How Much To Tip a Tour Guide in the U.S. and Europe

How Much to Tip a Tour Guide

Let’s face it. Tipping can be a delicate topic, and how much to tip a tour guide can seem especially ambiguous. What’s the right amount? When do you tip? Is gratuity ever included? Do you tip for kids, too? What if you had a bad experience? Does the amount you need to tip change based on how long the tour is?

Those are all valid questions. We’ve worked with hundreds of local tour guides to offer tours in over a dozen cities across the U.S. and Europe. With that experience, we have some tipping know-how for tours in top tourist destinations like Paris, New York, and Rome. This isn’t meant as a rule book. Tipping is always at the guest’s discretion, but whether you tour with us or someone else, we want to demystify tour guide gratuities for everyone.

Below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about tipping tour guides (plus a few you hadn’t thought to ask). But first, let’s define what gratuities are.

Gratuities and tour guides: an introduction

Tip Jar

A gratuity is an amount of money given voluntarily to certain service workers as a thank you for excellent service. 

It’s considerably less than the full cost of the service, often a percentage or a flat amount, and it really is a way to show appreciation. Gratuity comes from the Latin word gratus , meaning thankful, the same word that gives us “gratitude.” And you thought we wouldn’t be covering etymology in this blog post.

Gratuities are most common in the restaurant and hospitality industry. You often tip cab drivers, bartenders, hair stylists, bellhops, and valets but not other service professionals like your accountant or plumber. Tour guides — those fearless leaders who show us new places and take us on exciting travel experiences — are in the group of hospitality workers who frequently are tipped for good service.

Should I tip my tour guide?

Basic tipping etiquette says, yes, you should tip your tour guide. There are exceptions if your specific tour experience includes gratuities or you simply didn’t have a good time, but in general, tipping your guide at the end of the tour is customary in the U.S. and Europe, though it’s much more common in the States.

Is tipping on vacation different in the U.S. vs. Europe?

Tour Guide at Eiffel Tower

Tipping is much more prevalent in the United States than it is in Europe. In America, a traveler will tip for all kinds of hospitality services, from wait staff to the person who carries your bags to your room.

People don’t tip as much in Europe, so travelers don’t there as much either. For example, servers at restaurants are paid a normal wage and don’t rely on tips for part of their income.

When it comes to tipping tour guides, a tip isn’t required in either region, but it’s much more expected in U.S. culture. Tips, when given, aren’t typically as high in Europe. Tipping a few euros after an excellent walking tour of 1-2 hours is considered sufficient. For a longer tour or a tour with a higher price point because it includes tickets, you might tip more, around 5%-10% of the total tour cost for each person in your group.

Because of globalization, especially with many American tourists in Western European countries like France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, you don’t have to worry about gratuity being awkward or unwelcome. Most tour guides are familiar with the custom of tipping and will anticipate (and appreciate) this from their guests. But even more so than in the U.S., tipping is a sign of excellent service, so if you feel your guide did a fabulous job, a tip is a good way to show that.

How much should I tip my tour guide?

This is the harder question, but it’s probably why you’re here. So you had a good time. Your tour guide shared some local recommendations, made you smile, and overall added to your experience. How much is the right amount to tip?

It’s up to each guest — and at the end of the day, it’s optional — but here are some rules of thumb from our guides and tour operators on the ground.

  • For a short guided tour in the U.S.: Tip $5-$10 (or more) per person if your tour is around two hours or less. This would be an appropriate amount for most walking tours, like our JFK Assassination Tour , as well as some attraction tours, like our express Statue of Liberty visit. For a slightly longer tour, like our Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour , you might increase the gratuity some.
  • For a full-day guided tour in the U.S.: Tip $10-$20 per person if it’s a longer guided tour (think six hours or more). A family of four might tip $40 for our guided six-hour Getty Center and Griffith Observatory Tour .
  • For a short guided tour in Europe: Tip €5-€10 per person for a neighborhood walking tour that’s under two hours. This would be a good fit for our 90-minute Le Marais Walking Tour in Paris. For something longer, you might add a few more euros.
  • For a full-day guided tour in Europe: Tip €10-€20 per person — or about 5%-10% of the total tour price — for a full-day guided tour. If it’s a bus tour, like our Normandy beach tour from Paris , it’s customary to include a tip for the bus driver as well.

statue of liberty aerial photo

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Guided Tour

Statue of Liberty NYC

Those ranges above are averages, and tipping may end up being more or less, but they’re practical guideposts that any tour guide would feel good about receiving.

When do you tip your guide?

This one is easy. You tip most commonly at the end of the tour. As you’re saying your goodbyes to the guide, you can simply hand off the money. 

“A tip shows that I did an outstanding job, that I exceeded guests’ expectations, especially here in Europe where it’s less common that in the U.S.” Cristina Carrisi, Barcelona tour guide

We’ve seen many people like to do it in a “secret handshake” sort of way, slipping them the money as they shake hands. This works, but a simple hand-off is fine, too.

What if I don’t have cash?

Tour Group

More and more today, people don’t carry cash when they travel. Guides are aware of this, and most have other ways to accept payment, such as Venmo or Zelle. Some guides even have a QR code guests can scan. 

If you’re not sure, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask what kind of electronic payment methods they accept for gratuities. You’ll find most guides have a way to tip without cash. For example, most of our guides in the U.S. have Venmo accounts. In Europe, cash is king, so bring money if you plan to tip.

Do you tip the driver for a bus tour?

This varies by tour. It’s common for bus drivers to have a jar or box near the front where guests can drop a few bills on their way out.

For our U.S.-based bus tours at ExperienceFirst, tipping $5-$10 per guest is appropriate to cover both the guide and the driver. The guides split their tips with the driver, so giving your tip directly to the guide works best. In Europe, tipping the bus driver is customary. Around 5%-10% of the tour price is a good rule of thumb.

This rate matches about how much you’d tip for a traditional 90-minute walking tour. Even though bus tours are much longer, buses tend to be fuller than a walking tour, so this smaller tip amount is adequate. As always, tipping more is appreciated, and it’s a great way to tell your guide they did an outstanding job.

Ancient Rome Walking Tour

Ancient Rome Walking Tour

Ancient Rome Walking Tour

How much do you tip a private tour guide?

Tour Guide Tip

Everything works pretty much the same for a private tour. On private tours, people are sometimes less likely to tip, but unless gratuity has been included in the tour cost, it’s a nice gesture to thank your guide for their time, especially if they went above and beyond to make it a special experience for your group.

When people do tip for private tours, they typically tip more since gratuity is usually a percentage of the total service cost, and prices are higher for private tours. Private tours are also often longer and frequently involve private transportation. For a longer private driving tour, for example, such as a private Los Angeles tour , $50-$100 in tips is common, but for a larger group of, say, eight people, that’s only around $10 per person.

Do you tip for free tours?

What about those “free” walking tours? Are they really free? In short, no. Locals who offer free walking tours expect gratuities nearly always, so you should factor this into your costs when you plan.

There are a few exceptions. Sometimes a tour will say “no tips accepted” or something similar. Perhaps it’s being put on by the local convention and visitors bureau or other tourism organization. In this case, take them at their word. The walking tour really is free. Here’s one such example of a genuinely free walking tour in Bath, England.

Is gratuity included with your tour ticket?

Tour Group

Generally, gratuity isn’t included in the tour price because it’s optional. A few tour operators may include gratuities, particularly for multi-day excursions that also include room and board, but this is typically listed under inclusions. If you’re unsure, feel free to ask before or after booking. 

Good tour operators will make it clear if gratuities are included or not. After all, the last thing we want is for people to be surprised or feel unprepared.


Fisherman’s Wharf Walking Tour With Alcatraz Ticket


Do you tip if you didn’t like the tour?

If you didn’t enjoy the tour, it’s acceptable not to tip. A gratuity really is a sign that you had a great time and want to show the guide your appreciation.

That said, not giving a tip sends the message that you didn’t enjoy the tour. You can view the tip as a way to communicate your feelings about the tour. 

Do you tip for every person in your group, including kids?

Tour Group

Does the tip amount change if you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or traveling with friends or kids in tow? It’s a good question. Tips are generally per person. While your guide probably isn’t expecting gratuity to cover an infant in arms, kids often require the guide’s attention as well as adults, so they’re typically factored into the tipping amount.

However, if you’re a larger family, it’s understandable to consider a sliding scale that you feel comfortable with to cover your group. A family with six kids might tip the same amount as one with five. As always with tipping, do what you feel is right for you.

What if you don’t know if tipping is appropriate?

After reading this article, hopefully you understand when and how much to tip guides. But you might be in a situation where you’re still not sure for some reason. Maybe it’s not even for a tour.

But there’s one hack you can always use — just ask. Even the famed Emily Post Institute, which provides etiquette training to businesses and individuals around the world, says it’s OK to simply ask in advance if you’re not sure about tipping protocols for the experience or country you’ll be in. Calling or emailing in advance with your questions can help settle any concerns you might have, and it’s better to know before you go, so you can come prepared and decide what you’d like to do.

What tips mean for tour guides

As we mentioned above, a tip shows appreciation. Tipping vs. not tipping lets the guide know if you did or didn’t have a good time. We asked a couple of our guides what tipping means to them. Here’s what they said.

“It is very appreciated when we receive tips,” said Jonathan Mannato, a tour guide in NYC. “For example, there was a tour I gave in pouring rain. We give tours rain or shine, but this obstacle can be hard to keep the guests happy and engaged. We work extra hard because of this. A family of four at the end generously tipped me for my work, and it made me as a guide feel valued. While we know tipping is not required, it is very helpful with our income in this role.”

Eiffel tower

Eiffel Tower Guided Climb

Eiffel tower

“A tip shows that I did an outstanding job, that I exceeded guests’ expectations, especially here in Europe where it’s less common that in the U.S.,” said Cristina Carrisi, a tour guide in Barcelona. “I remember one time as I was giving a tour, a 5 year old accidentally broke a small statue inside a shop. Her mother had stepped away to look for the rest of the family. I patiently took care of the child while still giving the tour. The tip her family gave me at the end of the tour showed me how well I had handled the situation.”

Demystifying tour guide tipping

Tour Group Tips

I hope we helped demystify how, when, and how much to tip your tour guide. Not knowing the cultural norms or expectations around tipping can make guests feel nervous, which is the last thing any tour guide or operator wants. You’re on this trip to explore and have fun, not worry.

Now that you know how to tip your tour guide, tell a friend what you learned or join the conversation on Facebook if you have more questions. We’d love to hear from you.

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do you tip tours by locals



do you tip tours by locals

Should You Tip US Tour Guides? (Simple Formula)

Figuring out what to tip a tour guide is not always so straightforward.

But there are some ways to break down your travel experience that can help you intelligently decide on a number to tip (or not to tip).

Below is a breakdown that may help you arrive had a good tipping number for tour guides. (This will be mostly applicable in the US since tipping is not so customary in other countries.)

Table of Contents

General tour guide tipping formula

I would generally recommend to tip your tour guides between 5% to 15% depending on the range of relevant factors that I discuss below.

What is the actual cost of your tour?

Sometimes, you might be turned off by the suggested tip amount when you look at the percentage of your total tour cost.

In these cases, it can really help to break down the different components of your tour so that you can properly assess the right tipping percentage.

The idea is just to tip based on the value of work that the tour guide actually did.

For example, if you booked a bear viewing tour in Alaska that cost $1,000 but $600 of that was just covering airfare then the effective value of your tour guide’s service is $400.

It would make more sense to base your tip on $400 which might make tipping 10% to 15% much more doable for you .

