Tipping in Costa Rica, a guide

When it comes to tipping in Costa Rica, it’s crucial to understand the tipping culture to know what to anticipate and how much cash to carry.

Tipping in Costa Rica Tip JarTipping in Costa Rica is not part of our culture. Initially, they have included a 10% for that purpose in our bills, but also because somehow a good service and a smile are part of who we are.

However, since 1990 when tourism burst as the primary industry and is generalized all over the country, tipping has become part of our day-to-day. Little by little, people have been developing the habit, but it is essential to realize that you are already paying ten percent of your bill, and legally the owners of the businesses have to give the cash to the whole team, and they will share it.

Nevertheless, although entirely voluntary, tipping in Costa Rica, especially in the tourism industry, is well received and appreciated.

The tipping etiquette in Costa Rica for visitors is that it is never necessary but always appreciated. Especially considering Costa Rica’s minimum salary is low, the tourism business has been closed due to the epidemic.

Tipping in Costa Rica: Do You Use Dollars or Colones?

You can tip in either Costa Rican colones or US dollars. Locals routinely take US dollars, preferably as the currency rate changes almost every day, and for many of them, tips are a usual raise of their income.

You will find a tips box in some tours and areas, and these are gratuities shared among the whole team.

Tipping in Costa Rica on tours
Tipping in Costa Rica on tours

Restaurant Tipping Culture in Costa Rica

Restaurants in Costa Rica are obligated by law to incorporate the service tax, sometimes known as gratuities or sales tax, into their menu prices. The sales tax is 13%, while the service tax (tip) is 10%.

However, some restaurants do not include taxes in their menu pricing and will put “taxes not included” or “impuestos no incluidos” anywhere on the menu. If neither tax is included, expect to pay an additional 23 percent on top of the menu price. If just service tax is not included, it is an additional 10%.

Restaurants will indicate this someplace on the menu if all taxes and tips are included.

Some establishments in more touristy places may give you an extra receipt with a tip section. You don’t have to tip more if you don’t want to since you’ll pay an additional 23 percent on top of your bill.

Tip Etiquette in Costa Rica when talking about tour guides

Some tour operators will provide tip boxes (especially on adventure tours). Again, this is entirely optional. You can tip in either USD or CRC, and the amount will be shared by the whole team, including drivers and even sometimes th cook.

If you think they did a good job, feel free to tip 10% of your tour rate -or more-. And if you found someone in the team that you want to gratify especially, our suggestion is to call her or him apart.

If you hire a private driver who speaks English and escorts you around, we recommend tipping 10% or more.

Tipping in Costa Rica Tip Box
Tipping in Costa Rica Tip Box

Taxi Tipping

Tipping taxi drivers is not customary in Costa Rica.

Hotel Maid Tipping Etiquette in Costa Rica

We usually try to leave something for the maids because they don’t make much money here. You can leave around US$ 2 per day.

Informal parking “guards.”

You can find them in many places, wearing orange vests. They’ll approach your automobile and bill you for parking while claiming to “watch your car.” However, it is crucial to emphasize that they are not official and do not own the parking lot. Furthermore, they lack insurance and will not be held liable if anything happens to your car or valuables.

They can also be quite pushy in trying to convince you to park in “their area.” They can also charge foreign visitors exorbitant fees to park in their area during the holidays, although they’re not even official parking guards or insured. This is especially true in popular tourist destinations such as Manuel Antonio National Park and Tamarindo Beach.

Finally, if at all possible, we avoid parking in unapproved areas. Unfortunately, most parking in Costa Rica is unauthorized, so our recommendation is to pay them afterward.

Some ideas for tipping in Costa Rica: 

  • Tipping in coins is considered bad taste, and they may even return it to you. Not a good idea.
  • If you are going with a guide or driver for several days, an envelope with a small note will be much more appreciated.
  • Checks are extremely hard to cash for Costa Ricans. Be prepared with cash.

To wrap it up

Tipping in Costa Rica is not only accepted but encouraged. However, we completely recognize that all jobs in Costa Rica are paid, and tips are always a voluntary extra that our visitors give to show appreciation for a job well done.

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