Sharing is caring!

Nepal is one of the world’s top adventure travel destinations, with a rather large influx of tourists each and every day. One of the most confusing parts of travelling in Nepal isn’t the bus system, the language or using the squat toilets but the issue of tipping. Tipping your trek guide, the porter, the tea house owner, the cafe worker. It can easily turn into a social minefield, as tourists from around the world struggle to decide if and how much to tip a Nepalese guide. As an Australian, tipping is not apart of our culture. We pay a fair living wage and expect that this hourly rate is compensated enough for a person to somewhat happily do their job, without relying on tips. Sadly the same is not the norm in Nepal and many service workers do rely on tips to survive.
 
To put it simply – Yes you do need to tip in Nepal.

Do I Need to Tip in Nepal?

I’ve previously discussed in depth dealing with money in Nepal, after the success of my first trip. As I’ve just completed a second trip y’all have asked me numerous times do I need to tip in Nepal, shortly followed by how much to tip. So I wanted to talk in a little more detail around the tipping requirements in Nepal. 
 
Tourism is the largest industry in Nepal, so when you think will my dollar make a difference I can assure you that it will. Nepal has very little export market, and there are minimal opportunities for people, even those who have been fortunate enough to gain further education. For example my guide on the Poonhill Trek has a Masters in Marketing. His chance of leaving Nepal and using these skills, either within the country, or in a country like Australia is zero. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here trying to romanticize the socio-economic issues that Nepal has. The reality is clearly written, and many people who are far more educated have written many reports on these issues in Nepal. 

How much should I budget for tipping in Nepal?

At a safe bet (and a minimum) I would say –
 
$5-10 USD per day for food* related tipping 
$5 USD per day for your trekking guide.
$2-3 USD per day for your porters.
 
These are base levels to tip. It is not a concrete guide at all. If you’re guide goes above and beyond feel free to tip more. 

Tipping in cafes and restaurants in Nepal

This is where tipping can get really confusing. You need to be a bit smart about where you are eating and really read the menu or signs on the walls. There is a 13% tax and 10% service charge on all food related things you buy in Nepal. The tricky part is working out whether these additional charges are included in the price or are an additional fee. If the tax and service fee is included in the price listed on the menu than you don’t really need to tip, as you’ve just paid a 10% service charge. This doesn’t mean that you can’t tip or you shouldn’t, it’s just that this charge has already been included. If the additional fees aren’t included in the menu then you need to remember to add them to your total bill or you might get a shock when you go to pay the bill and it’s added. I got caught out a few times thinking I had the correct change and hadn’t added in the additional tax and service charge. 
 
Looking for the best place for coffee in Kathmandu? Read more here. And don’t forget to take your own reusable cup if you’re getting coffee to go.

Tipping in hotels in Nepal

Again there is an additional tax and service charge added to your hotel bill. Just double check if this has already been included in your initial bill. It is entirely up to you if you want to tip the house keeping staff. A lot of hotels in Kathmandu and Pokhara will have a big glass box for you to put your tips in. In theory these tips are shared across the entire team, including all those working staff members that you won’t ever see. Leaving a tip under your pillow is not usually required.
 
If you’re looking for an amazing hotel in Kathmandu, do yourself a favour and go check out Traditional Comfort. I was fortunate enough to have this as my home for 5 days. It was a record stay for me.

Book your stay at Traditional Comfort, Kathmandu right now before it all the rooms are gone

Tipping in a community homestay situation

If you are lucky enough to participate in a community homestay, and I really do strongly suggest that you should, then as a sign of thanks you should tip 200-300RPS. Which equates to $2-3 USD. It’s less then what you pay for a crappy cup of coffee back home and it’s less then what you’ll pay for a good cup of coffee in Kathmandu or Pokhara! This is more so a token gesture to say thank you to your host mother.
 
If you would like to try out a community homestay, than I suggest you book with Community Homestay – check out the community homestay options here.

What to tip your walking tour & day tour guide.

