Perhaps the most crucial and very essential manual to read before planning for your trip to Egypt.
Tipping is serious business in Egypt. It is nothing like the American tipping system where you generally tip bell boys in hotels and mark up a 10-20% on your dining bills in local diners and restaurants.
No. Tipping in Egypt is a whole different ball game and I do emphasise, the locals treat it VERY SERIOUSLY. It is their way of life and the essence of living to the Egyptians. Expect the unexpected, if that is even possible. I say this without exaggeration that it is almost a crime to not tip in Egypt. People will chase you down the road for the tips you never knew you owe and expect dagger stares and harsh words when you forget to tip. Understand that most of the time tips mean a lot (low wages are common in Egypt). Tip discreetly (offer a handshake with tip in your hand). Be generous, it will make your trip a lot more enjoyable. But never feel you should be pressured to tip outside of the necessary etiquette. Know your right, stand your ground to hold back your tip if you feel you are treated unjustly, some recipients will comment rudely that your tip is too low, hold back/take back your tip immediately (snatch it from their hands or pretend to offer higher amount in return) and give a firm NO in response to teach them a lesson. Ignore their remarks or insults and just enjoy the rest of your trip in Egypt. Always keep a look out for small change and keep them, it is difficult to come by and most people will say they don't have change when you tip, expecting you to tip with the high currency note you own.
I have to be honest, spending 3 weeks in Egypt, partial on my own, is no easy feat. Coming from a country where tipping is essentially non-existent, the whole tipping system in Egypt is proven very challenging for me. Some places are more relaxed than others, but after a while, you do get used to setting aside a budget for it.
The amounts suggested are pr. couple, you could pay less if you are a single traveller. The only exception is if you travel with a premium tour agency that states all tips/tipping are included in the trip, which in my opinion, will make the trip more enjoyable by ten folds. I HIGHLY recommend it.
Here's the tip menu (taken from a post in TripAdvisor with some of my own adjustments/add-ons):
EGYPT TIP MENU
- Driver taking you to hotel from airport upon arrival: 10 - 30 LE (in Red Sea destinations, Luxor, Aswan or Alexandria you can still be relatively generous with 10-20 LE)
- Luggage man at hotel: 3-5 LE pr. bag both in and out
- Housekeeping: 5-10 LE pr. night (sometimes you will find towels folded into various animals placed on your bed, the responsible housekeeper will hover outside your room expecting a tip, 3-5 LE will suffice, 10 LE if they make you laugh)
- Waiter/waitress at breakfast restaurant at hotel: 5-10 LE pr. meal
- Waiter at cruise: 50 LE once if on a week long cruise. Less if cruise is shorter. You will most likely have the same waiter for the whole cruise. Of course, if your waiter does not provide a good service, you should reconsider how much you prefer to tip.
- Driver taking you sightseeing full day: 50 LE (Full days are usually only in Cairo)
- Guide taking you sightseeing full day: 80-100 LE (Full days are usually only in Cairo)
- Driver taking you sightseeing half day: 25 LE
- Guide taking you sightseeing half day: 40-50 LE Waiter at lunch restaurant in connection to sightseeing: 5-10 LE Feluccaman taking you sailing for one hour: 10 LE (if the agreed price for the trip does not include tips)
- Guards around the sites: 1-2 LE
- "Groundskeeper" in mosques (the man handing you shoe-covers, showing you special things etc): 1-5 LE
- Boat staff on Nile cruise/Lake Nasser cruise incl. reception: 10 LE pr. person pr. night, leave in envelope in reception by the end. Write your cabin number on the envelope. Will be divided between all staff. Highest ranking staff gets the most, lowest ranking the least. It is the system, but if you feel like rewarding a member of staff with a little extra, do it very discreet, or he will be forced to share with the others.
- Horsemen in Edfu: MAX. 10 LE for roundtrip to temple and back (if the agreed price does not include tips)
- Men or women at restrooms handing out toiletpaper: 50 PT - 1 LE. And if restroom is unacceptably nasty, don't tip!
- Egyptian staff on day-boats Red Sea destinations: 10-20 LE per person on tour (not per staff on boat). Often there is a box set out at the end for tips. Usually foreign staff like dive-masters, snorkel instructors etc does not expect to be tipped. So check how many Egyptian staff members are on board and tip according to that.
- Kids or young adults helping with camels, horses or donkeys, provided they are "employees" at the stables: 5-10 LE after trip
- People (seller, horse or donkey carer, guards) whose photos you have taken: 3-5 LE pr. person.
- If you take a food sample a food stall/restaurant offer you to try: 50 PT - 1 LE to the cashier (more if you sample more stuff)
- "General tipping in restaurants (if service/food was good): around 10 %. Most customers will find a service charge on their receipt, but please note that this goes to the restaurant and not to the waiter.
If someone offers to give you a tour of a temple/place/city that you didn't feel you want, decline and move along. Do not follow and fall in his footstep, he will ask for a tip after showing you around.
Do not simply accept offers by guards or donkey riders to let you wear his hat or take a photo together, unless you want to, this will undoubtedly follow with a tip request regardless of his promise that it was free in the first place.
A general note about whether to tip taxi drivers, caleche men, felucca men etc. You have to decide if the agreed price is so high that tips are included, or when agreeing on the price, emphasise that the amount is inclusive of tip, i.e. 200 LE no tip. Feel free to reward a little extra say if traffic was real bad or service was really good.
Do not be persuaded into paying additional after agreeing on a price with taxi drivers, caleche men or felucca men. Airport ticket fee, village fee, etc are just lies to extort more money out of you. Stand your ground to the agreed price even if you have to be harsh. Exception to taxi drivers who demand a little more if they help you with your luggages.
Wrote by Nicole