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In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette which is ingrained in all trades, from wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades. The questions `when?` and `how much?` can leave some travelers confused, as the practice varies. Sometimes restaurants will even display signs which read `Tips Not Accepted` or display it in their menus, and if this is the case, respect the establishment`s wishes and do not tip.

This guide attempts to cover most situations that you, as a tourist, will encounter. Hopefully using these `tips` will provide a smooth experience when interacting with locals in restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators, and taxis.

In Vietnam tipping is not part of the countries culture, but tipping is becoming more common. Visitors are not required to tip for services but tips are greatly appreciated by workers in the service industry, salaries are low for most workers in the country, therefore, tips provide a way for them to earn extra money. US dollars are accepted in Vietnam and can be used for tipping along with the Vietnamese currency the dong. Many services orientated businesses have started adding a service fee to bills that range from 5 - 15% which most likely will not make it to the staff member providing you with their service.

Currency: Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars?

The units of currency in Vietnam are the Vietnamese Dong (VND). US dollars are accepted but it is always better to pay in VND. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?

Some restaurants and cafes today will add a service charge to your bill, this amount ranges from 5 -10% and most of the time will not make it directly to the person that waited on you. Leaving a tip directly with your waiter/waitress is a nice gesture if you have received excellent service, a tip of VND 50,000 - 100,000 (USD$2 - 4) is appropriate but not required. You can also round up the bill to the nearest dollar or leave the change depending on what type of restaurant and their prices. If you are visiting one of the popular street food vendors in Vietnam it is usually recommended to leave a small tip of around VND 20,000 (USD$0.88).

Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?

Today in hotels it is common for the establishment to add a service charge to your bill ranging from 5 - 15% that will normally go straight to the hotel and not to the employee. You are definitely not obligated to tip at hotels but if you receive good service leaving a few dollars for the housekeeper and bellman would be appropriate.

Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?

The common practice for tipping taxi drivers in Vietnam is to round up to the nearest dollar or leave the change, a few dollars is appropriate if you received good service. Always remember when traveling abroad that it is good practice to agree on a final fare before the cab driver begins driving.

Tour Guides: Is a tip required?

In Vietnam tour guides are underpaid and tips are a part of the livelihood. So when taking a tour be sure to tip the guide as well as the driver. A suggested amount is between USD$10 -15 per person and around half that amount for the driver.

Miscellaneous: Is there anyone I should tip that I would not normally?

Tipping in a spa is recommended; services are a lot cheaper here than in the US. A service charge may be added in some upscale spas but leaving an additional tip for the masseuse/therapist is greatly appreciated anywhere between VND 50,000 - 100,000 or 15 - 20% of the total cost of the services received.
Final Thoughts:

Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. Unlike in the U.S., waiters are paid a living wage, and the expectations for tipping are lower in France than in America. This is also true for hotel staff, though if you encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with the manager.

When paying for services in cash (which we generally recommend for services other than your hotel) remember to take your receipt. This is important for two reasons; If you leave a tip on a credit card, the person providing the service may not always get it, and if there is a discrepancy it is important to have your receipt to settle it with the manager of the establishment and to prove that you paid for the service.