Typically, you would subtract items from your total for things like: meals, entrance fees/permits, transportation, and lodging.

Once you have figured out the actual cost of your tour, then you can decide on if you want to tip based on a percentage or a flat rate.

Tour guide tipping formula

This simple formula will help you come up with appropriate tips for your tour guides.

I’ll explain how it works in detail below but essentially you assume a baseline tip of 5% and then add an additional % based on what the tour guide had to offer.

There are five factors I consider:

Safety (+2%)

Education (+2%).

  • Entertainment (+2%)

Length (+2%)

  • Over and beyond (+2% or more)

The idea is that you just quickly tally up what factors apply to your tour and then that gives you the percentage number to go with. You can then round up or down to make things easy.

Note that I have placed 2% by each of these factors but you can come up with a percentage that makes sense for you and your budget.

I’ll show you a quick example so you can see how this formula works out.

Let’s say I’m going on a tour in a glow worm cave in New Zealand.

The tour guide is competent and safely navigates us one hour through the cave while educating us on the local ecosystems and some of the natural scenery surrounding us.

The guide is not particularly entertaining and I don’t really get the sense that he is going above and beyond for us in any capacity.

I’m probably going to give him the baseline 5% plus extra points for safety and education. That means that I’d be looking to tip out about 10% with a tendency to round down.

The percentages can help you determine how much to tip but sometimes those percentages can add up to a pretty huge chunk if you were doing a particularly expensive tour.

For that reason, you may want to just offer a flat rate tip.

Let’s say that your total tour was $1,000.

If you apply the above formula and came out to a 15% tip, maybe $150 is a little bit too expensive of a tip for you. So in this case you simply place the ceiling on the tip at maybe $50 or $100.

If you are tipping at a flat rate I would try to keep your tip to at least at or above 5% of your actual tour cost.

Breaking down the tipping formula

Baseline (5%).

A good baseline tip for tour guides of all types is 5% of the total cost.

If the tour was very cheap then try to just tip at minimum of $2 since $1 tips don’t always go over well.

I like to add an additional 2% whenever my safety is in the hands of a tour guide. This would be the case on things like a boat tour, helicopter tour, scuba dive, etc.

If my life could be in jeopardy due to a poor performance by the operator then that means I’m adding 2% to the formula.

At the same time, if your safety is at stake and the tour guide shows a lack of regard for it, that could be a reason for completely removing a tip.

For example, you might be on a scuba dive and having equipment issues but your dive instructor does not seem to have a regard for your safety or maybe they are nowhere to be found.

do you tip tours by locals

If the tour guide provides a quality educational experience then I add an additional 2% to the tip formula.

This is often the case on walking tours, food tours, historic site tours, gardens, etc.

If you feel like your knowledge has been enriched after a tour that is a good sign that you should add 2% for the education bonus.

Sometimes I do a lot of research before visiting a location and I don’t necessarily learn a lot but I recognize that the guide was pouring out interesting knowledge left and right and so I will still add the bonus.

do you tip tours by locals

Entertaining (+2%)

Some tour guides are more charismatic than others and provide for a more entertaining experience. These tour guides create good vibes and the time can just fly when they are doing what they do.

If your tour guide has you constantly cracking up throughout the tour or just really interested in what he or she is saying, then that’s a good reason to reward them with an extra 2% and consider more for going above and beyond.

do you tip tours by locals

I’ll usually add on a couple of percentage points if the tour guide is offering his or her services for an extended period of time.

This is especially true if the tour guide has to be “on” at pretty much all times.

We once did an airboat tour in the Everglades and we had an excellent tour guide who took us through all sorts of different areas. The tour only lasted a couple of hours but he had to be on point during that entire time so that we didn’t crash and end up as gator soup.

That type of focus can be taxing so I like to reward it whenever I can.

Over and beyond (+?%)

When a tour guide goes over and beyond, I believe you should reward them with some additional points.

These situations arise whenever a tour guide is doing whatever they can to help you out even if that means doing things that don’t fall within their job description.

I’ll give some examples of these below to give you an idea what I’m talking about but this is usually something pretty easy to spot.

Bad experience (-?%)

Every now and again you may have a very bad experience on a tour which would justify reducing your tip or even completely avoiding giving a tip.

The biggest reasons why I would decide to NOT leave a tip for a tour guide as if:

  • They were rude
  • incompetent/negligent
  • company made some type of misrepresentation

Rude or inconsiderate

I try to be fair when it comes to tour guides because it can be a pretty difficult job when dealing with lots of people. But some tour guides can get pretty inconsiderate when herding groups of tourists around.


As mentioned above, when you feel like your safety is at risk because the tour guide is incompetent, that’s a good sign that you should not tip.

In fact, you should report them to management so that you can reduce the risk of something happening to other travelers in the future.


Sometimes the tour company misrepresents what they are going to offer you.

For example, I have called ahead to book tours and asked if we would be able to access certain sites only for tour companies to exaggerate what they can do or fail to take the time to verify things. This has led to some pretty big disappointments.

In those situations, I may choose not to tip if I feel like the tour guide could fix the problem but decides not to. Otherwise, I might still leave a tip but will definitely voice a complaint with the company.

(Unfortunately, when running a travel blog you run into this type of thing way too frequently.)

Different tipping scenarios

Now let’s apply this formula to different tour scenarios.

I’ll give you some different scenarios and list out some factors that you’ll want to think about when trying to decide on how much to tip.

A walking tour

A walking tour is usually about learning about all of the history and stories of different sites in a given city or neighborhood, so you’ll be adding points for the education and then perhaps more if they provide the entertainment.

A good walking tour guide will take the time to answer any questions raised and ideally know what they are talking about when answering.

If you’re going through a rough area such as through favelas or some other type of region like that then consider adding an additional 2% for taking care of your safety.

If you are doing a free walking tour then obviously you don’t have a percentage to go on. In that case, you might want to just throw them something like $5 or just match what you see other people giving them.

do you tip tours by locals

Your safety is definitely at risk whenever you head into the water on a boat tour or some other type of activity like a kayak tour, canoe tour, etc.

You might also be learning about some of the wildlife or even spotting things like whales, sea turtles, dolphins, etc., so there is potential for getting that knowledge enrichment.

When it comes to wildlife, sometimes guides will go out of their way to help you get good views and photographs to make sure that you don’t miss anything. That can make a good opportunity to add that additional % for going above and beyond.

One example that comes to mind is when we were on a whale shark diving tour and I knocked my GoPro off my head and into the deep ocean. They made us wear lifejackets so with one of those on, there was no way for me to dive beneath the water to save the GoPro.

But without hesitation our guide dove off the boat and rescued the GoPro. That definitely scored him some above and beyond points!

Guides on kayak tours can be really helpful by showing you the best technique and ensuring that you get in and out of your kayak without too much trouble. It’s all about them taking that extra step to make sure you have a good experience.

For a boat tour that goes well, I’m usually looking to tip 15%.

do you tip tours by locals

Van drivers

If you’re getting driven around in a van, the van driver may deserve a good tip. For one, safety is a factor especially during certain types of tours like one van trip I did through narrow mountain roads in Mexico.

We once did a northern lights tour and our driver was taking us around on icy roads and in the snow so his driving skills were definitely a major factor to keeping us safe. Plus, he had to keep this up for many hours so it required a lot of focus.

Sometimes during the van ride you might get some inside information from the driver and in those cases you want to add some pints.

Also, because there are typically not many passengers in the van the driver can be attentive to your comfort needs and help out with things like regulating the temperature, volume level of the music, etc.

do you tip tours by locals

Bus drivers

If you’re taking a bus tour it’s less likely that you will have interactions with the driver than you would with a smaller van.

Also, because buses require more awareness than a van the bus driver may not be participating in the tour in terms of pointing things out to you.

For those type of tours you may want to only tip 5% to the driver and in other cases you may not necessarily be expected to tip the bus driver anything.

I should also point out that sometimes the van or bus driver will share tips with other guides who are able to be more engaging. If you are dealing with multiple drivers or guides on a tour then consider just applying the formula to the overall experience.

do you tip tours by locals

ATV/Jeep tours

If you’re headed off road especially on serious technical off-road routes, you don’t want to take the driving skills of your driver for granted. One major mistake could jeopardize your safety or leave you stranded so you want to take that into consideration.

These tours are usually pretty entertaining as well so that’s a chance for another couple of points. Tips for these usually range from 10 to 15% for me.

do you tip tours by locals

Helicopter tours

Helicopter tours are a prime example of when your life is in the hands of a guide/pilot — safety is obviously a big thing.

The pilots also have the ability to talk to you over the headset and provide you with really good information about all of the sites that you’ll be seeing which will likely be an overwhelming amount.

A good pilot will point out all sorts of interesting tidbits especially in places like Hawaii or Alaska where you’ll find dramatic scenery at seemingly every corner.

A nice sense of humor is also a great way to keep your nerves at ease if you are a little bit anxious up in the air.

I’ve now done several helicopter tours and some pilots have gone above and beyond while others have not.

Those that stick out are the ones who really want to cater the experience to your needs. They will be constantly asking you if you want to go higher/lower or get another look at a certain site. For those type of pilots, I definitely add on points and usually end up tipping around 15%.

do you tip tours by locals

Snorkel/scuba diving

A good diving instructor will keep a constant eye on all of the divers and never venture too far.

Also, if you have an issue whether it is with your equipment or you are just a mental basket case, they will do whatever they can to help you out. Talented scuba instructors can also help point out wildlife and even assist with taking photographs or video for you.

A lot of diving instructors are also a bit goofy and don’t take life too seriously which helps you to have a good time and not get overly anxious about heading into the ocean. I’m usually tipping 15% for dives.

do you tip tours by locals

Private tour

For private tours, I think the factors above apply but I would also add another factor which would apply to individual attention.

I wouldn’t necessarily add points for getting individual attention because that is what you are paying for with the private tour but I would certainly take away points if that doesn’t happen.

When you book a private tour you’re doing so for a specific reason.

You want to avoid the hassle of crowds and get individualized attention, possibly for your specific needs. For example, maybe there are a couple of sites along the tour where you wanted to spend a little bit of extra time.

The best way to get the most out of a private tour is to communicate all of your specific needs beforehand and get verification that the company will be able to meet those needs. The tour guide should then strive to make those things happen barring any unexpected circumstances.

On occasion, I’ve done a private tour where my prior outreach efforts did not seem to have an effect on the tour guide and that was always disappointing which led me to tipping a lot less.

I like breaking down my tips like this because it helps me to feel like I’m giving a tip based on performance which is what tips should usually be based on.

This usually results in me giving a 10% tip except for those scenarios where a tour guide really goes above and beyond. In those situations, there really is no ceiling on the tip and it sort of depends on how much money I’ve already spent on my trip!

do you tip tours by locals

Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of and the credit card app, WalletFlo . He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio .

I like your formula approach, and how you explain each tier. Helpful stuff, thanks.

Thanks for the useful guide. As a New Zealander, I’d like to tell readers that tipping is not the norm in New Zealand and staff do not need to top up their wages with tips in order to earn a living wage. Therefore, the NZ glow worm tour example is not a good one. New Zealanders would not tip the guides and would get good cheerful service regardless.

I just asked Siri what a good tip for a tour guide is. Half the time she says 15-20%. The other half, she quotes your article by saying that 5% is good. She doesn’t read any of the points about adding 2%. She just tells people 5%. As a tour guide who works hard to provide an excellent experience for all my guests, it’s a bit disconcerting that Apple phones will tell half of their users that 5% is adequate.

