Tipping In India
We at India Someday have now planned nearly 2000 plus trips for people travelling to India. We get a lot of questions about India; its customs, diversity, street food etc. One of the questions that we get asked the most is about tipping in India in different circumstances. This can be used as a rough guide on how much you should be tipping in India depending on the situation or service (like at restaurants, hotel staff and your car drivers). If you do need help with planning your trip, we are happy to help you with candid advice and our own travel experience.
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TIPPING IN India AT A RESTAURANT
India of course has great food and you can choose from street food stalls, to small restaurants, to the high-end experiences. Each of them has a distinctly different tipping etiquette.
For street food no tipping is required. When you pay for a small meal, breakfast or a snack that costs less than 300, a 10% tip is appreciated. If you have small bills handy, you can tip in multiples of INR 10 notes.
On bills ranging between INR 300 to INR 1000, you can tip around 7% to 10% of the bill amount. For example a tip of INR 100 on an INR 1000 bill is a very good tip. You can also tip about INR 70 and that would be fine. On bill amounts above INR 1000, a tip of 5% to 7% is sufficient.
Restaurants now often include a ‘service charge’, not to be confused with ‘service tax’ (which is a government levied tax). No tip is expected if this type of charge is levied. It’s normally capped at 10%.
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TIPPING AT HOTELS
In general, hotels have a vast staff that you don’t necessarily get to meet or cross paths with. For that reason we do always recommend leaving a tip for the entire staff. On average you can tip INR 100 per person/per night at the homestays or hotels you are staying at.
So if you are two adults staying in Delhi for 3 nights, you can tip 2 adults * 3 nights * 100 = INR 600. Note: Exclude restaurant tips from the general tips to the hotel.
Normally at the reception you would find a central tip box or you can ask if they have one. If not, then tip one central person at the reception and indicate you want that tip to go to everyone in the staff.
If you are young, budget travelers or backpackers and want to tip even lower for hotel rooms, that is usually okay.
Homestays and B&Bs will usually bill you for meals and extra services at the end so you can tip them then. Do let them know this tip is for the staff, who do the cooking, cleaning etc. Always leave the tip at the end of the stay and again a little more than INR 100 per person/per night is enough.
Additionally in India there will be times when bellboys (individuals who will carry your luggage to your room) wait for a tip at the door. In these cases you can give them a small tip of INR 10 to 20.
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TIPPING CAR HIRES AND GUIDES
Pick up/drops and day tours
When you are being picked up from an airport/railway station or just being dropped off at an airport/railway station you can tip INR 50 to 100.
If you have a car for a day touring the city, depending on your happiness with the service you can tip between INR 200 to 400. Base this on whether he gave you good local tips on places to eat or monuments to visit and whether he avoided tourist traps.
If you take a taxi or a tuk-tuk (rickshaw) from point A to point B after a rate has been negotiated, a tip is usually not expected. If you’re interested on more info in relation to tuk-tuks, check this guide out.
Multiple day car hire or guide
Many of our trips include multiple day car hires with their own drivers, who accompany you anywhere between a few days to a few weeks.
Base your tip on the number of passengers in this instance.
For 1 or 2 passengers, tip between INR 300 to INR 600 per day. So if you had a driver for four days and were very happy you can tip him INR 2400.
For 3 to 5 passengers, then tip between INR 500 to INR 800 per day.
There have been instances when our guests have been absolutely delighted by their drivers. The driver has taken them to their village or house, told great stories, and overall taken great care of them. Do feel free to tip above this guideline if you feel like your driver deserves it. There is absolutely no issue with that!
You should tip a guide between INR 100 to INR 300 per day depending on your level of satisfaction with the guided tour. If it is a group tour then per person INR 50 to INR 100 is a fair tip.
In terms of tipping guides for a more personalized tour, it really depends on how happy you were with the tour and the service. We suggest a wider price range of INR 300 to INR 1000 (happy to absolutely delighted).
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GOOD TO KNOW
While India doesn’t necessarily have a strong tipping tradition culturally, in most of the tourist towns, tips are expected and frowned upon when not offered. We do recommend tipping at various instances as explained above, but tip higher only when you are very happy with the service. For a more general look at budgeting for your trip to India, this link is a good place to start.
We also encourage tipping higher than the range specified depending on your satisfaction level. This could be in cases where an individual went out of his way for you or in general you feel like the service was excellent and the increase is more than deserved.
If you are in the planning process or are thinking about a trip to India, or it’s already planned but need some help with it, do let us know and we can help you plan your trip.