A Quick Guide On Tipping In Mexico

If you come from a non-tipping culture like me, tipping won’t come to you naturally and it will take a bit of an effort to understand when to do it, how to do it and how much to tip. Tipping in Mexico is actually customary on many occasions, and if you leave a restaurant without leaving a tip you may get a dirty look and even get followed outside by angry waiters (don’t ask me how I know!) and you may end up in the list of bad customers (ok, that may be an exaggeration, but you get the idea!).

Since I have been to Mexico three times, I thought I’d help you unveil the secret on when you have to tip in Mexico. Follow this guide, and you will be come a favorite customer!

Playa del Carmen
Do you need to tip in Mexico? Long story short: YES!

What You Must Know About Tipping In Mexico

The currency in Mexico

The currency used in Mexico is the peso, which you’ll see marked as “$” throughout the country. At the time of writing, the currency exchange is around 20 Mexican pesos to a US dollar.

Although in some places you can pay in US dollars, it’s always best to carry Mexican pesos with you on your trip – you are in Mexico, of course!

Don’t worry though, you won’t need to take a whole stash of pesos with you before you go. There are plenty of places where you can withdraw money throughout Mexico’s towns and cities, and you can replenish your cash when you’ve spent it all on good food and souvenirs.

Pesos are obviously the go-to currency for tipping in Mexico. Specifically, you should always ensure you have small change so that you can tip without having to always use a large bill (which would get very expensive very quickly).

How to carry cash in Mexico

It’s not a good idea to carry a whole wad of cash with you in Mexico, nor to keep all your money in one place. Petty crime such as pickpocketing can be an issue, especially in touristed destinations.

It’s always a good idea to keep your larger bills and bank cards in a cross-body bag or money belt – one that feels safe and secure. You can, however, keep smaller bills and change in a coin purse or in your pocket, so that it’s easily accessible when you need to pay someone for a tip, and you don’t have to flash your cash in front of everyone.

Is tipping in Mexico customary?

Yes, tipping in Mexico is pretty much customary. Particularly when you are in a tourist resort such as Tulum or Cancun, tipping will be expected in most instances and in pretty much all establishments.

Don’t expect to have a service charge included in the price of a bill. Instead, you’ll leave the tip at the end of the meal at a table, or hand it directly to the driver at the end of a taxi ride.

Do be careful, however, as sometimes service charge is added, or some waiters and other service staff may sneak it onto the bill even though it’s optional. At more fancy beach clubs, restaurants, and bars, service charge is usually already added to the final bill.

In general, tips are in the form of a small number of coins handed over to gas attendants, a street food vendor, a grocery bagger, or even a tour guide (though that may be more than just a few coins).

A Short Guide To Tipping In Mexico

Since there is actually quite a lot of tipping that goes on in Mexico, I thought it would be handy to break it down for you depending on what sort of establishment you’ll be tipping in. Here’s a handy guide to tipping in Mexico to help you work out what amount you should be tipping, and if you should even be tipping at all.

Food and drinks

Just like in many places around the world, eateries and bars are places that most commonly see people tip. In Mexico it’s no different, but since it’s a different country to the one you’re from, there are a few things to consider.

Bars

Like the US where it is very normal to tip your bartender, you are expected to tip your bartender in Mexico. The more touristed or the more high-end a bar is, the more you are expected to pay in tips.

If you’re just going for one drink, you may just leave a couple of pesos in the tip bar. However, if you’re sitting down for an evening of drinks with a tab, then you should opt to pay around 10% to 15% in tips on top of the bill at the end of the night.

Restaurants

Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes in Mexico, but generally, you’ll tip at all of them. Usually, you’ll have the option when you get your bill to pay your tip by either cash or card. In more high-end restaurants, the tip will be around 15%. However, in a more local, low-key eatery, you can consider leaving around 10% of the bill.

In some places in Mexico, there will possibly be a suggested amount for a tip stated on the bill – it is, however, still up to you to leave the amount that you would wish to leave.

Street Food Stands

Unlike in restaurants, it is not common to tip at street food stands. However, at some of these you may see a tip jar. It’s not obligatory, but if you feel like it, you can drop a few pesos into the jar, especially if you’ve enjoyed the service and the food that they’ve provided.

Beach clubs

You can expect to have a waiter service at beach clubs. Much like if you were at a restaurant, you should tip these waiters. Tip when you receive your final bill – around 10% should be fine.

from Cancun to Tulum

Transport

Though tipping isn’t as common with transport as with other parts of your vacation in Mexico, there’s nothing to say you can’t tip! Here’s what to take note of.

Taxi Drivers

Tipping taxi drivers is not so common in Mexico – especially not for just a standard cross-town journey (your hotel to the beach, for example). However, you should leave a few pesos for the driver if they have helped you with luggage, or if you’ve made them wait for some reason.

Alternatively, you could just round up the cost of the fare and tell the driver that they can keep the change which saves you having to jangle around trying to work out how much of your loose change to give as a tip.

Uber Drivers

Like most places in the world, you don’t tip Uber drivers in Mexico. And since tipping taxi drivers isn’t customary anyway, the same goes for Uber drivers. Then again, if you want to, there’s always the option to leave a tip in-app on Uber.

Taxi Stand Attendants

If you’re picking up a cab from anywhere around town, from a street taxi stand, or outside a mall, you may find a taxi stand attendant trying to keep order. These guys will help you arrange a taxi, and they’ll also help put any luggage you’ve got in the car.

