Tipping in Mexico and any other foreign country outside of your own can be a bit of a minefield to navigate. Not every country shares the same tipping customs and it is tricky to know when to tip, when not to tip, and exactly how much you ought to tip so that you don’t under or overpay and cause offence in any way. Phew!
Tipping in Mexico is not mandatory and the tipping culture here is not the same as in the United States. However, it has started to become customary in tourist parts of the country such as the Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos, and many people working in the hospitality and services industry expect tourists to give them a tip (“propina”).
Not to worry. You are in good hands here because I have been living in Mexico for the last few years, have explored the country extensively, and deal with this tipping conundrum on a daily basis 😉
Tipping in Mexico 2023
Tipping in Mexico is not mandatory and as you travel around the country, you will note that attitudes towards tipping vary substantially from one area to another. In tourist areas, people have become accustomed to Americans tipping them in the same way that they do at home.
In more off-the-beaten-path areas like Queretaro, Chiapas state, Guanajuato and other places away from the main tourist trail and resort areas of Mexico, tipping is less common. If you leave a few coins, or tip 10-15%, people will usually be happy with the tip that they have received.
It really isn’t unheard of for people to become quite pushy about tips in places like Cancun and Tulum. There have been instances where I have tipped someone 20-25% which is a generous tip by anyone’s standards, and the person has looked disappointed with the tip that they have received.
Sometimes you can be dining out at a restaurant and people will approach you and question you about what tip you are planning to give them before you have even finished eating. At the end of the day, tipping is at your discretion and it is for you to decide how much.
How much should I tip in Mexico?
Since people in Mexico work hard and earn very low wages, I always try to tip 20-25%. This is especially the case when I am in less touristy parts of the country, or when something is a very good price/the service is excellent.
I often find that restaurants, bars, etc in parts of Mexico like the Riviera Maya and the Costa Maya are as expensive as places in New York or London. (Because they cater to an international crowd).
Sometimes if something feels overly expensive, I will tip 15%. As a rule of thumb, it is better to always tip in Mexican pesos rather than US dollars as pesos (MXN) are the legal tender here.
If you only have dollars on you, your tip will still be appreciated but keep in mind that the person will then have to change the currency so it isnt the easiest thing for them to use. If I am paying by card, I usually opt to pay the bill with my card and then physically hand over the tip in cash as I am never convinced where the tips go to if you pay by card in Mexico.
Who should I tip in Mexico?
It can be overwhelming figuring out who to tip, in what circumstances and how much.
You should tip any sort of restaurant/bar staff and that is probably going to be the main tipping experience you deal with in Mexico. In hotels, you should tip the bellhop for carrying your bags and even if you dine at an included buffet breakfast, you should tip the servers there too.
Tipping the receptionist or the concierge is not necessary but it is polite to tip housekeeping. In many hotels, you will find an envelope or a jar with “propina” written on it for you to give your tips.
Other things, like tipping Uber and taxi drivers, and tipping at the spa or hair salon, are more optional depending on how you feel and the service you receive. In this section, we will look in a little more detail about the various people you should consider tipping in Mexico.
Restaurants and wait staff
Anywhere between 15 and 20% is considered a very good tip in Mexico. If you are feeling generous or you had exceptional service, you can give 25%.
If you need change from your tip, you can ask for “cambio” from your server.
In some high-end places, a discretionary 10% service charge may be automatically added to the bill. Tipping in Mexico is never compulsory so you are not legally obligated to pay this, but it is the suggested amount. If you really liked the service, you can add more.
Food delivery staff
It may come as a surprise to hear that Mexico has an excellent convenience culture when it comes to getting things delivered to your home. Ubereats exists here, as does a local alternative known as “Didi Food” and an even better app called “Rappi” which allows you to not only order food but have someone go to local stores, pharmacies and supermarkets and pick things up for you.
If you are just spending a week or two travelling through Mexico, obviously you should get out as much as you can and experience different restaurants and regional foods. However, if you are sticking around a little longer, there may be times when you don’t feel like going out and it works out much more convenient to order things to your accommodation.
Many Ubereats/Didi/Rappi delivery drivers earn very low pay and drive backwards and forwards across town in incredibly hot temperatures. You should give them at least 20 pesos as a tip assuming you have ordered just a couple of things.
If you have had someone do a huge shop on your behalf, or you have ordered say, 6-7 pizzas for a huge group of you having a get-together, try and tip 8-10%.
Cab, Uber and Didi drivers
Tipping Uber and cab drivers in Mexico is done at your discretion. Ubers are generally much cheaper than taxis here (and are locals’ preferred ways of getting around).
While the cost savings for us as passengers are great, Uber are taking more and more fees from drivers so many of these people really don’t earn that much money. (Especially when you take into account the rising prices of gas).
You can tip however much you feel comfortable with tipping but at the very least, it is a nice idea to simply round up the fare. (i.e. if the fare is 85 pesos, the driver can keep the change from 100 pesos).
