The ultimate guide to tipping in Vietnam

A gratuity or tip is an amount of money given by a customer to workers for the service they have performed. Tips and how much to tip are a matter of social customs and etiquette. Tipping cultures vary from country to country. Tipping is an important part of the culture in most of the American and European countries. On the contrary, tip in China, Japan is considered rude, disrespectful or embarrassing in some circumstances. How about Vietnam – a beautiful country in Southeastern Asia, with rich culture? Tipping is not a must but highly appreciated in Vietnam. The ultimate guide to tipping in Vietnam contains everything you need to know about the Vietnamese tipping culture.

How do they call gratuity in Vietnamese?

In Vietnam, we use the words “tiền típ” (shortly “típ”) which comes from the English word “tip” or “tiền bo” (shortly “bo”), “tiền boa” (shortly “boa”) which come from the French words “pour boire”.

guide to tipping in Vietnam

Tips really encourages workers to work better.

Who should be tipped in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, customers can tip workers if they are happy with the services. Who are workers? You can consider tipping the following workers:

  • Drivers including taxi drivers, private car drivers, motorbike taxi driver, electronic taxi driver, horse cart, sampan, boat riders.
  • Tour guides.
  • Singers and artists who perform traditional music.
  • Workers at restaurants, coffee shops, bars, pubs, street food stalls: waiters, housekeepers, bartenders, cashiers, food runners, barbacks, etc.
  • Workers at hotels, homestays, motels, guesthouses: housekeepers, laundry staff, receptionists, bell boys, security guards, etc.
  • Hosts who work as housekeepers, receptionists, bell boys at AirBnb.
  • Massage and spas: massage therapists.
  • Hair salons and barber shops: hair stylists, barbers.
  • Tailored shops: tailors.
  • Tatoo artists.
  • Shippers.

I will recommend how much to tip them later in this blog.

Sampan riders - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Sampan riders work hard on your tours to Mekong Delta Region, Ninh Binh Province, Phong Nha – Ke Bang Nation Park where there are lots of rivers and channels..

motorized boat riders guide to tipping in Vietnam

Do not miss tipping motorized boat riders.

Horse cart riders - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Horse cart riders take tourists around dirt road in the Mekong Delta countryside.

Student guides - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Student guides are happy to be tipped at the end of a free city tour.

Singers and artists - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Singers and artists perform Vietnamese traditional music in Mekong Delta.

Mekong Delta Tour

At a restaurant in Vietnam - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Eating at a restaurant in Vietnam.

Workers at a bar in Ho Chi Minh City - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Workers at a bar in Ho Chi Minh City.

barber - guide to tipping in Vietnam

A tourist has his hair cut at a barber shop in Ho Thi Ky Street, Ho Chi Minh City. A hair cut costs less than $5 USD at this small barber shop.

Ao Dai tailor shop in Vietnam - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Ao Dai tailor shop in Vietnam.

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Vietnamese people do not tip:

  • Sellers at markets.
  • Vendors and waiters at Banh mi shops, small street food stalls and cheap eats. At these places, a portion of foods such as Banh mi, noodle soup, cake cost only $1 USD so that we do not need to tip workers.
  • When buying take-away foods and drinks.
  • Bus and coach drivers, flight attendants, staff on trains.
  • Security guards, motorbike and car keepers at parking lots at restaurants, hotels.
  • Staff at laundromats.
  • Fashion, souvenir, fabric, food shops on the streets, shopping centers or local markets.
guide to tipping in Vietnam

Fruit vendors at a local market.

A street food stall in Cambodian market - guide to tipping in Vietnam

A street food stall in the Cambodian market.

A street food stall selling Grilled rice cake - guide to tipping in Vietnam

A street food stall selling take-away Grilled rice cake.

