Should you tip in Vietnam? It is always confusing when you travel around the world when it comes to tipping. Some countries expect it, some countries don’t expect it. So should you tip in Vietnam? The simple answer is that tipping is not expected in Vietnam though very much appreciated.
The Vietnamese people don’t generally tip unless they go to a hairdresser or spa for a massage. In taxis they may only round up the total taxi fare. Maybe the rich Vietnamese will tip when they go to a high end restaurant or bar but apart from that tipping is not standard.
As a tourist you are not expected to tip but nobody will say no to you tipping them for good service. Remember Vietnam is still a relatively poor country. It has seen a great increase in prosperity over the last 10 years though your average worker in a bar, restaurant or hotel still gets paid very low.
You will see that in the hotels, bars and restaurants you get charged 10% tax and 5% service charge on top of the prices quoted. That 5% service charge is supposed to go to the staff as a tip but it is very common for the establishment to not hand over the full amount to the staff. It is common for the management to take 50% or more of the service charge to cover costs like breakages, wear and tear or the odd people not paying their bills, if in fact they hand over any of that 5% to the staff.
So when should you tip in Vietnam? Well it is entirely up to you, though I recommend you tip when you get good service. In a taxi, like the locals do, round the total amount up to the next 5000 Dong or 10,0000 Dong. If you are paying by credit card then it is best to leave a tip in cash. If you add the tip to the credit card bill then it is likely that tip will not go to the staff. The cashier or management usually control the tips coming in and may distribute the share of tips out to the staff, including kitchen staff and even the maintenance staff every 2 weeks.
It is common for young workers in Vietnam to live off the tips they receive. Outside of the cities, when the staff live away from home with accommodation provided by the hotel, bar or restaurant, it is common for the parents to arrive at their work place on the 1st of the month, when they get paid their monthly salary, to take their salary off them to pay for the living expenses for the entire family.
In restaurants and bars maybe leave 5 – 10% tip if you have received good service. Remember that 20,000 Dong is less than US$1. Not much for you but maybe a whole meal for the staff member that served you. If you have spent 400,000 Dong (around US$18) for a nice meal then 40,000 Vietnamese Dong (10%) is not alot more to give as a tip.
If you go on a tour then give a separate tip to the driver and another tip direct to the tour guide. Again only if you have enjoyed the tour and received good service. Remember it is a tip for good service, not a general tip as it is expected. If they give you bad service then tipping them doesn’t change the way they hold the next tour. Tipping encourages good service, unlike in the US where it is now expected regardless of the quality of service.
One place that people don’t even think about tipping are the hotel staff that you probably never see – the housekeeping service staff that come to clean your room. I generally leave 10,000 – 20,000 Vietnam Dong in the bathroom with a note saying thank you to the staff so they know it is a tip. Check out Should You Tip The Hotel Housekeeping Staff.
So when traveling in Vietnam tip when you receive good service. Enjoy Vietnam. It is a great country to visit, very cheap for food and drinks so don’t be stingy with your tips.