Grocery store baggers
You will often see a lot of elderly people or young teenagers helping to pack bags at supermarkets in Mexico. You see them everywhere from local independent markets to larger stores like Walmart, Soriana and Bodega Aurerra.
Unfortunately, these people are not salaried members of staff and they work voluntarily, purely in the hope of getting tips. It is often very hard for older people to find work in Mexico and so, helping out in supermarkets is all they can do.
It is polite to tip them to help you pack your bags. I read somewhere that 2 pesos per bag is a good amount to tip but I usually give grocery baggers at least 10-20 pesos for a couple of bags.
Bartenders and baristas
Whether you ought to tip bartenders and baristas or not depends a lot on the setting of where you are. If you are at a casual bar where you just grab a beer from the bartender and then go sit outside, you don’t really need to tip
However, if a place has table service, it is polite to tip in a similar way to what you would if you were eating out in a restaurant – especially if there are a large group of you. If you order just a couple of drinks at the table, you can just leave 20 pesos or so.
When you go to coffee places like Starbucks, Dunkin, or independent alternatives, there is usually a tip jar where you can give $1 or so for each drink.
Hotel porters and bellhops
It is customary to give the bellhop 20-30 pesos or so when you check into a hotel and they assist you with carrying your luggage into your room. (Especially if you have a lot of bags and there are a lot of stairs!)
The same is generally expected at the end of your trip when you check out, and the bellhop helps you take your stuff to a cab or shuttle.
In some hotels, members of staff earn a somewhat lower rate of earnings, like in the United States, because they are expected to make up their income with tips.
Conversely, at some very high-end hotels and resorts that are all-inclusive, you are not expected to give tips because it is expected that everything is included. (Sometimes you will see something written about this on the papers you are given when you check in).
Housekeeping staff in Mexico
When it comes to housekeeping, you can consider leaving a tip in the room at the end of your stay. 10-20 pesos per day is a nice rule of thumb to go by, but whatever you feel comfortable with.
You may not have the same housekeeping person allocated to your room every day of your stay. So, if you find someone particularly helpful, consider tipping them each day rather than at the end of your stay.
Some hotels and resorts have little envelopes or jars where you are supposed to place the tip. If they dont, you can simply leave the money on the desk or the bedside table with a little handwritten note saying “gracias”.
Tipping your tour guides is expected in Mexico, whether you opt to take a small group tour or a private one. 10-15% is a good amount as a rule of thumb but of course, you are always welcome to tip more if you thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
You will find “free” walking tours in many major cities and tourist areas but do note that “free” is not really free and you are expected to “tip” for your spot on the tour. You will usually be told what the suggested donation amount is at the time of reserving your spot and it is often around $10-$15 per person or so. (Circa 200 – 300 Mexican pesos).
If you are short on cash, just try your best to tip what you can. However, keep in mind that these individuals are not salaried and are often young locals and students trying to get work experience and earn some extra money.
Gas Station Workers
If you are renting a car in Mexico, you will need to stop by a gas station at some point. Gas stations in Mexico are full-service.
In other words, when you pull up to the gas pump, they will ask what you need and fill your car for you.
Typically, they will also wipe your windows and windshield for you. Be sure to give them a tip of 20 pesos or a few coins. If you really don’t want them to wipe your windows, you can always say so.
Street food vendors
When you order street food in Mexico, it is customary to stand by the cart that you have ordered it from and eat it there and then. Street food vendors don’t expect tips but since most things here are very cheap, it doesn’t hurt to round up what you pay or give a few extra pesos as a tip.
Hairdressers/massage therapists at the spa
When you visit spas, barbers and hair salons in Mexico, you are expected to tip the person who serves you at least 10-15%. Even in smaller, independent salons and spas, the owners of the establishment take a big cut of the individual worker’s earnings (i.e. you may pay 900 pesos for a massage but most of that is not going to the masseuse).
So, I would advise you to give your tips directly to the person that is working on you, not to the receptionist when you pay.
Final thoughts on tipping in Mexico
Do you have any further questions on tipping etiquette in Mexico, or are you still unsure about what is an appropriate amount in certain situations? As a general guideline, you can always go with tipping 15% if you are unsure.
You can never really go wrong with this amount – it is not too low that it will be considered rude or cause offence, and it is not too high that you will wonder if you paid too much.
Honestly, tipping in Mexico is not all that different from tipping in the US. It just can take a bit of getting used to at first if like me (Im European), you are from a non tipping culture.
While people that are accustomed to dealing with tourists can get a bit pushy, tipping is mostly appreciated here because so many people in service roles earn minimum wage.
If you need anything else to help you with planning your trip to Mexico, please dont hesitate to reach out to me. I have been living in the Yucatan capital of Merida for the last few years and I am always happy to assist with any questions you may have.
Safe travels and enjoy Mexico! Melissa xo