Egypt, a land of ancient wonders and modern marvels, welcomes travelers from around the globe with open arms. As you embark on your journey through this captivating country, you'll undoubtedly encounter the art of tipping, known locally as "baksheesh." Tipping in Egypt is a customary practice and plays a significant role in showing appreciation for various services.
Tipping proved to be one of the more challenging aspects of my trip to Egypt, as I grappled with determining the appropriate amounts and navigating the tipping etiquette.
To make your travel experience smoother and more enjoyable, it's essential to grasp the nuances of tipping in this remarkable destination.
The Currency of Gratitude
Tipping, or baksheesh, is a cultural custom deeply ingrained in Egyptian society. It's a way to express gratitude for services provided, and it's appreciated by service industry workers, from waitstaff to tour guides, and even the occasional bathroom attendant. Tipping is a gesture of thanks and appreciation for a job well done, and it's essential to approach it with a sense of generosity.
Who to Tip
In Egypt, various individuals who assist you during your journey will greatly appreciate a tip. These may include restaurant servers, hotel staff, tour guides, drivers, baggage handlers, and even security personnel at historic sites. It's customary to tip after receiving a service, and these gestures are an integral part of the livelihood of many service industry professionals.
The Right Amount
One of the most common questions travelers have is, "How much should I tip?" While there are no strict rules, there are general guidelines to help you navigate tipping in Egypt.
In restaurants, it's common to leave a tip of around 10% of the bill, but be sure it's not already included as a service charge.
For hotel staff, consider tipping the housekeeping and bell staff around 10-20 Egyptian pounds per service.
Tour guides and drivers typically receive higher tips, with amounts ranging from 50 to 100 Egyptian pounds per person per half day for their services.
When taking a taxi in Egypt, it's customary to leave a tip for the driver. Generally, the standard tip percentage for taxi drivers falls in the range of 10-15% of the total fare. If you're utilizing ride-sharing services such as Uber or Careem, it's advisable to offer a tip of about 5-10% of the total fare, depending on the quality of service.
Upon your arrival at an Egyptian hotel, it's likely that you'll require assistance with transporting your luggage to your room. It's a common practice to provide 5 EGP per bag tip to the porters, so be sure to have some small change on hand when you check in!
Extra tipping essentials
Here are some essential tips for navigating the practice of tipping in Egypt:
Ensure you have Egyptian Pounds (local currency) on hand, as Egyptians prefer to receive tips in local cash.
Keep a supply of 1, 5, 10 and 20 Egyptian Pound bills in your pocket, as you'll need them frequently.
If you cannot exchange currency, US Dollars are generally more widely accepted than other foreign currencies.
Following a service, it's customary to provide a tip, such as when your luggage is delivered to your hotel room or cruise cabin.
While on a Nile Cruise, tips are typically collected on the final night of the journey before check-out. They are placed in an envelope for the receptionist or in a designated tip box. Remember to write your cabin number on the envelope.
It's considered polite to discreetly insist on offering a tip if someone initially declines it once or twice.
You are not obliged to tip every individual who requests it. Feel free to tip only when the service meets your expectations and you are genuinely satisfied. If you're dissatisfied with the service, you are under no obligation to provide a tip.
Gratitude Tailored to Service
Remember that the amount you tip should reflect the level of service and your satisfaction with it. Exceptional service may warrant a more substantial tip, while basic service can receive a more modest one. It's always appreciated when the tip is a genuine expression of gratitude for a job well done.
Small Bills and Change
Carrying small bills and change is essential when tipping in Egypt. Vendors and service providers may not always have change, so having smaller denominations on hand can be very helpful. It's also a good practice to carry a small envelope or wallet specifically for tipping to keep your funds organized.
Negotiation and Politeness
In some situations, you may need to negotiate the tip, especially when engaging in activities like bargaining at markets or with street vendors. Be polite and considerate during these interactions, as it's part of the local culture. Engaging in friendly negotiations can lead to more enjoyable shopping experiences.
In Egypt, tipping is more than a financial transaction; it's an expression of gratitude, a cultural exchange, and a way to leave a positive impact on the lives of those who contribute to making your journey memorable. As you traverse this remarkable country, remember that the art of tipping is an integral part of the Egyptian experience, and by mastering it, you're sure to create lasting memories and connections along the way.