India is for the adventurous, spiritual, vibrant, dynamic, romantic, and laidback traveler. This country is many things all at the same time, offering a wide variety of sights, sounds, tastes, and cultures. If you are thinking about traveling to India soon, it would help if you did a little research about tipping in India.
In this quick guide, we put together some tips we gathered over time about how to reward great service in this beautiful country. Here are some pieces of information about the norms in India in terms of tipping service workers. Take note that all amounts are in Indian currency.
Tipping in hotels in India can be a little confusing because there are so many things to consider, such as the hotel category and the hierarchy of the employees.
In budget hotels, doormen, bellhops, and housekeeping must be tipped 20 to 50. Concierges are tipped bigger because they run errands. You can give gratuities amounting to 100 to 150 for concierges. (Note that this is very much unlike how concierges are tipped in other tourist-heavy countries, where concierges are sometimes tipped the same amounts as bellhops and housekeeping.)
In luxury hotels, doormen, bellhops, and housekeeping are generally tipped 100 to 150 while concierges are given 200 to 300.
Sometimes, a random stranger might just come and pick up your bags, offering to bring them to your room for you. Politely refuse if you are not willing to tip (because that is the sole reason they are offering help).
Transportation and Valet
Tip taxi drivers (radio and tourist) 10% of the total fare, which is the western standard. You can also just round up the amount. Just remember that no driver is allowed to ask for any amount larger than the actual fare.
You can skimp on tipping the valet if you are in a parking lot or in a mall.
In restaurants, hotels, and other establishments, you do have to tip. The typical gratuity amount for valets is 10 to 50, but you may give more, especially if you are in a super posh place.
According to restaurant owners, Indian diners are not very generous when it comes to tipping. The industry average worldwide is 15% to 20%, but in India, diners pay 6% to 7% in tips especially when paying with their own money (They are happy to do the standard amounts when paying with corporate cards, apparently.).
You can do as the Indians do (When in Rome... right?) or stick to the standard, especially when dining in a place you will likely visit again. Giving a good tip means you improve your chances of getting better service on your next visit.
Some restaurants add a service charge into the bill already, and the usual percentage is 5% to 10%. In that case, not leaving a tip is permissible.
Tip your tour guide per day anywhere between 100 and 300, depending on service quality. If you are part of a group tour, you can step that down to 30 to 50.
Hairdressers in India are not as well-tipped as their counterparts in other countries, so you may want to show appreciation. You can tip them 10% of your bill.
When tipping in a salon, a good rule is to follow the 10% standard. Just divide that by the number of people who fixed you up, and give each person their tip personally. Feel free to add more if you are very happy with their work.
Having pizza delivered? Tip the delivery guy around 10, especially if there is no delivery charge. In India, there are chemists and grocers who deliver as well, and you can give them 5 to 10 in gratuities.
Also tip store employees who help you bring your groceries to your car (5 to 10).
Staff in spas in India is not used to getting tips, and you are not obliged to give gratuity. But some bonus income will not be refused by your masseuse!
Service workers are generally tipped smaller and less often than their counterparts in many other countries. Of course, you can always just do what they are already used to, but we suggest you uphold international standards. These people work just as hard as those in other countries you have been to, so there is no reason to tip them any less. Hard work must always be rewarded. Do not be excessive, either, lest you appear to be condescending or showing off and offend your server.