Tipping in Vietnam – What Should You Know Before You Travel

Vietnam is a beautiful country in Southeast Asia. Nowadays Vietnam is more and more known for worldwide travelers. When traveling to Vietnam you will learn many interesting customs and habits in many cities. Here you will also find various rules of conduct that many people believe eerily. One of these habits is tipping. So there is a common question that tipping is a must in Vietnam?

Tipping in Vietnam

1. What does tipping mean for Vietnamese?

Tipping and its amount are often based on social customs and etiquette, and customs vary between countries or even regions. In some locations, tipping is discouraged and considered offensive, while in some other locations, tipping is expected from customers. The customary amount of a tip may be a certain range of monetary amounts or a certain percentage of the bill based on the perceived quality of the service provided.

In Vietnam, many people think that tipping in Vietnam is the voluntary money when it is well served or gladly given. Also, you can simply tell the waiter or taxi driver to keep the change if you get good service from them. But you do not have to give it as often as in American countries. Therefore some restaurants and hotels add a mandatory service charge to the customer invoice.

2. Is tipping a customer a must in Vietnam?

In Vietnam, don’t worry about tipping. Because they have the opinion that the customers have the right to a good service. So that the customers only have to pay enough of the money on the bill. Nowadays Vietnamese don’t pay the waiters’ tips as often. In the south of Vietnam people pay more tip than people in the north because of the lifestyle.

3. What should you do when tipping in Vietnam?

Tipping in Vietnam is not a must but voluntary but we should learn how to tip correctly. It’s not so easy. Waiter in restaurants, taxi driver, tour guide, laundry person in hotels, waiter in the bar, etc. When the customers pay the tip, they should look at the waiters. Besides they say “Thank you” or “The dish is great” when eating in the restaurant. 

They should also give a friendly attitude and smile to the waiters or cleaning lady. Let them see that you give money voluntarily. The comfort of both customers and the waiters make a good time and relaxed space. You should put the tip in the ceiling or if not, lie down the cash on the table for the waiters to take. If you decide not to tip in a luxury restaurant, let the waiters, supervisor or management give convincing reasons.

Tipping in Vietnam encourages better service, especially in luxury restaurants, five-star hotels, etc. Tipping in Vietnam is generally not so well known and the Vietnamese often have the wrong opinion about tipping. But tipping has the meaning of modernity and politeness, so Vietnamese promote this good action.

4. How to tip correctly in Vietnam?

Tipping is not common in Vietnam, although it is highly appreciated. Here are our recommendations on when to tip in Vietnam:

At the taxi:

One of the most important things to remember is that customers are not obliged to leave a tip for taxi drivers. They do not mind if you give them the exact amount of money shown on the mileage clock. This depends on your request and whether the taxi driver is polite, honest and helpful or not. If you wish to tip the taxi driver, it is best to round off the taxi fare and ask the driver to keep the change. For example, if the total amount is VND 42,000 (~ USD 2), then you can give VND 50,000 and ask the driver to keep the change.

At the restaurant:

Vietnam is undoubtedly a street food lover’s paradise. Believe it or not, most of the country’s food comes from the sidewalk. Usually tip not the owners, because some return it and it will be embarrassing. However, you can still show your appreciation for the excellent food or service by letting the staff serving you a dollar tip and they would not hesitate to accept it.

Meanwhile, modern restaurants in Vietnam have significant differences in tipping. A service charge of about 10% is added to the customer’s bill. Although this amount is called a “service charge”, it is still an uncertainty. Some may think that this would go directly to the waiter or waitress who serves them, but sometimes the money is divided and distributed to all the staff, so the one who serves you may have a smaller cut. Therefore an additional bonus of VND 50,000 – VND 100,000 (USD 2 – USD 5) per person seems appropriate to reward outstanding employees. Make sure that you hand them over to you personally.

At the Spa:

Spas and beauty services in Vietnam are considerably cheaper than similar services in other countries. This is one of the few services that Vietnamese generally point to. In fact, girls who work in spas usually come from poor families and rural areas. They are usually underpaid for the workload they have to manage and rely mainly on guest tips. So if a masseuse openly asks for tips, don’t be callous or narrow-minded to them. He / she will be very grateful to receive a tip of VND 50,000 – VND 100,000.

Similar to restaurants, in some luxury spas, a service charge of 5-10% is sometimes included in the price. As with most situations in Vietnam, if you are satisfied with your message, you may tip the spa staff an additional tip, as we do not know exactly whose pocket the service fee will eventually reach.

With the tour guide:

Tipping guide has become a must as tips are probably half of their income. Being a tour guide means staying away from family and friends for a long time and working no matter what the weather is like. Tour guides also play a big role in making a tour successful, and they can become a good friend of yours during your trip. So, if the adventure you have experienced is really great, you can let the guides know by tipping them about 10 USD.

At the hotel:

In Vietnam people do not tip the hotel service so often. It is not obligatory to hire a doorman or housekeepers as it is the case in some other countries and everything depends on the quality of the accommodation service. The appropriate tips for hotel staff are about $1 or $2, and you can give the money directly to you or leave it on the desk in your room before you leave.

At a pub:

In Vietnam, tipping the bartender is a fairly common habit. In fact, bar staff are usually paid very little and most of their income comes from tips rather than salary. A tip of around VND 50,000 to round off your bill is not unreasonable. In addition, a small tip can give you some privileges, such as sitting in a better place or getting an exclusive drink from the bartender.

Vietnam is still a developing country, which means that the majority of the population still lives on an average wage. If you really enjoy the service, the tip will perfectly represent your satisfaction.