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Going to Vietnam? Looking for some tips on tipping? Some top tips to help you to tip? Some tipping tips? (Okay I’ll stop here) Stick with us – we’ve brought you everything you need to know.
I used to live in Vietnam, in particular in Hanoi, so I’ll be your guide. In case you’re wondering, no, you don’t have to leave me a tip.
Join me as I help you navigate the confusing world of tips in Vietnam…
Here’s a quick detour before we get the party started.
Vietnamese money is confusing.
At the time of writing, $1 USD is worth around 23,000 VND (or Vietnamese Dong). You pay for everything in thousands. You pay for coffee with thousands. You pay for food with tens of thousands. For hotels with millions. If you spend more than $45, you’re spending more than a million.
See, I told you it was all a bit confusing.
Before you go throwing your money around, make sure you’re familiar with the currency, the notes and the exchange rates. If you’re not, you might end up tipping far too much or far too little.
Is Tipping Common in Vietnam?
No. Tipping is not common in Vietnam, in fact it’s rather a pretty new concept in the country.
But although it’s not usually expected, it’s often welcome. And because things are so cheap in Vietnam, it’s nice to give a small tip when and where you can.
Wages in Vietnam are very low, even in relation to the cost of living. So if you can help local people by dropping a few small tips, it’s massively appreciated.
So although tipping in Vietnam is still a pretty alien concept, you should tip if and when you can.
But when, where and how much to tip is all massively dependent on context.
How Much Should I Tip in Vietnam?
How much you should tip in Vietnam depends upon who you’re tipping, and why and when you’re tipping them.
Let’s take a look at the different people you might want to tip, and how much you should tip them:
1- Tipping Tour Guides
Should You Tip Tour Guides in Vietnam?
Yes, you definitely should. Vietnamese tour guides are incredible. They offer excellent, in-depth tours which bring you closer to local insights and local people. And most tours are very cheap. So whether you’re on a motorbike tour, a walking tour, a food tour or a guided hike, leave a generous tip.
How Much Should You Tip Tour Guides in Vietnam?
Around 10-15% of the tour cost is fair, but give more if you’ve had a particularly good time. If there’s been an additional driver on the tour, consider tipping them a similar amount, or a little less.
If you’ve been on a free walking tour, around $5 per person is appropriate.
How Do I Give Tips to Tour Guides in Vietnam?
Just hand your tip to them at the end of your tour. Easy!
2- Tipping in Restaurants
Should You Tip in Restaurants in Vietnam?
Yes, you should tip in restaurants in Vietnam.
How Much Should You Tip in Restaurants in Vietnam?
You should leave a tip of around 10%. In some high-end restaurants, you might notice that there’s been an extra charge added to your bill. This isn’t a tip, and the people serving you won’t receive any of it. So although that’s an annoying charge, it doesn’t count as a tip, and you should still leave an extra tip if you can.
How Do I Give Tips in Restaurants in Vietnam?
Hand it to your server. Don’t just leave it on the table, as your server might not necessarily get it.
3- Tipping for Street Food
Should You Tip when I Eat Street Food in Vietnam?
It’s not normal or expected, but it’s sometimes appreciated.
How Much Should You Tip when You Eat Street Food in Vietnam?
There’s no expectation to leave a tip, but even 10,000 VND – 20,000 VND would be massively appreciated (considering that’ll be around 50% of your bill!).
Because tipping for street food is pretty unusual, the vendor might even try to give you your money back, thinking you’ve given them too much money by mistake. If the person you’re trying to tip seems confused or offended by your tip, allow them to refuse to take it. In this case, a sincere thanks is often more welcome than a tip.
Younger street vendors in urban areas are more accustomed to getting tips. Older vendors in rural areas might be confused or offended by your attempt to give them a tip.
How Do I Give Tips for Street Food in Vietnam?
Just give it to the vendor who gave you your food.
4- Tipping in Coffee Shops and Bars
Should You Tip in Coffee Shops and Bars in Vietnam?
You can if you like, but it’s not a normal practice.
How Much Should You Tip in Coffee Shops and Bars in Vietnam?
Even a small amount would be appreciated, since it’s not normal practice.
How Do I Give Tips in Coffee Shops and Bars in Vietnam?
In coffee shops and bars, you’ll often find a small tip jar on the counter, which is (of course) where you should leave your tip. If your particular server has been particularly helpful, you can just give them the money directly instead.
5- Tipping Taxi Drivers
Should You Tip Taxi Drivers in Vietnam?
There’s absolutely no expectation to do so but, again, it’s always appreciated.
How Much Should You Tip Taxi Drivers in Vietnam?
