Is tipping tour guides in Vietnam mandatory?

Before delving into the answer to the question "How much should I tip tour guide in Vietnam?", let's explore why tipping is not mandatory in Vietnam but still advisable for tour guides. While it is not an obligatory practice, tipping is becoming more common in the tourism industry in Vietnam, especially for exceptional service or when the tour guide goes above and beyond to enhance your experience. But here are some of the reasons why customers choose to tip for tour guides in Vietnam, even though it is not mandatory:
  • Exceptional Service: Customers can opt to tip tour guides who have offered excellent service during the excursion. This might involve going above and beyond to guarantee a memorable experience, offering detailed information about the locations, showing professionalism, and being responsive to the wants and needs of the customers.
  • Personal Connection: Customers who sense a true connection with their tour guide and appreciate their efforts to make the tour pleasurable may opt to express their thanks by tipping them. A cheerful and engaging tour leader who creates a welcoming environment may make a lasting impression.
  • Extra Services or Assistance: If a tour guide goes over their standard tasks, such as assisting with translations, recommending local restaurants or activities, or offering insider tips and insights, customers may feel compelled to acknowledge their extra services by giving a small tip.
  • Encouraging Future Service: Tipping could encourage tour guides to continue providing outstanding service to prospective guests. When tour guides receive , it confirms their work and can inspire them to maintain high standards and create outstanding experiences for future visitors.
how much should I tip tour guide in Vietnam
Tipping for tour guide in vietnam

How much should I tip tour guide in Vietnam?

The amount can vary depending on factors such as the length of the tour, the level of personalization, and your overall experience. As a general guideline, a tip of around 5-10% of the total tour cost can be considered a reasonable amount. 
Usually, it depends on the type of tour that you go on; for example, if it’s a group tour, it's common to tip around 10% of the tour cost per person. If you had a particularly exceptional experience, you can consider tipping slightly more. For private tours, the tipping amount can vary depending on the level of service and your satisfaction. A general guideline is to tip around $10 to $20 (around 250,000 to 500,000 VND) per person per day for a full-day private tour. 
However, it's important to note that tipping practices can vary among individuals, and ultimately, the decision to tip and the amount are at your discretion. In addition to tipping, small gestures of appreciation, such as saying thank you and providing positive feedback, can also go a long way in showing your gratitude to the tour guide.

How to appropriately tip tour guides in line with Vietnamese cultural norms.

As mentioned before, tipping in Vietnam is not a traditional practice deeply ingrained in the culture. However, in recent years, tipping has become more common in tourist areas due to the influence of Western customs. If you wish to tip a tour guide in line with Vietnamese cultural norms, here are some guidelines to follow:

Is it better to tip the tour guide directly or through the travel company?

In Vietnam, it is generally better to tip the tour guide directly rather than going through the travel company. One of the benefits of tipping the tour guide directly is that it assures they receive the entire amount of the tip and allows you to express your gratitude for their services. When you provide the tip directly to the tour guide, you create a more direct and personal relationship with the service provider. It also allows you to show thanks and give immediate feedback on the service you got. While tipping through a travel company may result in the tip being divided among the personnel or pooled collectively, this may not truly represent your intent to acknowledge the particular tour guide's effort.
By tipping the tour guide directly, you can recognize their specific effort and the great influence they had on your trip. It's a more personalized and meaningful way to express your gratitude. However, if the travel business has a special tipping policy or if you had an excellent experience with the company's overall service, you may consider tipping through the travel company. In such circumstances, it's essential to ask the firm directly about their preferred tipping technique to guarantee that your tip reaches the proper recipient.

Should tipping occur at the conclusion of the tour or at each attraction visited?

In Vietnam, it is more typical to tip the tour guide at the end of the tour than at each attraction stop. Tipping at the end of the trip allows you to evaluate the overall experience and express your gratitude for the tour guide's efforts throughout the journey. 
Waiting until the end of the trip allows you to get a better picture of the tour guide's expertise, professionalism, and overall service quality. It also allows you to assess the trip as a whole and the guide's ability to enhance your experience. However, if there was a particular site or occurrence during the trip that gave you an opportunity, and the tour guide played an important role in making it memorable, you may choose to leave an extra gratuity at the specific attraction site. This might be a spontaneous expression of appreciation for great service.
In the end, it is still entirely up to you to decide when and how much to tip. It's essential to remember that tipping is a personal decision that should be based on your evaluation of the service and your degree of fulfillment.

Methods for Tourists to Tip For Tour Guide In Vietnam

When it comes to tip for tour guide in Vietnam, there are a few methods that tourists can use:
Cash: The most common and convenient method is to tip tour guides in cash. Make sure to have small denominations of Vietnamese dong available to provide a suitable tip based on your satisfaction with the guide's service.
Envelope: Consider preparing an envelope with the tip amount before the tour begins. This allows for a discreet and organized way to hand over the tip at the end of the tour. It also adds a touch of professionalism and courtesy. If your tour guide goes the extra mile just to make your journey enjoyable and comfortable, writing a small thank-you letter or some encouraging words in the envelope can motivate them to work harder and be more dedicated.
Handing directly: If you prefer a more personal approach, you can simply hand the tip directly to the tour guide at the conclusion of the tour. This method allows for direct interaction and the opportunity to express your gratitude verbally.
Digital payment: With the advancement of technology, some tour guides may accept digital payment methods such as mobile payment apps or online transfers. However, this method may not be as common, so it's advisable to inquire in advance if digital payment options are available.

Is it preferable to tip for tour guide In Vietnam in VND or in my own currency?

