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What To Know About Tipping In Costa Rica

What To Know About Tipping In Costa Rica

Last updated on April 18th, 2021 at 05:06 pm EST

What to know about tipping in Costa Rica

At Pura Vida! eh? Inc., we often receive questions from travelers about tipping in Costa Rica. Answering these questions with confidence is tough because the deciding factor in determining whether you should or should not tip during your Costa Rica trip, as well as how much you should tip if you decide to do so, is the level of service you receive from tour guides, drivers, waiters/waitresses, and hotel staff. Since service levels vary and evaluations are subjective, it’s nearly impossible to say with certainty that you should tip, let alone how much you should tip. What we can do is offer general recommendations for tipping in Costa Rica based on what we give, on average, for deserving services. Be sure to adjust the tip amounts below to your degree of comfort according to whether you experience above-average or below-average service.

If you come from a country where tipping isn’t customary…

If you’re visiting Costa Rica from a country where tipping isn’t commonly practiced, you may not feel comfortable tipping tour guides, drivers, waiters/waitresses, and/or hotel staff in Costa Rica. This is your prerogative, even though most service staff in Costa Rica hope, if not expect, to receive a tip. If you don’t feel comfortable tipping in Costa Rica because of your cultural norms or a different reason, don’t tip. Conversely, if you’re visiting Costa Rica from a country where tipping is generally practiced, know that leaving a tip is a kind and customary offering that’s sure to be appreciated.

Should I tip in USD or Costa Rican colones?

As we mention in our related blog post Spending Money In Costa Rica: What To Know About USD, Colones, Credit Cards, And More!, tips can be provided in US dollars or local Costa Rican colones. Tips in colones are preferred because they save tour guides, drivers, waiters/waitresses, and hotel staff a trip to the bank to exchange the funds.

Tipping in Costa Rica: Tipping tour guides

Our quick Costa Rica tipping chart

Though the article below covers our tipping recommendations in greater detail, if you’re short on time, review our quick Costa Rica tipping chart:

Who to tipHow much to tipFor how many people
Your tour guide10-15% of the tour costPer person or group of 2 people
Your tour guide10% of the tour costPer group of 3 or 4 people
Your tour guide5-10% of the tour costPer group of 5 or more people
Your tour driver$2-5 (flat rate)Per one-way service
Your shared shuttle service or private transfer service driver$2-5 (flat rate)Per group of 1-4 people
Your shared shuttle service or private transfer service driver$5-10 (flat rate)Per group of 5 or more people
Your taxi driverRound-up the total shown on the meterPer one-way service
Your waiter / waitress15-20% of the total meal cost assuming a 10% service charge (a mandatory gratuity charge) has not been added to the billPer person
Your waiter / waitress5-10% of the total meal cost assuming the 10% service charge (mandatory gratuity charge) was added to the billPer person

Which tour guides should I tip?

If you decide to tip your tour guide(s), the general rule of thumb is to tip the specific tour guide you have. This recommendation might sound obvious, but you may participate in tours where you interact with several tour guides and you’re not sure who to tip. If the tour operator’s office or reception desk displays a communal tip box/jar such as the one pictured at the top of this article (ask the tour staff if you’re not sure), you can leave a tip for all tour guides; at the end of the day, the tips will be split among the day’s employees. You’re most likely to find tip boxes/jars at adventure parks where several tour guides operate tours together. When a tip box/jar is not provided, tip the specific tour guide you have. For example, if you participate in white-water rafting tour, though several tour guides may be working the day of your tour, tip the specific tour guide who leads your raft. If two or more tour guides share your tour’s guiding responsibilities, feel free to divide your tip across each tour guide.

How much should I tip tour guides?

Average tip percentages in Costa Rica are slightly lower than in the US/Canada where the standard runs between 15% and 20%. Costa Ricans are typically satisfied with less, around 10% to 15%. If you’re a solo traveler or traveling as part of a group of 2 people, consider tipping your tour guide 10-15% of the tour cost. If you’re traveling as a group of 3 or 4 people, consider tipping your tour guide around 10% of the tour cost. If you’re traveling as a group of 5 or more, consider tipping your tour guide 5-10% of the tour cost.

Tipping in Costa Rica: Tipping drivers including tour drivers, shared shuttle service drivers, private transfer service drivers, and/or taxi drivers

Tour drivers

Many travelers forget to tip drivers who are responsible for transporting you to and from organized tour/activity locales, or to and from your hotel and the location where the tour takes place. In general, we recommend giving a flat rate (not a percentage of the tour cost) of $2-5 to each driver who performs the service well.

Shared shuttle service drivers and private transfer service drivers

These drivers are generally responsible for transporting you between cities, resulting in multi-hour drives. We typically recommend offering a flat rate of $2-5 to each driver who performs their service(s) well. If you’re traveling as part of a group of 5 or more people, consider tipping the driver a flat rate (not a percentage of the shuttle service cost) of $5-10.

Taxi drivers

Tipping taxi drivers isn’t as common a practice as tipping other drivers in Costa Rica. However, it’s kind to show your appreciation for the ride by rounding up the total shown on the maria (meter).

Tipping in Costa Rica: Tipping waiters and waitresses

Tipping restaurant wait staff an average of 15-20% is the norm in Costa Rica. Many restaurants automatically add a 10% service charge (a gratuity charge) to their bills, which may appear as a 10% service tax or service fee. Most restaurant menus will state whether food and drink costs include or exclude the charge (ask restaurant staff if you’re not sure). If you see the charge noted on your bill, opt to leave an additional 5-10% tip. If the charge does not appear on your bill, leave 15-20% of the total meal cost.

Tipping in Costa Rica: Tipping hotel staff

Bellhops

Bellhops are responsible for transporting your luggage to your hotel room upon check-in. In general, we recommend giving a flat rate of $2-5 to each bellhop that performs their service well.

Room cleaning staff

Many travelers forget to tip the hotel staff who are responsible for cleaning your room upon check-out. In general, we recommend giving a flat rate of $2-5 for each night spent at the hotel.

QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: What are your recommended guidelines for tipping in Costa Rica?

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What To Know About Tipping In Costa Rica
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What To Know About Tipping In Costa Rica
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Want to know about tipping in Costa Rica? We tell you if you should tip, who you should tip, and how much you should tip in Costa Rica. Learn more!
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The Official Costa Rica Travel Blog
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