In Costa Rica, tips aren’t as large—or as expected—as they are in the United States and Mexico. In fact, Costa Ricans (otherwise known as Ticos) aren’t in the habit of automatically doling out gratuities to restaurant workers, taxi drivers, and hotel staff.
But that doesn’t mean visitors shouldn’t show a little monetary appreciation for good service. Here are some tips on tipping to follow while staying at beach resorts, riding in cabs from the airport, dining out, and taking tours of famed nature reserves.
In Bars and Restaurants
Sit-down dining establishments automatically add to the bill a 10% service charge for wait staff. You don’t have to tip on top of that, but if your server was especially attentive, leave a little extra—though no more than 10% of the final bill amount.
Bars don’t do the service-charge thing as a rule, so leave the equivalent of US$1 (600 CRC, as of this writing) per drink.
If you’re at a café where you spot a tip jar, round up your bill to the nearest colón (the country’s currency) and toss that change into the jar.
For hauling luggage to and from your room, give bellhops 600–900 CRC (US$1–$1.50) per bag.
Leave housekeeping 1,200 CRC (US$2) per night. You might find an envelope for this purpose next to the bed.
Tico taxi drivers don’t expect tips as a matter of course, but you can round up your fare to the nearest colón and let the change serve as thanks to the driver for getting you to your destination in one piece.
If the cabbie helps with luggage or transports you a long distance, add 600–3,000 CRC (US$1–$5) to the fare, depending on the number of bags and quality of the driving.
On Day Tours
For showing you Costa Rica’s jungles, volcanoes, colorful birds, and plentiful zip lines, give tour guides at least 3,000 CRC (US$5) per person. Increase that amount up to 6,000 CRC (US$10) per person based on the size of your group.
The smaller the group, the bigger the tip should be because presumably the guide will give you more personal attention that way—and will only be getting gratuities from, say, eight folks instead of 15.
In everything you do, you want to be the kind of polite visitor who won’t remind your hosts of the howler monkeys in the nation’s rainforests.
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