When tipping tour guides in Ho Chi Minh City, it is advisable to use Vietnamese dong (VND) rather than your own cash. Tipping in the local currency is more convenient for the tour leader and prevents possible confusion or exchange rate fluctuations. It also shows an awareness of and respect for the local customs and currencies. It's a good idea to have small denominations of VND on hand to tip the guide based on your level of satisfaction with their service. 
If you don't have VND on hand, you can ask the guide whether they take other currencies; however, keep in mind that they may prefer or be more comfortable with local money. And in case you don’t know how much Vietnam’s currency is equal to your country’s currency, check out our article Currency in Vietnam: Mastering Money Exchange in Vietnam where we will provide some guidelines related to Vietnamese dong (VND).
Now that you're well-versed in the nuances of tipping tour guides in Vietnam, it's time to consider how this fits into your overall travel budget. After all, every penny counts when exploring this vibrant country. So, how much should you expect to spend on food in Ho Chi Minh City? And how can you factor in tipping while planning your daily expenses in Vietnam? Let's delve deeper into these essential aspects of your Vietnamese adventure.


Should I tip at restaurants and cafes in Vietnam?

at restaurants and cafes in vietnam
Tipping practices in restaurants and cafes in Vietnam differ from those in some Western countries. While tipping is not traditionally expected or mandatory, it has become more common due to the influence of tourism. In upscale or tourist-oriented restaurants, a service charge of around 5–10% may be included in the bill. If there is no service charge, leaving a small tip as a gesture of appreciation for good service is appreciated, typically around 10-15% of the total bill. However, in local eateries, cafes, or when enjoying street food, tipping is not expected.

Do I need to tip taxi drivers in Vietnam?

tip taxi drivers in vietnam
Unlike in some countries where tipping taxi drivers is customary, it is generally not expected or required in Vietnam. The fare displayed on the meter is the amount you are expected to pay, and rounding up to the nearest convenient amount is sufficient. However, if the driver provides exceptional service or goes above and beyond, you may choose to offer a small tip as a token of appreciation, around 10,000 and 20,000 VND. To ensure your journey remains hassle-free, let's dive into our comprehensive "Guide to Avoiding Scams in Vietnam 2024".

Should I tip hotel staff in Vietnam?

tip hotel staff in vietnam
Tipping hotel staff in Vietnam is not mandatory, but it is a common practice and appreciated for good service. Hotel staff members, such as bellboys, housekeepers, and concierges, often rely on tips as part of their income. If you have received excellent service and would like to show your appreciation, tipping can be a way to do so. 
For instance, it is customary to tip bellboys or porters who assist you with your luggage; a tip of about 10,000 to 20,000 VND per bag is generally appropriate. For housekeepers, you can leave a tip of around 20,000 to 50,000 VND per day or per night of your stay. You can leave the tip in an envelope or on a visible surface along with a note of appreciation. And for concierges, if the hotel concierge has been helpful in arranging transportation, providing recommendations, or assisting with reservations, it is common to tip around 20,000 to 50,000 VND as a token of gratitude.

Is 100,000 dong a good tip?

A gratuity of 100,000 Vietnamese dong is considered generous in different circumstances in Vietnam. It's a substantial sum, particularly for small transactions or services. A tip of this amount might express gratitude for good service or go above and beyond the standard rounding up of the bill. However, it is essential to look into the context and total cost of the service. For example, a 100,000 dong tip may be more appropriate for high-end restaurants or services requiring more time and effort. In some cases, such as small cafés or street food sellers, leaving a lower tip or rounding up the price may be more suitable.

Beyond Currency: Are there other meaningful ways to show my guide's appreciation, especially if I'm Vietnamese and returning home from abroad? 

Absolutely! If you're Vietnamese and returning home from abroad, there are several meaningful ways to show appreciation to your guide beyond monetary tipping. Here are a few ideas:
  • Write a heartfelt thank-you note. Take the time to write a heartfelt thank you message to the guide for their help, expertise, and efforts. Personalized remarks may be extremely significant and have a lasting impression.
  • Offer a small gift or souvenir: Consider bringing back a modest gift or souvenir from your own nation to show your thanks. It may be something unusual or culturally significant that you believe your guide would enjoy. 
  • Leave a positive review or recommendation: Following your trip or excursion, offer a favorable evaluation or suggestion for your guide on appropriate internet channels, such as travel websites or social media. Your good opinion can improve their business and reputation.
  • Share your experience with friends and family: Spread the word about your terrific time with your guide by telling friends, family, and other visitors who might be interested in visiting your home country. Word-of-mouth recommendations may be quite effective and add to the guide's success.
  • Stay in touch: If you had a particularly positive experience with your guide, consider sharing contact information and staying in touch. You may keep each other updated on future journeys, give support if they visit your nation, and perhaps become friends after the tour.

If I hire a guide for multiple days, should I tip at the end of each day or in a lump sum?

When hiring a tour for numerous days, it is typical to tip the guide in one lump sum at the end of your trip rather than tipping at the end of each day. This method allows you to evaluate the total service offered throughout your trip or excursion. Tipping at the end of your time together recognizes the guide's efforts and ensures that you convey your gratitude for their complete service. However, tipping practices are flexible, and if you believe the guide has gone above and above on a particular day, you may choose to pay a smaller tip as a show of appreciation at that time.
With a clearer understanding of tipping practices in Vietnam, you're one step closer to a seamless and enjoyable trip. But there's more to discover! Before you pack your bags, let's delve into the top 10 things you need to know to make the most of your Vietnamese adventure. From cultural customs to practical travel advice, this guide will ensure you're well-prepared for an unforgettable journey.
Author: Vy

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