone goes out of their way to help you, any of these tips can be increased a bit. It’s also important to bring change as some places will refuse to break bills for you.

Brazil

At restaurants, a tip is usually included so no tip is required. For cab drivers, you can round up while giving private drivers and tour guides $20-$50 a day. At hotels, $1-$2 per bag for the porter and $2 per day for the housekeeper are suitable. However, the concierge does not need to be tipped. US dollars are accepted for tipping due to the strong exchange rate with the Brazilian Real and tips should be given discreetly.

Canada

Tips in Canada should mirror the US with waiters being tipped between 15-20% and many other people in the service industry being left tips as well. When at hotels, bellboys should be left $1-$2, cleaning staff should be left a few dollars per day, and the concierge should be given at least $20 if they go out of their way to get you reservations or tickets. For taxis, leave 10-15% and the same should be left for drivers or guides.

Chile

In Chile, you may encounter a 5-7% cubierto charge in addition to a 10% tip automatically added to your bill at restaurants. For great service, it’s acceptable to put down an extra 5-10%. At hotels, consider tipping the concierge $20 up front if you will be using him extensively while porters should be tipped $1 per bag and cleaning staff $2 per day. For any cabs you use, feel free to round up the fare while tipping guides $10-20 per person and $5 a day for drivers. Keep in mind that if you’re going on some sort of expedition to bring $10-20 per person per day to tip the expedition staff.

Colombia

At restaurants, it’s typical to tip 15-20% of the bill (about 8-10% of which may be included in the bill). For hotels, about $1 per bag for doormen and $1 per day for housekeeping staff is recommended.

If you’re staying at a hacienda leaving a tip of $5-10 per night at the end of your stay is acceptable, especially if they’re also cooking for you. For guides and drivers, tip $10 per person per day or $5 per person per day, respectively. There’s no need to tip taxi drivers.

Costa Rica

At restaurants, the tip is included and no additional tip is necessary. While staying at hotels 50 cents to a dollar per bag is an acceptable tip, while the housekeeper should be tipped about $1 per day. For a full day guide or driver, tip $5-10 per person per day and a few dollars for private drivers per trip.

Ecuador

The most notable thing about Ecuador is that the US dollar isn’t just accepted it’s the national currency. At restaurants, a 10% tip is included, however, an additional 5-10% is appreciated especially for outstanding service.

Again, porters should receive about $1 per bag and the cleaning staff can be left $1 a day. For guides, tip about $10 per person per day while drivers can be left $5 per person per day.

If you take an excursion, expect to tip the driver $2-3 per day and the cook about $5 per day. For multi-day excursions to the Galapagos Islands make sure to bring a $50 tip per person or more for the naturalist guide and around $90 per person to tip the kitchen staff.

Mexico

At restaurants, tip 10-15% while at hotels. 10-20 pesos per bag for the porter and 20-50 pesos per night for the housekeeper is recommended. If you plan to use the concierge, make sure to tip a minimum of 100 pesos.

For guides and drivers, tip 100-200 pesos per full day per person for a guide and 200-300 pesos for a driving guide. There will also be various other people who you can, and in some cases should tip, including gas station attendants who should get about 5 pesos per fill-up. As in many other countries around the world, tipping discreetly is preferred.

Nicaragua

In Nicaragua, leave approximately an 8-10% tip at restaurants. When staying in a hotel, plan on tipping porters about 50 cents a bag and cleaning staff about $1 per day. Also, feel free to tip the doorman a dollar or two if they hail you a taxi.

United States

While many of our readers are from the United States, for anyone visiting from another country, it’s important to remember to tip about 15-20% at restaurants with 18% being the standard. Taxi drivers should be tipped 10-15% and helpful hotel staff should be tipped: a few dollars per bag for porters, a couple of dollars for the housekeeping staff, and about $20 for the concierge if you plan to use them for reservations or tickets.

Peru

At restaurants in Peru, 10-15% is the standard tip. While staying at hotels, 3 sols per bag for the porter and around 4 sols per night for the housekeeper is accepted. Drivers and guides get $10 and $20 a day, respectively.

Caribbean

Many people traveling to the Caribbean islands are going to stay at an all-inclusive resort where tips are included. However, if someone on staff at a resort goes above and beyond, extra tips are always appreciated.

