Tipping Tips

Tipping Tips

Tipping Tips


It helps, in some of the world’s least developed areas, not just to be generous but to be thoughtful. Your porter in Johannesburg may be well versed in the way of tourists, but that doesn’t mean he can easily exchange a ratty five-dollar bill. That Egyptian camel driver may claim to work off “tips,” but he likely has a unique idea of what that means. So be smart, be kind—and be prepared.


Dubai’s government mandates adding a 10 percent service charge to all bills at hotels, restaurants, and bars. (Tips are usually divided equally among staff but sometimes go directly to the people who have helped you.) Feel free to top it off with a few Dirhams (each is worth about a quarter). Parking valets and porters are the exception—they usually get 10 Dirhams. Bag packers in markets might appreciate a few coins; cabdrivers don’t expect anything, but rounding up to the 5-Dirham note is good practice.


At Restaurants: The tip is included in the bill; add 5–10 percent above that. At Hotels: One to two dollars a day for the housekeeper (pay throughout your stay to ensure great cleaning); $1 per bag for the porter; concierges are powerful and very helpful, so $10–$20 at the beginning of your stay will go far. Guides and Drivers: Cabdrivers, 10–15 percent; guides (who almost never drive you), $20 per person per day; drivers a little less. Dollars Accepted?: Everything is accepted, and often preferable to local currency. Note: Guides are often well-trained Egyptologists whose function is not only to educate but also to divert the many locals who will have their hands out for baksheesh, whether they’ve earned it or not.


At Restaurants: As in European countries, the tip is routinely included in the bill; add a shekel per customer (they’re about three to the dollar). At Hotels: A shekel or two for the concierge for a small favor. Six shekels per bag for porters; 3–6 shekels per day for housekeepers. Guides and Drivers: Ten to 15 percent for taxis; 90–120 shekels per person per day for tour guides, 120–150 shekels for driver-guides. Dollars Accepted?: No. Be prepared to give shekels. Note: Israel is not known for its great service, some have even said they have the grumpiest taxi drivers in the world. So adjust your idea of what’s tip-worthy accordingly.


At Restaurants: Service is almost always included in the bill; add 5–10 percent for the waiter. At Hotels: One dinar ($1.50) per bag for the porter, same per night for the housekeeper—or a bit more, as they tend to be impoverished Palestinians. Tip the concierge—in advance—only if you expect something very special to be done, like access to rare tickets. Guides and Drivers: Ten to 15 percent for taxis; $30 per person per day for tour guides; private driver, $30 per day total. Anyone Else?: Bedouins in Petra—a tribe called Nabateans—control most tourism to the ancient city—part of a deal worked out with the king when the city was made tourist-friendly. They will sometimes keep asking for tips—even after you’ve already paid. It’s okay to decline firmly. Dollars Accepted?: Yes, and euros, too. Note: Ask whoever arranged your guides—local or government-sanctioned—whether the tip has been prepaid. If so, refuse to pay more.


At Restaurants: Ten percent is generous, but check to make sure the service isn’t included in the bill. At Hotels: Two dollars per bag to the porter; $10 to the concierge at the beginning of your stay, to guarantee good service; $5 per night to the housekeeper, preferably paid day by day. Guides and Drivers: For cab-drivers, round up to the next 10-dirham note; private drivers and guides should both get around $15 per day. Dollars Accepted?: Yes. Note: In Morocco, tipping is best done quietly, perhaps off to the side, the furtive handshake-with-cash-in-palm move, accompanied by a smile and a thank-you.

South Africa

At Restaurants: Ten to 15 percent to the waiter. At Hotels: A dollar per bag to the porter and per night to the housekeeper; $3–$5 to the concierge. Guides and Drivers: : Taxi drivers, 10 percent; private drivers, 10 percent of total fare; tour guides, $10 per person per day. What Else?: South African authorities employ “car guards” and airport porters semi-officially to cut down on unemployment; most don’t get salaries and rely on tips. When parking a car, you might be approached by a guard. If he shows identification, he’s probably the real deal. Pay him 15–20 rand when you return; pay an airport porter 20–30 rand, depending on luggage weight and distance traveled. Dollars Accepted?: Yes, but not for car guards and airport porters, who’d have trouble changing them.


Some Latin Americans live off tips; others proudly refuse them in favor of service charges, European-style.Up and down these continents, you’ll find a high degree of variety, not just in cultures but also in tipping mores, with rapid currency fluctuations adding to the muddle.


