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Tipping etiquette in Peru

Tipping in Peru

Where, when and how much should you tip

Peru hasn’t got a tipping culture or obligation as we know them from other countries and usually Peruvians aren’t accustomed to show their appreciation for a wonderful service by leaving a tip. Only with increased tourism and developments in the service sector a tipping etiquette evolved and tipping became widely accepted and partly expected, especially in tourism and service-related areas.

So, if you are happy with a service give a tip, but please consider the local situation and customs basing the amount on Peruvian standards and not those from back home. Hopefully, our below recommendations will help you understand the Peruvian tipping etiquette and guide you through the tricky field of where and when to tip how much.

Important general information about tipping in Peru

  • Only tip because you want to show your appreciation for a good or outstanding service and not because you feel obliged to!
  • Do not base your tip on percentages used in your home country or amounts expected back home. Consider that the monthly (!) minimum wage in Peru - and that is more or even less what people earn in low-level jobs in the service and tourism sector - is S/ 1025 (around US$ 267). That means just about US$ 10 a day! While a tip is of course appreciated and unfortunately often necessary to supplement a lousy income, please don't overdo it.
  • Only tip in cash (don’t have the tip added to your credit card bill!) and in local currency (always have enough coins and small notes on you). This way you are more flexible and can make sure that the person you want to thank for their excellent service receives your tip immediately and doesn’t have to worry about not getting it or late or only after exchanging it.

Below now some recommendations on where and when to tip how much. Please see these only as general guidance introducing you to local customs and giving you a general idea. Special circumstances or situations should be considered additionally.

Tipping in Peruvian hotels

In mid-range to high-end hotels you will find a service charge of 10% added to your bill. This service charge can be considered as a tip for the hotel staff. By Peruvian law it is divided equally between all (!) staff members from gardener, cleaning crew and bellboy, to cooks, helpers and servers, to housekeeping and security to administration and paid out monthly.

So generally additional tipping is not expected, in a few hotels even flatly rejected, in others of course highly appreciated.

If you want to tip additionally in a better hotel, the doormen for example will appreciate a tip for helping with your luggage. Appropriate is S/ 3 - S/ 5 per bag. If he or she was extremely helpful, for example, with giving you recommendations on places to visit or in any other way S/ 5.00 is reasonable. 

Additional tipping of the housekeeping staff is not really common. However, for excellent service a tip is of course welcome. Appropriate is S/ 3 per day. As especially in larger hotels, room-maids work in different shifts and are allocated different rooms on a daily or weekly basis, make sure you tip the right one. Be as well aware that depending on hotel policies, money left in the room after your departure might be considered "forgotten by the guest" and will end up in the "Lost & Found" of the hotel. The finder, in this case the room-maid, only gets it after about 90 days if the guest don't claim it.

Depending as well on hotel policies tipping after using other services offered in top hotels, such as spa, massages, manicure, pedicure, hair dresser, etc. is uncommon and rejected, accepted or welcome. Best check with the receptionist.

Tipping in budget hotels, hostels or backpacker places, however, is absolutely uncommon. If it makes you feel better, you can tip the housekeeping staff a couple of soles for a longer stay and if someone was extremely helpful, a Sol or two is more than enough.

Tipping in Peruvian restaurants, bars & cafes

Over the past years, especially high-end gastronomic establishments adopted the policy of adding the service charge (the one already mentioned above under hotels) of 10% to sometimes even 15% to the bill. So, if you find this service charge on your bill, additional tipping isn't expected. However, you can honor an excellent or even outstanding service with an extra tip of not more than 5%.

If the service charge isn't added to your bill a 10% tip for the server is appropriate in mid-range to high-end restaurants.

In rustic restaurants, whole-in-the-wall-places, at food stands in markets or on the street, it is uncommon to leave a tip. But if the "culinary experience" or the service were extraordinary leave at least the change or a few Soles.

In bars and cafes, where the service charge usually isn't added to your bill, it's appropriate to tip a Sol or two per drink. However, if you as well ordered food best tip between 5% for a good service to max. 10% for an outstanding service.