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A Guide to Tipping for Travelers

do you tip tours by locals

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Tipping correctly can save you time, embarrassment, and money. While traveling, many people will offer their services to help make life easier, but it can sometimes be hard to tell who's just doing their job and who expects a tip.

Tipping is payment for a service rendered, but tipping can also be an act of gratitude for someone who goes beyond the call of duty, like a concierge securing front-row seats to the hottest show in town. Choosing not to tip will send a clear message that you have been dissatisfied with the service you've received.

These tipping guidelines are for the United States only. Expectations (and tipping amounts) can vary quite a bit from country to country. Check the travel guide for the particular country you will be visiting for the proper tipping etiquette.

Hotels and Resorts

Occasionally, you might stay at a hotel or resort with a no-tipping policy. In this case, you might find that you are already paying for service by way of a resort fee or service charge added your final bill.

  • When valeting your car, tip $1 to $2 to the attendant when he retrieves your car. You can also tip when dropping your car off, but this is optional.
  • You don't need to tip the doorman when he opens the door for you, but if he hails you a cab, you should tip $1 to $2.
  • Tip bellhops and luggage porters $1 to $2 for every bag they bring up to your room. At a luxury hotel, you might tip more, as much as $5 per bag.
  • For housekeeping, leave a daily tip of $1 to $5 per day, depending on the type of hotel and the size of the mess you've made.
  • If you order room service, you'll find most hotels already include a service charge on the bill. If there's no service charge, tip 15 percent.
  • The hotel concierge exists to help guests, so it's not necessary to tip if they give you directions or make a restaurant recommendation. However, if the service has been especially valuable, such as getting reservations to a restaurant that claims to be totally booked, tipping $5 to $20 is reasonable.
  • Be sure to check out our guide for tipping in Las Vegas as well.

In general, more and more cruise lines are moving away from traditional tipping and adding service charges, which will be split evenly among the crew. It varies from line to line, so make sure to ask about their tipping policy before you book your next cruise.

  • If the cruise line automatically adds the service charge to your account, you may be able to adjust it lower or higher as you deem necessary. The recommended amount is $10 to $20 per passenger for every day of your cruise.
  • Baggage handlers work for the port and not the cruise ship, so you should tip $1 to $2 per bag or $4 to $5 per party.
  • Like at a hotel, you can leave $1 to $5 per day for housekeeping in your cabin.
  • You will most likely have different servers every day, but if there is someone that stands out (like a bartender who remembers your drink order), feel free to hand them a small token of appreciation.
  • Upon any delivery to your cabin, like room service or a special request, you should tip $1 to $3 per visit depending on how much you order.
  • Tipping the head waiter isn't necessary, but you can give $5 to $10 if they accommodate a special request or go above and beyond.
  • Onshore excursions, you should tip your guides based on the level of personalization from $2 to $10.
  • For children's club counselors, tipping is not necessary.
  • It's the ship captain's job to command the ship and, occasionally, socialize with guests. Tipping is not necessary and would most likely be refused.

Restaurants and Bars

Whether you're enjoying a night out on the town or just popping down to the hotel lounge for a nightcap, standard tipping practices still apply when you're traveling.

  • Tip your server 15 percent to 20 percent of the bill based on the pre-tax total of the bill or more if you enjoyed the service. If a service charge has already been included, feel free to leave without tipping.
  • Bartenders should be tipped $1 per drink served, even if they're just pouring beer or wine.
  • Tip the sommelier 10 percent of your wine costs, even if it's a less expensive vintage.
  • If there is a bathroom attendant, who doesn't just hand out towels but also keeps the bathroom clean, drop a few coins in the tip jar or tip $1 per visit.
  • When collecting your things at the coat check, tip $1 per item checked.


Depending on how you choose to get around when you travel, you might be expected to tip.

  • It's customary to tip cab drivers 15 percent to 20 percent of the fare.
  • If you use a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft, you're not obligated to tip the driver, but it's considerate to give $1 to $2 for a short trip or more for a long-haul ride.
  • If you arrange an airport shuttle transfer, tip $1 for every bag handled.
  • Tip limousine drivers 15 percent to 20 percent, unless a service charge is included.

How much you tip a tour guide varies depending on the tour's length, size, and overall quality. In most countries, tipping your guide at the end of a tour is standard practice and will be rarely turned down.

  • For a tour that only lasts a few hours, tip your guide 10 percent to 20 percent the cost of the tour. How much you tip also depends on the size of your tour, so you should tip more for a more personalized experience.
  • For a multi-day tour, you should tip your guide $5 to $10 per day on the last day.
  • If there was a driver in addition to a guide, tip them $1 to $5 per day.
  • For free tours, which are offered in many large cities , you should tip between $5 to $10, depending on the quality of the tour.

Spas and Salons

If you purchase an individualized service at a spa or salon, you'll be expected to leave a tip. Some spas might already include a service charge, so make sure to ask about this at the front desk when you go to pay.

  • For a spa treatment like a massage or a facial, tip 15 percent to 20 percent if no service fee has been included. If you're getting the treatment at a discount, your tip should be based on the original price.
  • There's no need to tip if you're visiting a spa with common facilities like saunas or hot springs without purchasing an extra treatment.
  • Medical spas might have more complicated treatments, like botox injections. Usually, tipping is not allowed for these kinds of services.
  • Hairstylists and manicurists should be tipped at 15 percent to 20 percent.
  • If someone else washes your hair, you can give them a $1 to $5.

Golf Courses

If you decide to go for a round of golf on vacation, you might run into these tipping scenarios.

  • On a golf course, the bag boy takes your clubs when you arrive and sets them up in a golf cart for you. He will also wipe them down before you leave, so tip $1 to $2 on arrival and $2 to $5 as you leave.
  • If you arrive without a tee time and the starter fits you in, you can tip them $1 to $5.
  • Caddies should be tipped 50 percent of the caddie fee, adjusted higher or lower for your satisfaction with their service.
  • A forecaddie works for a group of golfers and should be tipped $20 to $25 per player.

A Guide to Tipping in New York City

A Guide to Tipping Hotel Employees

A Guide to Tipping in Germany

A Guide to Tipping in Portugal

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How Much You Should Tip in Amsterdam

A Guide to Tipping in Chicago

A Guide to Tipping in Mexico

A Guide to Tipping in France

A Guide to Tipping in the United Kingdom

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Tipping Etiquette: A Guide for Travelers

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Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor .

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A journal. Even years later, reading my notes from a trip can bring back incredibly vivid memories."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Road tripping and hiking through the rugged mountains of Patagonia."

Travel Motto: "'To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.'—Freya Stark"

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle. I get restless on long flights and like to be able to move around without disturbing anyone else."

Email Sarah at [email protected] .

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Even the most experienced traveler can sometimes be tripped up by tipping etiquette. Sure, you know you’re supposed to tip your tour guide something — but how much? When you’re calculating the tip for your dinner, do you need to include taxes and that pricey bottle of wine? And is it ever acceptable to withhold a tip for poor service?

For help, we turned our tipping questions over to an etiquette expert. Lizzie Post is an author and spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute , an organization that promotes etiquette in the U.S. and around the world. Lizzie, who is the great-great-granddaughter of the famous manners maven, shares secrets for tipping right every time (and reveals why bribing the maitre d’ won’t get you the best seat in the house).

Q: What’s the most common tipping mistake? A: To not tip. That’s probably the worst tipping mistake. Usually if you know to tip, you’re tipping around 15 – 20 percent so you know you’ve tipped something, and that’s great. But not tipping at all is probably the worst mistake.

Q: If you’re unhappy with the service you’ve received, is it ever okay not to tip, or is there a better way to handle it? A: No. You should never let your money talk for you. If you get good service, in addition to leaving a good tip, you would want to thank your server, bellboy, etc. When it goes the other way, you still should leave the customary 15 percent. If you had horrendous service and it was the service provider’s fault, some people might go as low as 10 percent. But we suggest that you leave 15 percent and then immediately speak to a manager to express your dissatisfaction. Say that you’re unhappy with how you were treated and that you’re reluctant to return after such an experience. That will speak volumes to a manager.

Q: Whom should we never tip? A: Never tip your doctor! We tip waiters and waitresses because they don’t make a livable wage. Our tips are helping to subsidize substandard wages. Try to avoid tipping those who aren’t in the service industry — doctors, dentists, therapists. You also don’t tip your dry cleaner. You’ve purchased their service and it’s one that traditionally doesn’t have a tip associated with it.

In a foreign country, different rules often apply. We recommend that you visit country-specific websites to find out what the local customs are.

Editor’s Note: Guidebooks and visitors bureaus are also great sources for country-specific tipping information. See Tips for Tipping Abroad for more advice on how to tip overseas.

Q: Is there such a thing as overtipping? Could you offend someone by doing so? A: I don’t think anyone would be too offended by overtipping, but they might think you’re a little stupid. (I always wonder if that happens with celebrities — you hear about them leaving an $800 tip on a $2,000 bill. The waitress must be thinking, “Do you know how many hundreds you just dropped?”)

However, the manner in which you give a tip could be insulting. The classic is trying to get the maitre d’ to give you a better table. A lot of people think that by flashing a $10, $20 or $50 bill, they’re going to get that kind of service, but the waitstaff we’ve talked to say they find that insulting; they’re not going to change the way the restaurant is run just because you’re waving a few bills. You don’t want to bribe for good service. You want to tip afterward to reward good service.

Q: When is it okay to tip in anything besides the local currency? A: If the choice is that or nothing, then leave the foreign currency. But otherwise, try your best to leave a tip in the currency of that country. Run out and grab some change on your lunch break, or visit an ATM . By leaving a tip in a non-local currency, you’re giving your service person work to do, and they’ll likely have to pay a fee to change it into their own currency. So you should only leave a tip in your own currency if you don’t have time to get something else.

Q: At restaurants, should you base the tip on the total bill (including tax, alcohol, etc.) or just the cost of the meal? A: You shouldn’t tip on the tax because who wants to tip on what the government gets? But yes, you do tip on the cost of your meal and any alcohol. If I order a bottle of wine from a sommelier, then I would tip him or her directly. But if I order the bottle from my server, that’s the person I tip. And if I have a few cocktails before dinner, I make sure to tip the bartender specifically before I go to my table.

Q: Do different rules apply to tipping at hotels vs. bed and breakfasts? For example, at a small B&B where you’re not sure if there’s a housekeeping staff and you think that the owner may be the person to clean your room, do you still leave a housekeeping tip? A: If you don’t know, leave a tip on the side of the bed. There very well could be a maid who comes in for a couple of hours a day, an off-site person that does the housekeeping so the owner can handle the bookkeeping or other responsibilities. Even if it is the owner [who does the cleaning], he or she is doing the work — so I don’t think you would be insulting anyone if you did leave a tip.

Q: What’s a good rule of thumb for tipping tour guides (and drivers)? A: On a short bus tour (several hours or less), tip your guide 10 – 20 percent of the cost of the tour. Give it to him or her when you say goodbye. Charter and sightseeing bus drivers are also tipped in certain cases: when drivers double as guides, $1 per person per day. When the driver has been particularly amiable, the person in charge of a private charter sometimes asks each passenger to contribute $1 or more to a tip pool. On a longer tour with no built-in gratuity, each passenger should give $5 – $10 to the guide and another $5 – $10 to the driver.

You should not tip tour guides at national parks or other government sites.

Q: Should you always tip the driver of the airport car rental shuttle? How much? A: Yes. Especially if the driver helps me with my bags, I’ll leave a dollar or two (typically a dollar per bag). It’s also nice to tip if the driver has held the shuttle for you. Similar rules apply to drivers of airport parking lot shuttles.