A Banh mi shop in Vietnam - guide to tipping in Vietnam

A Banh mi shop in Vietnam.

guide to tipping in Vietnam

Do tips go to workers in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, tips may be collected and shared to all workers. Sometimes, managers or owners allow waiters to keep people give them. In some restaurants and other places in Vietnam, service fees are included in bills but we do not know that workers or owners get the money. You should give tippings directly to workers who involve in the services. If you would like to tip only one worker, you should tell her about that.

At some medium class and cheap restaurants, street food stalls, you pay to cashiers or owners who hold piles of money on her/his hands but not waiters. At some small tailored shops, barber shops and hair salons, you pay to cashiers. You should give tippings directly to workers who involve in the services.

On tours in Vietnam, drivers and tour guides usually discuss how they share tips. If customers do not give tips separately, they will share the tips in the ratio 5:5, 6:4, 7:3, 8:2. The tips rarely do not go to tour agencies, tour sales, tour operators and support teams.

Ao Dai Ho Chi Minh Food Tour - Saigon Food Tour by motorbike

How to give the tipping to workers?

You can put some money on tables at restaurants before leaving and the staff knows that the money is for them. It proper etiquette to hand a tip directly to workers in Vietnam. At higher-end and medium-class restaurants, coffee shops, spas, they put bills in leather restaurant covers, you can put tips in the restaurant covers. You can put money into envelopes and hand the envelopes to tour guides and receptionists.

Leave money on dining tables - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Leave money on dining tables and waiters know that the money is for them.

Hand the money to workers - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Hand the money to workers.

Put money into envelopes - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Put money into envelopes, give envelopes containing money to workers such as receptionists and guides.

What to do when tipping in Vietnam?

In order to say special thanks to workers, many Vietnamese customers give the workers some money. Vietnamese people usually say “Của cho không bằng cách cho” (It is important not the thing you give but the the way you give it). So that the amount of money you tip is not more important than the way you give it to workers.

The workers are not happy with tips from customers who look discomfort or upset. Smiles, expressions of appreciation, beautiful words about the services are more valuable than your tips. So you should tip them without contorting your face but with a smile. It is better to talk some nice words to them and tell them the services are great.

The most polite phrases to use when giving a tip in Vietnam are as follows:

Say thanks:

  • Cảm ơn (Thank you) – the simplest phrase.
  • Cảm ơn nhiều (Thank you so much).
  • Cảm ơn anh/chị/em nhé : Say thank to an older male worker/older female worker/younger worker.

Tell them to receive the tip:

  • Vui giữ tiền này (Please keep the money).
  • Tiền này cho anh/chị/em (The money is for you).
  • Em/anh/chị làm tốt lắm (You did a good job).
  • Vietnamese people can tell workers to keep the changes as tips or tip them separately. In this case, you should tell the workers “Please keep the change as a tip” (Em giữ lại tiền thừa nhé).
  • Món ăn ngon lắm (The foods are great).
  • Áo dài/bộ này đẹp lắm (The Ao dai/suit is great).
  • Tôi hài lòng về dịch vụ (I am happy with the service).
  • Chuyến đi thật tuyệt (The tour was great).

Look at workers’ eyes, smile with them or nod to them is enough if you can not speak Vietnamese and workers do not understand English.

Ho Chi Minh City Unseen Tour by Motorbike

Fun facts about tipping in Vietnam

Some Vietnamese people fold banknotes into beautiful shapes such as hearts, swans, boats, butterflies, stars, birds the hand workers the folding money.

Some customers write beautiful words on bills in order to say special thanks to the staff and encourage them to work better.

Some customers tip tour guides with nice gifts such as instant coffee packets.

 instant coffee packets - guide to tipping in Vietnam

A funny tourist put two instant coffee packets into an envelope and tip his guide with the envelope.

Vietnamese banknote heart - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Vietnamese banknote heart is a nice gift. Some Vietnamese people consider this gift as a tip.

Which currency, banknotes or coins, small or large money, new vs old banknotes for tips in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, you can tip in Vietnamese Dong, US dollars, Australian dollars, Singapore dollars, Euro, British pounds, Japanese yens, Chinese renminbis. Some people spend tips while other people keep them as gifts and good luck. They may or may not exchange foreign currencies for Vietnamese Dong.

