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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 the wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades.

The questions `when?` and `how much?` that surround tipping can leave some travelers confused, as the practice varies. 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.

Tipping or `Backsheesh` as it is referred to in Egypt is something you will hear requested from anyone who provides you with a service in this country, and sometimes even from individuals who did not provide you with a service.

Tipping is a large part of the service industry culture in Egypt and some service workers may even comment on the amount that you have tipped, or seem disappointed with the amount, stating that the amount is too low, do not feel obligated to tip them anymore and if they make a rude comment, simply take the money back. This is simply part of the culture here, tipping is expected everywhere in Egypt. Tips are a very important part of Egyptian workers lives as they do not receive much in wages, and therefore they depend and rely on their tips to make a living.

Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars, or should I use Egyptian pounds?

The official currency in Cairo is the Egyptian Pound (LE). US Dollars are accepted amongst other currency and also preferred by the locals. You will need to exchange your dollars for pounds upon arrival; there are ATM machines at the airport and throughout downtown Cairo. You can also exchange your money at the local banks and five-star hotels.

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

At restaurants in Egypt there may already be a service charge included in your bill in the amount of 5 - 10%, always be sure to check the bill for a service charge. However, this amount goes to the restaurant and not to your waiter/waitress. The wait staff relies on their tips, so be sure to leave at least an additional 10% and give this to your waiter/waitress.

Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?

At hotels in Egypt, a tip is usually expected by anyone who assists you. You should tip the bellman at least 3 - 5LE per bag, leave the housekeeper between 5 - 10LE a night and around 10 - 20LE for the concierge. Hotels normally add a service charge to your bill, but this amount will not make it to the service staff that relies on tips.

Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?

Although it is not customary to tip your taxi driver in Egypt, they do appreciate tips. Normally a fare will be agreed upon prior to your taxi ride and most times this will include a tip. You can always leave a little extra change or round up to the next dollar.

Tour guides: Is a tip required?

Tipping your tour guide in Egypt is a common practice, there are many sights to see in this country and tour guides provide you with a knowledgeable experience and rely on their tips. If you are taking a full day sightseeing tour you should leave around 50LE for the driver and between 80-100LE for the tour guide, for a half day tour tip around 25LE to the driver and 40 - 50 for the guide. Always check your bill to see if there is already a tip included.

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

If you are visiting a spa in Egypt prepare to tip between 10 - 15% of your total bill for the staff. Bathroom attendants are common in Egypt and you can tip them between 1 - 2LE. If you take a Felucca ride in Egypt tip the captain around 5 - 10LE.

Final Thoughts:

Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. This is also true for hotel staff, however, if you should 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.