Complete guide to the tipping culture in Vietnam

By Tuan Hoang, Khuong Van   May 11, 2018 | 07:00 am PT
Complete guide to the tipping culture in Vietnam
The concept of giving tips is still alien to the majority of Vietnamese people.

Tipping is not compulsory in Vietnam, and only tends to happen at high-end venues.

“70 percent of Vietnamese tourists don't tip or feel forced to spend money on tipping,” said Nguyen Mai Van, a long-time tour guide. 

Tipping maybe popular in some parts of the world, but in Vietnam the culture of tipping is still in its infancy. Vietnamese people rarely tip in general, although women usually tip in hairdressers. 

Giving tips in Vietnam depends on many factors, but is mainly based on the standard of service. In high-end international hotels or restaurants, tips are included in the bill, but customers can still offer more if they are happy with the service. Sadly, the same thing does not happen in less exclusive places, despite great quality and decent service. “Sometimes, tipping is a way to show people’s status,” Han said.

In tourist cities like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, tipping is more commonplace. However, the money sometimes doesn't always find its way to the service staff, so personal tips are recommended.

When Vietnamese people travel abroad, they have different ways of rewarding good service. For them, money is not necessarily the only way to tip. Alternatives can be some specialties or delicacies from Vietnam, and some people even gift drawings or pictures as a gesture of appreciation for professional service.

What about expats in Vietnam? How much should a foreign traveler tip and how should they do it? Well, since this is Vietnam, it might be a little bit complicated but this will walk you through it.

In restaurants: In most Vietnam’s restaurants, the standard service quality is lower than in other tourist destinations. Good service here can be rewarded with 5-15 percent of the bill; anything more is too much.

Taxis: This one is a little bit tricky. Some drivers in Vietnam might not be honest when it comes to money. They may assume that foreigners will not care about getting their change. You can tell the driver to keep the change if the service exceeds your expectations, but if you are unsatisfied then go ahead and get your change back. 

Spas: Masseuses and spa staff mainly live off tips since their wages are pretty low, so they might get straight to the point and ask you for tips. Of course this is not encouraged. If you have good service then VND50,000-100,000 ($2.20-4.41) is reasonable.

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