Q: If you give a bellman your bags for storage at the front desk, do you tip when he takes the bags away, when he returns them to you later or both times? And how much? A: Tip when the bellman brings the bags back — again, because we’re not bribing for service. I’d recommend $1 or $2 per bag.

Q: If you could only offer one tidbit of tipping advice, what would it be? A: Remember to tip! Beyond that, my advice would be to keep one- and five-dollar bills on you [or the local equivalent]. Whenever you leave for a trip, go to a bank or convenience store to get change so you always have it on hand.

Check out more travel interviews !

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How much should I tip when I travel?

Melanie Lieberman

Editor's Note

Even the most seasoned travelers may find tipping while traveling to be complicated and stressful.

After all, most of us want to thank the right people for great service and don't want to stiff underpaid employees who might be depending on gratuities. At the same time, we don't want to double-pay service charges already included in our bills or inadvertently insult someone in a foreign country.

So, who deserves a tip, and when and where should you give it? Also, how much should you tip?

Tipping customs vary based on your destination and what sort of travel you are doing. For hotels, tipping can depend on the room rate, the level of service and the details of your stay. (Did you refuse housekeeping for the duration of your trip? Or, did you trash the room with a massive all-night party?)

The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted the world of tipping. Housekeepers, for example, may have much more extensive cleaning regimens even though they might not touch your room during your stay. Also, short-staffed hotels may add more responsibilities for already overworked employees.

To help you decide how much you should tip during specific travel situations, from tours to hotels to all-inclusive vacations, here's what to know.

Tipping tour guides

Let's start with how much to tip tour guides. Not unlike when you dine at a restaurant, there's a general consensus to tip tour guides based on the level of service you receive.

For tour guides, we recommend tipping 10% to 20% of the overall tour's cost. Of course, you're always welcome (and encouraged) to tip more for exceptional service if you feel inclined.

Whom to tip at hotels

do you tip tours by locals

When many hotels eliminated housekeeping services during the COVID-19 pandemic, I got out of the habit of traveling with the cash I used to carry specifically for tipping housekeeping.

But if there's anyone within hotels you should tip, it's housekeeping. Many experts agree that you should tip housekeeping $3 to $5 per day, depending on the length of your stay, your room rate and the level of service.

"These are the hardest-working people in the hotel and the least recognized," Tom Waithe, general manager of the Alexis Hotel Seattle, previously told TPG.

You should, however, be on the lookout for hidden housekeeping fees that some hotels have been adding to room charges — sometimes up to $40 per day. In these cases, a gratuity is not expected, though it's still possible that those hotels are not sharing these fees with staff.

A rule of thumb states that luggage attendants who help you with your bags at hotels (and airports) should receive $1 to $5 per bag. Round up for large groups of bags or if the attendant must take multiple trips or handle fragile or special-request items.

For car valets, a couple of dollars is typically appropriate; you may want to tip more if the valet delivers on a rush request. If you're staying at a hotel for a while and expect to use your car often, start the valet out with a larger tip of about $10 dollars, and explain your situation. You'll likely get your car parked closer and delivered ahead of other people's cars daily.

Butlers and concierges, especially at luxury hotels, should also be tipped an amount determined by what services they've delivered for you. Tipping the head door person at a hotel can also be a way to get improved service during a longer visit.

Who doesn't need a tip at a hotel, then? The people delivering room service meals where a (usually hefty) service charge has already been added to the tab do not necessitate a tip. Of course, you can still feel free to tip them. In the rare cases when gratuity isn't included or if you've asked the staff for some out-of-the-ordinary services, those circumstances would warrant tipping.

Related: Innovations in hotel stays: How to give guests the next-level experience

Tipping around the world

If you've ever traveled outside the U.S., you may have received mixed messages about tipping or confused faces from non-Americans when discussing tipping culture in this country.

In some countries — such as Australia, Japan and China — tipping is not common. It's actually frowned upon in Japan.

"Tipping abroad is so much more than converting currencies. Many countries and cultures each adopt their own nuanced take on this, at times, delicate matter," Tom Marchant, co-founder of the luxury travel company Black Tomato, told TPG. In Australia, where tipping is "not a common transaction," it can even make recipients a bit uncomfortable.

Otherwise, you should distribute tips as you do in the U.S. when visiting most of Europe, touristy areas of Mexico, the Caribbean (excluding all-inclusive resorts ) and Canada. Tipping is also customary in India and the Middle East.

In Central and South America, leaving small amounts of change in the local currency is greatly appreciated. If you're traveling to Africa, expect more intricacies, depending on whether or not you're on safari or staying at an urban property in a major city.

If you're unsure what's customary in a specific destination, feel free to ask around or err on the side of being overly generous.

Related: The ultimate guide to tipping in Europe

When to tip on an all-inclusive vacation

do you tip tours by locals

Speaking of all-inclusive resorts, know that daily service charges are typically included in your bill if you're on a cruise or staying at an all-inclusive resort. However, be sure to double-check your folio carefully or inquire with the front desk upon check-in. Also, be sure to verify what's included in a property's resort fees, even for non-inclusive properties.

According to Lindsey Epperly Sulek — founder of Jetset World Travel and a Caribbean travel expert — most traditional all-inclusive resorts, like Sandals in the Caribbean, include gratuity.

If gratuities are not included, you can follow the previously mentioned hotel guidelines : $1 to $5 per bag for the bellhop, $5 per day for housekeeping (left every day), nothing extra for room service (if included on the bill) and a sliding scale for concierges, depending on the task's difficulty.

If you're taking a tour from an all-inclusive resort — such as for a safari — tip your guides and the driver.

Related: The 17 best all-inclusive resorts in the US for a spectacular vacation

Tipping staff during a cruise

Whether they're called service charges or gratuities, the automatic fees cruise lines charge daily to passengers' onboard accounts — sometimes as much as $25.50 per person, per day — are designed to replace cash tipping. It's a policy that was put in place so cruisers won't feel obligated to tip or worry about when and where to present gratuities.

In addition to passenger-facing crew members, such as waitstaff and cabin stewards, many other crew members see a portion of service fees. This includes people who wash dishes and work in cruise ship laundry rooms. You can pay these fees in advance or have them added to your onboard bill. You can adjust the gratuity amount up or down by visiting the guest services desk during your sailing.

If you want to provide an extra boost to a crew member who has gone above and beyond, mention them in your post-cruise survey so they can receive higher-level recognition. This is something that could come with more long-term benefits than a tip.

If you find yourself on a sailing that doesn't charge daily gratuities or you want to tip extra for stellar service, be sure to bring cash. There might also be a tip box by the reception desk.

Have a favorite bartender or waiter on your sailing? An extra gratuity paid early during your trip will go a long way to ensure that above-average service continues throughout your vacation. Keep in mind that most cruise bar purchases and spa treatments automatically include gratuities ranging from about 15% to 18%. There's no need to tip extra unless you want to.

Related: Can I remove prepaid gratuities on a cruise?

Tipping flight attendants and airport employees

do you tip tours by locals

Generally, airline employees like flight attendants are not allowed to accept any tips on the job. However, airport staff members are permitted to do so.

One notable exception is Frontier Airlines, which has an inflight tipping program.

Airline employee unions have fought against allowing flight attendants to accept tips, which may seem counterintuitive. However, labor laws allow employers to pay sub-minimum wages if the employees are assumed to be receiving gratuities on a regular basis. Don't be insulted if flight attendants refuse your tip offers — they're doing so to protect their salaries.

Many airlines provide ways passengers can recognize services provided by flight attendants and other employees. For example, Southwest Airlines has its Commend an Employee program that lets you leave positive comments online. This may have a more positive impact than the dollar tip you offered for your gin and tonic.

Should you want to show your appreciation for a particularly friendly or helpful flight attendant, note that gifts such as snacks or coffee shop gift cards are OK.

Bottom line

Tipping is often customary when traveling, depending on where you go, what service you receive and the level of service provided.

Bookmark this guide for your next international trip.

Related reading:

  • 8 lessons I learned from my 1st all-inclusive vacation
  • 10 times you do not need to tip on a cruise
  • Mobile tipping comes to hotels: Will housekeepers really benefit
  • We asked a flight attendant for their top insider tips on flying like a pro
  • Share full article


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A Traveler’s Guide to Tipping in a Changed World

In the age of tip fatigue, many are bewildered by how much to tip in hotels and restaurants and on guided tours. Customs in foreign countries complicate the picture. Here’s some advice from experts.

A colorful, cartoonish illustration shows three tipping scenes: the first shows a tip jar on a table where there is also a drink, fries and sandwich; the second shows a woman with her glasses pushed back on her head, holding a purse, and the third shows a dish with a restaurant check on it, showing a percentage sign; behind it are some food items, and beyond those are two pyramids and a camel.

By Elaine Glusac

Not long into the pandemic, Americans were eager to tip their front-line-working baristas and servers. But now that tip fatigue has set in — driven by the proliferation of payment tablets that suggest tipping for everything from a sandwich at a grab-and-go counter to an ultrasound — consumers are often bewildered by when and how much to tip.

“This is the hottest topic in etiquette right now,” said Daniel Post Senning, the co-author of “Emily Post Etiquette, The Centennial Edition” and the great-great grandson of the etiquette icon Emily Post . He cites the pressure of inflation, the disruption of the pandemic and the rush back to travel for the unease. “There’s growing anxiety and public discussion around tipping.”

Offering guidance on when and how much to tip when you travel, etiquette experts, academics and travelers weighed in with the following advice.

Make 15 to 20 percent your restaurant baseline

Tipping standards at restaurants vary widely around the world. In the United States, the American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests in its “Gratuity Guide” leaving 15 percent of the total bill or up to 20 percent for extraordinary service.

“The minimum is 15 percent,” said Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert and the founder of the Swann School of Protocol in Carlsbad, Calif. “It can be increased from there based on the level of service received.”

Before the pandemic, tip averages in restaurants nationally had crept up to 18 percent, a standard that fell back to 15 percent more recently as inflation grew, according to Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor in the hospitality school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “I don’t think consumers want to be stingy, but everybody’s budget is tight and they’re trying to make trade-off decisions,” she said.

Despite expert advice, consumers may not have a choice. In many American cities, tips are increasingly included in the bill and often are well above 15 percent. A recent article making the rounds in New York argues for a 20 to 25 percent standard.

At a trendy cocktail bar in Los Angeles recently, an $18 drink came to $24 after an 18 percent gratuity and an additional fee for employee health care. The bartender mentioned that the establishment includes tips in their tallies because it serves many guests from foreign countries where tipping is not standard.

According to the Independent Restaurant Coalition , service charges benefit all employees, including cooks and dishwashers as well as waiters. “The service charge model ensures that employee compensation is fair, reliable and not reliant on the diners’ experience or bias,” said Erika Polmar, the executive director of the coalition.

Beyond the United States, tip amounts vary, as illustrated in this tipping map. Often, they are less than in the United States and are sometimes included as a service charge (see the section below on tipping abroad).

Don’t be afraid to say no

Some tip requests should be denied, according to experts.

For example, when you’re ordering coffee or a sandwich from a kiosk or counter and are presented with a payment screen including suggested tip amounts, “Push past that awkwardness and push no tip,” Ms. Swann said. “Proprietors are offering a perk to employees and they’re putting it on the backs of consumers to absorb.”

Caving in to social pressure or even a scowl from the employee is, in Ms. Swann’s opinion, “giving in to a level of entitlement that should be nonexistent.”

