Go Kismet Global Tipping Guide
Are you in a country where tipping is customary and required? Tipping rules vary by country, by region, and by scenario. A modest rounding up of the check may be fine in some places and insufficient in others.
THE MIDDLE EAST
The tipping culture is often complex and subtle in this part of the world. "It's known for being very friendly and hospitable, with people providing too much service," says Rita Zawaideh, the Jordanian-born owner of Seattle's Caravan-Serai Tours, which plans trips to the region. In return, "people's hands are out a little bit more." While you may give more often in these parts, it's usually in small amounts—and it's deeply appreciated.
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: Leave 15–20 percent. At Hotels: Follow the standard for hotels in big American cities: $2 to $5 for doormen when they call a cab, $2 to $5 a day for housekeepers, and $2 to $5 a bag for porters. Guides and Drivers: Tip $10 per person per day for drivers, $5 per person per day for guides.
At Restaurants: Tips aren't included, so leave 10 to 15 percent of the bill. And, says Zawaideh, asking for doggie bags is a no-no in the Middle East; uneaten food is taken home by kitchen staff or given to the homeless. At Hotels: To ensure good service throughout a stay, says Zawaideh, "I give the concierge $20 to $25 when I get there so he remembers who I am." Give porters $1 to $2 per bag and leave about $2 a day in your room for housekeepers. Guides and Drivers: Give guides about $10 per person per day if you're going out alone or in a very small group, about $7 per person per day in a large group. Give drivers $5 per person per day; if they have assistants who keep the car clean and get water, give them $2 per person per day. . P.S. If you visit a mosque, leave $1 for the person who hands out robes for women to wear and 50 cents to $1 for the person who minds your shoes, which you respectfully removed at the door. Put the tip in an envelope for guides and drivers, palm it off with a handshake and a thank-you to the concierge, and slip it in the jacket pocket of the maître d' to get a good table. And keep in mind that most workers here are foreigners from, say, India or the Philippines. They depend upon your tips to support their families.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
At Restaurants: U.S. rules apply; tip 15 to 20 percent. In a so-called seven-star restaurant, which you'll find here, tip the maître d' $50 to $100 to ensure superior service (you're going to be paying $200 per person for the meal anyway). At Hotels: Tip the concierge $30 to $35 every time you have a major request, like a special restaurant reservation. Tip porters $2 per bag, doormen $2 to $3 to hail cabs, and maids $3 a day. Guides and Drivers: Guides get $10 to $20 per person per day, drivers $5 per person per day. P.S. Unlike elsewhere in the region, don't tip bathroom attendants in the United Arab Emirates unless there is a coin dish in the restroom.
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.
At Restaurants: 10 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 $20 per day. P.S. 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.
Latin America may be just south of the border, but tipping customs vary widely. "Whereas in the United States you'd leave 15 to 20 percent on a meal, in Latin America it's more like 8 to 12 percent outside of modern places in large capitals," says Clark Kotula, an expert on South American travel. And while tipping is not as much a part of the culture in Latin America as in the United States, workers still appreciate tips, even if they don't expect them.
At Restaurants: 10 percent to the waiter. At Hotels: At least 25 pesos for a porter, and up to 45 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; 150–300 pesos for a full-day guide, a bit more for a great one. Dollars Accepted? U.S. dollars are always accepted as tips, though you can't get USD in Argentina, so bring cash with you. P.S. "Tipping is more expensive now than it used to be," says travel specialist (and native Argentine) Vanessa Heitner. "There were times when a 20-peso tip at the higher end meant a lot, but nowadays it isn't enough." Because of inflation, she notes, 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 "serviço." At Hotels: $2 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). Who Else? At ecoresorts in the Amazon, there are often boatmen in addition to tour guides. Tip them $10–$15 per day. P.S. "Brazilians are discreet and subtle when it comes to business transactions," says travel agent Jill Siegel of South American Escapes. "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."
At Restaurants: As in the United States, the gratuity isn't included, so tip the standard 15 to 20 percent, depending on the service. At Hotels: Concierges who go out of their way for you should get $10 to $20 per favor; porters get $1 or $2 per bag. Housekeepers get $5 per day."Leave something for them daily," advises Mary Pyle Peters of Distinctive Journeys in Blaisden, California, which organizes Canada trips. The person who cleaned your room all week may not be the same one who comes in the day you check out. Guides and Drivers: Tip them $10–$15 per person per day. Taxi drivers get 10 to 15 percent.
