Tipping is a common practice in many countries around the world, but it can be confusing for travelers to know when and how much to tip. This is especially true in Vietnam, where tipping customs may differ from what you’re used to. In this article, we’ll explore the culture and etiquette of tipping in Vietnam, so you can navigate this aspect of your trip with ease.
Who Tipping in Vietnam
Cultural Background and Customs
In Vietnam, tipping is not a traditional practice. It is not expected or required in most situations, as it is in Western countries. However, with the rise of tourism, tipping has become more common in certain industries, such as hospitality and tourism.
The lack of a tipping culture in Vietnam is rooted in its history and cultural values. In Vietnamese society, there is a strong emphasis on equality and modesty. People are not expected to flaunt their wealth or show off their generosity through tipping. Additionally, the concept of “face” is important in Vietnamese culture. This means that people do not want to be seen as greedy or taking advantage of others, which can be perceived if they accept tips.
Who to Tip
While tipping is not expected in Vietnam, there are some situations where it is appropriate and appreciated. These include:
- Tour guides: If you have a private tour guide, it is customary to tip them at the end of the tour. The amount is up to your discretion, but a small amount (around 10% of the total cost) is usually sufficient.
- Hotel staff: Tipping hotel staff, such as housekeeping or bellhops, is not expected but appreciated. You can leave a small amount (around $1 USD) per day for housekeeping and a few dollars for bellhops who assist you with your luggage.
- Taxi drivers: Tipping taxi drivers is not common in Vietnam, but you can round up the fare as a small gesture of appreciation.
- Restaurant staff: Tipping in restaurants is not expected, as a service charge is usually included in the bill. However, if you receive exceptional service, you can leave a small tip (around 5-10% of the total bill) to show your appreciation.
How to Tipping in Vietnam
Understanding Currency and Exchange Rates
The official currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese dong (VND). It’s important to familiarize yourself with the exchange rate before your trip, as tipping in USD or other foreign currencies may not be accepted. You can easily exchange your currency for VND at banks, exchange offices, or ATMs throughout the country.
When it comes to tipping in Vietnam, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Always use cash: Credit cards are not widely accepted in Vietnam, so it’s best to have some cash on hand for tipping.
- Use small denominations: In Vietnam, it’s common to use smaller bills for tipping, such as 20,000 VND or 50,000 VND notes. This is because larger bills can be difficult to break and may cause inconvenience for the recipient.
- Be discreet: As mentioned earlier, showing off your wealth or generosity through tipping is not appreciated in Vietnamese culture. It’s best to tip discreetly, without drawing attention to yourself or the recipient.
Pros and Cons Tipping in Vietnam
- Showing appreciation: Tipping can be a way to show your gratitude for good service or assistance.
- Supporting local workers: In industries where tipping is common, such as tourism, tips can provide additional income for workers who may not earn high wages.
- Building relationships: Tipping can help build a positive relationship between you and the person providing the service, especially if you plan on returning to the same place in the future.
- Confusion: As tipping is not a common practice in Vietnam, it can be confusing for travelers to know when and how much to tip.
- Unequal treatment: In some cases, tipping may lead to unequal treatment, where those who tip receive better service than those who don’t.
- Pressure to tip: In touristy areas, there may be pressure to tip from people who are not actually providing a service, such as street vendors or beggars.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of tipping in Vietnam, there are alternative ways to show your appreciation:
- Write a thank-you note: A simple handwritten note expressing your gratitude can go a long way.
- Bring small gifts: Instead of tipping, you can bring small gifts from your home country to give to those who have provided good service.
- Spread the word: If you receive exceptional service, spread the word by leaving a positive review online or recommending the service to others.
Step by Step to Do Tipping in Vietnam
- Familiarize yourself with the local currency and exchange rates.
- Carry small bills (20,000 VND or 50,000 VND notes) for tipping.
- Only tip for exceptional service or assistance.
- Be discreet when tipping.
- Use cash and hand it directly to the recipient.
- If unsure, ask a local for advice on appropriate tipping practices.
Tips Tipping in Vietnam
- When in doubt, follow the locals’ lead. If you see other Vietnamese people tipping, it’s safe to do so as well.
- Don’t feel obligated to tip. Tipping is not expected in Vietnam, so don’t feel pressured to do so.
- Consider the cost of living. Keep in mind that what may seem like a small amount to you could make a big difference for someone living in Vietnam.
- Be respectful. If someone refuses your tip, don’t insist or make a scene. Respect their decision and move on.
Is tipping expected in Vietnam?
Tipping is not expected in most situations in Vietnam, but it is appreciated in certain industries such as tourism.
How much should I tip in Vietnam?
The amount to tip is up to your discretion, but a small amount (around 10% of the total cost) is usually sufficient.
Can I tip in USD or other foreign currencies?
It’s best to use the local currency (VND) for tipping, as foreign currencies may not be accepted.
Should I tip in restaurants?
Tipping in restaurants is not expected, as a service charge is usually included in the bill. However, if you receive exceptional service, you can leave a small tip (around 5-10% of the total bill).
What if I’m uncomfortable with tipping?
If you’re uncomfortable with tipping, there are alternative ways to show your appreciation, such as writing a thank-you note or leaving a positive review online.
Tipping in Vietnam may not be as common as it is in Western countries, but it’s important to understand the culture and etiquette surrounding it. By following the tips and guidelines outlined in this article, you can navigate tipping in Vietnam with confidence and respect for the local customs. Remember, tipping is just one aspect of your trip, so don’t let it overshadow the amazing experiences and memories you’ll make in this beautiful country.