Tipping as an expression of culture
In Egypt, tipping is more than just the exchange of money for services; “baksheesh” is an expression of a culture that encourages employment and values the contributions of each person.
Jobs are often split into much smaller pieces than in the United States or European countries to allow more people the dignity of a paying job. For example, the man who meets you at the airport and helps you negotiate customs is not the man who drives the car, and a third man may ride along to carry luggage.
Be aware that even in a so-called “tips included” situation, you will find that a small tip (estimated at 16 Egyptian Pounds (L.E.) or about $1; for an exact, current conversion into L.E., click here) is a nice gesture. This constant, small tipping is the social lubricant of an Egyptian’s daily life and does a good job of allowing everyone to earn a living wage. That being said, tipping is optional for tourists.
From the online travel notes of Egypt Magic comes further clarification:
“In the West, we call it ‘tipping’ or ‘service.’ But those words don’t fully express the breadth of flexibility and purpose of the practice known as baksheesh. Egypt appears to run on baksheesh and the protocol of the practice becomes evident quite quickly once in the country. One kind of baksheesh is ‘alms giving;’ one of the five tenants of Islam is the giving of alms to the poor. The giver is made more holy by the action.
Another type is baksheesh as ‘for services rendered.’ This is the closest to the western tipping practices, except it goes further. There are people at the airport whose only job appears to be opening doors; of course, they require baksheesh. And every bathroom has an attendant, who expects a few piastres (cents) for keeping the place clean. One is continuously passing out a few piastres here and a few there.”
We here at TOET encourage you to be broadminded in your idea of what “deserves” a tip, and when in doubt, to round up. Remember, in comparison to the United States and Europe, Egypt is a relatively poor country, and even middle class tourists are considered wealthy by many Egyptians. Come prepared with small bills (5, 10, and 20 L.E. notes) and if you are so inclined, “share the wealth!”
Tipping your TOET tour guide(s), drivers, porters, and others
The following information is meant to inform your financial planning for your exciting Egyptian vacation, but feel free to increase any tip to show your thanks and pleasure. It is appropriate to put your tips in individual envelopes and label them with the recipient’s name. On a multi-day trip with the same guide/driver/on a cruise/etc. it is customary to give the tip at the end of your time together.
Prices are given in US Dollars ($). At the time of this writing USD $1 = about L.E. 16.
For exact current conversion into L.E., click here.
- Overall tour coordinator: $12 per guest per day
- Main tour guide: $22 -25 per guest per day
- Local guide (such as at a specific venue): $8 per guest
- Driver: $6 per guest per day
- Cruise ship: $9 per guest per day
- Meals on board cruise ship: $2 per guest per meal (leave on table)
- Hotel chambermaid: $1 per night
- Porter/baggage handler: $1 per bag
- Waiter/waitress: 10-15% depending on service
- Toilet attendant: 20-25 cents (L.E. 1)