The growth of credit card payments over cash has made it harder to show a token of appreciation via the tip jar, especially if you’re not carrying cash. If in the past you would pay with cash and leave the coins, Mr. Senning advised rounding up on your credit card and doing the same thing virtually.

Stock up on small bills

Beyond restaurants, travel offers many other opportunities to leave tips for service providers such as cabdrivers, bellhops and valets. Before she takes a trip, Ms. Swann goes to the bank to get cash, especially the $1 and $5 bills that are nearly impossible to withdraw from A.T.M.s.

Most experts agree taxi or rideshare drivers deserve 15 to 20 percent of the fare, depending on the service and the cleanliness of the vehicle. (Ms. Swann once rode in a rideshare car filled with dog hair and made the rare decision not to tip.)

Airport skycaps and the bell people at a hotel should get a few dollars a bag, based on service, and perhaps more if the task is onerous, like handling golf or ski bags. Valet parkers should get $2 to $5 at drop-off and pickup.

And if you only have larger bills, Ms. Swann added, it’s perfectly fine to ask for change back.

Remember the hotel housekeeper

Etiquette experts say hotel guests should leave $2 to $5 a night for the housekeeper each morning. The American Hotel & Lodging Association recommends $1 to $5 a night left daily, preferably in a marked envelope making it clear that it is intended for the housekeeper. In its tipping guide , UNITE HERE, the labor union whose members include hotel workers, suggests a minimum of $5 a day and more for suites.

Not many travelers comply.

Despite having the most physically demanding jobs in hotels with few avenues for advancement, “hotel housekeepers are some of the least-often tipped employees in the service industry,” according to Dr. Belarmino of U.N.L.V. “Unlike servers, who are often paid less than minimum wage that is then made up by tips, hotel housekeepers’ pay is not contingent upon tips. However, it is a courtesy to tip them.”

But in the age of infrequent or optional room cleaning, which has become more common since the pandemic, the guidelines get murkier. “If you stay one night or if you choose to skip housekeeping, I would recommend tipping about $5 at checkout,” Dr. Belarmino said.

If housekeeping is available on demand, most experts recommend tipping each time the room is serviced. And you may want to consider raising the amount.

“If the hotel won’t do daily housekeeping, make sure to tip extra on the days that you do get service and at checkout, because rooms that have gone days without housekeeping are dirtier and harder for housekeepers to clean,” wrote D. Taylor, the international president of UNITE HERE, in an email.

Mind foreign tipping customs

Customs regarding gratuities vary by country. On some trips abroad, guides with the high-end tour company Abercrombie & Kent use orientation sessions to advise guests on when to tip in unexpected places — like bathrooms in Egypt — and provide travelers with small denominations in the local currency to do so.

If you don’t have a guide to instruct you, make learning the culture of tipping abroad part of your trip planning by consulting guidebooks, tourism board websites and online sources like Tripadvisor .

“You have to look at two things: Is it expected and mandatory as it is here in the U.S. for many service jobs? And what is the social safety net like in that place?” said Pauline Frommer, the editorial director of Frommer’s , which publishes travel guidebooks covering 48 countries, including advice on how to tip.

In countries like Mexico, where wages are low, she advised tipping in restaurants as you might at home. In Europe, where waiters are paid better, tipping is less important. On trips to London and Paris last summer, she found bills with service fees included, often listed as “S.C.” for “service charge.”

“If you didn’t know, you might tip on top of that,” she said, recommending that travelers scrutinize their bills and ask if something is unfamiliar.

In Italy, travelers might find a nominal charge called a “coperto” on their bill covering bread and water.

“It comes from the days when you would go to an inn and if you wanted to have a tablecloth and plates, they charged you for it,” said Pam Mercer, the owner of California-based Tuscany Tours , which specializes in small-group travel in Italy and France.

When it comes to restaurant meals in those countries, “There’s not a hard and fast rule,” Ms. Mercer said. Her company advises guests to tip 5 to 10 percent at restaurants and give the tip directly to the waiter.

In cafes and cabs, she rounds up and leaves the change.

“France pays its employees a living wage, unlike the U.S.,” wrote Janice Wang, an American living in France who runs a Facebook group for expatriates there, in an email. “Hence, servers, hairdressers and cabdrivers don’t need tips to live. They appreciate them, but don’t need them. And they never expect a tip.”

Tip your guide

Guide services come in many varieties — from a walking tour leader to a mountaineer who helps you navigate a rock face. Travelers might engage their services for a half-day trip, a two-week tour, and everything in between and beyond.

The global tour company Intrepid Travel states on its website that “tipping is never compulsory, but always appreciated,” while also making the point that tips are a big part of a guide’s income, especially in the United States and Southeast Asia. On a multiday small-group trip in the United States, the company suggests tipping $7 to $10 a day.

The tour company Exit Glacier Guides notes that 10 to 20 percent of the trip cost for its wilderness outings is standard where it operates in Seward, Alaska. The tip for a group walk led by a naturalist beside the Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park that costs $59 a person would therefore be about $6 to $12 a person.

CIE Tours , which offers group trips in Iceland, Ireland, Italy and Britain, recommends tipping tour leaders and bus drivers the equivalent in local currency of roughly $7 to $10 each a day, depending on the location.

But the platform ToursByLocals , where local residents set prices for their own tours, discourages tips.

“The guides are in essence entrepreneurs, rather than employees, and we suggest that the best tip a traveler can leave is to return to the site and leave a thoughtful review, which will help that guide to grow their business,” wrote Paul Melhus, the co-founder and chief executive of ToursByLocals, in an email.

Free tours make it trickier to calculate tips, even though guides work solely for gratuities. Free Tours by Foot , which offers city walking tours around the world, shies away from any guidance on tipping, noting on its website , “You name the price.”

In an email, a representative in the New York office of the company wrote that the range runs “anywhere from just a thank you to $100,” with the average at $10 to $20 a person.

On its website and in email communications, Free Chicago Walking Tours is more transparent, recommending $10 to $20 a person for the guided walks that generally last two hours. Jeff Mikos, who owns the company, estimates guides average about $10 a guest on groups that can be as big as 30, but are usually closer to half of that.

About a quarter of the group “will be genuine and thankful and won’t tip, and the middle-of-the-pack average is slightly under $10 a person,” Mr. Mikos said. “But there’s always one couple with $50.”

Elaine Glusac writes the Frugal Traveler column. Follow her on Instagram: @eglusac .

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52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Mumbai:  Spend 36 hours in this fast-changing Indian city  by exploring ancient caves, catching a concert in a former textile mill and feasting on mangoes.

Kyoto:  The Japanese city’s dry gardens offer spots for quiet contemplation  in an increasingly overtouristed destination.

Iceland:  The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found .

Texas:  Canoeing the Rio Grande near Big Bend National Park can be magical. But as the river dries, it’s getting harder to find where a boat will actually float .

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How Much to Tip a Tour Guide? (Read This First!)

When you’re on vacation, one of the best ways to get a feel for the local culture is to take a guided tour.

And when you take a guided tour, it’s customary to tip your tour guide. But how much should you tip?

And why should you tip at all?

In this blog post, we’ll answer all of your questions about tipping tour guides!

Table of Contents

How much should you tip your tour guide?

What is a tour guide, and what do they do?

A tour guide is a person who leads a group of people through an area, pointing out landmarks and giving information about the history and culture of the place.

A tour guide might work for a company that provides tours, or they might be self-employed.

Tour guides usually have a lot of knowledge about the area they’re showing you, and they’re also good at keeping people entertained!

Why should you tip your tour guide?

Tour guides work hard to give you a good experience, and they don’t always get paid very well.

Tipping is a way of showing your appreciation for their work.

How much should you tip your tour guide?

10% and 20% of what the tour cost.

For example, if the tour cost $100 per person, you should tip $20.

But there are other things to consider when deciding how much to tip.

If the tour was especially long or difficult, you might want to give a larger tip.

And if the tour guide went above and beyond to make sure you had a good time, you might also want to give a larger tip.

When in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of giving too much rather than too little.

What if you can’t afford to tip?

If you can’t afford to tip, that’s okay!

You can still show your appreciation by saying thank you.

Remember, tipping is just a way of showing your appreciation – it’s not required.

If you can, leave a review on TripAdvisor or Google Maps so other people can see what a great job your tour guide did!

What are some other ways to show appreciation to your tour guide?

In addition to tipping, there are other ways to show your appreciation for your tour guide.

You could write a positive review on TripAdvisor or Google Maps, or you could recommend the tour to your friends and family.

You could also send a thank-you note to the tour company – they’ll be sure to pass it on to your tour guide!

Tipping tour guides is a great way to show your appreciation for their hard work.

Should You Tip Tour Guides?

Yes, you should tip tour guides!

Tipping is a way of showing your appreciation for their work, and it’s customary to tip tour guides.

Tour guides usually work for a company or they might be self-employed, and they work hard to give you a good experience.

What Is the Standard for Tipping Tour Guides?

In general, the standard for tipping tour guides is 10-20% of what the tour cost.

For example, if the tour cost $100 per person, you should tip between $20.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding how much to tip:

  • The length of the tour
  • The difficulty of the tour
  • If the guide went above and beyond
  • What the tour cost

In general, it’s always better to give a little more than you planned on giving.

How to Tip Tour Guide?

At the end of the tour, you can hand the guide cash or you could leave it in an envelope with a note.

If you’re leaving a tip in an envelope, you can put the money in first and then write a note saying thank you and how much you appreciated the tour.

Your guide may make a quick joke about now is the time you tip me, or they may some way to get your attention to tipping.

If that is the case, they will tell you how to Venmo or PayPal them the tip.

They may also pass around a hat, which means this is where you can put the cash for tip-in.

How Much Do You Tip a Private Tour Guide?

A private tour guide is someone who works independently and not for any particular tour company.

The standard for tipping a private tour guide is also 20% of the total cost.

For example, if your tour cost $500 for the day, you should tip $100.

As with any other type of tour guide, you can always give more or less depending on how happy you were with the tour.

Some people prefer to tip private guides in cash, but you could also Venmo or PayPal them the tip.

How Much Do You Tip a Tour Guide and Driver?

A tour guide and driver are two different people.

Your tour guide is the person who walks with you, telling you about the sights.

The driver is the person who drives the vehicle between destinations.

There are no hard and fast rules for how much to tip a tour guide and driver , but a good rule of thumb is to tip them each for about $20 per day.

Do You Tip Museum Tour Guides?

Museum tour guides do not need to be tipped.

Museums do not allow their employees to accept tips because it could be seen as a conflict of interest.

Keep in mind that this is not expected or required, and most museum guides will be happy with a simple thank you.

Do You Tip Ghost Tour Guides?

Ghost tour guides are no different than regular tour guides, and you should tip them the same amount – about 20% of the cost of the tour.

These tours can be a lot of fun, and your guide will appreciate your appreciation!

Ghost tours average around $20 dollars, so your tip should be around $5 dollars per person.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to tipping your tour guide, there are no hard and fast rules.

However, the general guideline is to tip between 10-20% of what the tour cost.

This percentage usually depends on how pleased you were with the tour.

It’s always a good idea to give more than you planned on giving, especially if your guide went above and beyond.

The bottom line is this: if you had a good time and learned something, show your appreciation with a tip!

Do you have any questions about tipping tour guides?

Let us know!

And don’t forget to check out our other blog posts for more travel tips and tricks!

Related posts:

do you tip tours by locals

John Goldsmith

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Do you tip a withlocals tour guide? I dont want...