At Restaurants: Ten percent to the waiter. At Hotels: At least 10 pesos for a porter, and up to 20 for a particularly helpful one. Guides and Drivers: Round up for taxi drivers; 10 percent for “remisses” (common local car services); 10 percent for a full-day driver, more for a really good one; 30–60 pesos for a full-day guide, a bit more for a great one. Dollars Accepted?: Not recommended. Note: Tipping is more expensive now than it used to be. There were times when a 20-peso tip at the higher end meant a lot, but nowadays it isn’t enough because of inflation. The proper amount is a moving target. Also, be sure to have plenty of change in your pocket for tipping—there’s a serious shortage of it, and many shops and restaurants will refuse to break bills.


At Restaurants: No tip required; 10 percent is routinely included in the bill for “servico.” At Hotels: Two dollars per bag for the porter; no tip expected for the concierge; $2 a day for the housekeeper. Guides and Drivers: Round up for cabdrivers; for a private driver, give about $20–$50 for a full day, depending on the quality of the service; same for an all-day tour guide (they rely heavily on tips, so be generous). Dollars Accepted?: Yes, and encouraged, due to a favorable exchange rate. Who Else?: At eco-resorts in the Amazon, there are often boatmen in addition to tour guides. Tip them $10–$15 per day. Note: Brazilians are discreet and subtle when it comes to business transactions. It’s helpful when tipping someone not to make a great display. You might verbally thank them, shake their hand, and express your appreciation while handing the bills folded.

Costa Rica

At Restaurants: Tip is included in the bill; anything additional is a pleasant surprise. At Hotels: Twenty-five to 50 cents per bag to the porter, $1 per bag at a fine hotel; leave $1 a day for the housekeeper. Guides and Drivers: Tip cabbies a small amount if you have luggage; drivers get $2–$4 for a long drive, $1–$2 for a trip from the airport; tour guides should get $5–$10 per person per day. Who Else?: On an organized tour involving several guides, there’s usually a jar for tips to be divvied up among staff—leave $2–$3 for each person who’s helped. On a boat, $5–$10 for the captain will be distributed among the crew. Note: At the Four Seasons, all tips are covered by a resort charge, so no need to add on. Costa Ricans generally get paid better than other Central American guides. Rarely do you find them standing around with their hand out for a tip.


At Restaurants: Ten to 15 percent, cash preferred. At Hotels: About 10–20 pesos per bag for the porter (you can leave it at check-in if you won’t be there when your bags arrive); 20–50 pesos per night for the housekeeper; 50–150 pesos for the concierge. Guides and Drivers: About 100–200 pesos per full day per person for tours, 200–300 pesos per day for combined driver-guide. Who Else?: Gas station attendants should get 5 pesos per fill-up; use your judgment with parking attendants, doormen, and maître d’s, depending on service. Dollars Accepted?: Yes, but local currency is better (estimate 10 pesos to the dollar). You must be sensitive to the fact that Mexico is not an extension of the U.S. Note: Tip discreetly, in an envelope if possible. If a craftsman gives a demonstration, it’s better to buy a small piece of his work than to tip. Beware of boys wielding squeegees. If you don’t ward them off with a friendly shake of the head, you are giving tacit permission, and a small tip—5 pesos—is considered due.


At Restaurants: Ten to 15 percent for the waiter. At Hotels: One sol (50 cents) per bag for the porter, 4–10 soles per night for the housekeeper; tip the concierge only for special favors. Guides and Drivers: Cabbies don’t get tips, as the fare is usually negotiated; private drivers get 10–15 percent of the daily rate; guides, 20 soles per person per day. Note: Despite a heavy tourist influx to the Cuzco area, Peru is not a tipping culture (locals don’t tip), but hawkers are a common sight, so give a little something if, say, you get your picture taken with a llama.


In Asia, roaring economies go hand-in-hand with roaring tourism—from post-Olympic China to an ever more open Cambodia. If you make the long flight, you’ll come across everything from begging boys in Bombay to the tip-averse Pacific Rim, all of them making adjustments to coping with a tipping-happy Western influx.

