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Tipping Tips

Published Nov 1, 2009 - (Updated Aug 30, 2013)


Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Fall/Winter 2009 issue.

The notion of offering a gratuity in appreciation for a job well done can be traced back to the 18th century. And while the custom of doing so is widespread, even expected in many countries, there are notable variations when it comes to when to tip, who to tip and how much to tip. The good thing is that the usual 15 to 20 percent of your restaurant tab is considered standard in Puerto Vallarta and certainly throughout Mexico. The lesser-known fact, however, is that employees in many other businesses also expect to be tipped.

It also helps to put aside the basic idea that a tip is a way to acknowledge good service and an incentive for workers to improve on it. Keep in mind that minimum wage is very low in Mexico in general and, ironically, the lowest in this region of the country: $52 pesos or approximately $3.82 USD per day. (The secretary of labor keeps detailed tables at www.conasami.gob.mx.) As such, it’s not uncommon for employers to leave it up to their employees to earn their wages through tips on their own, beyond their salary.

If you feel an employee has done a good job and you are considering a tip, the 15 to 20 percent norm applies in just about every case. Here are some pointers about who to tip – and who not to.


  • Gas station attendants
  • Grocery baggers
  • Supermarket car washers
  • Valet parking attendants
  • Tour and activity guides
  • Take-out deliverers

Not Expected

  • Fast food restaurants
  • Taxi drivers (unless they carry your luggage)


  • Government officials
  • Traffic policemen

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