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Withlocals Questions & Answers

do you tip tours by locals

Do you tip a withlocals tour guide? I dont want to be rude either way. Ive made arguements in my head for both sides and cant figure out the right answer.

do you tip tours by locals

Yes but she struggled to accept. Buy him/her lunch instead

do you tip tours by locals

No, didn't feel it was necessary

Host was fab you'll have a great time

do you tip tours by locals

  no. you pay him for the guiding its should be enough

do you tip tours by locals

We didn't tip. It somehow didn't seem right at the moment we paid our guide but she seemed perfectly happy.

do you tip tours by locals

No we did not tip as such

Our guide hinted to us that she loved truffles and as she was so good we purchased some for her when she took us to the markets

do you tip tours by locals

Yes, we definitely tipped our guide, because she was awesome! She was very good at what she did, as she was very knowledgeable of the area (we did our foodie tour in Rome, Italy), she spoke the native language, she was so very nice, and she even took extra time with us. The tour was fabulous and worth every penny, and our hostess/guide definitely deserved a tip!

do you tip tours by locals

No we didnt tip, our guide didnt make it feel like we needed to tip her.

The cost of the tour is sufficient i think. Dont eat before you go or at least wait a few hours before you do. Loads of food.

We tipped a bit...

do you tip tours by locals

We did tip . We felt that the experience was well worth a few extra dollars.

do you tip tours by locals

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Should you tip your tour leader? Here’s what we think.

Two yound travellers with their local leader in Egypt

Tipping is one of those topics than tends to split travellers into tribes: the Pro Tippers and the I’ve-Already-Paid-For-This-Service-Thank-You Anti-Tippers.

Usually the divide is simple: travellers who come from countries that tip versus travellers who didn’t grow up with a tipping culture. But it can be a thorny question. What are the rules? How much should you tip (if at all)? What are the consequences if you get it wrong?

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We’ve already written a bit about tipping in America and Vietnam (and Smarter Travel has some good general advice) but today we’re talking about small group travel. In particular: whether or not to tip your tour leader.

Our position

A group of young travellers with their leader in Budapest

We work closely with local unions and abide by regional laws on wages to make sure every local leader and porter gets a fair and decent wage. But tipping is still a big part of leaders’ overall income. Particularly in cultures where tipping is entrenched in the tourism industry, like America and South East Asia.


Why tipping matters

A smiling tour leader in Mexico

But beyond good manners, tipping injects cash into the local economy, which is really the big benefit of small group tourism. By tipping in local currency, you’re making sure money is going to those who deserve it most. Tips don’t pass through any third party (not even Intrepid). They either go straight to the leader, or get divided up among your porters and local guides.


Do I have to tip?

Travellers with their leader in Petra

All we ask is that you research the effects of tipping before making up your mind. And if you still don’t want to tip, find some other way to show your gratitude. Your local leader will really appreciate it.


How much should I tip?

An Intrepid leader with a family group in Egypt

If you haven’t been on an Intrepid trip before, and the idea of tipping is giving you mild anxiety, this is generally what happens: on the last day, over lunch or dinner, the group covertly gets together (like an office organising a colleague’s surprise party). Some discuss how much they’re thinking of tipping (talking about money can be awkward, so some travellers just put in what they feel), and there’s a quick whip-around in an envelope, which gets presented to the leader at the completion of the tour. It’s also fine to give your own tip separately from the rest of the group. The amount each traveller tips is usually anonymous.

A female truck driver in Kenya

How much you put in is up to you. Chat it over with your group. See what you think is fair. Whatever amount you decide on, we can almost guarantee it will make a substantial difference to your leader.

If I don’t feel like tipping, what should I do?

People clinking their wine glasses in Hungary

If you’d like some more info on tipping, or anything else to do with Intrepid leaders, check out our FAQ page. There’s some good general advice there.

Interesting in exploring the world on an Intrepid small group adventure? Search our range of tours now . 

All images C/O Intrepid Travel. 

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Intrepid has been leading small group adventures for over 30 years. We’re a certified B Corp, which means we want to be the best travel company not just in the world, but for the world. To create positive change through the joy of travel. You can read our latest adventures right here.

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Exploring the Tipping Culture in Barcelona: Insights and Advice

do you tip tours by locals

Are you planning a trip to Barcelona and asking yourself, “Do you tip in Barcelona?” Look no further! This article delves into local tipping etiquette, whether in restaurants, hotels, bars, or taxis. 

By comparing Barcelona’s tipping practices with other European cities and answering common questions, we help ensure that you can confidently and respectfully show appreciation for good service, just like a local. Enjoy your travel experience to the fullest with our insightful information.

Understanding Tipping Culture in Barcelona

Regarding tipping in Barcelona, it’s essential to understand the local culture and Spanish tipping etiquette. While tipping is not mandatory, it’s still appreciated if you receive good service. Here’s what you need to know about tipping culture in Barcelona:

Tipping Culture in Barcelona

“Do you tip in Barcelona?” you may ask. While tipping isn’t expected in Barcelona, locals and travelers alike often appreciate good service by leaving a small amount of change or rounding up the bill to the nearest euro. And if the service is exceptional, a tip amounting to 5-10% of the total bill is commonly offered.

Barcelona is a vibrant and diverse city with a rich culture and history. The locals are friendly and welcoming and take pride in their city. Regarding tipping, it’s essential to respect the local culture and customs. While tipping is not mandatory, it’s a way to show appreciation for good service.

Spanish Tipping Etiquette

In Spain, tipping is not mandatory, but it’s always appreciated. Leaving a tip of 5-10% of the total bill is common if you receive good service. However, if you’re not happy with the service, you’re not obligated to leave a tip.

Regarding tipping in Barcelona, it’s important to remember that it’s a way to show appreciation for good service. While it’s not mandatory, leaving a small tip can go a long way in making someone’s day.

Tipping in Barcelona Restaurants

The amount of tip you leave depends on the quality of service you receive. 

Fine Dining

At upscale restaurants, customers typically leave a tip of 5-10% of the total bill for excellent service. If the bill already includes a service charge, there’s no need for an extra tip unless you want to express appreciation for exceptional service.

Discover the best fine dining establishments in the city, serving up exquisite dishes that will leave you craving for more.

Happy Waiter

Local Eateries

In local eateries, such as family-run restaurants or cafes, it is common to leave a small tip of 1-2 euros per person. If you receive excellent service, you can leave a slightly higher tip.

You’re not expected to tip in tapas bars, but leaving a small tip of 1-2 euros per person is a nice gesture to show appreciation for good service and food. While tipping isn’t necessary when you order at the bar, leaving a small tip is more common if you receive table service.

Self-Service and Takeaway Joints

Tipping is unnecessary in self-service and takeaway joints, but you can leave a small tip of 1-2 euros to show appreciation for good service.

Remember that tipping is a way to show appreciation for the hard work of restaurant workers. If you receive excellent service, a small tip can go a long way in making someone’s day.

Tipping in Barcelona Hotels

When it comes to tipping in hotels in Barcelona, it is not mandatory, but it is appreciated. It is important to note that tipping customs may vary depending on the type of hotel you are staying in and the quality of service you receive. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Luxury Hotels

Tipping is expected if you are staying in a luxury hotel in Barcelona. Tipping the concierge, porters, and bellboys for their services is customary. A good rule of thumb is to tip them 1-2 euros per bag they carry for you. If you stay in a suite or a high-end room, you should tip the room maid or hotel maid 2-5 euros daily.

Tip In Hotel

Low-Budget Hotels

If you are staying in a low-budget hotel in Barcelona, tipping is not expected but is still appreciated. You can tip the cleaning staff or room maid 1-2 euros daily. If you receive exceptional service, you can tip more.

It is important to note that you should always tip in cash, as most hotels do not allow their staff to accept tips on credit cards. Also, be discreet when tipping, and do not make a show of it.

Overall, tipping in hotels in Barcelona is a personal choice, and there is no fixed amount that you should tip. It is up to you to decide how much to tip based on the quality of service you receive. 

Find the perfect hotel for your Barcelona getaway. Our list of top-rated accommodations includes a variety of options to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences.

Tipping in Barcelona Bars and Cafes

Tipping at bars has a long-standing place in both Barcelona and Spanish etiquette. If bartenders meet your every need, tipping them is considered appropriate. 

Bartenders appreciate tips between 5 and 10 euros; a tip of 5 euros is generally considered generous. You can also tip the security guards outside the pub.

Some upscale bars might already include a service charge in the bill. You don’t need to tip in such instances, but if the service exceeds your expectations, feel free to leave a small extra tip.

Giving Tip In Barcelona

Tipping in cafes is mainly expected when you receive table service. Between 5 to 10 euros is considered a good tip in Barcelona. However, tipping is your choice at a self-service or takeaway cafe. A meal suggestion or polite behavior from the staff calls for an extra tip.

It’s worth noting that some cafes may have a tip jar at their cash registers, but it’s not an industry standard. 

Waiters Tip

Tipping Transportation Providers

Taxi drivers.

If you take a taxi in Barcelona, you can round up the fare to the nearest euro or add a few extra euros as a tip. For example, if your fare is €8.50, you can give the driver €10 and tell them to keep the change. Adding a euro or two for help with your luggage is also common.

Taxi Driver Tip

Private Cab Drivers

Tipping is also appreciated if you use a private cab service in Barcelona. The amount you tip can depend on the ride’s length and the service level provided. A good rule of thumb is to tip 10% of the total fare, especially if the driver is friendly and helpful.

In addition to these guidelines, here are some other things to keep in mind when tipping transportation providers in Barcelona:

  • Luggage may be charged extra if you’re taking a taxi from the airport. Keep this in mind when deciding how much to tip.
  • If you’re taking a taxi in Barcelona, ensure the driver turns on the meter. You can negotiate a price before getting in the car if they don’t.
  • If you’re taking a private cab, agree on the fare before the ride begins.

Tipping Tour Guides

Tour guides in Barcelona work hard to provide you with a memorable experience, and a tip is a great way to show your appreciation.

The amount you should tip your tour guide depends on the tour length, the service quality, and the budget. A good rule of thumb is to tip 10% of the total cost of the tour. If you had an exceptional experience, consider tipping more.

It’s also worth noting that some tour companies include the tip in the tour price, so be sure to check with your tour company before tipping your guide.

Comparison with Other European Cities

Barcelona’s tipping system is similar to its neighboring countries like Paris, Lisbon, and Rome.

You’re expected to tip in Paris, although it’s less common practice than in the United States. If you’ve received good service at a restaurant, leaving a small tip of 5-10% of the total bill is customary. At bars, simply rounding up the bill to the nearest euro suffices. You should also typically tip for taxi rides, services from hairdressers, and hotel staff.

In Lisbon, people don’t tip as commonly as in other European cities, but tipping practices are becoming more prevalent in tourist areas. If you receive good service in restaurants, leaving a small tip of 5-10% of the total bill is customary. You should round up the bill to the nearest euro when in bars. Additionally, it’s expected that you tip taxi drivers, hairdressers, and hotel staff.

Tipping in Rome is less common than in the United States. If you’ve received good service in a restaurant, leaving a small tip, around 5-10% of the total bill, is customary. Simply rounding up the bill to the nearest euro usually suffices in bars. You should also expect to tip for taxi rides, hairdressing services, and hotel staff.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Locals in Barcelona don’t commonly practice tipping and don’t expect it. You won’t be considered rude if you don’t leave a tip. However, if you receive exceptional service, leave a small tip as a gesture of appreciation.
  • If you decide to tip in a Spanish restaurant, the amount you leave is entirely up to you. It is customary to leave a small tip of around 5-10% of the total bill, but this is not mandatory. 
  • Regarding tipping in Spain, it’s important to remember that it’s not a common practice, and it’s not expected. If you choose to tip, it should be based on the quality of service you received rather than a set amount or percentage.
  • It’s important to respect local customs and practices when traveling to a new country. While tipping may be a common practice in your home country, it may not be the norm elsewhere. Doing a little research and understanding the local customs can ensure that you are respectful and considerate of the locals.

