Filipinos are known around the world for their hospitality – millions of travellers who have visited the Philippines can vouch for this. For many workers in tourism-related industries, providing service above the norm is a way of life. Given that the average level of service is close to exceptional, should you be tipping in the Philippines?
In the Philippines, giving tips is not only acceptable but even expected in some situations. If you’re a tipper, make sure you keep a handful of small currencies handy.
You might have read somewhere that Asian cultures do not really welcome the idea of accepting tips, but this is not always true in the Philippines. Here is some useful information on tipping and tipping etiquettes to take with you when you visit the country.
The prices used below are in Philippine Piso (PHP) or United States Dollar (USD)
Tipping in the airport
Generally, you should not tip airport personnel because they have a very strict set of employee regulations on receiving gifts and money from passengers, especially during the Christmas season. A sincere “Thank you!” would suffice.
Baggage porters, on the other hand, are a different story. These uniformed guys who bring your bags, luggage, and gears from the conveyor belt all the way to the taxi service area practically work for tips. Their services are optional but if you do hire them, you must pay a minimal porterage fee – of which only a portion goes to the porter. Around PHP20 to PHP50 ($0.40 to $1) would be good as a tip which you can hand directly to the porter.
Tipping drivers for taxi, Grab or rental vehicles
Taxis use a meter to determine your final fare. Most taxi drivers would expect a small tip from passengers – especially tourists. The usual practice is to pay a little more than the fare and tell the cabbie to ‘keep the change’. So, if the taxi meter says PHP350 ($6.75), you can give PHP400 ($7.70).
If you order for a Grab car, you’re not expected to tip since you will charge your fare to your credit card. If you’re fortunate enough to get one during rush hour, you’ll be paying a premium because of the surge rate. But if you want to appreciate your driver by tipping, PHP50 ($1) would be okay.
For rental cars or vans with drivers, it is customary to tip the driver, particularly for long trips. The usual rate is around PHP100 to PHP200 ($1.90 to $3.85).
Tipping the tour guides
If you book a tour through your hotel or travel agent, the tour company takes care of paying the tour guide. If you want to tip the tour guide, the amount would depend on how long the tour was and how many of you are in the tour group. For a whole day tour with a large group, you can give PHP50 to PHP100 ($1 to $1.90) per person.
If you’re the adventurous type who likes to go to tourist spots and hire the services of on-the-spot tour guides, just include the tip in the fee or overpay the guide a little.
Tipping in hotels
If you’re staying in a 3-star to a 5-star hotel, you don’t normally tip the front desk personnel. However, you can tip the bellboys (or room boys), housekeeping staff, waiters, and concierge.
For budget hotels and transient inns, you may chance upon a ‘Tip Box’ on the counter. This means that all tips should go into the box and the employees will divide the total tips among themselves. For Airbnb accommodations, you may tip the caretaker of the property if there is one.
The usual tipping range is from PHP50 to PHP100 ($1 to $1.95).
Tipping at spas, salons or massage parlours
For some reason, tipping in spas, salons or massage parlours is almost mandatory.
Let’s say you get a one-hour massage for PHP500 ($9.65). This fee mostly goes to the establishment and your masseuse gets less than half of it. After the session, the receptionist might hand you an envelope with the name of your attendant on it for your tip. You can slip in PHP50 to PHP100 ($1 to $1.90) as a tip.
If you order a room service massage, you should tip the masseuse. Most firms that offer room service massage pay the attendant very little; the bulk of the fee they collect from the customer goes to their overhead and the hotel. You can be generous here and go as high as PHP200 ($3.85).
If you get your hair or nails done in a salon, the hairdresser or manicurist will expect a tip, even a small one. You may give your tip directly to the person who attended to you after you’ve paid the salon. You will notice that some of these establishments will intentionally give your change in smaller bills – another way of anticipating your need for small currencies in case you want to leave a tip.
Tipping in restaurants
If you’re dining in fast-food places (which are aplenty in the Philippines), you don’t have to tip.
For restaurants with a wait staff, the crew will appreciate any tip from the customers. Take note that not all restaurants would provide you with a dedicated waiter or waitress. This means that during the actual dining time, three or four different wait staff might attend to you. So, who would you give the tip to?
When you ask for your bill, the waiter will bring it either in a billfold, small tray, or a small basket. You can leave your tip in the container as you leave. The staff will know what to do with it. A PHP100 ($1.90) tip is already generous.
In some countries, you can ask the waiter to add the tip to your bill when you pay by a credit card. Don’t do that in the Philippines because the waiters might not get their share. It is always better to leave a tip in cash.
Oh, if the restaurant collects a service charge (which you can check on your bill), you don’t really have to tip. But if you want to show some appreciation for the staff, anywhere from PHP40 to PHP100 ($0.75 to $1.90) is fine.
Also Read: What is the Cost of Food in the Philippines?
Tipping helpful locals
During your stay in the Philippines, you might encounter kind people who offer you some help. For example, the security guard or parking attendant might hail a cab for you. If you want to give them a tip, PHP10 to PHP20 ($0.20 to $0.40) would be enough.
How to offer the tip
Tipping in the Philippines is a way to show appreciation for good service. We’ve discussed the common tip box, the tip envelope, and the bill container. But how do you hand a tip directly to the person? The normal practice is to fold the money once or twice and hand it to the person while saying, “this is for you.”
No matter what amount you give, you can be sure to receive a big ‘thank you!’ and a bright smile in return.