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Guanacaste, Costa Rica by Joseph Emanuelli

Real information and stories from Guanacaste , Costa Rica. Presneted by a long time expat living and working in Costa Rica
Tipping In Costa Rica, How much should I give?

When traveling to Costa Rica a lot of people wonder “what do I tip”? When I lived in the US you could not get the same answer from 3 people, it is always a crap shoot. Some people like to say it is this percentage or that percentage and there are some norms that should be considered, even here in Costa Rica.  I used to work in the hospitality industry for over 28 years and I would get asked this question all the time. So let me ask you a question? Do you know what TIPS stand for? It is an acronym! Ready here it is; TIPS stands for “To Insure Proper Service”! Period!  A tip should be based on the quality of service. So you have to look at it a lot of different ways. Say you go to a restaurant for dinner, and the service from the waiter is pretty good, they greet quickly with a smile and are pleasant and welcome you to the restaurant, they answer your questions and get you your drinks and take your order and present the food once ready and then offer more service and bring the check at the end. This is the fast version but still it is relevant to this topic. Hopefully all with a smile and great attitude!   So is it fair to tip the waiter less if the food was not prepared right to you request? The answer is NO, he did not cook the food he or she is the go between, you and the cooks. This is just one of many examples I could bring forth but I do not want to get off the topic.

In Costa Rica and most Spanish speaking countries “propina” is the word for tip, but don’t get it mixed up with “chorizo” which is actually a sausage but also refers to a bribe under the table here in Costa Rica.  By the laws of Costa Rica there is a mandatory 10% of the purchase added to every check at every restaurant for the tip, noted as “impuesto de servicio” or service tax. Some restaurants actually include it in the price and they show on the menu. Have you ever looked at a menu here and seen after the price I.V.I and wondered what the heck does this mean.  It is “impuestos venta incluidos” or sales tax included or you may have seen I.V.S.I which is “impuestos venta y servicio incluidos” or sales tax and service included.

Remember that the hard working people in the service and tourism industries are paid a very low base salary. I know I was in that industry for many years and trust me it is not easy working in a restaurant/ hospitality business by any means. They depend on the TIPS to help make ends meet and to prosper more and can actually make more from tips than salary.  Of course tipping is a personal thing and I would never say to anyone, “you should tip more.”  But do think about how an extra dollar may be nothing to you, but could mean a really big of difference to someone working hard to makes ends meet. Of course this all goes back to the quality of the service you receive and your personal budget and beliefs. Let me give you some basic guidelines or suggestions for you to consider when tipping someone that gives you great service with a smile and makes you feel good. Return the favor and make their day to if it is within your means.

ü  When you arrive at the Airport and porters offer to carry your bags tip at least a $1.00 per bag.

ü  If you are entering Costa Rica via ground at any of the border crossings, there is a good chance you will have to carry your bags q pretty long way and in the heat, give at least $2.00 per bag.

ü  If you plan to go deep sea fishing or do some sort of water activity, a good tip for a fishing captain would be $40.00 per full day and $20.00 for a half day. This also goes for a dive master or a snorkel guide. Again remember the meaning of Tips “To Insure Proper Service”

ü  If you are staying at a swanky hotel that offers many amenities like hairstylists, massages, pedicure and so on, I recommend about $10.00 at the least or 15% of the cost of the service provided. If there happens to be pool attendants at the facility then a $2-$3 dollar tip is appropriate.

ü  This one most people do not think about, leave a tip for your maid on the first day with a small note, since most likely you won’t be there when they clean the room, to ensure good service throughout the stay. I recommend for the first day $1.00 if the room looks good then the next day leave $2.00 per day for the rest of your stay.

ü  Waiters and Waitresses as I mentioned before are guaranteed a 10% gratuity that will be automatically added to the bill. But this does not mean you cannot tip more. If the service is good a few extra bucks will be really appreciated. Especially if you give it to them in cash, that’s what I do.

ü  For taxi drivers I recommend two to three dollars depending on how far they are taking you and if they don’t get lost and if they give you the correct change back. Always try to find a cab with a meter, if the cab is without a meter, ask the driver before getting in the car what will be the cost to go from where you are to where you want to be. If it seems out of line walk over to the next cabbie and ask the same question, as you may do better.

ü  If you decide to take a tour, a few dollars extra per person would be appropriate for the tour guide and or the driver. Sometime that work as both.

Hope this information is helpful and useful, as I mentioned above tipping is up to each person’s ability and beliefs.  

As always, thanks to my steady followers for stopping by my blog. I hope you enjoy some of my rants, craziness and even some good information, if you want to make a comment just send me an email to jaaechef@gmail.com , my personal email address or post it here. If you have an interest in or are just curious about Costa Rica and want to learn more about Costa Rica or are just curious what it is really about and why so many people are talking about it, click this link to my new web page and blog site   http://costarica-connection.com

Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you. Pura Vida!!

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2013 3:20 PM by Joseph A. Emanuelli


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