In Barcelona, tipping isn’t the norm, but it’s certainly appreciated for excellent service. It’s not a ‘yes or no’ answer to the question “Do you tip in Barcelona?”. It depends on your satisfaction with the service you’ve received. If you feel someone’s gone above and beyond, it’s a lovely gesture to tip around 5-10% of your bill.

So, as you embrace the beauty and vibrancy of Barcelona, remember these tips about local customs. Happy travels!

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Tipping in China (here’s the truth from an expat)

Posted by Mike Cairnduff | Updated July 24, 2023 | China blog , Life

Tipping in China (here’s the truth from an expat)

Do people tip in China?

The short answer is ‘no’. Tipping is not common practice in Chinese culture.

However, there are some exceptions to the rule, and sadly, these involve services aimed at foreigners.

Keep reading to find out more, including my personal experiences with tipping in China.

Do I need to tip in China?

chinese tipping

Hold your money: In most cases, you don’t need to tip in China. Image by Saelanlerez on Shutterstock.

People in mainland China don’t tip for anything, so neither should you.

However, there are some exceptions which include:

  • Private or small group tours that only serve foreigners
  • Luxury hotels
  • High-end restaurants.

Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.

Tipping Chinese tour guides and drivers

chinese tour guide

Some tour guides who only cater to foreigners expect tips. Image by Pav-Pro Photography Ltd.

On private and small tours that cater only to foreigners, there’s now an expectation that you tip.

But you should only tip if the tour and the service were great. By no means is it compulsory or legislated.

So, how much should you tip?

For a one-day private tour, you and your friend/partner could each tip something like this:

  • Tour guide – 100 yuan
  • Driver – 50 yuan

For a week-long tour, you could each tip something like this:

  • Tour guide – 500-700 yuan
  • Driver – 250-350 yuan

The driver is paid about half the amount because, apart from driving, they generally don’t provide any other service (or speak English in most cases).

Remember, these are employees who receive a wage and don’t rely on tips like some service staff in Western countries like the US.

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But sadly, if you use a Chinese tour company that only serves foreigners, the local guide and driver may have become reliant on tips.

Plus, they know Americans love to tip!

It’s also worth noting that the amount you tip differs in the various regions of China . You can tip less in smaller or less affluent areas in the country.

Tipping at hotels in China

luxury hotel sanya china

Got a private pool and a private beach? You may need to tip. Image by Yubin Zhou on Unsplash.

I’ve stayed at numerous hotels across China and I can assure you: the locals do not tip.

The exception to this would be at high-end hotels, like the Mandarin Oriental or Waldorf Astoria. But other than that, you don’t tip at Chinese hotels.

So, how much should you tip at a luxury Chinese hotel?

I think 20 yuan for a bellhop would be fine. That’s enough for a decent lunch outside the hotel.

If you want to tip the room attendant, that’s a bit harder to work out because the attendants may change every day. But if you’ve experienced amazing service over a few days, I think 50-100 yuan would be OK.

China is not the US and you don’t need to calculate 10% or 15% or whatever tipping rate you’re used to.

Tipping at restaurants in China

tip jar

You’ll never see a tip jar in China (besides, locals don’t use cash). Image by Sam Dan Truong on Unsplash.

As above, the locals don’t tip at restaurants so neither should you.

But like luxury hotels, if you’re eating at a well-known or upscale restaurant, which sees foreign visitors, you could leave a tip of around 10% if you want to.

Or, you could slip the waitstaff some yuan as a small tip if you felt their service was incredible.

This includes fine restaurants that serve local food as well as Western restaurants.

I’ve never tipped in a restaurant in China, as I don’t eat at high-end restaurants. In my opinion, there’s no need – you can find amazing food everywhere in China.

Even the street side restaurants are top notch!

If you’re in Hong Kong, check your receipt as a gratuity may already be added.

Tipping taxi drivers in China

chinese taxis

Taxi and rideshare drivers don’t receive tips in China. Image by Cowardlion on Shutterstock.

As above: no, no, no.

Same goes for ride-share drivers (the local service is called Didi).

Just note, it’s extremely rare that a Chinese taxi or rideshare driver will get out of their car to help you with luggage.

Welcome to China’s ‘service’ culture!

Tipping in Hong Kong

downtown hong kong

You can tip in Hong Kong if you want. Image by Marci Marc on Pixabay.

Tipping in Hong Kong is more common due to the Western influence.

In top hotels, you can choose to tip the same rate as you normally would in your country. This includes hotel bellboys and girls, waitstaff, and even bathroom attendants.

You’re not expected to tip taxi drivers in Hong Kong, though you could round up to the nearest few dollars, i.e. the driver keeps the small change.

I’ve never tipped a taxi driver in HK, though I haven’t been in that many taxis (their subway system is amazing!).

At top restaurants in Hong Kong, you could tip 10-15% for great food and service, unless a service charge has already been added to the bill.

Tipping etiquette is similar in Macau and Taiwan due to the Western influence.

(You can find out more differences between China and Taiwan here .)

Do domestic Chinese tourists tip?

As I mentioned before, tipping isn’t part of the Chinese culture, so domestic Chinese tourists don’t tip.

I’ve been on small, personalized tours with local Chinese and they have never tipped.

Is it rude to tip in China?

calculator and chinese money

Tipping isn’t rude, it’s just not the done thing in China. Image by Photostyler on Shutterstock.

There are inaccurate explanations on travel websites (like this one and this one ) that say it can be considered rude to tip in China.

That’s untrue. I don’t think the writers have ever been to China!

Tipping isn’t part of the Chinese culture, nor has it ever been part of their culture over thousands of years.

So, if an American or a foreign tourist tries to tip, the Chinese person is confused – not offended – as the practice simply doesn’t exist there.

They may also feel awkward, morally, to accept additional money.

Put simply, money on top of an agreed price doesn’t make sense to the Chinese.

(Note: as an Australian who has grown up in a non-tipping culture – this logic makes total sense to me!)

My personal experiences with tipping in China

chinese yuan 100 notes

I’ve tipped only a few times over 20 years. Image by Ton Anurak on Shutterstock.

On a recent private tour in Xiamen , I had two 100 yuan notes ready at the end of the tour. One was for the guide and one was for the driver.

(Side note: private tours are rare for me in China as I love traveling like a local, but sometimes it’s easier to jump in a car to get to some far-flung attraction.)

I had the same amount for both the guide and driver because they were brothers, and I was trying to be fair!

The driver repeatedly refused the tip, so I ended up handing over 200 yuan to the guide. This is much more than I would have liked to have given, but I felt it would have been rude to slip one of the notes back into my pocket.

Another time, near the cute town of Lijiang, I felt sorry for a man whose job it was to take rich tourists around a village on the back of horses.

After taking me for a horse ride, I tried to slip him 15 yuan (that was the only cash I had on me) and he refused, even when I tried again and again.

And on another occasion, a tour guide in Yinchuan looked very confused when I tried to tip him. I only offered it as it was a great tour, there were just six of us, and I felt he went above and beyond.

But he refused numerous times, before accepting it following my insistence. As a non-English speaking local, it was possibly the only time he’s ever been tipped.

So, “never say never” as the saying goes, but I don’t think I’d ever try to tip in China again.

What’s service like in China?

waiter serving drink on a tray

You’ll only get amazing service at high-end places. Image by Alev Takil on Unsplash.

From an Australian perspective, you really cannot compare the level of service you would receive in a country like the US versus China.

I’ve found service to be amazingly good in the US, while only average (if that) in China.

But that’s because American service staff need to provide a high level of service in order to receive tips, and in some cases, survive.

The Chinese, on the other hand, are genuinely helpful. While they may initially come across as shy or even rude (they’re not – they just talk loudly), they will bend over backwards to help you if you ask them.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been helped in China with directions, translations, food recommendations, and even helping me download Chinese apps so I can get into tourist attractions.

Although the tipping etiquette is different in China (i.e. there is no tipping), it doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you. Just don’t expect exceptional service off the bat.

Some quick travel recommendations

If you need a hotel in China, I recommend Trip as I’ve booked with them again, and again, and again. And they’re great.

You can check out their enormous range of China hotels here , with prices to suit all budgets.

And remember, you should always get travel insurance for China too !

Relax…it’s China

At the end of the day, China is a pretty relaxed place and you don’t need to worry about tipping.

Chinese people don’t tip, and you shouldn’t either.

The only exception to this is if you’re staying at a luxury hotel, eating out somewhere very fancy, or you’re part of small tour group that only sees foreigners.

But even then, there are no hard and fast rules about the amount you should give.

Let’s not try to change China’s tipping-free culture.

I hope you liked my article about tipping in China. Next, take a read of the one I wrote asking Are VPNs legal in China? You’ll need a VPN if you want to access all your favorite sites and apps on Wi-Fi there.

Main image credit: AndreyCherkasov on Shutterstock.

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Faq about tipping in china, how much do you tip in china.

People don’t tip in China. It’s not part of the Chinese culture. However, in high-class hotels and restaurants that see foreigners, as well as small guided tours, you could tip if you received wonderful service.

Is it common to tip or add gratuity when paying in China?

No, not at all. The Chinese enjoy a tipping-free culture. Some foreigners who stay in high-class hotels and resorts may choose to tip a nominal amount for amazing service. Private or small group tours, that only see foreigners, may expect tips.

If you receive excellent service from a private tour guide, should you tip in US dollars or the local currency?

Tip in the local currency, which is the Chinese yuan (renminbi) in mainland China or the Hong Kong dollar in HK. If you only have foreign currencies, you might get a strange look if you hand something over, with the exception of US dollars. But even then, it’s probably going to cost the person to exchange it, so the local currency is best.

Do you tip for massage in China?

No, there are set prices for massage in China and you don’t tip. The only exception to this would be if you receive a massage at luxury class hotel in China, and you felt that the service was incredible. Only then might it be appropriate, but check if a service fee is already included on the bill. The locals do not tip for massage.

Do you tip for a haircut in China?

No, people don’t tip hairdressers in China.

Should Western travelers expect better service if they tip in China?

No, foreign travelers shouldn’t expect great service if they tip. Tipping practices are different in China (i.e. virtually non-existent) compared to other countries like the US. Most service workers, especially outside the bigger cities, don’t understand that outstanding service may result in tips from foreigners because it’s not part of the culture. It’s a different story in Hong Kong though, where it may be worth tipping service workers at upscale hotels and upscale restaurants for outstanding service, especially if you’re a repeat customer.

Commercial relationship disclosure: The Helpful Panda has commercial arrangements with organizations that may appear on this page, such as affiliate links. See our terms for more info.

Mike Cairnduff

Mike Cairnduff

Mike has lived and worked in China, and has traveled extensively across the country. He loves Chinese food and has a keen interest in Chinese culture. You can follow him on X and LinkedIn .

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What is the new etiquette for tipping?

Stacey Vanek Smith

An illustration created out of paper of an iPad featuring a screen offering many options to tip, including "15%, 20%, 25%, $2, $3, 10%" and "no tip." On the ground next to the machine are a few other options "$1" and "$6" this illustrates the ubiquity of tipping culture and the many options during a transaction that can feel confusing.