Australia/ New Zealand

At Restaurants: Ten to 15 percent for the waiter. At Hotels: One dollar per bag (in either Australian or New Zealand dollars, depending on where you are); $10–$20 to the concierge for a favor; $1–$5 per day to the housekeeper, depending on how messy you are. Guides and Drivers: Ten percent for cabdrivers; $50 per person per day for a private guide; $5–$10 for a bus-tour guide; $20 per day for a private driver. Who Else?: Ten to 15 percent for beauty and spa treatments; tip Aboriginal and Maori guides exactly what you would others. Dollars Accepted?: Reluctantly. Note: Twenty years ago, you’d be fired if you accepted a tip. Since then, tipping has spread “because Americans forced it on people.” Be discreet and prepared to have your tip refused, especially in New Zealand, where people are particularly reserved.


At Restaurants: About $1 per diner for the waiter. At Hotels: One to two dollars per bag for the porter; service charge included for everything else at nice hotels. Guides and Drivers: About $1 for taxis; $2 per hour for private drivers; $10–$20 per person per day for tour guides. Dollars Accepted?: Yes. Note: Be prepared for unusually effusive thanks for a tip here. Don’t get embarrassed by that.


The law of the land, and the rule at many hotels, is no tipping whatsoever. Fine hotels in China add in a compulsory service fee of 10–20 percent, so nothing is expected or even technically allowed beyond that. Tip quietly and out of sight if you do—and not in front of employers. Also keep in mind that most tour guides get commissions from those tacky souvenir shops they take you through, so travel agents and hotel managers recommend against tipping them. Places where tipping is customary: Massage Houses: About 10–30 yuan per massage—except in hotel spas, where the tip is included in the fee. Luggage Porters: Ten yuan per bag is standard, though tourists generally leave twice that.


At Restaurants: Fifteen percent to the waiter (or a few rupees at more modest establishments), though many posh spots now include a 10 percent service charge. At Hotels: Fifty rupees (about $1)per bag for the porter; 250 rupees a night for the (low-paid) housekeeper. Guides and Drivers: Fifty to 100 rupees a day for a car and driver. They usually expect lunch money for the day—about 40 rupees. Taxi and rickshaw drivers aren’t accustomed to tips, but you can tell them to keep the change—up to 10 percent. Who Else?: Don’t be surprised if people ask for a tip for no apparent reason. Dollars Accepted?: Yes, but not usually preferred. Note: One problem is the difficulty of getting small bills. It is suggested you hoard them for tipping purposes.


Though it’s largely a non-tipping society, providers of certain services may appreciate a tip, but only in yen (estimate a little more than 100 yen to the dollar): For a tour guide, offer 2,500–5,000 yen in an envelope. A private driver will usually expect to have you buy his lunch, around 1,000 yen. The room attendant at a ryokan—a traditional Japanese inn—usually gets 5,000 yen for one or two nights—always in an envelope. To tip a cabdriver, round up for a very short ride—although he may refuse the extra. Others who may decline your offer of a tip: concierges, porters, and waiters.


At Restaurants: About $1 per diner for the waiter. At Hotels: About $1–$2 per bag for the porter; no tip necessary for the housekeeper or the concierge (service charges are included. At Hotels: of two stars or above. Guides and Drivers: About $1 for taxis; $2 per hour for private drivers; $10–$20 per person per day for tour guides (who also tip tour drivers, so don’t worry about that). Who Else?: If you ever find yourself at a local masseuse, a three-dollar tip at the end of the massage is about right. Dollars Accepted?: Yes. Note: A common feature in Thailand is the ubiquitous bathroom attendant. Some of them might even throw a towel over a man’s shoulders while he’s at the urinal. Fifty cents, or about 20 baht, should do it there. It’s also common to get a hot towel and drink upon checking into a nice hotel, but no tip is necessary, as the service is included.


Tipping can get pricey in the land of the euro, from countries with astronomical standards of living to places like Greece, where the one-euro tip actually threatens to cause inflation. One thing you don’t have to worry about is supporting your waiter’s family—this is, after all, a continent that leads the world in both reasonable salaries and the delightful, stress-relieving practice of including tips (and tax) in many bills


At Restaurants: The words service compris on your bill mean no tip is required, but most locals leave up to 10 percent in coins. Tipping at bars is not expected. At Hotels: One euro per bag; 1–2 euros for a housekeeper; 10–15 euros per restaurant reservation made by a concierge—half on arrival at the hotel, half at the end. Guides and Drivers: About 25 euros per person per day for guides, and up to 50 euros for one who’s nationally certified; a separate driver should get about half of that. Give 10–20 euros for private airport transfers, depending on the driver’s wait time and the in-car amenities, and a euro or two for taxi drivers, depending on how helpful they are.


