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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 in South Africa is a common practice; the country runs on tourism with many workers in the service and hospitality industry. Most of the time employees do not earn a large salary and most of them rely heavily on tips in order to support their families. Tipping in South Africa, even if it is only a small amount shows your appreciation for the service received. Tipping is determined by the type of experience and service you received and the amount is up to your discretion.

The following guide gives you an idea of general amounts tipped in certain industries, you can always tip higher if you receive outstanding or lower if your expectations were not met.

Currency: Can I pay in U.S. dollars, or should I use South African Rand?

The official units of currency in South Africa are the Rand (R or ZAR), one Rand is made up of 100 cents. US dollars are not accepted; make sure to exchange your dollars for Rand before or upon entering South Africa. ATMs can be found all over the city and most banks are open from 9 am until 3:30 pm during the week and from 9 am to 11 am on Saturdays.

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

Restaurant employees earn the minimum wage in South Africa, which does not add up to much; therefore they rely on their tips to make a living. Leaving a tip of 10 – 20% of your total bill is pretty standard in the restaurant industry. Be sure to check your bill as there may already be a service charge of up to 10% already included, this occurs automatically with parties of six or more. It is not necessary to tip anything above the service charge included.

Hotel Staff: Who should I tip?

Hotel Staff in South Africa usually receives part of a total tip which is distributed among staff members, when the hotel automatically adds the standard 10% on top of your total bill. If you wish to tip a specific staff member you should give this amount to the staff member personally or leave it in a marked envelope.

Generally, in hotels, the porters will receive R20 – R100 per bag. Housekeeping R20 – R50 per day.

Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?

A standard taxi driver in South Africa will appreciate any gratuity that you leave after your journey. You can round up to the nearest R10 – R20 or 10% of the total fare. Minivan taxis in South Africa do not receive tips.

Tour Guides: Is a tip required?

There are plenty of tour operators in South Africa and it is good etiquette to tip these individuals. Leaving a tip for the tour guide as well as a driver at the end of your tour is recommended, anything from R100 – R200 per person per day is a good example to follow and 10% of the total cost of the tour to the driver.

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

Petrol attendants: In South Africa petrol/gas stations have attendants that fill up your tank, clean your windscreen, check your fluids and take your payment. Tipping these attendants is up to you, but generally, people leave R2 – R5 for their friendly and helpful services.

Car guards: Expect to find car guards anywhere you park in South Africa. These guards will assist you in parking and watch over your car in exchange for a tip, use your discretion when dealing with car guards as they are required to wear a reflective bright colored vest indicating they are employed by the city (many are not). You can leave anywhere from R2 – R5 for valid attendants.

Spas: Tipping at a spa in South Africa is not common practice, but you can always use your discretion and if tipping is allowed you can leave anywhere from 10 – 15% of your total bill.

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.