One of the things as a traveler that always confounds me when I head to a new country is, what are the tipping rules?
I´m sure that coming from the US where tipping is ingrained into our social fiber makes me hyper sensitive to the issue. So, let me lay out the tipping norms in Colombia. So, when you arrive, you know the score.
As in most countries, if you think you had excellent service, a tip will always be appreciated. This advice comes from the experience of living and having traveled in Colombia... and talking to lots of friends who work in the tourism industry in Colombia.
Taxis = No tip
In the main cities, the taxis are metered and you pay that amount only. The only exception is at the end of the year. In Bogota (I´m not sure about the rest of the country) there is a week around the Christmas and New Years holidays when people do tip the taxistas.
Restaurants = Tip
On most bills, you will see a 10% voluntary tip (¨propina voluntaria¨). You are not required to pay it, but everyone does. That money typically goes into a pot that is shared by the staff. If you think you had extraordinary service, Colombians will leave an extra tip in cash. That cash will go directly to the waiter. It is typically not extravagant, about $2-5000 Colombian pesos (COP) but always appreciated.
Hotels = Tip
Most of the international rules apply here. A small tip to porter, concierge, and maid are common. Unlike in other countries, tipping for the porter is per event, not per bag. So, if you have one or two bags, the tip would be the same. $2-5000 COP is the average for all of these services. Room service tips work like they do in restaurants. If they are included in the bill, they are shared. If you want to tip your attendant directly, you may. In the case of hotels, tipping with dollars or euros is not uncommon.
Tour Guides = Tip
This is the one that has the most leeway. Tipping your tour guide is customary. Yet, the amount is completely discretionary. Personally, I factor in the cost of the tour, the duration of the tour and the quality of service. You may have your own criteria for deciding what to tip.
Airport Baggage Handlers = Tip When Possible
The taxi service at the airports in Colombia is very straightforward. You arrive and go to the taxi stand where you tell them where you are going in the city. You will receive a print out with the taxi fare already fixed. Waiting for you will likely be some guys wanting to help you with your bags to the taxi. You will be forgiven for mistaking them for the taxi driver. A tip is expected in this case, but it is small, about 500 pesos which is a coin not a bill. The biggest problem here is that if you are new to Colombia, you won´t have any spare change to give.
Written and contributed by Jeff Jung