costa rican colones coins and bills
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Tipping Etiquette In Costa Rica: The Complete Guide

To tip, or not to tip? That is (no longer) the question.

When you call for the bill after your first meal in sunny Costa Rica, you might wonder: am I supposed to tip? You may observe conflicting behaviors — many US tourists tip generously, while most Costa Ricans pay the bill as is. Here’s the scoop: Costa Rica doesn’t have a tipping culture, but its tourism industry is slightly different.

So, do you tip in Costa Rica? Tipping is not generally part of Costa Rican culture, but it is often expected in tourism. At a minimum, it is a good gesture for a country whose primary industry is tourism. Have some cash handy to tip waiters, hotel staff, etc. For a general rule of thumb: tip 15% of the total cost or $1–$2, whichever is more.

This article uses USD to help you have a better sense of the cost. You can tip in US dollars or cólones, the local currency. Before you go, check the current exchange rate from USD to CRC (Costa Rican Colón) using an exchange rate tool.

Here are the specifics on when, where, and how much to tip in Costa Rica.

Quick Reference For Tipping In Costa Rica

HOTELS
SituationShould You Tip?Amount
Bellhops/PortersYes$1–$2 per bag.
Room ServiceYes$1–$2 per meal.
HousekeepingYes$1–$2 for every day of your stay.
Spa ServicesYes10% –15% of the total cost.
ConciergeYes$5+
All-Inclusive ResortsOptionalSame as above, if the resort policy allows it.
DINING
SituationShould You Tip?Amount
RestaurantsOptional5%–13% on top of the included service tax (10%).
BarsOptionalThe same as restaurants or $1–$2 per drink.
Coffee ShopsOptionalThe same as restaurants or $1–$2 per drink.
TRANSPORTATION
SituationShould You Tip?Amount
Taxi RidesYesRound up the total for short drives. $2–$5 for longer drives.
Parking Lot AttendantsYes$1–$2
Airport Shuttle Yes$5–$10
Gas Station AttendantsOptional$1–$3 for extra services.
GUIDED TOURS
SituationShould You Tip?Amount
Tour Guide for GroupsYesLarge Groups: $3–$5Small Groups: $6–$10
Private Tour GuidesYes$15–$20
Adventure GuidesYesHalf Day: $5–$10Full Day: $10–$20
Fishing ChartersYes15%–20% of the total cost.
Personal ServicesYes10%–15% of the total cost.

How Much To Tip Hotel Staff In Costa Rica

Tipping-hotel-staff-in-costa-rica
Dmitry Kalinovsky

You’ll usually tip service staff in hotels $2–$5, so keep some coins and small bills on hand. Remember, these are guidelines for the generally expected level of service. For special requests or particularly good service, tip extra.

Whether you’re staying at a luxury surf camp or an all-inclusive resort, here are the tipping guidelines for Costa Rica:  

Bellhops/Porters

An easy rule of thumb is to tip bellboys $1–$2 dollars for each bag. (Factor in extra if you have any particularly heavy, or particularly delicate luggage).

Room Service

After a long day of sightseeing and sunbathing, sometimes you just want to stay in your room and eat in. $1-$2 per dish is a good way to tip for room service. This also applies to bringing up items like extra towels or toothbrushes.

Housekeeping Staff

$2 a day is customary for the housekeeping staff. $2–$5 if you’re in a larger suite. Up to $10 if you know you’ve left a bigger mess. Make sure you leave it somewhere that makes it clear it’s meant for the staff. Some rooms may have an envelope to leave tips in. Otherwise, leave it on the desk or your bed with a thank you note.

Tip during each day of your stay, as the hotel maids may be different each time.

Spa Services

After a relaxing massage, you don’t want to get tense about how much to tip. But don’t worry, tips for spa services are very straightforward, 15% of the total cost is standard. This also applies to any spas you visit outside of your hotel.

Concierge

Your concierge can give you insider travel tips and get you into the busiest restaurants while you’re visiting Costa Rica. They’re there to elevate your vacation to new levels, and should be tipped accordingly. Tip $3–$5 for standard requests and extra for more complicated requests.

Tip them right after you’ve asked for advice or made a request.

Tipping At An All-Inclusive Resort

A service charge is usually included in the cost of all-inclusive resorts in Costa Rica. You may wish to add additional tips if someone goes the extra mile for you, but bear in mind that at some all-inclusive resorts, certain staff members may not be allowed to accept tips.

It’s still quite common for travelers to choose to tip staff at similar rates to those detailed above, just don’t be surprised if someone turns your tip down.

