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Tipping in India

I recently got asked about tipping in India. Here’s the actually question.

I found your website on line…thank you so much for all your honest and easy information. I am going to India at the end of this month and will stay for 2 weeks at an ashram and am then traveling around for 11 days with a tour company called India by Car. My question for you is what is traditional and acceptable tipping in India…for example, at hotels, for the company driver, the cab driver etc. I want to be respectful but not flashy. Do you have any suggestions as to day tips for the driver or at the hotel? Is it a day trip or a percentage? How is it best to figure out a fair tip?

Here’s my guide to giving tips in India

People who serve you expect tips in India. In fact, tipping in India is normal and expected by the driers, waiters, porters, bell boys, cleaners etc. Tips in India are called “baksheesh”. I personally believe that tipping has always been a part of Indian culture – we expect to receive tips and give tips. If you are a tourist from Europe and USA then you are expected to give generous tips. Indians tourists also give tips but are generally stingier. Here’s my guide to giving tips in India.

Tips at the restaurant

Tipping at restaurants in India

Stick to 10% rule for tipping at restaurants in India.

I don’t like tipping at restaurants. Not only you have to pay for the food and then you have to pay a tip as well – doesn’t feel right to me. In addition, who knows where the tips go? But out of courtesy, I do dish out a few Rupees for those are serving me.

Travel camera - Nikon D5100 16.2MP

Travel camera – The Nikon D5100 16.2MP

Here’s my guide on tipping at Indian restaurants. If I am in an average restaurant then I usually tip around Rs 50. But the thing is being Indian; I can get away with that. If you’re a foreign tourist then the waiters are going to expect a bit more than that. I suggest you stick at Rs 100 which would be around 1 British pound or around 1.7 American dollars. Let’s say you get a bill of Rs 1000 then in my opinion Rs 100 is a decent enough tip. If you are in an expensive hotel, then you will perhaps have to tip more. But all in you can stick with the usual 10% rule. In one restaurant in Paharganj area of Delhi, I didn’t like the food that much and the service was way too slow so I tipped the man who served me (looked like the manager) a mere Rs 10. In some restaurants, waiters are very nice and do a good job and I do tip them generously.

Some restaurants in Delhi and Mumbai charge something called a ‘service charge’ of around 15% to 20% which is a government levied tax. It’s a rip-off if you ask me. So if you see something like that on the bill then no tip is expected. The general rule in my opinion is about 10% of the total bill is ideal. But there is no hard and fast rule; you can give whatever you feel like. If you don’t like the food, or if the service is slow and the staffs are not polite – don’t give them much, they don’t deserve it.

Tips at hotels

Tipping the bell boy for room service

Tipping the bell boy for room service. I ordered my dinner and tipped the bell boy around Rs 20 for bringing the food to my room.

Tipping in hotels is the most confusing of them all. Many a times it’s “to give or not to give” kind of situation. Most of the tipping here will be for the bell boys who will do the room service for you and those who are carrying your luggage.

The tip here will depend if you are going to be ordering room service during your stay and the type of hotel you are staying in.

Essential Hindi Words And Phrases For Travelers To India

Essential Hindi Words And Phrases For Travelers To India

Let’s assume you are staying in a hotel in Delhi with a tariff of up to Rs 4000 per night, then in this case you can tip around Rs 10-30 per small little tasks. (Mind you, they will be lucky if I tip them more than Rs 20 for every job they do for me but that’s me). Similarly for those bringing tea in your room, you can tip around Rs 10/20 which is more than enough. If you are staying in slightly more expensive hotels up to Rs 10,000 per night, then again expect to tip around Rs 30-50 for every small job. Let’s says you order dinner and the room service boy bring the food in for you in the room, so the tip here could be around Rs 20 to Rs 30 and Rs 30-50 for the lower budget and higher budget hotels respectively.

Those helping you bring your luggage to your rooms are expected to be tipped. I prefer to tip these boys because they are the ones who actually deserve a bit of money after the hard work they have do for you. I would tip around Rs 10-20 per suitcase. So let’s say the bell boy carries around 3 suitcases to and from your room then do tip them around 50 to 60 Rupees. If there are two bell boys doing the task then tip them individually depending on how many they have carried.

Now don’t go around tipping every time anyone comes up to you. Many hotels don’t expect you tip all the time to their staff. So when you leave then tip those around you.

Tips for paid guides

Tipping in India Guide

No need to tip guides doing group tours. Can you see me in the picture?

Many tourists books holidays where the guides are pre-booked. This means that you don’t have to pay them anything. But I usually tip around additional Rs 100 if it’s a pre-paid guided tour and if they have already been paid. You could tip up to Rs 200 if you feel like. If it’s a guided group tour then don’t give anything.

Tips to auto and taxis

Tipping drivers in India

There is no need to tip taxi or auto-rickshaw drivers in India

If you get a taxi or an auto on the road then there is no need tip them. No “keep the change” kind of stuff. I usually take all my change unless it’s a mere 1 or 2 Rupees.

But if you book a taxi from the hotel for the whole day and you have already paid for it at the hotel then a tip of Rs 100 to Rs 200 to the driver is more than enough – that is if you want to. I tip around Rs 100.

