Coming from the west, we are not used to Tipping. Tipping makes many people feel awkward as there is uncertainty about whether it is appropriate at all and, if it is, how much to tip. Here I provide a few guidelines for a trip to India.
Who do we tip? When do we tip? How much do we tip?
Why do I need to tip in India? Tipping is normal in tourist areas in India and is a very important source of income for the many low paid in the tourist industry. However, tips should only be given when you are directly assisted, and it is merited by good service. Tips are gratefully and discretely accepted.
Everyone will try and get in on the act, when they see westerners who don't know the tipping guideline. Learn to ignore everyone unless they have directly helped you.
Hotels can be particularly awkward due to the large number of staff that you will encounter during your stay. I have been in the situation where several people have helped load bags into my car and I have provided tips to the main contributors, but as I do this I noticed a host of others, including security staff, gathering around expecting something. It becomes impractical to hold enough small change to sustain this. The other problem is that the tips are only going to the front-line staff.
Thankfully, most hotels now have a central tipping box and you should look for this and use it if it is available. If there is not one, I suggest you complain and suggest one should be provided. As a rough guide a tip of Rs150 per guest /day is a reasonable midpoint.
Drivers: A tip of between Rs 200/ 400 per day is reasonable. To put it into perspective, a driver in India will earn between Rs10,000 and Rs 15,000 per month so you can see that the tip is a significant salary supplement.
You may be with the same driver for several days and they can be invaluable help in getting the most from your trip, so weigh up how useful they have been and if they have followed your instructions. They can guide you to restaurants etc. On the other hand, they take you to un-requested tourist shops which can cause considerable detours and wasted time.
Guides: Rs 200/500 per day for a personal guide is a reasonable range. Again, judge whether they have been working in your interests or if they have taken you to shops when this has not been requested.
Restaurants: 5% to 10% of the bill if you are happy and also if service is not included on the bill.
Drivers and Guides in National Parks: There is very strong local support for the national parks and tiger reserves
as so many locals benefit directly from the tourists that visit. When driving in the parks you will have a driver as well as a park ranger and sometimes a naturalist, supplied by the hotel, as well. This may appear to be overkill but it is providing livelihoods to many local families. Try and get the same driver for the whole time you are in the park and train him to give you what you want. If he provides a good service tip him in the range Rs 100/Rs500 per day.
The ranger will be different for each session so you will only get them for half a day at a time. I would suggest tipping them in the range Rs50/ Rs100 per session. Do not be afraid to give nothing though. We have had some rangers who we have even noticed sleeping rather than game spotting.
Our 2023 India Tipping rates.
ONLY tip if someone directly helps you. Ignore everyone else.
CHECK on arrival. 1). Is there hotel staff tip box ?
2). Make sure it is for all the staff.
- Airport Transfers 400R
- Luggage porters if there is no tip box available 40-50R
- Delhi Taxi private driver to restaurant 200R
- Hotel/Park accommodation staff - use tip box at end of stay. 150R/person/day
- Driver between Parks ½ day drive 500R - Full day drive 800R
Local Safari Guides and Safari drivers 300R ½ day 330-700R full day. Some will be with you for all 5 safaris, some are rotated.
Check 1). If the guide/driver are with us for the whole tour. 2)a. Pay at the end of the tour those who are with us all the time. 2)b. Otherwise at the end of each safari.