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.


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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