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November 24, 2008

Etiquette 101: The Tipping Guide

India Etiquette
No matter where you are in India,
don't ask for beef or pork if
they are not on the menu.

In Condé Nast Traveler's December issue, writer Boris Kachka has done the (sometimes embarrassing, sometimes quite costly) work to find out the who, what, where, when, and how of giving gratuities in 26 countries. Below, some tipping snippets from Brazil and India. For more, check out the December issue, on stands now.

At restaurants: No tip required; 10 percent is routinely included in the bill for "servico."
At hotels: Two dollars per bag for the porter; no tip expected for the concierge; $2 a day for the housekeeper.
Guides and drivers: Round up for cabdrivers; for a private driver, give about $20-$50 for a full day, depending on the quality of the service; same for an all-day tour guide (they rely heavily on tips, so be generous).
Who else? At ecoresorts in the Amazon, there are often boatmen in addition to tour guides. Tip them $10-$15 per day.
Dollars accepted? Yes, and encouraged, due to a favorable exchange rate.
Note: "Brazilians are discreet and subtle when it comes to business transactions," says travel agent Jill Siegel of South American Escapes. "It's helpful when tipping someone not to make a great display. You might verbally thank them, shake their hand, and express your appreciation while handing the bills folded."

At restaurants: Fifteen percent to the waiter (or a few rupees at more modest establishments), though many posh spots now include a 10 percent service charge.
At hotels: Fifty rupees (about $1) per bag for the porter; 250 rupees a night for the (low-paid) housekeeper.
Guides and drivers: Fifty to 100 rupees a day for the car and driver. They usually expect lunch money for the day--about 40 rupees. Taxi and rickshaw drivers aren't accustomed to tips, but you can tell them to keep the change--up to 10 percent.
Who else? Don't be surprised if people ask for a tip for no apparent reason. The novelist and frequent India visitor Daphne Beal has even had people knock on her hotel room and ask, apropos of nothing, if "everything is all right." She doesn't tip them.
Dollars accepted? Yes, but not usually preferred.
Note: Beal finds tipping, or "baksheesh" as it's known, "kind of agonizing in India." One problem is the difficulty of getting small bills. "I tend to hoard them for tipping purposes," she says.

For more from this tipping guide--from Japan to Jordan--check out the December issue of Condé Nast Traveler.

Further reading:
* Etiquette 101: India
* How not to embarrass yourself in China
* Quiz: Test your Mediterranean etiquette smarts


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