Wondering about tipping in Colombia?
Perhaps you’re planning a trip and curious if you need to tip at restaurants, tip tour guides, tip taxi drivers, or who else you need to tip in Colombia.
There are a handful of times when it is expected that you leave a gratuity, especially at restaurants, but the tip is usually included when it’s expected. However, some situations fall into a bit of a gray area where you might decide tipping in Colombia is appropriate.
Read on to learn all about when you should leave a gratuity in Colombia.
Is it customary to tip in Colombia?
Yes and no. Tipping is generally expected at sit-down restaurants where someone waits on you or bars and nightclubs with table service, although you can decline to do so if you choose.
For most other services, it is generally not expected that you tip, but people often appreciate it, and in a handful of cases there may be a bit of an expectation of a tip.
What is tipping etiquette in Colombia?
Tipping etiquette in Colombia is technically always optional. You may hear a tip referred to as a propana but also as a propina voluntaria or servicio voluntario (voluntary tip). The tipping etiquette in Colombia is to tip is at a restaurant, bar, or nightclub, or anywhere you have been waited on. Unless the service was exceptionally bad, you should leave 10 percent.
In other cases, such as tour guides, drivers, or hotel staff, you might hear someone casually suggest or ask for a tip by saying “la propina es voluntaria,” or “the tip is voluntary.”
You shouldn’t feel pressured to leave a gratuity, if you have received exceptional service, it would generally be good tipping etiquette in Colombia to leave them with a small tip.
Tipping in Colombia restaurants
It is customary to tip in Colombia at sit-down restaurants. At some smaller, traditional places, it might not be expected, but at most restaurants in tourist areas, a 10 percent tip is generally expected.
However, as noted above, this tip is technically voluntary. Oftentimes, the waiter or waitress will ask you if you would like to include it in your bill either when you ask for your tab or when you pay using a card.
How much should I tip in Colombia restaurants?
Despite its voluntary nature, it is also often automatically included in bills at many Colombia restaurants. When this is the case, it’s 10 percent and you should see it listed near the bottom of your bill. Do be sure to check if it was included or not.
What if a tip is already included in my bill?
If you are dining in Colombia and a tip is included automatically, you can decline it, although if it is automatically included or the waiter or waitress asks you if you would like to include it, it is generally a sign that it is expected.
If a tip is not included and the waiter or waitress doesn’t mention it, it is most likely not necessary or expected. This is most common in smaller, mom-and-pop style restaurants. Still, leaving 10 percent or even just a few thousand pesos are likely to be seen as a generous gesture by your waiter or waitress.
✅ You should only decline it if you feel you received unacceptable service or it would be bad etiquette.
Can I add a tip to my credit card when paying in Colombia restaurants?
One thing worth pointing out is that unlike in the US or some other countries if you are paying with a card, there is no way to add a custom tip and tally up a total. It is either included as the 10 percent customary tip in Colombia when they run your card or not.
Of course, you can always choose to leave an additional tip with cash if you feel you received exceptional service. In this case, anywhere from $5,000-$20,000 additional pesos would be a nice gesture to your server.
Tipping taxi drivers in Colombia
It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers in Colombia. That being said, many times taxi drivers do not have exact change, so it can be easier to leave a tip by just rounding up to the nearest thousand pesos.
If you would like to give a small tip of $1,000-5,000 Pesos, they will of course appreciate it, but it’s not expected. In cases where they have perhaps waited on you or helped you load lots of bags, it would be totally appropriate to tip them.
Tipping Uber drivers in Colombia
If you are using a ride-share app like Uber, EasyTaxi, Did, or InDriver in Colombia, the best practice would be to give the standard tip that the app suggests if it suggests one.
How much to tip private drivers in Colombia?
If you have contracted a private driver, it falls into a bit of a gray area. If it is just a one-way trip, it is not necessary to tip them. If you have the same driver all day or over multiple days, and they have waited on you at places, it would be a nice gesture to tip them, especially if you feel you received good service.
Tipping tour guides in Colombia
Similar to private drivers, tour guides fall into a bit of a gray area. Generally, it will not be seen as rude to not tip a tour guide in Colombia.
However, if you feel the guide was good and personable, it would be good tipping etiquette in Colombia to give them a tip. Sometimes on group tours, someone will offer to collect tips. In this case, $2,000-5,000 Pesos is fine. For a private tour, leave $20,000-50,000 Pesos, depending on the length and type of tour.
Tipping street food vendors in Colombia
It is not expected to tip street food vendors in Colombia. It’s also not particularly common to see tip jars or cups. If you see one and want to leave the coins you receive as change, you can, but it’s not necessary.
Tipping bellboys/porters in Colombia
Bellboys and porters are not very common at cheaper and mid-tier hotels in Colombia. You will see them at higher-end places such as some Cartagena boutique hotels or luxury hotels in Bogotá and Medellín though.
In these cases, a tip of $5,000-10,000 pesos would be a fine tip for carrying your bags to your room.
