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November 19, 2012

Tips on tipping in Cape Town

Photo © Cape Town Tourism

Tipping can be a bit of a grey area when you’re travelling. Who do you tip? When? And how much is acceptable?

So here are some guidelines to help you navigate the tipping situation when you're in Cape Town: 

Eating out:

When dining out, it is generally acceptable to tip approximately 10% of the bill total, in relation to the level of service received.

Some restaurants will include a service fee for large tables (usually eight or more guests). We recommend checking this with the manager to ensure you don’t tip twice.

Parking attendants and taxi drivers:

Car guards are a common sight in Cape Town and South Africa in general. The idea is that they will keep an eye on your vehicle and ensure nothing untoward happens to it. You are not obliged to tip unofficial car guards, although if you would like to, the general rule of thumb is between R1 and R5.

When making use of the metered parking spaces in the city centre, you’ll most likely be approached by a parking marshal in a luminous bib who’ll ask you how long you intend to stay. Parking is charged per half hour, and it is up to you whether you choose to pay up front, and then cover the balance on your return if necessary, or you can cover the total amount on your return.

When taking a metered taxi, tipping is entirely optional. Should you wish to tip the driver, it is generally acceptable to tip between 10 and 15% of your total fee.

Hotel staff:

Tipping hotel staff can be done directly to the staff at your discretion, or as a general staff tip when you check out. If you choose to pay a general tip to be divided among all staff, the rule of thumb is to pay about 10% of your total bill. If you’d like to tip a specific individual or department, a marked envelope can be left at reception.

A tip of R3 to R10 per piece of luggage is acceptable for porters in hotels and at airports.

At the spa or beauty salon:

Tipping at hair and beauty salons is also usually along the lines of between 10 and 15% for the stylist or therapist. If you have your hair done, you can also leave a small amount for the person who washes your hair.

Tour guides and drivers:

It is common to tip tour guides and coach drivers at the end of the day. Some tours will include both a driver and a guide, whereas others will only have a guide who also does the driving. Either way, the customary amount to tip in these circumstances is between R10 and R15 per person for the day. 

Read more about money matters here.

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