When in Bali, lots of guests ask the question “How much should I tip?” Tipping is simple in many places of the world. You receive a service and leave a tip. But things are a little different in Bali. Tipping isn’t required, although it’s a nice gesture and greatly appreciated. It’s a method of saying “thank you” for excellent service. A simple gratuity can go a long way while dining out, renting a taxi, or sightseeing with a tour guide. It expresses gratitude and admiration for the hard work of the locals. We’ll go into the art of tipping in Bali in this article with real-life examples.
The General Tipping Culture in Bali
Bali is a melting pot of traditions, and its tipping culture reflects that. Unlike some places where tipping is almost a rule, in Bali, it’s a choice. But it’s a choice that speaks volumes. While tipping isn’t compulsory, it’s warmly received. It says something about the work done.
You also might wonder, “How much should I tip?” Well, there’s no fixed answer. It’s all about what feels right for you. Some folks leave small change at cafes, while others might give a bit more for a day-long tour. Remember, it’s not only about the amount but the gesture. Sometimes a tip is not accepted due to they genuinely like you as a tourist.
Most restaurants just include a “service charge” so nobody would be required to think about this. This service charge is around 5% most of the time and represents the tip for the staff. All tips will be accumulated and divided at payday for most people in the service industry. Even after service charge, a lot of people still want to tip, and that’s (more than) ok 🙂 makes us happy.
Whether you’re sipping a coffee, enjoying a massage, or exploring ancient temples, a tip, no matter how small, is a way of saying “Terima Kasih” or “Thank you” in Bahasa Indonesia.
Tipping in Different Scenarios
When in Bali, every experience is unique, and so is the tipping etiquette for each. Let’s break it down:
- Restaurants and Cafes: Had a delightful meal? Leaving a tip of 10% to 15% is a sweet way to appreciate the chef and the staff. But if there’s already a service charge, you can skip it or just leave some small change.
- Taxi and Private Drivers: For short rides, rounding up per IDR 10,000 the fare is a kind gesture. For longer journeys or day trips, consider tipping between 10% to 15% of the total fare.
- Tour Guides: These folks make your Bali adventures come alive with stories and insights. A tip of 15% can be a great way to thank them. If they go above and beyond, like helping with photos or sharing personal tales, you might want to tip a bit more.
- Spa Services: After a relaxing massage or beauty treatment, a tip of 10% to 15% can make the therapist’s day. It’s a small way to say thanks for the rejuvenation.
- Hotel Staff: From the bellboy to the housekeeper, a small tip is a kind gesture. It’s not about the amount, but the thought. Some notes can make a difference.
Tip (no pun intended): Online taxis such as grab and gojek can be tipped through the app!
In Bali, tipping is all about gratitude. It’s about cherishing the moments and the people who make them special. Rule of Thumb: in most cases tips above IDR 100,000 ($6.50) is honestly too much, but very much appreciated. This amount is fine to tip (or more) for full day (8 hours) private drive around Bali.
Personal Experiences and Anecdotes
A Gojek bringing me safely to my destination: My Gojek was late and very apologetic about it. Yet he drove safely to my destination. He noticed I was missing 1 small note (1k IDR) but instead gave him 10 extra. He mentioned that was not required. I told him it was the tip. He tried to refuse, and I refused to take money back. He was genuinely happy!
My grab: I had a very nice conversation with my grab driver. It was a 30 minute drive, (15 we spent stuck in traffic chatting about daily life). At the end I rounded the amount up and added a bit extra. My grab driver was extremely happy and did a small prayer for me.
Tour Guide & Private Driver: I use the same tour guide mostly because of his knowledge. He’s a certified licensed guide and knows what we want, a knowledgable tour. Of course he is going to get that extra, and in return, we get to know even more ins and outs about Bali.
At the hotel: After a pleasant stay, I live some small bills with sometimes a handwritten thank you note. Most of the times I don’t encounter the staff as I am checking out, but when I do, they sure are more grateful.
At a fast-food Franchise: This is did not tip myself, but I saw a tourist tipping IDR 20,000 to the cashier. The cashier jumped and did a whole dance routine out of joy! This happened right after the island re-opened after Covid. I’ve never seen someone so happy from receiving a tip. Also, it is not customary to tip at fast food franchises.
The Impact of Tipping on the Local Economy
As somebody sometimes on the receiving end of tips this is very helpful. It will help out with daily expenses. Some people would buy their lunch or dinner from a IDR 10,000 tip. Or that would even fill half a tank of petrol for most scooters. And receiving that multiple times a day is just more than helpful. The minimum wage of an employee in the service industry in Bali in 2023-2024 is around IDR 3,200,000.
Tips will help with a lot of expenses! But again, they are a choice in Bali, not mandatory!
Etiquette and Best Practices
There’s a certain way to do tipping right in Bali. Here are some etiquette and best practices to keep in mind:
Discreetly Done: When tipping, it’s best to do it discreetly. Hand over the tip with both hands, as it’s a sign of respect in Balinese culture. A gentle nod or a simple “Terima Kasih” can accompany the gesture.
Small Bills Are Best: Always try to have small denominations on hand. It makes tipping easier and avoids the awkwardness of asking for change. Plus, it’s always appreciated by the receiver.
Service Charge Insights: Some establishments include a service charge in the bill. It’s good to check. If it’s there, you can still leave a small tip if you found the service exceptional. If not, a tip of 10% to 15% is a kind gesture.
Read the Situation: Sometimes, a smile or a gesture of help doesn’t expect a tip. For instance, a local helping you with directions or a someone showing you a hidden path. In such cases a thank you with your hands together and a bow of your head is already very respectful sign.
So tipping is not mandatory, but we do like to receive it. Only give it when you feel it’s right. When the service received is satisfying. Tips impacts our financial situation as we can do a lot with not that much.
FAQs about Tipping in Bali
How much should I tip at restaurants or cafes in Bali?
Generally, if you’ve had a delightful meal and service, leaving a tip of 10% to 15% is a good practice. However, do check the bill, as some establishments might already include a service charge.
What’s the tipping etiquette for taxi or private drivers?
While it is not mandatory, for short rides, simply rounding up the fare is a kind gesture. For longer journeys or day-long trips, consider tipping between 10% to 20% of the total fare. It’s a way to appreciate the driver’s service and local knowledge.
Is it common to tip hotel staff in Bali?
Yes, it’s a kind gesture to tip hotel staff. While there’s no fixed amount, some (small) notes can make a difference and show your appreciation for their service. I mostly leave it on the nightstand or on the bed before I checkout.
Are there any situations where I shouldn’t tip in Bali?
While tipping is appreciated, there are situations where it’s not expected. For instance, if a local simply helps you with directions or offers a friendly gesture without providing a specific service, a warm smile and a heartfelt “thank you” are more than enough.
Is tipping mandatory in Bali?
No, tipping in Bali isn’t mandatory. However, it’s a kind gesture that shows appreciation for the services provided. While it’s not a strict obligation, it’s warmly received and appreciated by the locals.
Hi I am Dwi. I am a blogger, travel agent and a mom of a lovely daughter and wife to a supportive husband. I customize and plan tours in Bali and islands nearby for a living and have been doing this for more than 14 years. Get in touch via contact [at] taletravels.com