How much should you tip a private tour guide?

Have you ever found yourself fumbling around in your wallet or purse, at the end of a fantastic tour in a new city, with absolutely no idea of how much you should tip your tour guide.

No one likes the gnawing sense of guilt (if you’re worried that you haven’t tipped enough) or feeling like an idiot (if you tip too much and exceed your daily budget). It’s best to follow in the footsteps of seasoned travelers, do your research, and to know in advance if it’s best to hand the tip to your guide with a smooth handshake or put it in an envelope with a personal ‘Thank You’ note.

Many guides are experts in the field of architecture, archaeology, history, art, and cuisine and use their work as a means to share their passion and knowledge with travelers. The social and cultural context offered by guides only enriches your experience of new places, especially if you are visiting for just a few days or weeks. Adventure tour guides shoulder even greater responsibility. They are in-charge of both your comfort and physical safety and undergo rigorous training and education to ensure that they’re right for the job.

In many parts of the world tourism has brought about economic change and helped impoverished communities to improve their situation. As tourists, it is our responsibility to think about our impact when tipping guides from such communities.

Etiquette for Tipping on Tours Around the World: Vietnam

For example, in the Vietnamese mountain town of Sapa, women from ethnic minority communities from the surrounding villages are using tourism to earn a living for their families. They have learnt how to speak English and now guide tourists on day and multi-day hiking and cultural tours in the region. They’re largely dependent on tips for a living.

While you might be inclined to tip higher if you’ve received exceptional service, it’s essential and only fair to tip a minimum amount so that your guide can continue making a living from their job. As such, it’s important to know how much of a tip is appropriate, depending on where you are, and what kind of a tour you’re on. Here’s a guide to tipping etiquette on tours around the world.

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