Tipping taxi drivers in Peru

Taxis in Peru do not have meters and if you take one on the street, prices are negotiated before getting into the car, while taxi services such as Uber have fixed prices. Tipping the driver is not only unusual but as well uncommon even if you are stuck in traffic or have to take a detour and the journey takes twice as long as usual. There is no re-negotiation of the price and the drivers know that and don't expect a tip.

But you might come across one of those nice and friendly drivers helping you and giving you an extraordinary service; or you have one of those super communicative drivers that are interested in discussing god and the world with you or are honestly interested in your stories as a traveler. We had lawyers, engineers, architects, cops... as taxi drivers that were trying to get a couple of bucks on the side using the family car.

So if you have the luck to meet one of those very special persons making sure you are safe and have a very special and enjoyable drive, you can show your appreciation by leaving S/ 2 to S/ 3 as a tip. But remember, Peruvians never ever tip a taxi driver...

And when you use a mototaxi, common, for example, in the outskirts of Lima or the Peruvian jungle, tipping isn't expected or necessary.

Tipping guides in museums and cultural sites

Guides in museums and at cultural sites usually expect a tip. Depending on the duration, the group size (and how many people in the group tip) and of course the quality of the tour an appropriate tip for a guided tour of a museum or cultural site is around S/ 5 per hour. However, only tip if you feel your guide did a good job and has been enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge.

Tipping tour guides in Peru

If you take part in a shared tour and you would like to tip your tour guide for a job well done about S/ 10 to S/ 20 is appropriate for a half-day tour, while S/ 30 to S/ 40 for a full-day excursion. When the service was outstanding and the tour guide has gone way beyond, you can adjust the mentioned amounts. And please don't forget to tip the driver of the bus that has safely managed the crazy traffic bringing you from site to site (hardly anybody does that, assuming the tour guide will share) - S/ 5 to S/. 10 (half day - full day) will do the trick.

On private tours S/ 30 to S/ 35 for a half-day tour and S/ 50 to S/ 60 is a reasonable tip; for excellent service tip a few Soles more and as well don't forget the driver.

Tipping porters, cooks and guides on hiking and trekking tours

When you book a multi-day hiking or trekking tour, usually the tour operator advises on the tipping policies and expected amounts.

Generally speaking, on multi-day tours it is common practice that the tips are collected from all participants of the group and then the staff, which hopefully made your tour an unforgettable experience, is given a share of the total in three groups (porters, cooks and guides) at the end of the trip. However, some companies prefer that each porter, each cook and each guide is tipped individually to avoid unfair distribution of the tips.

Depending on the duration of the trip, the number of participants in your group and of course the service received you should plan to spend at least S/ 150 to S/ 300 per person on tips.

On the classic 4 days/3 nights Inka Trail the combined tips of all members of your group should be enough that each porter receives S/ 40 to S/ 80 (yes, I know, having seen how hard they work more would be appropriate), the head cook S/ 150 to S/ 200, if applicable, the assistant cook S/ 80 - S/ 120, the head guide S/ 300 to S/ 400 and, if applicable, the assistant guide S/ 150 to S/ 250.

Tipping in Peru at other places

As mentioned above, Peru's tipping culture isn't strong and at many other places you would tip back home, you just don't do it in Peru or not to the extent.

Porters at the airport offering their service and helping you with your luggage expect a tip. That's most probably their only income, but don't overdo it; a sol or two per bag is appropriate.

The same applies to taking photos with the lovely indigenous women or cute kids in their traditional costumes. They most probably rely on your tips to survive. For a long time a Sol or two was reasonable, but "prices", especially in areas highly frequented by tourists, went up a bit. So best ask them what they expect.

At gas stations, the guy filling up your tank doesn't expect a tip. However, if he checks the tire pressure or cleans the windscreen, you can show your appreciation with a sol or two.

The "normal" hairdresser, manicurist or pedicurist around the corner as well doesn't expect a tip. Most Peruvians don't even think about leaving there a little something for a good service. But if you want to show your appreciation a few Soles are usually welcome. On the other hand, the more luxurious the salon or spa gets, the more often a tip is expected. 5% to a max. of 10% is reasonable.

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