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Tipping in Ecuador: Who to Tip and How Much

Read our Ecuador tipping guide for travel tips, frequently asked questions, and tipping etiquette.
Tipping in Ecuador is a general practice. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Tipping in Ecuador is a general practice. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Tipping is a common practice when visiting Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. Luckily, Ecuador is the only country in South America that uses the US dollar as its local currency, so, you won’t be needing your math skills to calculate conversion rates for tipping in Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands

The cost of living in Ecuador averages shy of $2,000 USD a month however, the minimum wage in Ecuador is only $415 USD a month. Meaning your tips go a long way to providing a livable income for Ecuadorians. Generally, wages paid to workers who receive tips get a lower than average minimum wage. The assumption is that tips boost their income. Therefore, it is common practice to tip in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, so continue reading our tipping guide for general rules and tipping etiquette.

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Cash or Credit?

Tipping in Ecuador can be done via credit card or cash, though cash is always preferred. On select cruises, your credit card can pay for tips for the boat crew on your Galapagos cruise and for gratuities when paying restaurant bills. However, internet may be spotty so we recommend tipping in cash. 

Is it necessary to bring money with me to Ecuador for tips?

ATMs in Ecuador are not difficult to find. You’ll even find them on the Galapagos Islands. ATMs in Ecuador dispense money in US currency. You may have to pay a service fee for using the machine. Smaller denominations are always handy to have on you. Arriving with one and five-dollar bills will be useful, though make sure they have no tears or wrinkles. Check out our Galapagos packing list for other items to pack. 

A side angle shot of money, a camera, and small cactus sitting on an atlas.

Tipping in Ecuador is one way to show your appreciation for top-notch service. Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Tipping in the Galapagos Islands

Tipping is a fantastic way to show appreciation for the high level of service you’ll be receiving during your tours. Allocate money in your travel budget to tip expert naturalist tour guides, drivers, and the boat staff who will be waiting on you hand and foot. 

How much do you tip your Galapagos tour guide?

Naturalist guides in the Galapagos Islands are highly trained in educating travelers about the unique archipelago. Your tour guide tip should be approximately $10-$20 USD per person per day. 

How much do you tip your Galapagos boat staff?

The star-level of your Galapagos cruise may vary, which will also adjust the tipping etiquette. For high-end Galapagos cruises, consider the higher range.

Budget between $15-$30 USD per traveler per day to divide amongst all members of the crew. 

For a 5-Day/4-Night cruise budget ~$125-$150 USD per person or ~$250-$300 USD per couple. 

A man with a ring tips his guide in Ecuador.

Tipping guides, drivers, boat crew, and hotel staff is recommended during your Ecuador vacation. Photo by Alla Hetman on Unsplash

Tipping on mainland Ecuador

Ecuador has incredible sights to see on its mainland. For inspiration on where to go, find out the best places to visit in Ecuador or contact one of our expert travel advisors.

Do you tip a cab driver?

Tipping taxi drivers in Ecuador is not common practice. However, if the fare isn’t to the nearest dollar, round up to save your driver from having to dig out small change. 

How much do you tip a shuttle driver?

A shuttle driver, or driver, navigates you safely from A to B often on roads you wouldn’t be used to driving on. Tipping your driver is a nice way to say thank you, even if you don’t speak Spanish. 

  • Tip your driver between $2-$5 USD per person for a half-day group tour. Full-day group tours should tip between $5-$10 USD per person. 
  • Private shuttles and tours can be given a gratuity between $5 per person for a half-day tour or $7-$10 USD per person for a full-day tour. 

Do you tip tour guides?

Absolutely! We’re that confident that you’re going to love the service you receive with our tour guides! Here are our recommendations for how to show your appreciation for an unforgettable tour experience.

  • Tipping etiquette for a half-day group tour is between $5-$10 USD per person. For a full-day group tour, the gratuity can be between $10-$20 USD per person. 
  • A private tour gives you personalized attention and since tips are not split between the group, it’s recommended to tip a little extra. For a half-day private tour, $10-$15 USD are appropriate tip amounts. The tip for a full-day private tour should be between $15-$30 USD per person. 

How much do you tip at restaurants?

Restaurant tipping guidelines change from establishment to establishment so be sure to check your bill to see if the gratuity or service charge has been included. Many upscale restaurants in Ecuador will include a 10%-12% fee to the total bill, however not every restaurant does. If not, give a 5%-10% tip directly to the server. 

How much do you tip at a bar?

Bartenders always appreciate a small tip for great service. Often, this gets you even better service for the night! Tipping $0.50-$1 per drink is an appropriate amount. 

How much do you tip for hotel services?

Hotel tipping guidelines in Ecuador are as follows:

  • Tip bellboys or hotel staff that help you with your luggage with $0.50-$1 per bag. 
  • For an extra chocolate on your pillow each night, leaving $1-$2 USD per day on your bed for the cleaning staff might just do the trick! 
  • As an extra thank you for hotel spa services add on 5%-10% of the total spa bill as a tip. 
Three pale blue domes on a church in Cuenco, Ecuador against a dark grey sky.

Mainland Ecuador has many sights to see, but tipping etiquette on the mainland and in the Galapagos is slightly different. Photo by Fernando Tapia on Unsplash

And now a tip for you: Book your Ecuador vacation with Latin America for Less. Your personal travel agent will customize your itinerary to include the highlights of Ecuador and the Galapagos. They’ll answer all your questions and take care of all the details needed for a stress-free vacation. For more information about tipping in Ecuador and travel in South America, contact a Latin America for Less travel agent today!

Michelle Talsma
Michelle Talsma
Originally from Canada, Michelle is a wanderer who has made Peru her home since 2018. In search of the best Red Velvet cupcake, she has been eating and travelling her way through Peru and South America ever since. Obsessed with glaciers, mountains, and french fries Peru has become her home away from home.
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<div class="entry-thumb-caption">A land iguana on the Galapagos Islands. Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/photos/qOmxP7W8svM" rel="noopener noreferrer" onclick="javascript:window.open('https://unsplash.com/photos/qOmxP7W8svM'); return false;">Simon Berger on Unsplash</a>.</div>
October 3, 2020ecuador, galapagos islands
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