Sometimes, foreigners prepare collections of foreign coins to tip special workers such as tour guides and receptionists who help them so much on their trips.

A high-domination value banknote is recommended to tip instead of a pile of small banknotes. Although both are not impolite in Vietnamese tipping culture, large value banknotes show your respect to workers.

Never tip with too old, wrinkled, dirty, torn banknotes or too old and dirty coins.

Tipping in a Vietnamese or foreign currency in Vietnam is appreciated - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Tipping in a Vietnamese or foreign currency in Vietnam is appreciated.

Some workers keep foreign banknotes as souvenirs - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Some workers keep foreign banknotes as souvenirs.

banknotes and coins - guide to tipping in Vietnam

You can tip workers with banknotes and coins. Vietnam has stopped publishing new coins since April 2011 because of small denominations and seldom uses.

guide to tipping in Vietnam

Instead of tipping them five VND 10,000 banknotes, you can tip them one VND 50,000 banknote.

Never tip too old notes and coins and torn notes - guide to tipping in Vietnam

Never tip too old notes and coins and torn notes.

Tips are sometimes included in bills in Vietnam

At higher-end hotels, restaurants and spas, the tips are 5-20% of the bill and included in the bill. Some customers may misunderstand that they do not need to tip because the workers have been tipped. The tips should go to the workers but we are not sure about that in Vietnam. So that you can tip them if you really enjoy the service and happy with the way they perform the services.

At some spas, prices include tips. guide to tipping in Vietnam

At some spas in Vietnam, prices include tips.

Tips or gratuities are not included in tour prices.

How much to tip in Vietnam? – MUST-TO-KNOW

Drivers

  • Taxi drivers, electronic taxi driver (Grab): $0.5-1 USD.
  • Private car drivers: $5-10 USD/day.
  • Motorbike taxi driver: $0.25-1 USD.
  • Horse cart (a 15-minute ride), sampan or motorized boat (30-minute ride): $1-2.5 USD.

Tour guides: $5-15 USD/day, $2.5-15 USD/half day. Some tourists tip tour guides up to $25 USD/day. Do not miss tipping on free tours or cheap tours run by local students.

Singers and artists who perform traditional music: $0.5-1 USD.

Workers at restaurants, coffee shops, bars, pubs

At restaurants, coffee shops, bars, pubs, your tips go to waiters, housekeepers, bartenders, cashiers, food runners, barbacks, etc. As mentioned above, the tips are shared to all of the workers or kept by waiters who receive the tips.

  • At higher-end restaurants, coffee shops, bars, pubs, tips are included in bills, but you can tip them $2.5-10 USD or 5-10% of bill.
  • At medium-class or cheap restaurants, coffee shops, cheap eats, street food stalls, you can tip $0.25-2.5 USD or 5-10% of bill.

Workers at hotels, homestays, motels, guesthouses include housekeepers, laundry staff, receptionists, bell boys, security guards, etc.

  • Receptionist: $2-5 USD/day.
  • Bell boy: $0.5-1 USD/suitcase or $2-5 USD when you arrive or leave.
  • Housekeeper or laundry worker: $0.5-2 USD/day.
  • Security guards: $0.5-2 USD

Hosts who work as housekeepers, receptionists, bell boys at AirBnb: $2-5 USD/day.

Massage therapists at massage and spas: $5-15 USD.

Hair stylists, barbers at hair salons and barber shops: $1-2.5 USD or 10-15% of bill.

Tailors at tailored shops: $1-2.5 USD or 10-15% of bill.

Tatoo artists: 10-15% of bill.

Shippers: tell them to keep small changes which are less than VND 10,000 or tip them a maximum of $1 USD.

In fact, many rich people tip waitresses, receptionists, massage therapists from $25-50 USD.

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