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A Basic Guide to Tipping In India

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The colonial rule left the legacy of ‘Baksheesh’ (TIPS) in India, Tipping is a common practice in the tourism industry in the country.

The people in the service industry expect TIPS and happy travellers tip service personnel (like drivers, guides, porters, waiters, etc) as a token of gratitude

But as common as the phenomenon of tipping is around the world, the etiquettes and nuances of it can vary across regions. Customs surrounding tipping are different around the world.

India can be a tricky case when it comes to Tipping!

You do not want to put a dent in your budget nor do you want to come across as stingy. The right tip amount is the sweet spot between not “cheaping out” and splurging excessively.

In this article, we will help you find that sweet spot.

However, the tipping culture is significantly different from that of the West. Our comprehensive guide sheds light on tipping etiquette in India.

Why Should You Tip In India?

The simplest reason why you should tip is to show gratitude.

If you have had a good time due to services rendered by a like a driver, guide or waiter who has made your experience significantly better, it is only basic human characteristic to express your gratitude for it by paying them a certain amount—which in turn will go a long way toward helping them make ends meet.

Secondly, by tipping, you are making sure that the meager income of working-class folks is supplemented.

Bear in mind that India is still a developing country and wages remain relatively lower in comparison to the West. So a few extra dollars from you will go a long way to support families. (At a lot of restaurants and hotels, salaries are low as the workers are expected to make money in TIPS.

Whom Should You Tip? How Much To Tip?

As a general rule of thumb tipping should range from 5-10% of the total amount for most service providers.

BUT if you have been provided exceptional service that has made your day, you can top it up by an extra 2-3%

Now, let us see who you should be tipping in India, how much you should be tipping them and when you should be tipping them.

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Tipping in Indian Restaurants and Street Food Stalls

5-10% of the total bill is a fair amount to tip.

However, restaurants in India can range from smaller street-side budget outlets offering local working-class meals to high-end restaurants serving a more well-off clientele and offering multiple cuisines. So, figuring out how much to tip at different places can be quite confusing.

At street food stalls, you are not expected to give any tips. But we think it is not a bad idea to round up bills to multiples of 10s and let them keep the change.

Suggested Tip:

For a 300 rupee bill at a mid-range restaurant, 20-30 rupees is a fair tip. But if you are dining out at a posh restaurant, then 7-10% for a bill of 1500-2000 INR is considered a reasonable tip.

Bear in mind that some restaurants also charge you a “service charge”, in addition to a service tax. The said service charge (normally capped at 10% of the total bills, covers the tip of the staff. In that case) you are NOT expected to pay any tip.

Generally, it is not customary to tip at street stalls but we think we can round up the number, let’s say a snack costs 15 INR, you can round it up to 20 INR. If the street stall has an extra helper handing out snacks, you can tip them instead (5-10 INR).

Tipping at Hotels in India

It depends on what kind of hotel you are staying at. If you are staying at a LUXURY HOTEL, then you are expected to tip such hotel staff as porters, valets, room service maids, bellboys and front desk employees.

In affordable hotels, you are unlikely to have so many staff looking after you, so you won’t have to pay so many people.

How much you tip them depends upon the quality of service you are provided and of course on your budget. Always keep some cash in multiple of 10s handy.

  • Housekeeping: 10-20 INR
  • Porters/Luggage Attendants: 20 INR per bag
  • Valets: 20 INR

Do you tip at 5-star hotels?

Yes. You are EXPECTED to tip at 5-star hotels. Here is a breakdown of service providers you should consider chipping if your budget allows it.

A lot of upper end/luxury hotels have centralized tipping and they usually make you aware of it at check-in.

Tipping Taxi Drivers in India

  • For shorter rides, just round the number on meter. Let us say, your taxi ride costs around 70-80 INR, than a tip of INR 20 is considered decent, make sure that you agree on a fixed price or meter before you get into a local taxi.
  • If you take a Tuk-Tuk, leaving a small 20-30 Rupee tip over the fare would be generous.
  • If you’ve hired a Taxi for the day, 200-300 is an appropriate amount to TIP.
  • For multiple day car hire,for good service anywhere between 400 – 700 per day specially if your driver is driving you long journeys, A good driver can save you time and be safe too, it would be appropriate tip them at the end of the last day.
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Tipping Tour Guides in India

A good tour guide who is great at his job can make your tour worthwhile. So if a guide has enhanced your travel experience, it is good to show gratitude and tip well.

  • Based on quality of service and knowledge levels anywhere between 500 -1000 per day is appropriate, if you are traveling in a group of over 05 people than INR 300 per person would be enough.
  • If you have accompanying guide (Escorted trip), anywhere between 2000-3000 INR based on the services levels would suffice.

Tipping at a Spa in India

India is one of the best places in the world for a pampering spa experience. Your options range from traditional Indian Ayurveda-inspired healing and wellness programs to modern spas offering Western massage therapies and treatments.

An appropriate TIP USUALLY IS 10% OF THE TOTAL BILL. But if you have been given exceptional service, you can show some generosity and add another couple of 100’s.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TIPPING IN INDIA

Is it customary to tip in India?

Yes, Tipping is an essential part of the tourism and hospitality industry in India, however it is not mandatory.

Whether you tip or not depends upon your budget and how happy you are with the service. If your budget doesn’t permit it, you can choose not to tip.

In general, you are expected to tip at hotels, restaurant, guided tours, free walking tours and private car transfers.

At a RESTAURANT, if you have not been charged a ‘service charge’ on the bill, then leaving a tip worth 5-10% of the total is considered reasonable.

At HOTELS, you can tip the bell-boy who carries your bag (10-20 INR per bag), the concierge and the housekeeping staff (30-50) INR each).

What is the tipping etiquette in India?

It is not mandatory to tip in India, but generally, you are expected to tip service providers like waiters, bellhops, porters, guides and drivers.

Can I tip with US dollars in India?

Yes, it would be okay to tip in Dollars (Carry small bills 1/5/10’s)

Is it polite to tip in India?

Tipping is considered a good gesture to reward good service specially if enhances your travel experience in any way.

How much do you tip a day guide in India?

If a guide has been with you all day on a PRIVATE TOUR, then a tip of 500 -1000 INR based on his/her knowledge and service levels would be enough.

For a group tour, anything between 200 to 300 INR per person is reasonable.

 

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