Tipping in Egypt – who, when and how much?
Tipping is expected everywhere in Egypt – it is not just for tourists. Tipping is an expression of your appreciation for another person and their efforts on your behalf. While, out of politeness, you are told it is at your discretion – it is actually expected and depended on. This post is updated April 2019. Please remember if you are looking at older tipping articles online that the Egyptian pound has been devalued by 50%, government subsidies on all basic items have been removed and the cost of living has at least tripled over the last two years here. Hence all those old articles on tipping are now seriously outdated!
Over the years I have noticed that the tipping annoys some tourists. There is no point in me or tour operators building in tipping to the prices we charge as the Egyptian workers will not understand. They will think the tip comes from us only and not you.
If you do not tip the people yourself, they will believe you did not think their service deserving of the tip and consequently will actually feel bad. Please understand the tipping is not just a money thing – it is the recognised “thank you” gesture across Egypt
If you don’t understand it, the system can aggravate and annoy you. If you understand it and participate in it, you will feel happier. If you remember how small in your own currency the tips expected are you will think nothing of it. For this reason I recommend you bring a plentiful supply of 1 and 5 US dollar bills with you and keep it for tipping. Every time you tip you will see exactly how small it is. I think that when converted into Egyptian pounds the amount seems huge in people’s minds and that can be part of the aggravation felt.
Since the smallest Euro note is €5 it might be a good idea for euro zone visitors to source some small dollar bills. Coins in any foreign currency are no good as they cannot be exchanged in Egypt plus your own country is actually losing it’s currency when you leave it abroad in coin.
I have written the following guideline giving the Egyptian and US dollar equivalent.
Guidelines to Tipping Amounts in Egypt:
Please note the following is the expected MINIMUM per person
PER DAY per person – tipping can be in Dollars, Euro or Egyptian notes but not coins as foreign coins cannot be exchanged or used to buy anything.
- Tour Manager/Tour Leader US$6 per day
- Tour Guide US$6 per day
- Bus/Taxi Drivers for tours US$3 per day
- Hotel Housekeeping US$3
- Restaurant Waiter not less US$5
- Porter or Baggage Handler US$1
- Toilet Attendant 5 Egyptian Pounds
END OF STAY TIPPING – for Hotels and Cruise Boats
- Cruise Crew (most boats have a tip box in reception) not less than $5 per day per person so for a couple it should be minimum $10 per day. This is divided among all the crew/staff you do not see such as laundry, sailors, below deck etc. but not managers.
- If the cleaner attached to your room or restaurant waiter has been pleasing to you – an extra tip of $3 – $5 on departure day is always appreciated.
- Hotels and Cruise Boats
- If a specific receptionist or manager in a Hotel or Cruise Boat has been especially helpful and attentive to you a tip is also appreciated – usually they would be tipped about $10 on departure day.
- If you think the food has been really good you can always ask to speak to the Chef and compliment him – this is always appreciated and if you also wanted to tip then $10 would be appropriate.
How to Tip –
The tip, if not included in money you are handing over for a service, should be folded in the palm of the hand and quietly passed in the handshake while expressing your thanks. Some Egyptians consider it good manners to quietly decline the tip once or twice so it is considered good manners on your part to insist (with sincere thanks).
A few years ago I took my sons and grand-daughter on a Nile cruise. The highlight of my younger son’s experience was the look on people’s faces when he tipped them over the norm expected. To this day it is his best memory of Egypt – making an instant difference in the lives of the people who were making his holiday comfortable and enjoyable. It made him feel really good to make somebody else’s day a good one so easily.