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Every country you visit has a different etiquette when it comes to who to tip, how much to tip and when it would be downright rude to offer a tip. In South Africa the tourism, hospitality and service industries often employ people from previously disadvantaged areas within the local community, many of whom do not earn a large basic salary and therefore rely on tips from customers in order to survive financially.

Portfolio's guide to tipping in South Africa

The following amounts are basic guidelines and you can always reward excellent service with a larger gratuity.

Accommodation tipping in South Africa:

A standard 10% of the total bill can be paid on check-out and this should usually be distributed among the various staff members including cleaners, waiters, porters, kitchen and garden staff and in some cases reception and management. You can check with the individual establishment on their in-house policy. If you wish to specify a certain tip for a specific department of individual you could either pay this directly into the hand of the person/s concerned or hand a marked envelope with cash to the receptionist on check out.

At game reserves, guests may tip rangers and trackers individually - check with management to determine best practice at each establishment.

Aiport, train station and hotel porters tipping in South Africa:

Porters are given a tip of R3 – R5 per item of luggage, paid directly at the time of checking in or out.

Restaurant tipping in South Africa:

A tip of 10% – 20% is standard but do check with the manager as some restaurants in South Africa add on a standard service charge to tables with over a certain number of diners. If you tip over and above this included charge it is unlikely your error will be pointed out and your tip will be seen as rewarding exceptional service over and above the basic charge.

Health & beauty tipping in South Africa:

It’s always a treat to indulge in a selection of spa treatments while on vacation (massages, body wraps, facials and the like) and in addition many holiday makers plan a trip or two to the hair salon. Consider a 10% – 15% tip to the stylist or beauty therapist and don’t forget to leave something small (R5 – R10) for the person who washed your hair, or ask the stylist to split the gratuity between them.

Petrol station attendant tipping in South Africa:

In South Africa, petrol (gas) stations are manned by attendants who will refuel your vehicle, clean your windscreen and offer to check your oil, water and tyre pressure. A tip here will depend on how much they do for you. In general these men and women are very friendly and cheerful and deserve a tip in thanks of service with a smile. It is customary to pay in silver (R1, R2 and R5 coins) at your discretion.

Car guard tipping in South Africa:

You will find that pretty much wherever you park in South Africa there will be an official or unofficial ‘car guard’ on hand offering to watch your vehicle for you. You do not need to tip these individuals unless you feel that they are offering a valuable service (in some areas you may be very thankful to know that a pair of eyes is looking after your car while you’re otherwise occupied). Shopping malls will have paid guards as will some beach parking areas etc. Give a tip as and when you feel it warranted. If a car guard becomes aggressive, demanding or threatening contact the nearest security guard or the shopping centre management and report the matter.

Tour guide and coach driver tipping in South Africa:

It is standard to tip tourist guides and coach drivers at the end of the day. Sometimes, on half or one day tours, the driver IS the guide, whereas on larger / longer trips there will be both a driver and a tour guide. The recommended tip is usually R10.00 per tourist on a day tour and R15.00 per tourist per day on overland and/or local coach tours. This will be divided between the tour guide and the driver.