At Restaurants: A 10 percent tip is included in the bill; feel free to put down a few more bills amounting to another 5–10 percent. Nicer restaurants may also charge a 5–7 percent cubierto, basically a sit-down charge. At Hotels: If you want extra-good service, consider tipping the concierge (if there is one) $20 up front. Porters get $1 per bag; doormen a few dollars if they hail you a cab; cleaning staff $2 a day (given at the end of your stay, preferably in person or marked for them in an envelope—otherwise they might not take it). Guides and Drivers: Tip guides $10 to $25 per person per day, depending on how many people are in your group; $5 a day for drivers. With cabs, round up the fare. Dollars Accepted? Yes, but they may be harder for the recipient to spend than the Chilean peso. P.S. An organized camping trek to, say, Patagonia could involve extra staff, who would be tipped roughly $10–$20 per person per day, with tips split among the expedition staff.
At Restaurants: Check the bill to see if the tip is included. If it is, it's usually 8–10 percent, and it's still common to tip more, up to 15–20 percent total. At Hotels: If you're staying in a small rural hacienda, a family staff usually cooks, cleans, and tends the gardens, so leave a pooled tip of $5 to $10 per person per night at the end of your stay. In standard hotels, the usual tipping rules apply: about $1 to doormen and cleaning staff per bag or daily cleanup. Guides and Drivers: Tip $10 per person per day for guides and $5 per person per day for drivers. You don't need to tip taxi drivers unless they really go out of their way to help you. P.S. When you put your dinner on a credit or debit card, you'll be asked, "Cuantos quotas?"—meaning over how many months do you want your bill payment broken up, a feature that is unique to Colombia, says Kotula. Just say one.
At Restaurants: Tip is included in the bill; anything additional is a pleasant surprise. At Hotels: 25–50 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; $5–$10 per person for a full-day guide and/or driver. 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 per person for the captain will be distributed among the crew. ECUADOR At Restaurants: A 10 percent tip is usually included in the bill, but feel free to leave an extra 5–10 percent in nicer restaurants. At Hotels: Give porters $1 a bag, doormen $1 if they hail you a taxi, and cleaning staff $1 a day at the end of your stay—either directly or left in an envelope at the front desk. Guides and Drivers: Guides get about $10 per person per day, drivers half that. An Andes trek may include a cook, who gets $5 per person per day, and a burro driver, who gets about $2–$3 per person per day. Dollars Accepted? Yes, they are the currency of Ecuador. P.S. Taxi drivers don't expect a tip but appreciate one of about 10 percent if they've been chatty or helpful. And many tourists in Ecuador go on Galápagos Islands boat excursions replete with naturalist guides, who get $50–$75 per person, and kitchen staff, who get $80–$100 per person, at the trip's end.
At Restaurants: 10-15 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; minimum 100 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. P.S. 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.
At Restaurants: Leave an 8 to 10 percent tip. At Hotels: Give porters about 50 cents a bag, doormen $1 to $2 if they hail you a taxi, and cleaning staff $1 a day at the end of your stay. Guides and Drivers: Guides get $10 a day per person and drivers $5 a day per person. P.S. "Tourism is now rapidly developing in the country, with more three- and four-star properties in the main tourist sites, not only the capital (and the very first five-star mukul at the beach), and people are getting trained," says Pierre Gedeon of Nicaragua Adventures. "However, the infrastructure of Nicaragua is still changing, so you may not get the same service as you will receive in a developed country."
At Restaurants: 10–15 percent for the waiter. At Hotels: Three sols ($1) per bag for the porter, 3–5 sols 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 $5–$10 per day; guides, $10–$20 per day. P.S. 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.
At Restaurants: If it's outside your resort package, check the bill to see if the gratuity is included. If not, tip 15 to 20 percent depending on the service. You're not expected to tip at all-inclusives. At Hotels: Assuming there is a service charge, you might still tip the concierge for special favors such as nailing down hard-to-get dinner reservations. Tip the concierge whatever you think those seats are worth, $20 or $25, and they'll get them for you." Tip bellboys a few dollars per bag and maids $20 for a week's work, especially if you get to know them. Guides and Drivers: Most Caribbean tourists, when not vegetating on a beach, go off on bus tours and tip the guide a couple of dollars, but if you take a private tour, tip your guide about $25 and your driver about 15 percent for the day P.S. If you charter a boat, they'll include the service charge. If the captain takes you to 47 different little coves and jumps overboard to show you a conch, you can tip more. For spa treatments, tip 15–20 percent, although you can probably do 10–15 percent in Mexico and the Dominican Republic and still feel pretty good about it.