If dining outside of your resort, the same standard 15-20% found across the U.S. is acceptable. While at hotels, it is wise to tip the concierge if you want them to get you exclusive access to events or a high demand restaurant.

Bellboys can be tipped $2-3 per bag and about $3 per day for the housekeeper is sufficient. At some resorts, you may also have a butler that should be tipped about $5 per day.

For excursions and guided tours, tip a couple of dollars if you’re in a large group but if it’s a private tour tip about $25 and tip the driver $10-15, separately.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC ISLANDS

Tipping around Asia varies widely from India, where tips are expected, to Southeast Asia, where tips are appreciated, to China where tipping is only part of the culture at luxury international destinations.

Australia And New Zealand

In these southern Pacific island nations, 10-15% should be left at restaurants for the waiter. Hotels are similar to the rest of the world in which $1 per bag is considered acceptable for the porter and $2-3 a day for the housekeeper is sufficient.

The concierge should be tipped if you plan on using them. Expect to tip taxi drivers about $5, private guides $25-50 per person, $5-10 for a bus tour-guide and $25-50 per day for a private driver.

Tip anyone who provides beauty or spa treatments 10-15%. Be discreet about your tipping in both countries and also be aware that your tip may be refused especially in New Zealand.

Cambodia

While dining in Cambodia, be prepared to tip about $1 per diner for the waiter. At a hotel, the only tip needed is $1-2 for porters. For getting around, plan to tip about $1 for taxis and $5 per day for private drivers while tour guides should receive around $15 per person per day. A little more or less can be given depending on service.

China

Many hotels and restaurants frequented by domestic travelers require no tipping while the tip is usually included in the bill at international hotels and fancy restaurants frequented by tourists. The only tipping needed in China is for luggage porters and 10 yuan per bag or a little more is standard.

India

At restaurants, plan on tipping 10% unless a service charge is included in the bill. At hotels, about 50 rupees per bag for the porter is expected while tipping the housekeeper 250 rupees is appreciated. Some hotels have a tipping box that they prefer you use. Guides and drivers should be tipped 400 to 500 rupees while taxi rides can just be rounded up.

Indonesia

At restaurants, a 10% tip is included although feel free to round up the bill up to an additional 5%. If staying at hotels, a 10% service charge is usually included, however, a dollar or two tipped to a porter or housekeeper is particularly appreciated. When going out, guides should get $25-40, while taxi drivers should receive about 10%. About 15% should be tipped for excursions or spa services.

Japan

Japan is largely a non-tipping society but guides should be tipped approximately 2,500-5,000 yen in an envelope and a driver might expect you to buy lunch. At a traditional Japanese Inn, you should tip 500 yen in an envelope.

Malaysia

Malaysia is another country in which the tip is usually included at restaurants. In addition to the 10% tip that’s included, you can round up the bill or leave 5-10% more for a total of a 15-20% tip for great service.

At hotels, tip the porters the standard $1 per bag and the housekeeper $1 per day. Private guides or drivers should get $5-10 per person per day.

Nepal

Tipping has not historically been part of the custom for Nepal, but great service can be rewarded with a 5-10% gratuity at restaurants for good service (although a service fee might be included in the bill). As with the rest of Asia, tip the porters about $1 per bag and the housekeeper about $1 per day. Taxis or anyone who has been bargained with need not be tipped, however, private drivers or tour guides should be tipped about $10 and $20, respectively.

Philippines

The restaurants may include a 10% tip in the Philippines but, in general, you should tip 10% or a little more so feel free to leave an extra dollar or two if the service charge is included.

Hotels in the Philippines typically include a 10% service charge but bellboys should still be given about $1 per bag. The cleaning staff does not need to be tipped and the concierge only needs to be tipped if he or she secures you hard to get reservations or tickets.

Tip taxis about 10% and guides $20-50 per day. Drivers should also receive about $4-5. There are also men in blue uniforms that act similar to valets ad who should be given about 10 to 20 pesos. Feel free to tip in local pesos or in USD.

Singapore

Restaurants include tips and the housekeeping staff at hotels don’t expect any additional compensation. Porters should be given about $1 per bag. Tip the concierge $5-10 if you decide to use them to try to obtain tickets or restaurant reservations that might be difficult to get. For taxis simply round up the fare. Guides should be given about $15-20 per person.