I’ve taken quite a few amazing tours in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Each one being invaluable in the things that we have experienced and discovered. I’m a huge believer in using local guides and locally run ethically & socially responsible tour operators. So it seems fitting to talk about tipping these guides, who are paid. I didn’t participate in any free walking tours in Nepal. On average I would suggest 200-300RPS for a tip for your walking tour and day tour guide. This covers a good western style cup of coffee, which I’ve also been known to cover for my guide as I’ve never just walked away from a walking tour in Nepal. The guides here are so friendly and just want to continue the conversation with you.

If you’d like to try some unique experiences and get a great feeling for Kathmandu I can highly recommend two experiences. Giving you the opportunity to feel the city, explore the city and generally being a traveller not a tourist on a bus. These experiences go for around 3 hours and should be done at the start of your Nepal adventure.

The Backstreet Academy Breakfast tour – $16USD – book here.
SocialTours cook like a local class – pay what you think it’s worth – book here.

Tipping on a Nepal Trek

This is pretty much the #1 question I get asked about my treks in Nepal, after how hard was it and what did I pack? Even when you are paying a fair rate to your trekking guide and porter you are expected to tip. Remember that these people are away from their families, sometimes for months at a time, for their work. They are trying to make enough funds to keep their families going over the monsoon and winter times, when there are no treks. Now you might be thinking that they just need to learn to budget and save better, but that’s just plain ridiculous. Guides and Porters have living expenses whilst they are trekking and in between treks. There just isn’t enough trickle down from the trekking company to the porter to cover these expenses, send money back to family for survival and still save for future issues. 
 
You also need to remember that your tip is paying for their expertise and their care of you. As someone who has done two smaller treks in Nepal I can tell you that the porters and guides support, both physical and emotional, is invaluable. The way these people help you with your accommodation, ordering food, getting safe drinking water and the entertainment at night. All thinking of your welfare, well before their own. This isn’t a new attitude to trekkers, the Nepalese people have for many years been leading the way on how to work with trekkers and ensure their safety along with your own. 
 
So when you consider all of these factors and more it does seem a bit daft to be internally squabbling over $5. That’s what most of us pay for coffee each and every day. And I’m going to admit that I’m the first one to scoff at tipping and the amounts. Culturally Australians just don’t tip and it does take me a little while to remember the above social issues, and to stop being a twat and tip appropriately. 
 
Now I know that this may seem like a lot of extra cash to have to budget. However in the grand scheme of things travel budget related this isn’t a lot of money. Especially when you take a moment to reflect on a few fun Nepal facts;

-The average monthly wage is $59 USD. This is an average and does not take into account the lower casts, who may not be in report able employment. 
-The average family comprises of 4-5 people and has one person earning income.
-3 million children work to survive
-21,000 Nepalese girls are trafficked in Nepal and across the border each year.

Just a note on picking a trekking company – there are literally thousands of these companies in Nepal. In recent years the trekking company owners have realised that you can no longer just hope to capture trekkers at the airport or in Kathmandu. That a shiney website, with some pretty pictures is a minimum. During your research you’ll stumble across many of these, which have near identical information. It can be very difficult to choose an ethical trekking company. I highly recommend the team from Lokal Travel. This was the company which was used on my recently hosted trip to Nepal with HTM – I did the 5 day Annapurna Community Trek

A note on trekking travel insurance.
Many companies do not automatically cover you if you go above 3000mtrs in Nepal. I highly suggest that you check you current policy if you have already purchased travel insurance. I also suggest using a company like WorldNomads, who do cover trekking at altitude. The cost to be evacuated can run into the tens of thousands of USD! You don’t need to be summiting Everest to need altitude related travel insurance in Nepal. In April 2019 WorldNomads was responsible and covered 140 helicopter evacuations – that’s 4 a day! In the most recent 2019 trekking season, the percentage of travelers in Nepal who made a claim rose from 15% to 60%. Ouch! The stats are certainly no in your favour. You can read more about travel insurance fraud in Nepal from the New York Times

Buy your trekking travel insurance today.