Since they’re providing this sort of service, it’s common to tip taxi stand attendants in Mexico for their help. Consider giving them around 10 pesos. Sometimes the attendants may really go out of their way to find a taxi for you – in this sort of situation you may want to consider tipping them a little bit more generously.

Shuttle Drivers

You should tip shuttle drivers in Mexico – around 20 pesos – especially if they’ve helped you with luggage. Basically, it’s normal to tip them.

Relaxing at Playa Norte

Hospitality

Staff at hotels in Mexico don’t usually get paid a great deal of money which makes tipping them even more important. While not obligatory, it’s a nice gesture. I’ve listed different hospitality staff below and what they’re usually tipped.

Housekeeping staff

It is normal to tip the housekeeping staff at your hotel in Mexico. In fact, at some places this is even expected to the extent that “tip envelopes” are left in your room.

Leave around 20-50 pesos (that’s around a couple of USD) for each night that you stay in your room.

Hotel Concierge

Tipping the hotel concierge is normal in the more touristy areas such as Yucatan or Quintana Roo. Again, it’s totally your choice, and how much you choose to give as a tip all depends on the level of service that the concierge provides. It’s not expected as such, but it’s always a welcome gesture.

Hotel porters

If hotel porters help you up to your room with luggage, then you are expected to tip them a few pesos for their services. This can be anything between 10 to 40 pesos – depending on the number of bags that they’ve had to carry for you, or if there are stairs involved, or if it’s a particularly long journey to your room.

Tour Guides

It is customary to tip tour guides in Mexico. This is usually about 15% to 20% on top of the price of tour – more if you’ve particularly enjoyed your tour, or if the guide has made visiting somewhere like Chichen Itza an even more memorable experience.

Equally, if you did not enjoy your tour, and you weren’t happy with the service, then you should not feel obliged to tip – it’s not a required thing that tourists must do.

Tipping in All-Inclusive Resorts in Mexico

Tipping in all-inclusive resorts in Mexico is a little more confusing. Usually, when you book your accommodation, everything is included in the rate that you pay – however, that doesn’t mean that tipping shouldn’t come into the equation. Unless you’re staying at a resort where there’s a no-tipping policy (these do exist), then at some point, you might want to pay a tip to a member of staff at the hotel.

It’s not an obligation, but the people working at the resort don’t often get paid a lot of money, and the tips do make a big difference to them. If you want to leave money for housekeeping, give money to porters, or leave a few pesos at the bar for the bartender mixing your cocktails, then go ahead and do it.

It’s a good idea to carry around some pesos in your purse – 20 and 50 peso notes are good for nice tips – so you can hand them out to baggage handlers and waitstaff if you feel the service has been particularly good. Not only that, but at a resort, where you’ll be staying for a week or more, paying a tip usually means you’ll get extra good service during your stay.

Other places to tip in Mexico

Parking attendants

These guys will usually be on hand to help you find a place to park when you turn up at archaeological sites, at beaches, or cenotes. Usually, they’re doing this off their own back, and aren’t employed by anybody else – they do it purely on a tip basis. If you’re happy to do so, then 5 pesos should be enough.

Gas station attendants…

When you go to full-service gas stations, where attendants pump the gas for you, it’s normal to give them a few pesos for their trouble. They might even go as far as checking your oil levels or tire pressure, and clean your windshield – around 10 pesos for service like this is a good level.

Grocery store baggers

You may notice these students or older people on hand at stores to pack your groceries. These people aren’t actually employed by the store and only work for the tips that they receive. This is definitely something that’s more unique to Mexico (we certainly don’t see them in Europe, where we are accustomed at bagging our own groceries), and you’ll find them even in big chain stores like Walmart. Make sure to tip these workers if they pack your groceries – even local people tip them. Tip from 5 to 20 pesos, depending on how many bags they’ve packed.

Hair salons

If you fancy getting a new hairdo or having a fresh trim at a high end salon while you’re vacationing in Mexico, then tipping your hairdresser is a nice gesture. It’s honestly something unheard of in Europe, but then again, you are in Mexico! Usually around 10% of the cost of your treatment is a good benchmark amount you can tip at hair salons and barbers.

Spas

Spas are amazing in Mexico and often very affordable. However, just because they’re affordable, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t tip. Much like tipping at hair salons and barbers, tipping at the spa is standard – around 10% to 15% of the final bill is expected.

Bathroom attendants

If you need to use a public bathroom in Mexico, you should expect to have to pay a fee. These fees aren’t always required, but they are often suggested by the staff on hand. Usually, it’s a token amount, around 5 pesos. Other times, you will see a bathroom attendant on hand with toilet paper and other toiletries – you’ll even see them in restaurant and hotel bathrooms. It’s customary to tip these workers, especially if you notice a tip jar. Five to 10 pesos should be a good amount, depending on what you’re happy with giving.

Further Readings

If you are traveling to Mexico, make sure to read my other posts:

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Check out this complete guide on tipping in Mexico - via @clautavani

2 thoughts on “A Quick Guide On Tipping In Mexico”

  1. Very nice guide here! Certainly very helpful for those not used to tipping.

    As a Mexican myself, just would like to make a couple of precisions:

    Hotel Concierge – While this may be expected in more touristy areas such as Yucatan or Quintana Roo, is not common in the rest of the country. The rest of the hotel staff however does expects a tip as indicated in this guide.

    Hair salons – Unless you go to a high-end salon or in a very touristy area, you normally be paying the listed price to the hairdresser.

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