No tips at the hairdressers or bars

Tipping in a bar India

Take your drink and enjoy. No need to tip at the bar. Me in a bar during Christmas time.

We don’t tip hairdressers in India. The fees include everything. It you happen to be in a bar in India then there no need to tip the bar tender like you do in the USA.

Finally

But all in all, don’t worry too much about the percentages. I usually give Rs 100 to guides and day-drivers. But they expect more from foreigners so I suggest you stick with my recommendations. But don’t flash money around. The more you give, the more will be expected from you.

But be human and generous, the people who are serving us deserves the most but sadly they get the least. The money makers are the hotels and the travel agencies so do think about those who are serving you, a few dollars to them will earn you good karma. I hope my tipping in India guide will be useful for your trips in India and if you had any further questions on tipping feel free to ask me a question below.

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32 Responses to “Tipping in India”

  1. Hi Shalu,

    That was a wonderful guide on all about tipping in India :)

    Yes, as much as I hate tipping in so many places, ones expected to do it as its become second nature to our country and people expect it – more so from foreigners. Some of them are very generous and will give large amounts, so the person on the other side starts asking for more – so just be careful there.

    There isn’t any hard and fast rule, though we generally follow the simple rule that if we eat in a place where the rates are high, we pay a little more than in simple hotels, where you can get away paying less.

    For the guided tours, sometimes even those guides take money on the quiet, even if you have paid for it, and we once complained of this issue too – some people are like that.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead :)
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  2. Prasad Np says:

    Hi Shalu: You are right, Tipping in India is a complicated matter, more so because you don’t know if the money will reach the right person or not. It becomes even more complicated when you pay by Credit Card, as I am not sure if the management passes the money to the service staff or not. So even if I pay my bill by credit card I tip always in Cash. This helps in making sure the guys get the money.
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  3. Payal Bansal says:

    You came up with a really nice topic. Tipping in India has become a sideline free way to earn money, specially when the person in front is not from India. The post is definitely going to help many foreigners coming to India.
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  4. Agness says:

    We don’t really tip at restaurants as our budget is so tight, but when the staff are amazing and we really enjoy the food, we leave some change on the table. Hope to make it to India soon to dig into a curry or samosas.

  5. I have rarely had my first few meals anywhere outside the US alone. I always ask from my hosts/colleagues what the custom or norms are.
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  6. Great guide- I\’ve been here (India) over a year and still am not sure what to tip! Yesterday I got my eyebrows threaded for 20 rs but no one had change, so she got a 80 rs tip! In my mind 100 rs for threading was still a good deal, but tipping is hard to figure out here. I wasn\’t sure about street food and usually that is when I do not tip.
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  7. Ruchi says:

    What a nice post about tipping in India. I think it would be very useful specially for foreign tourists who don’t know what and how much to tip where.
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  8. Janit says:

    Hey Shalu,

    One more tip on tips – some of the bills have service charge included in the bill itself. This usually indicates that you need not pay extra for tipping the waiters.
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  9. Jasmine says:

    Hey Ms. Shalu,

    Great Post on Tipping! Yes, tipping is a big business in India. Everybody from auto drivers to gas delivery boys expects tips. I think tipping is not all bad if they use this money for good, not for buying beedis or stuff like that. I’ve seen some auto drivers who demands a hefty amount from foreigners but they also acts smartly and bargains well in the end..lol. :D
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  10. Samfrank says:

    Tipping in India is typically referred to as ‘baksheesh’ and is generally just a small token of your appreciation for good service. You will find that Indians very rarely tip and in fact some of them are rude and insult people of a lower caste and expect top service and show off especially if they have money , so if you want to do what locals do, then don`t tip, if you want to be generous to all that wait on you then then 50 or 60 rupees especially if you use the same restaurant frequently, the staff are usually nice to Brits because we are usually polite and they are very grateful

  11. Shakil says:

    Good Tips, Sometime tips in hotels and restaurants make trouble for people who didn’t know about it! Most of Indians in small towns didn’t give tips to any waiters. But they expect from foreigners.

  12. Disha Sharma says:

    Very nice and interesting post about India ! This is something true about India !

  13. Hi Shalu,

    What an interesting post about tipping in India! Here in the U.S. We tip for just about everything…at least I do!

    Wherever I go, if the service is good, I do leave a good tip. Especially in Restaurants and Hairdressers. I guess I want them to remember me for better service next time I visit.

    Thanks for the information and the lovely pictures.

    -Donna

  14. mmahessh says:

    I think tips are paid when some one pleases us and take extra care of us and when we are really happy with their services i think paying tips will really boost the working capacity of any individual in type of services they are providing thanks a lot
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  15. Emmanuel says:

    When it comes to the best blog concerning traveling, the Shalu Sharma can’t be in any way be left out.

    This was an interesting Madam Shalu. Please keep on doing what you do best.
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  16. Thanks for the tipping guide. I’d been to India, and indeed, I found it hard to know how much to tip the service people I’d met.
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  17. Anna says:

    Very informative piece, and very helpful since tipping culture varies wildly all over the world! I will definitely keep what you’ve written in mind for when I eventually go to India.
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  18. Prerna says:

    Very unique article.I think giving tips has actually gained lot of popularity in India these days. It was not so popular except in restaurant..bt now people give from their side itself, if they feel pleased from someone’s behavior.
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