What To Know About Tipping In Costa Rica
Last updated on April 18th, 2021 at 05:06 pm EST
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Get the Costa Rica info you need by browsing our article's TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- What to know about tipping in Costa Rica
- Tipping in Costa Rica: Tipping tour guides
- Tipping in Costa Rica: Tipping drivers including tour drivers, shared shuttle service drivers, private transfer service drivers, and/or taxi drivers
- Tipping in Costa Rica: Tipping waiters and waitresses
- Tipping in Costa Rica: Tipping hotel staff
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 tip||How much to tip||For how many people|
|Your tour guide||10-15% of the tour cost||Per person or group of 2 people|
|Your tour guide||10% of the tour cost||Per group of 3 or 4 people|
|Your tour guide||5-10% of the tour cost||Per 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 driver||Round-up the total shown on the meter||Per one-way service|
|Your waiter / waitress||15-20% of the total meal cost assuming a 10% service charge (a mandatory gratuity charge) has not been added to the bill||Per person|
|Your waiter / waitress||5-10% of the total meal cost assuming the 10% service charge (mandatory gratuity charge) was added to the bill||Per 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.
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.
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.
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 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?