Tipping in Colombia: Essential Guide to Gratitude and Etiquette

Tipping in Colombia

Tipping in Colombia: A Complete Guide

 

When traveling, costumes and etiquette varies from one country to another. This includes, among many other things, tipping. For instance, in the United States, it is customary to leave a generous tip based on the quality of service, or in Europe is not rare to leave coins as tips. However, in Colombia, while tipping is also common in most cases, the amounts are generally smaller when a price is already paid and coins shouldn’t be given as tips

 

The amount you should tip in Colombia depends on the industry, the location and the level of service provided. For example, you wouldn’t be expected to leave a large tip at a restaurant in El Centro of Medellín as you might at a high-end establishment in the bustling area of El Poblado, known as one of the city’s most affluent zones.

 

Tipping customs in Colombia vary across different sectors such as restaurants, taxis, bars, and tours. For instance, tipping in Colombia should be in Colombian Pesos. In this guide we will provide you with the essential tips to help you confidently navigate the streets of Colombia.

 

Tipping in Colombia: Our Free Walking Tour

 

We strongly believe that high quality services should be available to everyone independent of their budget. That’s why we keep our tour free as we know there are people who travel on a tight budget. We do not want people to feel constrained to tip at the end of the tour, that is totally up to you, your budget and your satisfaction. Having said that, the guides and Real City Tours as a company, we depend on the tips as main source of income. Guides do consider that a great tip is something between COP 40,000 – 50,0000 per person. This money is then divided into the guide, the company and the booking platform* used.

 

Tip: Enjoy an unforgettable experience in El Centro, Medellín by joining our free walking tour. Click here to book now.

 

Tipping in Colombia: Restaurants & Bars

 

Over the past 20 years, tipping practices in Colombian restaurants and bars have evolved as there is now a national law that regulates “el servicio“, in other words the tips,  should be included in the bill. Nowadays, it is common for restaurants to include by default in the bill a voluntary service charge of 10% known as “propina voluntaria” for the service. They way it should work is the following: When you ask for the be bill they must ask you¿Desea incluir el Servicio?“, meaning “Would you like to include the tip?”, here you can say Yes, or No. You can also say “yes, make it 15%” or “yes, make it 5%”, it’s a voluntary contribution, so it is up to you. Most locals do not reject it, unless they have had an exceptionally bad experience.

 

However, it’s important to note that this 10% service charge does not apply to street food vendors as they usually do not provide formal receipts. In such cases, you have the freedom to tip as you see fit or stick to tipping around the 10% mark that you would typically pay at a restaurant.

 

Tip: Be sure to have smaller denomination bills (e.g. COP 2,000 or COP 5,000), coins are not well seen to leave tip. Some people might connect the idea of begging with coins. So avoid tipping with coins.

 

Tipping in the Tourism and Hotel Industry

 

When it comes to hotel staff, including receptionists, bellboys, and cleaning staff, tipping is a common practice. Unlike restaurants and bars where there might be a predefined service charge, in the hotel industry, the amount you tip is entirely at your discretion and in cash, mostly in COP but if you want to give USD or Euros it’s fine. Please be aware that tipping in other currencies might not be well appreciated ( e.g. Peruvian Soles, Brazilian Real, Argentinean Pesos, British Pounds … )

 

Similarly, in the tourism industry, tipping is not mandatory but is often appreciated by guides and drivers, as it serves as a gesture of appreciation for their services. While there are no specific guidelines for tipping in this sector, it is common to offer a tip that reflects your satisfaction with the services provided. When deciding on the amount to tip, consider factors such as the listed price paid, the quality of service, the duration of the tour, and your overall experience.

 

Tipping in Colombia: Taxis

 

In Colombia, taxis typically use fare meters, which are regulated by law however in each city it works diffent. Medellín’s system is the most transparent, where you do not negotiate anything and the meter says in COP how much it is due. You should know that the meter has a starting point $4,900 COP (around 1,3 USD, as per 2024), but there is a minimum fare of $7,000 COP (less than 2 USD, as per 2024).

 

Unlike other service industries, tips for taxi drivers in Colombia are usually much lower. It is common for Colombians to round up the fare amount determined by the taximeter and consider that as the tip. For example, if a ride costs approximately $9,000 COP, people often give a 10,000 bill and let the driver keep the change.

Tip: In the last years, taxi drivers in the area around El Poblado they are including an extra charge during the nights.

 

Tipping in Beauty and Wellness Services

 

Like most services in Colombia, there is no determined service fee in the beauty and wellness industry. It mostly depends on the service, the time and effort it takes, its price, and the location of the salon or spa.

 

Tipping in Colombia
Tipping in Colombia – Barber shop 2024

For nail and hair services, it is common to give a tip of around $5,000.  For more complex services such as massages and treatments, a tip of around 5% to 10% of the total service cost is generally appreciated. 

 

Remember that the tip is completely at your discretion. You can adjust the amount based on the quality of service, your overall satisfaction, and your own personal budget.

 

Tip: If your are looking for a hair or nails salon, we’ve got you covered:

 

*Booking platforms like GetYourGuide, Viator, and TripAdvisor take a 30% cut from paid tours, meaning either customers pay more or providers earn less. Free tour platforms like GuruWalk.com and Freetour.com charge around 50% of the money earned per person, regardless of the tip amount. It is recommended to book directly through the operator’s website to save money and support local operators. To learn more about how these platforms impact small businesses and free walking tours, please read this article