South Korea

Similar to many Asian countries, tipping has only recently become part of the culture thanks to Americans traveling abroad. Plan on tipping private drivers about $10 and, for any excursions, bring about $20 per person per day for the guide. Also, as in almost every country, tip the porter $1 per bag at hotels.

Taiwan

At restaurants, leave about 10% or a little more for better service at nicer restaurants but also check your bill to make sure it doesn’t include a 10% service charge. At hotels, the porters should be given $3-4 per bag and cleaning staff $2 per day.

If a doorman calls a cab for you, tip him a dollar or two and tip the concierge $10-20 if you plan on using them. For guides and drivers expect to tip about 10%. Also, be aware that tipping isn’t necessarily part of the culture especially if you’re traveling outside the major tourist destinations

Thailand

While dining in Thailand, about $1 per diner should be left for the waiter while the only gratuity you need to worry about at hotels is the standard $1-2 per bag for the porter.

As for getting around, plan to tip about $1 for taxis, $2 per day for private drivers, and around $15 per person per day for tour guides which they will split with the driver.

If you’re going to get a massage, tip the masseuse $3 and if you come across a bathroom attendant they should be tipped about 20 baht which is roughly equivalent to 50 cents.

Vietnam

At restaurants, tip about 10% but beware that occasionally the gratuity is included in the bill. If this is the case, feel free to simply round up the bill. At hotels, the porters get the typical $1-2 while cleaning staff should be left $1-2 per day at the end of the stay.

Tip the concierge about $20 if you will be using them to secure hard to get reservations or tickets. In Vietnam, guides should get about $15 per person per day and drivers should get about $7. For taxis simply round up the fare. If you venture out for a massage or to a fancy spa tip the masseuse $5-10.

South Pacific Islands

In many of the Southern Pacific Islands, tipping isn’t expected at all as it’s simply not part of the culture. Tips can, however, be provided in a few different cases. If you go to a restaurant that goes above and beyond and truly wows you, feel free to leave up to a 10% tip. Also, feel free to tip the porters about $1 per bag (although it’s not expected) and if a butler is provided tipping $5-10 per day is acceptable.

AFRICA

In Africa it’s often important to tip in the native currency as in some cases it can be difficult for someone in the service industry to exchange foreign currencies for the local currency that can be used for their living expenses. If in doubt, 10% tips seem to be the standard and the tips can go a long way to helping those in the service industry provide for their families

Northern Africa

Across Northern Africa, about a 10% tip is expected in many service industries. As mentioned above, make sure to tip in the local currency.

Kenya

In Kenya, it is customary to tip about 10% in any service industry especially at restaurants where the wait staff relies heavily on tips.

Morocco

At restaurants, sometimes a service charge is included in the bill but if not an 8-10% tip is great. At hotels, porters should be tipped about $2 per bag and the housekeepers should be tipped about $5 per day.

If you plan on using the concierge, a $10 tip at the beginning of your stay will help to ensure the best service. If you take a taxi, rounding up to the next 10-dirham note is sufficient while private drivers and guides should be tipped about $20 per day.

In Morocco, tipping should be done discreetly and US dollars can be used.

South Africa

At restaurants in South Africa, a 10-15% tip to the waiter is the norm. At hotels, a dollar per bag to the porter and a dollar per night to the housekeeper is customary while a $3-5 tip for the concierge can help to ensure great service.

For taxis, a 10% tip is considered adequate while private drivers and tour guides should be tipped between $20-25 per person per day.

Lastly, in South Africa, there are car guards who watch your car while it’s parked (they should have identification) and airport porters. These are the only two service industries that shouldn’t be tipped in dollars and car guards should be paid 15-20 rand while the porters in the airport should be tipped 15-20 rand per bag.

While much of Africa still lacks much of a tourism industry and doesn’t have too many data points on tipping it’s important to realize when visiting some of the poorer areas in Africa that a small tip can go a long way and always tip in the local currency so that locals don’t have to try to find a way to convert the tip.

That wraps up part 1 of our tipping around the world series and be on the lookout for part 2 coming soon!

Keep Traveling,

John

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