What are the new rules for tipping?

Businesses that never seemed to ask for a tip before — like grocery stores, self-checkout machines and fast food restaurants — are now asking for one these days.

While some of our experts say much of the etiquette remains the same (for example, if you're not sure about who or how much to tip, don't be afraid to ask), there are a few new variables to keep in mind.

How to deal with unexpected tip requests

If a business you don't expect to ask for a tip is suddenly asking you for a tip, what should you do?

It's up to you to decide whether or not to tip and how much. But Shubhranshu Singh , a marketing professor at Johns Hopkins University, likes to leave a 10% tip. If an establishment is asking for a tip, it's often an indication that the workers there are not getting paid a minimum wage. So it's good to err on the side of leaving something.

Beware of 'screen pressure'

Some businesses load their payment systems with default minimum tip options of more than 20%. If you don't want to give that much, don't worry about holding up the line to take an extra moment to select the "custom tip" option, says Singh.

To tip or not to tip? 3 reasons why tipping has gotten so out of control

To tip or not to tip? 3 reasons why tipping has gotten so out of control

When in doubt, ask.

If you're not sure whether you should tip or how much, simply ask the person who is serving you, says Singh. He shares some helpful questions:

  • What is the minimum and subminimum wage in your state?  If the subminimum wage is low, your tip will help the employee make a livable wage. If there is no subminimum wage, tips are actually gratuity. 
  • Do you keep your whole tip?  Some payment systems like Square take a portion of the tip, so that may be a factor in how much you decide to leave behind. 
  • How can I make sure you're getting my tip?  Some businesses might not be tipping the person you think your money's going to.    

If you don't feel comfortable asking these questions, Singh says you can always tip in cash. "Then you know you are giving that person money right there."

Don't forget to tip people who you might not have a direct interaction with, like hotel housekeepers, says Singh.

Why tipping culture has changed

Tipping expectations have grown over the past few years. According to a 2023 Pew Research survey of nearly 12,000 adults in the U.S., about 72% say they are being asked to tip service workers more frequently than in the past. And only about a third say it's "extremely or very easy" to know when and how much to tip.

One of the reasons is the pandemic. We started tipping people we didn't use to tip and tipping more than usual as a way to support essential workers at a time of crisis, Singh.

At the same time, the technology around how we pay has changed, says Singh. Square, the company behind many electronic payment screens gets a cut of each transaction, including the tip . So creating software that encourages tipping (and encourages big tips) means more money for companies like Square.

Tipping is also a way to pay workers more without actually raising their wages. It allows restaurants to get more money to workers while still keeping their prices low, says Sean Jung , a professor at Boston University's School of Hospitality Administration.

Why we tip in America

In the U.S., we have a two-tier wage system, says Sylvia Allegretto , a senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research who has done extensive research on wages and tipping. "We have minimum wages and then we have subminimum or cash wages paid to workers who are tipped."

There's the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, but every state has the ability to set their own minimum wage. Some states have minimum wages that are more than twice that.

There's also a subminimum wage. That is a wage some service workers get paid that is below minimum wage. The idea is that workers earn a subminimum wage and then customer tips make up the difference to get workers up to minimum wage.

The Land of the Fee


The land of the fee.

When deciding how much to tip, it can be helpful to look up the minimum and subminimum wages of your state, says Allegretto. The think tank Economic Policy Institute has a wage tracker that can help you find this information.

The tip you leave for a server in one state might mean something different to a server in another. In Washington state, for example, the minimum wage is more than $16 an hour and there is no subminimum wage for workers like servers. Meanwhile in Tennessee, the subminimum wage is $2.13 — so your server is probably counting on the extra change you leave for your pie and coffee.

The podcast version of this story was produced by Audrey Nguyen . The digital story was written by Malaka Gharib and edited by Clare Marie Schneider. The visual editor is Beck Harlan. We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at [email protected] .

Listen to Life Kit on Apple Podcasts and Spotify , and sign up for our newsletter .

Correction March 29, 2024

A previous version of this story incorrectly said that some payment systems like Square take a portion of the tip. While Square charges a fee based on the whole transaction, including tip, a representative from Square says the worker still gets the full amount of their tip.

  • minimum wage

do you tip tours by locals

7 things that might surprise you about the Chicago Architecture Boat Tour

T here are plenty of ways to take in the sights, sounds (and smells) of Chicago, but you don't necessarily have to be on land to do that.

And you don't have to be a tourist, either.

In fact, one of the most beloved ways — among locals and visitors alike — to experience city is by journeying across the Chicago River and Lake Michigan while a tour guide talks about buildings and regales you on the untold story of Mrs. O'Leary's cow.

In other words: a Chicago Architecture Boat Tour.

"As you're going up and down the Chicago River and on Lake Michigan, you're seeing the city’s evolving architecture, which is changing every year" said Andrew Sargis, director of sales and marketing for Wendella Tours and Cruises .

Wendella, billed as Chicago's "original" architecture tour, in 1935 gave its first architecture tour of the city from a wooden diesel yacht out on Navy Pier, Sargis said. Now, upwards of 20 architecture tours are offered daily, with more on the weekends. On average, Wendella tours see roughly 100,000 passengers each month over the summer, Sargis said.

And though the majority of guests on any given Wendella architecture tour are tourists, Sargis said, locals take them, too.

MORE: Even Chicagoans can't get enough of this tourist attraction: ‘It's about the only touristy thing I do'

"I was surprised when I first started, we get a lot of repeat locals," Bobby Scheffle, a Wendella tour guide told NBC Chicago. "And always there's a lot of local people that come on when they have guests visiting them in town. They like to show off the city this way."

But there's something else about the experience that makes it so very Chicago.

"I think it is really unique to experience the city from a boat on a river, because we think about other big cities in the United States -- there aren't many that have a river that go right through downtown," Scheffle said. "You feel like you're in the city, you hear the noise, and you see the buildings and all that."

Whether you're taking the ride for the first time or the 50th, bringing out-of-town guests out for a memorable activity or just itching to be a tourist in your own city, here are seven things to know about the Chicago Architecture Boat Tour.

Will weather stop a tour from running?

Wendella's architecture tours run year-round, Sargis said, although "weather is a factor."

Weather events like ice on the river or significant snowfall can impact operations, Sargis said, but they typically don't, since the Chicago River -- a federal waterway -- must remain navigable year-round.

While Wendella's boats do have climate-controlled indoor lounges, tours during the winter may run at limited times. But rain, snow, extreme heat or wind, unflappable Chicagoans still show up.

"We went on drizzly day a few years ago," Kathy Rambo wrote on NBC Chicago's Facebook page. "There were only about 10 of us on the boat!

And most often, the tour will run — rain or shine — so don't hesitate to bring a raincoat.

"I have certainly [given tours] under thunderstorms and downpours, and I've gotten drenched sometimes," Scheffle said. "I've never had a tour get canceled because no one bought a ticket. There's always someone wanting to come out here in the rain or the cold."

What's the best time of year (or day) to go?

It depends on when exactly your favorite time of the year is, and what you're hoping to see.

For Sargis, it's late summer. "There's this point of time in September when the weather is beautiful, but there's not that summer rush."

There are other times that Chicagoans may want to consider, too.

"St. Patrick's Day Celebration when they dye the river, and any Wednesday or Saturday night [over the summer], watching the fireworks over Lake Michigan , especially if you're local" Sargis said.

During the summer months, Wendella's tours run start as early as 9 a.m., with the day's final tour not ending until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., Scheffle said, "so if you want to come for a ride to see the city lights, you can come late, and it's also beautiful, just a little more difficult to see the colors on the buildings if that's what you want to see."

Laura Pubins, who lives in a suburb outside of Chicago, agrees.

"My favorite one was when we were on a boat at sunset," Pubins wrote to NBC Chicago on Facebook. "It was an awesome new view of the city."

What's the most photogenic spot on the tour?

For Sargis, it's "anything out on Lake Michigan," with the skyline in the background.

On the river though, there's one moment that captures the city best, Scheffle said, no matter what time of day you're taking the trip.

"The best place to take a photo on the 90-minute river tour is when we come up the south branch from Chinatown," Scheffle said. "That's the best place because you get the whole skyline from the south. It's really beautiful."

For locals though, it may not be what you're looking at, so much as how you're looking at it.

"You're looking at [the city] from underneath," said Chicago resident Nick Pappas, 55, who recently found himself on a 90-minute river tour. "It's just a different perspective on the river that you don't get on the street level. As amazing as that sounds, you're only, like, 20 feet down, but it gives you a whole different perspective."

What does the training for a tour guide look like?

According to Sargis, all Wendella tour guides are trained in-house -- and the spots are competitive.

"There's high demand," Sargis said, of the position. "There are more people that want to be tour guides than space available. It's certainly a popular job, and people want to do it." While the tour guide of any given architecture tour isn't made public, many people do request certain ones for private events, Sargis said.

For the tours, there's a general script, with highlights that must be mentioned, Sargis said. But improvisation, along with sharing personal history is encouraged, too.

"All of the tour guides have their own experience in the city, and will add parts of their history in it," Sargis said. "We have a tour guide that is a retired police officer, and he will interject anecdotes form his career. We have a tour guide that's a Vietnam War Veteran, and when we go by the Vietnam War Memorial, he will always discuss the importance of it to him."

For Scheffle, the training included joining multiple tours a week for two weeks and flashcards.

"For a while, I, just drove Uber and Lyft," Scheffle said. "And then, I remembered that I really liked Chicago. I like learning fun facts about it. And there are people in the city that have that as a job -- to tell people fun facts about Chicago and I started looking into tourism jobs in the city."

What's the most common question tour guides get?

Believe it or not, it's not always about The Great Chicago Fire , or Mrs. O'Leary and her cow, at least on Scheffle's tours.

"My favorite thing on the tour that happens is probably when little kids ask questions," Scheffle said. "The common question that a kid will ask, because I talk about the tallest building, second tallest building, third tallest building, a lot of times a kid will ask what's the shortest building in Chicago? Which I don't have a good answer for."

Are you supposed to tip your guide?

"It's up to the discretion of the client," Sargis said. "I would say a lot of our passengers do tip our tour guides."

What's the absolute best part of the tour?

Sure the tour is photogenic, and the city's history is fascinating. And though some may go on the tour to find out what buildings are new, others prefer to think about the old.

"My favorite building to talk about is probably the Board of Trade building," Scheffle said. "Just because I remember walking by it much younger and always, I remember, really being impressed by it, thinking was such a cool big city building."

For a local on the tour, the memories are nice. But a day out on the water in Chicago is just hard to beat.

"It's great. I don't have to work," said Pappas, who has lived in the city for 55 years. "Every time, it's a little treat to go down the river."

Video editors Ivonne Ramirez and DS Shin produced and created the video for this story.

The Reid Murdoch Building and Chicago River in Chicago, Illinois, United States, on October 16, 2022. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


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  18. What Do You Tip A Tour Guide

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    It's up to you to decide whether or not to tip and how much. But Shubhranshu Singh, a marketing professor at Johns Hopkins University, likes to leave a 10% tip. If an establishment is asking for a ...

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    Tours: For guided tours, tipping amounts typically range from €3 to €5 for shorter tours, and €10 to €20 for full-day excursions. Hair Stylist: Between 5%-10% of the final bill is appropriate.

  26. 7 things that might surprise you about the Chicago Architecture Boat Tour

    During the summer months, Wendella's tours run start as early as 9 a.m., with the day's final tour not ending until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., Scheffle said, "so if you want to come for a ride to see the ...