Tipping hotel staff in Colombia
Besides bellboys or porters that carry bags to your room or staff that waits on you in restaurants or other situations such as serving drinks at Cartagena beach resorts, you are not expected to tip other hotel staff in Colombia.
For bellboys and porters, follow the above advice, and for waiters or servers, 10 percent is acceptable with the option to leave a little more if the service was exceptional. Be sure to check if the standard 10 percent was included in your bill or not.
Tipping housekeepers in Colombia
It is not necessary or expected that you tip housekeepers in Colombia. If you have an exceptionally long stay in a place or you made an exceptionally bad mess, it would be a nice gesture to leave a tip, but generally, it is not customary.
Tipping in Colombia: an overview
The general rules about tipping in Colombia above apply country-wide. In smaller towns and less touristy areas, it is less common to see the 10 percent tip automatically included in bills at restaurants but in most larger cities it is very common, especially in nicer places.
In Cartagena and Medellín, the country’s largest tourist destinations, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Bogotá, it is more common to hear tour guides or drivers suggest a tip but it is still optional.
Tipping in Cartagena
In almost all the best restaurants in Cartagena, you’ll see the 10 percent tip included in your bill. With such a large tourist industry, you’ll generally see it’s included automatically in the tourist areas of the city.
Due to a large number of tourists, there is an expectation that you tip for other things such as tour guides in Cartagena too.
Tipping beach vendors in Cartagena
One thing to watch out for is food vendors on the beach. They sometimes charge exorbitantly high prices, and, in some cases, they insist you pay one tip for the restaurant where the food was prepared plus another tip for them for bringing you the food, which adds up to more than the customary 10 percent. Agree on the prices beforehand and ask if they charge a service fee for bringing you food.
Tipping street performers in Colombia
Another thing to watch out for is street performers, especially rappers. It’s not uncommon for streets performers in Colombia to approach you on the street and try to give you a special mini performance.
While they can be entertaining, they can also be a nuisance. If you are not interested, ignore them or say “no, gracias” which is the best way to deal with street vendors in general. If you do listen and engage with them, be sure to give them a small tip. $2,000-5,000 Pesos is more than enough.
Tipping taxi drivers in Cartagena
Cartagena taxis don’t have meters like Bogotá and Medellín. There are technically legally defined prices, but it’s common for taxi drivers to overcharge. It’s also common for them not to have, or pretend not to have change. For trips within the tourist area of Cartagena, leave $8,000-12,000 Pesos with a bit of an additional premium at night.
How much does it cost to get from Cartagena Airport to the city
Expect to pay $15,000-$25,000 Pesos to get from Cartagena Airport to the city. Be sure to agree on a price before getting into the taxi.
Tipping in Medellin
In Medellín, there is a bit less of a tipping culture than in Cartagena, but it is still expected that you tip the customary 10 percent in most mid-tier and up restaurants, especially including any that cater to tourists.
Tipping in Cali
In Cali, which draws fewer tourists than Cartagena or Medellín, you are more likely to find smaller, local restaurants that may not include the 10 percent tip and where it may not be as strongly expected. In higher-end restaurants and nightclubs, you will likely see a tip included in your bill.
Tipping in Bogota
Bogotá is similar to Cali, in that you will find lots of smaller, local establishments that may not include the 10 percent tip but in the nicer middle to upscale places, you will see it included in your bill and the expectation is that you pay it unless receiving very bad service.
What to know about tipping in Colombia?
The most important things to know about tipping in Colombia are:
- In most restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, a 10 percent tip is customary.
- In many cases, this tip is automatically included, while in others, they will ask if you want to include it, so be sure to check if it was included or not.
- This tip is technically voluntary and can be declined if service was bad.
- It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers, housekeepers, or other general hotel staff.
- A small tip of a few thousand pesos for carrying bags is not always expected but is a nice gesture for bellboys and porters.
- Although not obligatory, it is a common and nice gesture to tip tour guides in Colombia.
Tipping in Colombia: FAQ
Here are some frequently asked questions to clarify any doubts you might have.
How much do you tip in Colombia?
10% is considered the customary tip for service in restaurants in Colombia. Anything over 10% would be seen as generous and a nice gesture for receiving good service.
For other services such as bell boys, porters, and large group tour guides, a tip of $2,000-10,000 pesos would be seen as a nice gesture, while $20,000 or more would be seen as generous for a private tour.
Can you tip US dollars in Colombia?
It is best not to tip in US dollars in Colombia. Generally, US dollars are not accepted at restaurants and other businesses in Colombia, so it is best to have Colombian pesos anyways.
If you are only in Colombia for a shore excursion during a cruise to Cartagena, tipping a tour guide or taxi driver in US dollars would be fine. In other cases, tip in Colombian pesos.
Tipping in Colombia: final word
Tipping in Colombia is most important and generally only necessary at restaurants where 10 percent is customary. However, it is seen as good etiquette, not to mention generous, to tip people for carrying your bags and to tip tour guides. In the very touristy Cartagena, you may get more indirect pressure to tip than in other areas of Colombia.
This post was contributed by Adam McConnaughhay. He writes about Cartagena and other destinations in Colombia at CartagenaExplorer.com