How Much To Tip At A Restaurants In Costa Rica

Costa-rican-restaurant
Jorge A. Russell

Unlike in the United States, most restaurants and bars will automatically add a service tax of 10% to your final bill. There will also usually be an additional charge for the 13% sales tax. Occasionally, these won’t be automatically included.

Look out for ‘impuestos no incluidos’ on the menu and prepare to pay extra equivalent to what the service and sales tax would be.

Restaurants

Once you’ve factored in the automatic 10% service tax, some travelers add an extra 5–10% on top, particularly if they got exceptional service from the wait staff. There will often be a tip section on the bill, particularly at restaurants in tourist areas, just make sure you know how much you’ve already paid.

Bars

Bars may have the 10% service fee included, but it isn’t as consistent as it is in sit-down restaurants. It’s also not uncommon for travelers to add a $1 per drink tip, particularly in bars they plan to visit often, or if they ask for a complex drink. You can tip the bartender directly, or place it into a tip jar if one is available.

Coffee Baristas

Tipping baristas is very similar to tipping bartenders. Like bars, cafes will often have a tip jar by the cash register, where some travelers choose to pay the bill as it is and put any change into the jar.

How Much To Tip For Transportation In Costa Rica

Costa-rica-transportation
Derek Brumby

Tipping for transportation can be as little as rounding up a cab fare to $10 or more for private transfers. Whether you’re using car rentals or getting around with taxi drivers, you’ll likely want to tip at some point during your trip.

Taxi Drivers

For short taxi or Uber rides the easiest way to tip is to simply round up to the nearest dollar. Cab drivers won’t expect any more than that. For longer drives $2–$5 is usually a good amount. Consider adding a small tip if the taxi driver also handles your luggage for you.

Parking Lot Attendants

You will likely encounter unofficial parking attendants helping to control street parking and parking lots, particularly in busy tourist areas. They may direct you to a spot and help you get back into the flow of traffic when you leave. You are also paying for them to watch your car for you while you’re gone. $0.50 to $1 is a standard tip. A good way to go about it is to give half when they help you in and half when they help you out.

Airport Shuttle Drivers

For a standard shuttle from the airport, tip $3–$5 per passenger. If you hire a private driver, tip $10–$15 per passenger. This also applies to other private drivers you may hire during your trip. International airports, like San José Mineta International Airport, will also often have people who offer to help with your luggage, like bellhops, $1–$2 a bag is standard.

Gas Station Attendants

In Costa Rica, there are no self-service gas stations. Instead, full-service attendants will fill up your car. Many will also offer to clean your windows and check your tires and oil. Tipping is mostly expected if they offer these extra services. In these cases, the general tipping etiquette is around $2.

Tipping For Day Tours In Costa Rica

Monteverde-suspension-bridge-tour
stellalevi

Day tours in Costa Rica often involve multiple people, including tour guides and a tour bus driver. If there’s a clear tour leader, you can give your tip to them to be distributed among the rest of the staff. Just double-check that the driver would be included as they may be separately employed. Alternatively, you can tip individually or tip extra for a guide who provided particularly great service. Some tour operators will also provide tip boxes.


The exact amount you should tip varies depending on the type of tour. For normal walking or driving tours, $3–$5 is standard for larger groups (30+ people), and you should double it for smaller groups (especially 15 people or fewer). For private tours $15–$20 per person is customary. Adventure Guides usually offer half-day or full-day tours.  $5–$10 is a good amount for half days and $10–$20 is standard for full days. For fishing charters, the standard is 15%–20% of the cost of the charter.

Additionally, some guides such as those offering conservation tours, may be volunteers or paid only a small amount. Consider tipping tour guides a little bit extra in these cases, to help them continue their work.

Other Services

three-toed sloth hanging from branch
Inspired By Maps

For most personal services including haircuts, manicures, and other beauty services 10%–15% of the total amount is standard. Remember, outside of tourists, there isn’t a strong tipping culture in Costa Rica but a tip is always appreciated. If you’ve experienced excellent service, you may wish to tip above.

A Quick Glance Before You Go:

Is Tipping Expected In Costa Rica?

Tipping is expected, but optional, from tourists in Costa Rica. It is not a cultural standard outside the tourism industry. You may choose not to tip, however, tipping is always appreciated, particularly by volunteers.

Do You Need Cash At An All-Inclusive In Costa Rica?

It’s a good idea to bring cash with you to an all-inclusive resort. How much cash? Travelers often bring between $100 and $200 for tips. Some resorts prohibit staff members from accepting tips, so check their policy before offering.

Should I Tip In USD or Colones In Costa Rica?

You can tip in either USD or colónes in Costa Rica. If you tip in colónes, you may save money depending on the exchange rate. Conversely, tipping in USD is appreciated because locals can benefit from the exchange rate.

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