What about Tips in Vietnam?

Traditionally, tipping is not really widespread in Vietnam. However, as the Land of the Dragon becomes increasingly open to global tourism, the practice of tipping tends to spread, particularly in major tourist centers.

The practice of tipping in Vietnam - Picture : Internet

Generaly speaking, if the tip is not a due, drivers, guides and hotel staff, basically all those who have served you significantly, will appreciate that their efforts are thanked by a small financial gesture. The difficulty is to know how much to give, if you want to respect both the person, the habits and customs and the local standard of living. The subject, however, remains delicate. Let’s take two examples: a street vendor does not expect to receive a tip at all, her culture requires her to be naturally at the service of the customer – even if it means bargaining, which is much more common. The second example shows that while the practice tends to become commonplace, many high-end establishments on the main tourist sites nowadays include in their bills so-called “service fees” up to 15% of the total amount. But who rarely take the direction of the staff’s pockets. In addition, while tips are welcome in major tourist destinations and cities, rural residents do not expect to receive “extra” money at all. And you could even insult someone, especially an elderly person, by giving him/her an amount that no one claims (the satisfaction of the service properly performed is necessary and sufficient). So how much and who to tip in Vietnam?
In fact, tip should be seen as a way of appreciating and thanking a service you consider excellent, rather than assuming that the person needs money, and thereby forcing oneself to give him a little money. A golden rule could be : If the service was crap, simply don’t tip. Even though things can be incredibly cheap in Vietnam sometimes, you are under no obligation to tip. If the service was excellent, tip. This general being said, we can only advise you to rely on your feelings, not without having previously read our few recommendations below.


Tip in Vietnam, in what currency?

You can pay in US dollars, but we recommend paying your tips in the local currency – the VND (Vietnam Dong) – much more popular and convenient. Especially considering the price of the exchange, the local currency is much more advantageous not only for tips but also for expenses in general during your trip to Vietnam.

How to tip in Vietnam?

If you want to tip, tip at the end of the shift or at the end of a trip. We advise you to place the sum in a closed envelope, as giving directly from your pocket is less rewarding and less elegant.  If you are travelling in a group, make a small pool dedicated to tips for the driver, guide… and let him manage your envelope.

How much to tip a guide in Vietnam ? Picture : Mr Linh's adventures


Taxi drivers

Normally, it is unnecessary to provide a tip for taxi drivers: the price of the taxi ride is supposed to be displayed on the mileage box. However, here as elsewhere, taxi drivers have the reputation of being very adept at subjecting the customer’s wallet to a severe weight loss treatment, more or less legally. Opt for reputable brands, such as Mai Linh (Ha Noi) or VinaSun (Saigon’s most reliable company) or pray to find the honest driver whom you will be spontaneously happy to thank with a tip equivalent to the amount of the ride largely rounded.

For drivers

If you are travelling- for part or for the whole of your stay in Vietnam - with a driver, it will be appropriate to thank him for his availability, his professionalism and his attention.
It is customary to tip a driver about 3-5 USD (70,000 – 100,000 VND) per day. If things went remarkably well, consider giving him a small gift, a gesture he will particularly appreciate.

For guides and other accompanying persons

We think of them first when it comes to tipping: dedicated to serving their customers, they often live far from home to satisfy everyone, with constant support and exceptional flexibility. Very often, friendship bond can be created during a trip, most guides are excellent travel companions. It is to reward these efforts that a tip generally around 230,000 VND is required. You can also give 5 to 10% of the total cost of the trip, depending on the quality of the experiences.

Tipping hotel staff in Vietnam - Picture : Internet

For hotel staff

Tips to hotel staff are not expected but appreciated. If your accommodation was fully in line with your expectations, as well as the services of the staff, leave a tip in the "Tips Box" or "forget" a 100,000 VND bank note in a visible place in your room, when leaving. If you would like to thank someone in particular, hand give them between 20,000 VND and 50,000 VND.
And finally, if you are staying with a local, the best is to help him tidy up your home and offer him a small souvenir of your country. The promise to recommend their accommodation to your friends/ relatives (or even a review on Tripadvisor and other Google review) will also be very appreciated.

In the restaurants and cafes

These street bouis-bouis are essential for those who want to discover Vietnamese cuisine in all that it has of the most authentic and friendly, including in its very local approach to hygiene. To say that the Street Food of Vietnam is one of the best in the world is a truism that deserves a few more bank notes to accompany the note. While the practice is relatively uncommon, it is modestly appreciated.
For high-end facilities, the service is often billed, but the percentage collected is then redistributed among all staff – when it is. If you are satisfied with everything, food and service, a small bonus (20, 30 thousand dôngs…) from hand to hand and to the right person will be greatly appreciated.
You may read our Guide : What to eat and drink in Vietnam

In bars and other entertainment places

There, tips are customary. In many cases, they are the main source of income for those who serve you, usually underpaid because they have little or no qualifications. Again, depending on your level of satisfaction, you will round it up with an extra 20,000 or 40k VND.

Tipping in local currency - Picture : Internet

In spas and massage parlours

While benefits are generally very inexpensive, it is for the simple reason that most young women who work there come from rural areas and are generally underpaid. In other words, a tip of 50,000 VND to 100,000 VND will be greatly appreciated. On the other hand, if you have benefited from the services of a luxury spa, it is not necessary to tip because the price is quite high and includes a commission for the staff.

A few words of conclusion

Tips – especially for tour guides – are a personal choice based on the quality of service provided. While it is not really a cultural trait of Vietnam, it is increasingly becoming a common way to thank service staff and also show your complete satisfaction. Leave a tip only if you are satisfied, nobody obliges you! And don’t forget that the best alternative – sometimes even more appreciated than a sum of money – is a wide smile followed by a good review on TripAdvisor…
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