Knowing how much to tip in Nepal, particularly when guides and porters are involved, can be a tricky matter. While most of Asia doesn’t have much of a tipping culture, some of the underpaid staff in Nepal depend upon tips from tourists for their livelihoods.
- First, see some travel essentials to know before visiting Nepal.
How Much to Tip in Nepal
The average service worker in Nepal may not expect a tip, partly to be polite and partly due to the desire to save face.
That being said, wages can be very low and many employees work seven long days a week to make ends meet. If service was excellent, you can tip 10% just to show gratitude.
A 10% service charge is already added to the bills in many tourist-oriented hotels and restaurants. In theory, this 10% should be shared among the staff. As is sometimes the case in Asia, the service charge may just go toward paying base salaries. The only way to ensure that a server receives your gratuity for a job well done is to give a small amount directly to them. Avoid contributing to cultural mutation by tipping when it is not merited! See this list of some other things not to do in Asia.
There is really no custom to tip the housekeeping staff or hotel porters who carry your bags, although the gesture will certainly be appreciated.
When using taxis in Asia, the custom is to simply round up your fare to the nearest whole amount. This prevents the driver from having to dig for change and is the best way to leave a little extra.
Realistically, you won't encounter many working taxi meters in Kathmandu and should agree on a price before getting into the taxi!
Tipping Trekking Guides, Sherpas, and Porters
Unlike the service staff in town, your trekking staff will probably expect some form of gratuity for a job well done. A good guide and team can make or break your trekking experience -- perhaps one of the primary reasons you came to Nepal.
They don’t earn much for their hard work and generally rely on tips to survive. Typically, you’ll give your tip to the leader or guide and they will hopefully distribute it as seen fit among the other members of the team (e.g., porters and cooks). Guides should receive a slightly bigger tip than porters.
If you’ll be doing the trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, the generic rule is to tip one day’s pay per week spent trekking, or 15% of the total cost. Without really knowing what the staff earns, this can be difficult to decipher. Assuming that the experience was excellent, a good rule of thumb is to tip the equivalent of US $3 -- $5 per day for your guides and US $2 -- $4 per day for porters.
Along with giving cash, you may also leave behind pieces of gear that you no longer need. If you purchased gloves or other gear specifically for your trek and are ready to leave Nepal for warmer climates, consider giving your team the extra equipment -- they’ll put it to good use!
How to Tip in Nepal
Because tipping in Nepal is still not entirely customary and may even cause embarrassment in some instances, tips should be given in a discreet manner. Don’t showboat your generosity; instead, put your gift into an envelope or discreetly take the recipient aside. You may find that they simply stuff the envelope or gratuity into a pocket without counting or acknowledging it in front of you.
Always tip in Nepali rupees -- the local currency -- rather than currency from your own country. Read about how to quickly find the official exchange rates for a country.
When tipping trekking staff, show your gratitude on the last evening of your hike rather than as everyone is saying goodbye. Some staff members may not be available the next morning and may miss out on the tip. If you did your trek with other tourists, you can pool money together to tip as a group.
If you happen to be fortune enough to dine with a local family or are invited to stay in their home, you should bring a small token of appreciation. Some gifts may be considered bad form or even unlucky; ask another Nepalese person about gift ideas.