Hacking Colombia: Tipping

If you’re a native Colombian, you might not tip in most situations, or you tip minimally. This is absolutely normal and I would not dare criticize anybody here for their tipping as it’s the way of the land.

Foreigners, be they tourists or long term residents here should tip according to what they feel comfortable with. In other words, you don’t need to follow the lead of native Colombians, but you also have to be mindful not to insult them by tipping large while they don’t, unless it’s you paying the bill.

Full service restaurants: you can tell the waiter to include the service. The gratuity is only 10% of the bill, so what I do is just add a bit more when paying the invoice, or if I have to wait for change, leave some of that behind. Even if I just have a coffee, I’ll leave at least 2,000. It’s not a lot of money to me, but it could be half of what the person who served me earns per hour.

Fast food restaurants: There’s almost always a tip box or jar. They work for low wages, so a few coins is more useful to them than to you!

Food delivery (Ex: Rappi): You’re paying maybe 6,000 for the delivery, but that poor guy who rode a motorcycle up the hill in the rain doesn’t get paid much. I’ll tip at least 5,000 no matter what.

Taxis/Uber: Many Colombians don’t tip the driver. I usually round out the fare with a couple thousand pesos (about 45 US cents). Drivers are grateful for anything. If it’s a taxi to or from the international airport, I’ll round out the fare to 100,000 COP (say if it’s 87,000)

Building security (porteros): I, like many, give them a Christmas cash gift.

Grocery baggers: Many people don’t tip, but others like me will give them a few coins and it’s always very appreciated.

Tour drivers and guides: It’s customary to tip them. Even if it’s just 5,000 pesos, you made their day!

Hotel bellhops and other hotel staff: Yep, tip ‘em!

Again, it’s up to you how much, and if you get exceptionally good service, tip more. There’s no hard rules about tipping, and let’s face it, thanks to the exchange rate, many of us can afford to be generous.

SIDENOTE: Many locals have told me that restaurant owners or managers will keep the tips, or part of them. I cannot verify this reliably, but I will suggest that you ignore that as there’s many things people say that are untrue or exaggerated. If in doubt, give your server the tip directly, don’t add it to the bill.