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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. Tipping in India can be confusing for tourists because unlike the US where tips are expected everywhere, tipping here is entirely voluntary so do not feel obligated to leave a gratuity.

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.

`Baksheesh` is the word for tipping in India, however, it is not a common practice and most areas of the service industry do not expect to receive tips. However, it is always nice to leave a small gratuity in the local currency if you receive good service and are happy. Tipping is not compulsory by any means but leaving a gratuity is regarded as a nice gesture.

`Baksheesh` is also something you will hear from beggars on the streets! Clearly, they have not provided you with a service and you will hear this request many times from many people and can refuse at any time.

In the tourist towns tipping is becoming more common and is sometimes expected from the local workers if you are a tourist. Some areas of the country are becoming more `Westernized` as far as tipping is concerned which can definitely make it confusing for visitors. So you may be confused as to whether or not to tip in India, here are some general guidelines on tipping while in the country.

Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars, or should I use the Indian Rupee?

The units of currency in India are the Indian Rupee (R) US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for Rupees upon arrival. Currency exchanged 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?

At restaurants in India, it is recommended to check your bill for a service charge or added gratuity which is normally capped at 10%. If you find a service charge there is no need to leave an additional tip, however, keep in mind that the management is not required to share any of this amount with the wait staff. A general rule of thumb when tipping in restaurants in India is to leave about 10% of the total bill and it is always best to hand the gratuity directly to your server. There are different styles of restaurants in the country and the tipping etiquette does vary, for street food stalls there is no tipping required, if you pay for food or snacks that costs less than R300 then 10% is satisfactory and in higher-end restaurants where the total bill ranges from R300 – R1000 you can tip between 7 – 10%.

Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?

At hotels in India, tipping can be confusing, to say the least, there are a lot of staff members at hotels in India, but it is not customary to tip them all. Leaving R20-50 per bag for the bell boy should suffice and remember do not allow someone to grab your bags if you do not want to tip them, they will expect it. Housekeeping should be tipped around R100 per person/per night. And the concierge should receive a generous amount around R200-300. Sometimes hotels may have a tip box where the money is distributed among the staff members.

Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?

Taxi drivers in India don`t usually expect a tip, however, rounding up and leaving the change is a nice gesture. Sometimes when taking a trip, especially to the airport when the fare has been negotiated beforehand, where the amount is rounded up to the nearest hundred, the tip is included in this stated amount.

Tour Guides: Is a tip required?

You should tip your tour guides in India around R200-400 per day if they do a good job. You can always go higher or lower if you are happy or unhappy with the service.

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

Anyone providing a direct service to you in India will appreciate receiving a small tip. Leaving a small amount (around 10%) for the spa staff member that took care of you is a nice gesture.

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.