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 you are told it is at your discretion – it is actually expected and depended on.

Wages (where they exist) have always been very low.  However, since the lack of tourism in Egypt from 2011 it is normal for many workers to work for little or no wages, just to keep their positions.

Oct 2017 –  This is an update on what tipping is now expected due to the devaluation of the Egyptian Pound by almost 50% in 2016, followed by severe increases in the cost of fuel, transport, electricity and even basic food items as the government subsidies are quickly being decreased in the move towards total removal. The currency change has been wonderful for tourists but devastating for the Egyptian population. 

Over the years I have noticed that the tipping annoys some people.  In an effort to alleviate the burden I have written the following guideline giving the Egyptian and US dollar equivalent.  The expected tipping is not huge but means a lot to those working with you.

Guidelines to Tipping Amounts in Egypt:

Minimum recommended per person – family is of course not expected to tip these amounts per person

PER DAY – tipping can be in Egyptian pounds, Dollar or Euro NOTES – Please note foreign coins cannot be exchanged so it is a useless tip.

  • Tour Guide US$9 = 150LE (le is Egyptian Pound) per day
  • Bus/Taxi Drivers for tours US$4 = 70LE per day
  • Hotel Housekeeping US$2 = 35 LE per day
PER USE
  • Restaurant Waiter not less US$3 = 55LE
  • Porter or Baggage Handler  US$1 = 20LE
  • Toilet Attendant 5 le = US cents 25 = 5LE

END OF STAY TIPPING – Cruise Boats based on average stay of 4 days

  • Cruise Crew (most boats have a tip box in reception) not less $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 has been pleasing to you – an extra tip of $3 = 55LE on leaving your room on departure day is appreciated.
    • If  a specific waiter,  housekeeping, restaurant or other manager in a Hotel or on a Cruise Boat has been especially helpful to you a tip is also appreciated – usually they would be tipped about $20 = 350LE.

To help tourists put tipping and baksheesh into perspective a friend suggested I update this section by including the 2016 cost of some items in Egypt – note some items vary on time of the year and availability.

  • 1 kilo of meat 100 le
  • 1 kilo potatoes 10 le
  • 1 kilo rice 9 le
  • 1 bread rolls 1 le
  • 1 kilo tomatoes 3 – 15 le depening on season
  • 1 kilo bananas 7 le
  • 1 kilo apples 20 – 25 le these are imported
  • small tin of tuna 12 le
  • 1/2 kilo of sugar 7 le
  • bottle of veg. cooking oil 14 le
  • visit to the doctor 70 le to 500 and more depending on the doctor and his speciality
  • pair of average cheap  shoes 100 le
  • pair of jeans 220 le
  • basic fridge or cooker 1400 le

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.

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Mara

Mara House (built between 2003 - 2005) was born out of a desire in me to share my feeling for Egypt with others - people who value their travel experiences.
 

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