Just leave a small tip of something between 10,000 VND and 50,000 VND, depending on the length of your journey.
How Do I Give Tips to Taxi Drivers in Vietnam?
There are lots of approaches, but here’s what I think is best: catch a ride through Grab, the Southeast Asian equivalent of Uber. Then just give a cash tip to your driver as you leave the taxi.
If you use Grab, it works just like Uber – you book a taxi through the app, and you know how much you’re going to pay before your journey begins. If you use on-street taxis, you might get ripped off. But with Grab, you’ll never get ripped off. And you’ll also know exactly how much you’re tipping, as you’ll know exactly how much your fare is.
6- Tipping in Hotels
Should You Tip in Hotels in Vietnam?
If you’ve been in a high-end hotel, it’s expected, but it’s up to you. If you want to support local people (and not the big conglomerate who owns the hotel), you should always tip staff individually and in-person, so you can be sure your money is going where you want it to go.
How Much Should You Tip Hotel Staff in Vietnam?
If you want to tip a porter or bellhop, give a couple of dollars. If you want to tip a room cleaner, around $1 per night of your stay is a good idea. If you’re tipping reception staff, tip whatever you think is fair.
Generally speaking, the more expensive the hotel, the bigger the tip you should leave.
How Do I Give Tips to Hotel Staff in Vietnam?
Always give it directly to the person you’re trying to tip, to make sure that specific person gets it. If you add your tip to your bill or hand it over to someone else, the person you’re tipping might not receive your tip.
7- Tipping in Hairdressers
Should You Tip Hairdressers in Vietnam?
It’s not common practice, but it’s a good idea if you think you’ve received good service.
How Much Should You Tip Hairdressers in Vietnam?
If you want to tip your hairdresser, around 10% is right.
How Do I Give Tips to Hairdressers in Vietnam?
Just hand your tip directly to your hairdresser!
8- Tipping for Massages
Should You Tip Masseuses and Spa Staff in Vietnam?
Yes, you definitely should. There are lots of spas and massage places in Vietnam. But even in the high-end ones, the staff aren’t paid particularly well, even though these people are offering a specialised (and excellent) service.
How Much Should You Tip Masseuses and Spa Staff in Vietnam?
You should tip around 10-20% of the original bill, depending on how much you’ve enjoyed your service.
Be aware that some high-end spas or massage places might add a service fee to your bill. This isn’t a tip, and the person you’re tipping won’t receive this money – so you should still tip above the service fee if you want to leave a tip.
How Do I Give Tips to Masseuses and Spa Staff in Vietnam?
Just hand your tip directly to the person you want to tip.
Other Tipping Tips
- Make sure you’re familiar with Vietnamese currency. As mentioned earlier, Vietnamese money can be a little confusing, as lots of the notes look pretty similar – and there are no coins in the nation. So ensure you’re familiar with the currency to make sure you’re tipping what you want to tip (and paying what you want to pay).
- Vietnam is a cash currency. In some hotels, hostels, supermarkets and high-end places, you can pay by card, but the vast majority of transactions are in cash. Always carry lots of cash. All tips you leave will be in cash.
- If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry if you can’t leave a tip. It’s of course a nice gesture, but tipping isn’t expected in Vietnam like it is in many other countries.
- Though some expensive establishments in Vietnam will accept US dollars, they’re not commonly accepted. So if you’re tipping a particular person, always tip them in local currency, not in US dollars. The person you’re tipping won’t have much use for them.
- In remote, rural areas, don’t be surprised if people are embarrassed by your offer of a tip. If people in these areas seem reluctant to take your tip, don’t be afraid to take it back. Sincere thank you might be more appropriate in these areas.
- Generally, just follow your instincts on tipping. If you want to give a tip, just give a tip! People in Vietnam don’t generally earn very much money, so it’s good to be generous. And since Vietnamese people are brilliant, it’s nice to repay their warmth, generosity and kindness with small tips where appropriate.
One Last Tip
No matter how much you’re tipping, make sure you have an excellent time in Vietnam. It’s one of the most incredible countries on the planet.
Tip if and when you feel it’s fair, and you’ll probably be tipping properly.
Want to know anything else about Vietnam? We’ve got everything you need to know right here on our site. We have guides on the best cities, the best places to go, the vaccines you need and so much more.
Paul is a handsome and hilarious travel writer and travel journalist from the UK. He’s hiked, hitchhiked and laughed his way through more than fifty countries, and he’s always looking for a new place to call home. Originally from Newcastle, he’s lived all over the UK, spent more than three years in Asia, and most recently lived in Vietnam. Here’s his website.