Travel in Nepal is super affordable

When you start thinking about your trip to Nepal and budgeting you can save a lot of money if you’re willing to stay in cheaper hotels. Or you can blow out your budget spending all your cash on fancy pants hotels and coffee. The choice is totally yours. This is a country which is easy and affordable to get around. I hope that after reading this post you do realise how you can impact the world and make a difference when you change the way you think about travel and tipping.
Jeanette

Jeanette

Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker

Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.

Just a teeny tiny note on affiliate links – We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We’re also a member of a few others and may make a bit of coin on the side, this is at no extra cost to you. 

14 Comments

  1. Traveling in Nepal is actually very cheap, and I totally agree to you that you really should be tipping. Thanks for giving us the idea of how much to tip during having food, staying in a homestay community, or to the porters while trekking. It gives me a good idea while budgeting my Nepal trip.

    Reply
  2. I always wonder about tipping when I travel and usually try to do a little research before I go to a new place. As a U.S. citizen, I am used to tipping, although I think it would be amazing if servers and the like received a fair wage instead. Although, having 2 kids with server experience, I know when you add their tips in, they usually come out ahead. It would be lovely it everyone was either paid their worth, or was able to make up for it by tipping. This is really fantastic information for if I’m ever in Nepal. I would rather overpay than not pay enough.

    Reply
    • I disagree with the tipping system in USA. In Australia we pay fair wages, which includes annual leave, sick leave, superannuation (retirement fund) and healthcare. A much better option then just tipping, because in the long run your kids aren’t coming out ahead at all.

      Reply
  3. Actually, I tip everywhere I go – even if guidebooks or whoever says that in a country it’s not necessary. I read so often that you don’t have to tip in Germany – which is soooo false! You are considered very rude if you don’t tip about 10% – it’s less than in the US, but still, a tip is expected. My daughter has a job at a beach bar and funny enough, it’s Americans who do not tip since they read wherever that you don’t have to tip in Germany. As long as I can afford travelling I can afford tipping.

    Reply
  4. I’m the same as you, being English we don’t tend to tip. It can be confusing when I’m abroad to know whether I should be tipping or not! Articles like this are very helpful in letting people know the local customs!

    Reply
    • When I was in London a lot of places added a service charge to my bill. It was a shock to the budget.

      Reply
  5. I’m glad that you’ve shared honestly that you struggled the idea of tipping, especially because since you’re raised in Australia. It can be hard to change that, or explore “why should I tip?” at first.

    Culturally, for few of us Deaf people, we give a little tip because we often face obstacles to get job opportunities and experience several discriminations (even in the USA, etc). Some don’t like the idea to tip anywhere – but like what you’ve shared, we do also think about “why should I tip?” and explore our privileges as well. And they’re human beings too.

    Reply
  6. Tipping is easily the most confusing thing when travelling as a Brit. It just isn’t hugely common back home, but we know we’re meant to when abroad, so we blindly tip and hope for the best, so guides like this are great.

    Reply
    • I feel ya on this one! It’s so confusing.

      Reply
  7. Thanks for the guidance on tipping in Nepal. Although an expat from the US, I have grown accustomed to the “pay the price you see'” philosophy in NZ. I always wonder what is customary when I travel outside of New Zealand.

    Reply
  8. Interesting information. How, when and how much to tip is always on the travelers’ minds. I’ve never been in Nepal, so it’s good to know what to expect.Unfortunately, after the Americans started almost pretending a 15% tip in restaurants, the rest of the world began considering it’s free season on tipping. Nowadays I see more and more countries expecting big tips from tourists, which is not OK.

    Reply
    • I don’t think we can blame the Americans on this one issue.

      Reply
  9. Nepal is an amazing country with such friendly people, it’s wonderful to leave your spare change and tip those that really need the extra income, great tips and want to go back there again.

    Reply
    • That’s awful. What a disrespectful thing to do. Just leave your “spare change” as if these aren’t people. That’s not what this guide is about.

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

shares