Tipping is an important part of traveling and it can help you learn a few things about the culture of the places you visit. Each country has its own customs referring to when, where and how much to tip. In this post you'll learn everything you need to know about tipping in Mexico.
First, let me tell you a little bit about my experience with tips. I come from a family who work or have worked in a variety of jobs related to tourism and hotels. My parents actually met when they were both working in the same hotel! Neither of my parents currently work at hotels any more, but my sister still does. Also, one of my closest cousins who is the main chef at a restaurant in an all-inclusive resort in the Mayan Riviera.
All of this led me to experiment with jobs in the same industry. I worked as a concierge in a five diamond hotel for a while and I did some waitressing at a couple of restaurants, too.
Since my dad worked for years at hotels all over Mexico, my family and I got to spend lots of time in hotels when I was a kid. We even got to live in a few of them, and when I was around four years old we lived in a hotel for 9 months in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero. Talk about a happy childhood!
With all of this said, I know from first hand experience how important tips are for those working in the tourism industry in Mexico. Tips represents a huge portion of the salary of many of these people and so it’s very important that we do it right.
The following is a list of all the situations where it’s common to tip in Mexico. Followed by a few situations where you may think that tips are expected, but where it’s actually optional.
Situations where it’s common to tip in Mexico
Tipping at Restaurants in Mexico:
This is the most common place where people tip in Mexico. Just like in the US, in Mexico people tip about 15% of the total of the bill. Some people choose to tip more than 15% (or less) depending on the quality of the food, the service from the waitress/waiter, and their overall experience at that restaurant. And just like in the US, tipping at fast food places (where there are no waiters/waitresses) is not customary, but if you want to tip at a taco stand or any other kind of street food place, make sure you tip at least $10 pesos.
Tipping at Hotels in Mexico:
Another situation where tipping is expected both in Mexico and in the US is at hotels. In Mexico, any bellboy, chauffeur/driver or valet parking person expects a tip of $20-$50 pesos. Bartenders, waitresses/waiters and room service staff expect a tip of 15% of your bill, and housekeepers should be tipped about $50 (or more) a day.
Some hotels have a butler/concierge whose job is to help you with anything you may need during your stay. From buying you a toothbrush, unpacking your luggage, bringing ice cubes to your room, to arranging your tours, getting you tickets for a show, and making dinner reservations in or outside the hotel. Many people choose to tip concierges around $50 pesos per service provided, while others prefer to leave a bigger tip at the end of their stay. Tipping right after each service is preferred by your concierge. If you wait until the end you might end up with two or more butlers by the time you check out, making it difficult to get the right tip to the right person.
If you still prefer to tip your concierge all at once at the end of your stay, tip him/her around $150 pesos per day when you received good service from them.
Tips on Tipping at Hotels:
It’s not uncommon to have more than one person clean your room throughout your stay. That’s why it’s best to tip each day of your stay instead of waiting until your last day. You want to make sure that the person cleaning your room each day is the one getting your money.
Leave a little note that says “Para la camarista. ¡Gracias!” - “For the housekeeper. Thank you!” in a visible place with your tip money before leaving your room for the day or when you know they’ll be coming to do your room.
If you decide to tip your concierge all at once, it is best to leave the money in a sealed envelope at the front desk with his/her name on it or give the envelope directly to them. Another great way of thanking a concierge is by writing a note to the Chief Concierge or the General Manager complimenting the good service you received from your concierge.
Tipping at All-Inclusive Resorts:
Contrary to the name, “All-inclusive” does not mean that tips are included. People working in all-inclusive resorts do expect tips from customers just like those working at a regular hotel. Even if you’re not seeing the price of the drinks you’re having at the bar, or a bill at the end of your dinner, leave around $20 pesos per drink at a bar and a minimum of $50 pesos per couple at any restaurant in the resort. You do not need to tip at buffets. Follow the previous suggested tips on tipping at hotels when you stay at an all-inclusive resort.
Tipping a Tour Guide:
This is another situation where tipping is expected in Mexico. How much to tip depends on the kind of tour you’re taking. Tip around $50 pesos for a visit to a museum or any other similar attraction where you have already paid a ticket and there is a guide there giving you information about a place. In this kind of tour there aren’t usually any activities included other than walking around the building and looking at the expositions.
For a tour of up to a couple of hours with more information and one or two activities, anything from $100 to $200 pesos per couple or small group will do.
For longer tours that last half or a full day with different activities and quality information you can tip from $200 to $300 pesos per couple or small family or group of friends.
For tours where you had blast, felt that you learned a ton, had all your questions answered, and feel that the tour guide went out of his/her way to make sure that you and your group had a great time your tip can be anything between $300 and $500 pesos (or more) per family or group of friends.
There really isn’t any specific rule on how much you should tip a tour guide. These are just guidelines. If you feel compelled to give your tour guide more, do it. It’s better to err on the side of generosity.
Tipping at a Grocery Store/Supermarket in Mexico:
When you go grocery shopping at bigger stores in Mexico like Soriana, Comercial Mexicana, Walmart, etc there is usually someone there who bags your groceries. It is customary to tip this person between $5 and $10 pesos, depending on how many groceries they had to bag. If you only had one or two bags of groceries then $5 pesos is good. For more than a couple of bags, $10 pesos will do.
Tipping at a Gas station in Mexico:
When you go to a gas station in Mexico there’s someone there to pump your gas. In Mexico you don’t have to get out of your car to fill your tank. Someone else does it for you. There are other services they can help you with like cleaning your windshield, checking the air in your tires, and other basic things you may need help with. It is very common to tip them with $5 or $10 pesos for pumping your gas and a little more if they helped you with other services.
Situations where it is not always common to tip in Mexico:
Tipping a Hairstylist in Mexico:
A few years ago tipping a hairstylist or makeup artist in Mexico was not a thing. Nowadays, more and more high-end hair salons and barber shops will politely ask you if you want to leave a tip for the service. This especially happens in touristy areas like Mexico City and the Riviera Maya. In smaller towns where tourism is not as big as in other areas of the country, hairstylist don’t expect a tip from customers.
Tipping a Taxi driver in Mexico:
Tipping a taxi driver in Mexico is not very common unless they help you out with something. Did the taxi driver help you with your bags? Did he/she take a shorter route and helped you get to your appointment in time? Did he/she give you extra information to make the most of your stay? If so, a tip of $10-$15 pesos would be appropriate. If the driver simply took you from one place to another, then no tip is expected.
There you have it. Now you know all about tipping in Mexico. We hope this information comes in handy next time you visit. As I said before, these are just guidelines of what most people in Mexico tip in the different situations we covered. If during your time in Mexico you feel like you should leave a bigger or smaller tip, trust your instincts. You should always tip according to what you feel the value of a service was.
Did any of these tipping situations surprise you? Have you ever tipped at a grocery store? Let us know in the comments. We love hearing from you!