When traveling in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan, it is recommended to understand the tipping etiquette in each country. This includes gratuities in restaurants, bars, and establishments that provide a direct service. There is also the personal assistance. The guides, drivers, and representatives feel great pride in being given a chance to show visitors their country. If they were being paid a salary commensurate with their work, they would be earning more than they do today. Tipping is personal and completely voluntary, and here are the standard guidelines:
India: Tipping in restaurants is customary but not required. If you are pleased with the service, you can tip 10% of the total. We recommended handing the money directly to the waiter. If it is added to a bill or left on the table, it may not be received. Some restaurants and bars charge a service fee in the final bill. This fee is not considered an inclusive gratuity. It is also customary to tip porters, guides, drivers, and transfer representatives, as well as anyone who provides a direct service, including spa therapists or a delivery service. For a certified driver and/or guide, we recommend Rs 200-400 per person for a full day of service. A transfer representative can receive Rs 100-200 per person, per transfer, and Rs 30 – 50 per bag for the porter. It is appropriate to tip the person who watches your shoes at a temple or religious site, approximately Rs 20-30. Gratuities in Indian Rupee (INR) is preferred, though you can also pay in USD or your local currency. Kindly note: Many tour packages include porterage fees, so please inquire prior to your trip.
Nepal: Tipping is a relatively new custom in Nepal. Most people who provide a direct service (taxi drivers, barbers, etc.) do not expect gratuity. It is customary, however, to tip guides, hired drivers, and transfer representatives, as well as trekking guides and sherpas. The recommended amount is slightly less compared to India: NPR 100-200 per person for a full day driver and/or guide. For a more experienced trek, consider a tip of NPR 300-400/day. Gratuities in Nepalese Rupee (NPR) are preferred.
Sri Lanka: The tipping etiquette in Sri Lanka mirrors India. A 10% service fee is often added to final checks in restaurants and bars, but this often goes to the owner. If you wish to add a gratuity, please give directly to your waiter. A general practice is to tip 10% of your total bill. It is also customary to tip porters, guides, drivers, and transfer representatives, as well as anyone who provides a direct service. For a certified driver and/or guide, we recommend LKR 200-300 per person for a full day of service. A transfer representative can receive LKR 100 per person, and the porter LKR 20 – 30 per bag. It is also appropriate to tip the person who watches your shoes at a temple or religious site, approximately LKR 10-20. Gratuities in Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) are preferred.
Bhutan: Although tipping is officially discouraged in Bhutan, it has become a common practice. Kindly use discretion and tip your guide and driver for a well-performed service. You may tip in Bhutanese Ngultrum (BTN) or Indian Rupee (INR).
*Please remember that the guidelines outlined above are only recommendations. Also, please be discreet when tipping in public.