At Restaurants: Ten to 15 percent to the waiter or bartender—just add it to the bill. At Hotels: Three euros per bag for the porter; 5 euros per night for the housekeeper; 20 euros for a helpful concierge. Dollars Accepted?: Yes, but euros are recommended. Note: Despite its reputation for precision, Germany has no hang-ups about generous tipping.


At Restaurants: Round up, plus a little more for excellent service—say, to the fives (25 euros for a 22-euro meal). At Hotels: Porters, a euro per bag; housekeepers, a euro a day at most; concierges only for something very special. Guides and Drivers: No tip expected for taxis—round up and they’ll be delighted; private drivers, 20 euros per day, 50 if they’ve gone out of their way. Group tours, 2–5 euros per person; personal tours, 20 or more. Who Else?: If you charter a boat, the captain will let you know if the crew gets underpaid, and will collect a euro or two from everyone; tip the captain 50 euros per person at most. Note: Since the introduction of the euro, tipping expectations have become considerably inflated, because people tend to round up to the next euro. Four euros for a 3-euro drink isn’t unheard of.


At Restaurants: Leave as close to 10 percent as is convenient, but no more. At Hotels: Porters, 5 euros; housekeepers, 1–2 euros per night, more for extra service. (or 15–20 percent of the tab). Who Else?: Despite the old-world romance of a ride on the canal, tipping gondoliers and vaporettos isn’t customary. Dollars Accepted?: Yes, but euros are much preferred. Note: They recommend insisting if your tip is first refused—it’s a common demurral in Italy.


At Restaurants: Give 10 percent in cash directly to the waiter; leave it on the table and management might pocket it. At Hotels: Porters, $3–$5 per trip made; housekeepers, $2–$3 per night; concierges, $10–$20 for good service. Guides and Drivers: Cabbies, 10 percent; drivers, $20–$30 per full day; private guides, $35–$45 per full day. Dollars Accepted?: Yes, but make sure bills are free of marks, stains, and tears—otherwise Russian banks will charge the recipient a fee for exchanging them. Note: No need to tip discreetly in Nouveau Russia. Giving in style is good practice, putting it in an envelope with a thank-you note makes a better impression than shoving a bank note into one’s hand.


Tipping here is fairly formalized; either the service is included in the bill, or tipping isn’t done. Taxi drivers don’t expect tips, and even many porters and coat room attendants have fixed fees and don’t expect a penny more. Hotel and restaurant bills usually include service charges. Scandinavia is an expensive place, but since you won’t have to shell out much more than you see on the bill, at least you know what you’re getting into.


At Restaurants: Ten percent or a bit more, in cash—you can’t put it on your credit card. At Hotels: Porters, $2 per bag; $10 for a very helpful concierge. Guides and Drivers: Taxi drivers aren’t generally tipped, but rounding up works, and drivers will sometimes just take the initiative and keep the change. Private cars get $25 per day, regardless of the size of the group. Tour guides get $5–$10 per day per person; private tour guides, $20 and up. Who Else?: At Turkish baths, the masseur gets $10 or 10 percent, whichever is greater. If you charter a boat, give the crew 5 percent of the price; if you rent a boat cabin, $10 per person per day. And don’t forget to tip attendants at the car-parks—$4 should do it. Dollars Accepted?: Yes, and euros, in addition to lira. Note: Tipping is at one’s own discretion. If you are not pleased with the services rendered, don’t tip. It isn’t like New York, where the waiter might follow you out onto the street.

United Kingdom

At Restaurants: Service is often included; if not, tip 10–15 percent. Sometimes you’ll see an “optional” charge added to the bill; make sure you’re not just blindly paying it but adjusting to the level you feel comfortable with. And feel free to round to the nearest pound—up or down. Tipping in pubs is not customary. At Hotels: Porters, 1–2 pounds per bag; housekeepers, 1–2 pounds. Go up to 5 pounds apiece at the five-star hotels. Guides and Drivers: Taxis, 10 percent or less; tipping optional for a narrated boat tour through the Thames—they’ll certainly ask. A few pounds, up to 10 percent, for a guide or driver at the end of the day, or maybe take him to lunch. Not much more is expected, as Brits don’t always expect to tip when they’re abroad. Dollars Accepted?: Pounds much preferred. Note: Tipping is said to have originated in sixteenth-century England, and though it has since spread across the globe, England has by and large gone the way of most of Europe: Tips are included in many bills, especially in formal settings, and discretion is key in handing them over.

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