How much should I tip in South Africa?

I'm so pleased to read and answer your question - so pleased someone asked it!

SA is fast turning into one of those countries where any service (good, acceptable and even pretty shocking service), expects a tip (and 10% or more) for that matter.

So do the consientious tax-payers a favour and DON'T tip unless the service is at leadt decent or good, but be fair when doing so. Please give more than 10% when the service deserves it, because many waitering staff rely heavily on their tips.

However if the service is bad, gently say something to the worker. Many staff havn't been trained effectively, and the management should be informed. Customer service is sadly becoming non-existent in SA.

I'm in the process of installing fibre unto my home and was told it would take 4-6wks! My friend in the US can't believe it. When I asked the consultant, he corrected himself saying I'd (more than likely) be up and running long before that, but they give that time-span just in case. Well, it's on the 7wk mark and I've been promised it's this week. They blame the fact that it's new technology for SA and not on their incorect time-estimate.

I visted a top legal mediator in Cape Town, who stated (in his opening letter) it would take 3–4 sessions to resolve the dispute. 6 sessions later I moved over to an even more costly attorney to handle it. The mediator blamed the opposition as being very difficult.

In my humble opinion I believe this is down to the brain-drain where so many capable people have left SA. In addition, I believe the lack of leadership accountability has seeped into our everyday culture. Blaming something or someone else has become a common practise.

I had some painting carried out to my home. I paid half upfront for materials, the balance of which was due on completion. I wasn't satisfied with the job carried out and said so, adding I'd pay the balance when satisfied. The painter was livid, saying I was one of those customers who just won't pay the bill. He walked off the job and I never heard from him again. I had to pay someone else to fix his mess.

I contacted the service of a domestic cleaning service for a worker to clean & iron clothes. When she burnt an expensive blouse (I'd only worn once), I brought it to their attention. Their response was that I'd signed the indemnity form so could not hold them accountable. They added that they'd fired the cleaning person as well so that should settle it. Shockingly unfair yet quite possible -what recourse did she have? They offered no accountability for damages. I wrote them a letter in which I quoted the consumer watch-dog, told them my contract was with them and not the worker, then paid what I owed them minus the amount for the blouse. The owner wrote back saying I was obviously one of those customers who doesn't have the money to settle their account.

I could go on... but it's boring and not really about tipping so much as customer service & a lack of accountability. Perhaps I seem difficult or overly assertive but hard-earned money deserves a decent to excellent product or service.

Oh... and while I'm on a roll, please don't hand out money to our many, many beggars. Our culture in SA stand with hands outstretched expecting a hand-out. Rather give a hand-up. in the form of a donation at one of our many soup kitchens, shelters, charities or underpriviledged schools or clinics. If it's a large sum, request a name and where the money has been spent.

99% of the time, your cash (to a beggar) is spent on drugs or alcohol. Blankets which have been distributed (and paid for by someone else) are often seen discarded in parks. Donations of food are often tossed. Have you ever asked why so many able-bodied men stand on the street rather than women? Chances are these women are at least willing to work in someone's home and probably pay someone else (with the proceeds) to care for their children.

Apologies, but your question was a good opportunity to voice this concern of mine.

So, getting back to the point, please TIP ACCORDING TO THE SERVICE you receive and hold people accountable for bad service (especially management).


Tipping in South Africa is the bread and butter for many employees and so it goes without saying that it is highly appreciated.

When visiting a bar or dining at a restaurant, it is important to see if a service charge was added to your check but if not then an acceptable tipping amount is between 10 and 15%.

If you embarking on a group tour then tipping anything from R20 to R50 per person is the guideline but you are welcome to give more or less.

If you are taking a private tour then we recommend you tip the driver/guide anything from R100.

Hotel porters - R10 to R20.

Housekeeping - R20 to R50 per day.

Airport porters - R5 per piece of luggage.

When embarking on a safari, there is generally a small hospitality team that will look after your every need during your stay and should you feel that they have done a great job and exceeded your expectations, you are welcome to give a tip. Although tipping is not mandatory, it is a token of appreciation shown by visitors and generally is expected.

If you feel that your ranger did an exceptional job and would like to gift him with a tip then R200 to R300 per family (or couple) per day is the guideline. Tips for trackers are usually R100 to R200 per family (or couple) per day.

Most lodges do have tipping advice and guidelines, so you are also able to check this with them.


As a general rule - a lot less tipping than America - bit more than Europe....

Restaurants - 10% is normal, 15% very generous, 20% is too much. Do check your bill whether service already included. If it is don't get caught paying twice.

Bars - some tips but not with every drink / round. Decent tipping will probably get you better service.

Taxis - depending on distance R10 or R20.

If you are renting a car, you will find car "guards" in various places looking after your car. You do need to tip here - R2 is light, R5 normal, R10 generous.

Hotels - if it is one with lots of overseas clientele, probably is an expectation but again less than America, more than Europe.

Safari camps - definitely an expectation to tip quite heavily here. You should expect to tip your ranger separately from the rest of the camp staff.

If I haven't listed it I don't think there is an expectation to tip.


When you tip waiters at restaurants I suggest you tip 10% + IN CASH; do not include it in your total bill payment. Reason for this is more and more restaurants are now holding back VAT of 15% on the tip, which means if you add the tip onto your bill, the waiter only gets 85% of your tip. And who knows if the restaurant really pays that "VAT" to the tax man?? There are also restaurants that pay almost NO salary to waiters and expect waiters to live on tips!


Being in the food industry for 20+ years, tipping is not compulsory however it is appreciated.. 10% of your total bill is acceptable as a gratuity because your waitron is providing you with a service by waiting on you. Tipping should be regarded as a form of reward that shouldn't be expected by the server. If you received brilliant service then you can tip as much as you like-10%+...

One of the key rules that I have taught my waitrons in the past "A customer should never have to ask for anything because the waitron needs to Smile, Anticipate the customers needs, Clean as you go and Keep those drinks full...


I think this will depend on the experience. If the service enhanced the experience, do 15 to 25%. If service deminished the experience, I generally will speak to the waiter and point out why I did not tip. Hopefully, they take the feedback in a constructive way


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