Imagine yourself enjoying a romantic dinner of Peruvian ceviche with your special someone at the classy Rosa Nautica restaurant as you both admire the vibrant orange, purple, and magenta hues of the sunset over the ocean. After the delicious meal, comes the bill and you ask yourself uncomfortably, “Should I tip or is it included?”
Or, you just completed the rugged, yet ever so rewarding Inca Trail. You snapped some phenomenal pictures of Machu Picchu for that bucket list photo album, and you owe it all to the skill of your experienced tour guide and trekking staff. As you say your final goodbyes, you’re reminded how much they helped you along the way and wonder to yourself, “Should I tip these guys?”
Let’s clear the air, and say that in general, tipping in Peru is a respectable practice and strongly encouraged among travelers. Specifically, you should tip at sit-down restaurants and bars, porters in hotels and airports, tour guide staff and drivers, as well as gas station and bathroom attendants. And of course, if you receive exceptional service it is acceptable to give a little extra. Follow these general tipping guidelines of “DOs” and “DON’Ts” so that you are aware of them on your next Peru adventure.
Before we start, a piece of advice: keep around that small change in Nuevo soles (PEN) or soles (S/) because tipping in coins especially for local services will be essential. As tempting as it may be to tip in USD, it’s actually more of a burden for the recipient(s) to change that to local currency. As of Oct 2016, S/1 equals $0.30 USD.
Tipping Etiquette in Peru
Restaurants and Bars
The first thing you should know about your bill is that gratuity is usually NOT included. If it is, it will likely be at an upscale or chic restaurant, and it will be listed at the bottom of the ticket as a 10% service charge of sorts. Generally speaking, it is customary to tip about 10-15% of the total in sit-down restaurants. Although some restaurants will give you the option of leaving a tip via your credit card, it is more the norm to leave tips in cash, so always have some on hand. Many small, local establishments do not expect a tip, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave a few soles on the table when you leave. If you are at a bar or lounge, it is practical to tip 1 sol (about 35 cents) per drink.
Airports, Hotels and Spas
When you first arrive at the airport or at your hotel, porters will leap into action to help you load a luggage cart or carry your bags. However, this service is not complimentary. Porters and bell hops should be tipped about 2 soles (about 70 cents) per bag. This is a small expense that goes a long way and will definitely make your travels easier. For the most part, tipping hotel staff will depend on the kind of hotel. Budget hotels and local inns don’t see tips as often as the luxury hotels in the larger cities, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tip good service at these local establishments. It will be greatly appreciated by the staff. If you stay in a hotel that is part of a large chain, you should tip the housekeeping 1 to 3 soles (between 35 cents to $1) per day and the porters about 3 soles per bag. If you use the concierge service, it is acceptable to tip between 5 and 10 soles (between $1.75 to $3.50). If you plan to go to the spa, maybe after hiking the Inca Trail, you should generously tip about 1 to 5 soles, or as much as 10 soles for exception service. However, since many spas have different policies and packages, it is best to confirm the tipping etiquette with the front desk beforehand.
Guided Tours and Trekking Staff
It may seem a bit odd, but it is customary to tip your tour guides, tour bus drivers, and trekking staff. For a guided tour, you should tip your guide about 10-30 soles (about $4-$10) per person for a half day tour and 20-60 soles ($7-$20) for a full day tour. Meanwhile, bus drivers expect roughly 10 soles (about $3.50) per day of travel. When trekking the Inca Trail, be sure to tip your porters, cooks, and guides. These staff are the most important part of your trek and are often times underpaid. Depending on the number of staff accompanying your group, we recommend that each hiker tip between 60 and 150 soles (between $20 and $50). Bear in mind, the length of your journey: if your trek covers multiple days, anywhere from 15-20 soles ($5 to $7) per day would also work. The guide will distribute the tips evenly among the staff members at the end of the hike. Tipping after your tour is important because the trekking staff keeps you safe and ensures that you enjoy every second of your trip.
Here are a few recommendations for some other excursions you might do in Peru or the Galapagos:
River cruise: Tipping anywhere between 10 soles and 30 soles per day for good service.
Jungle Guide & Lodge Staff: Tip at the end of the tour. At many jungle lodges there is a tipping box to leave tips that’s divided among the lodge staff. Minimum 70 soles ($20-$25) per day divided between the group.
Galapagos Cruise (Ecuador). Bear in mind that USD is the official currency in Ecuador. As a general rule-of-thumb, we recommend between $10 – $15 USD from each passenger to 1) the guide and 2) the crew per day.
Gas Stations and Public Restrooms
In general, service attendants at gas stations and public restrooms should receive a modest tip. If you rent a car in Peru, when you stop to fill up at a fuel station, you can expect the attendants to pump the gas for you. If you want some extra services such as checking the tire pressure and cleaning the windows, they will gladly do it for a small tip of about 50 centimos (about 20 cents). Similarly, public restroom attendants should receive a 50-centimos tip for toiletries, hygienic paper, and the overall maintenance of the restrooms.
Taxis and Public Transportation
Typically, you don’t tip public transportation personnel, taxi drivers, or mototaxis. The public buses and vans, called micros and combis, cost between 1 and 2 soles depending on where your stop is along the route. However, taxis and mototaxis do not have meters, so you should definitely negotiate the fare before getting in. While it may be tempting to tip if you receive exceptional service, most Peruvians agree it’s just not necessary.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: The best way to ensure safety when taking a taxi in Peru is to only accept fares from vehicles that have a TAXI placard visibly displayed and vehicle numbers written clearly on the side of the car. For additional security, also write down the vehicle’s number for reference. A highly reputable taxi service in Lima is Autotaxi Satelital, and their phone number is 01 355 5555.
Tipping is a great way to show your appreciation for a job well done, as well as help those who are underpaid. Peruvians are hardworking people that are sometimes exploited, and as a responsible traveler, you can provide a little contribution that goes a long way. So make sure to have plenty of coins and small bills so that you will be ready to reward someone’s hard work and attentiveness.
For more information about the currency used in Peru and tipping advice, visit Peru Facts & Info.
Call to chat with an expert travel advisor at Peru For Less to customize your next adventure. And don’t forget to check out our Peru travel specials to popular destinations throughout Peru.