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Tipping in Egypt and Jordan

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Dec 5th, 2009, 08:32 PM
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Tipping in Egypt and Jordan

I am starting another thread to ask fellow Fodorites what are they tipping on tours within Egypt and Jordan these days? I am taking a 16 day tour to both countries along with a 4 day/3 night cruise and am curious as to what most of you have paid for your tours in relation to guides being on the boat,etc.Do you tip at the beginnning or at the end? And to whom? I know that tipping is part of their existence over there but want to know a fair and reasonable tip for bell hops,maids,guides,tour drivers,etc. Thanks!
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Dec 6th, 2009, 02:45 PM
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If you are touring with a major company such as GCT fear not they will give you all of the recommended tipping guide lines.
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Dec 6th, 2009, 08:08 PM
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I am going with Lady Egypt. What were your guidelines if you don't mind?
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 07:59 AM
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I am back last night from my 16 day touring of Egypt and Jordan and I just want to tell EVERYONE that Egypt has got the majority of tourists hoodwinked with this tipping BS. I work as an international flight attendant and consider myself well traveled. My family has also lived and worked in various countries around the world including India which has great similarities to Egypt.

The entire family was thoroughly disgusted with Egypt and its tipping for EVERYTHING practice including telling "us foreigners" how much and when to tip as though we were totally clueless and had never left our homes before.Everywhere you turn you must tip so you learn to never talk to,smile or ask questions to ANYONE. There are never small bills to tip with so you seem to spend the majority of your time overthere looking for small bills or worrying about what you can use to tip with-talk about stress!

I travel overseas everyweek for work and understand the economics of various people's culture in regards to using tips as their salaries but Egypt is absolutely ridiculous. No matter where we were in Egypt and in Jordan, everyone who had just been to Egypt complained about the constant badgering for tips and said that they would probably never go back due to how obnoxious it was-I agree.

One USA lady we met in the airport in Luxor said that her tour company had given her a two page guide on tipping-she has traveled the world and said she could not believe it.An Australian family reported that they were told that they needed to tip $400 to their guide for a 3 day trip in Cairo?

My family and I have said that we think that Egypt has got everyone convinced that we don't know anything about the world and traveling thus they can give us "these guides" to educate us...duh?
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 08:02 AM
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One more thing-DON'T give people at the tombs USA quarters as tips as they cannot change them to Egyptian currency without major hassles. I saw women giving toilet people $1 USA bills to use the toilet as they did not have Egyptian currency-this for the chance to use the toilet without toilet paper or water? Come on people-stand up to these insane practices.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 10:32 AM
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If you are going with GCT or any large tour company, know that you will go shopping plenty. I would judge my tip for my guide after taking into consideration what I bought that I know s/he took a healthy commission on. If you buy nothing that they earned commission on, then the suggested tips may be good to use. If you buy a carpet and don't get at least 50% off the starting price, know that your guide is already VERY happy!...and his/her children are well fed.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 10:50 AM
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We were not taken to any shops during our trip so was very pleased with that.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 03:41 PM
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Dutyfree.... was that $400 US or LE for the tour guide? I will probably get suckered in as I feel for folks who are not well off.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 04:04 PM
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dutyfree - I agree that the men who are constantly begging for tips are annoying. And I can understand the difficulty a tourist - who is only there for a few days - might have. Having lived there, we learned how to deal with it. Like the relentless salesmen - you have to be firm. If someone is asking for a tip and they really haven't done anything for you - then you just have to say no. Not always easy, but eventually they get the hint. On the other hand, please don't neglect those who truly have been of assistance.

Debbie - correct me if I'm wrong, but from what we saw, the problem starts because most people either (1) have no idea what to tip and as a result over-tip, (2) feel some sort of guilt and just start handing out bills, or (3) have no sense of the value of the local currency and over-tip using US dollars, British pounds, or euros. Trust me, all the men are watching. If they see someone being generous with tips - then they swarm like bees to honey. From that moment on - you're pegged as a "tipper" and you're going to get hounded.

However, in defense of the ladies in the bathroom, in all likelihood - that is how they earn money to feed their children. Paying 1LE (about 20 cents) for some toilet paper just isn't that big a deal. There are, after all, "pay toilets" in the US. The Egyptian "pay toilets" are pretty well know (I think) and people should be prepared for it.

As for tourists who pass out quarters and $1 bills (where 1 LE bills will do) - I have little sympathy. It just means they went unprepared. While it's not easy to get small bills at major banks (or if you use an ATM), there are plenty of places where you can get get small bills (markets, pharmacies, shops, corner kiosks, etc). When we lived there, I had a drawer in a hall table where I stashed all my small denomination bills. I always needed it to tip the grocery/restaurant delivery boys.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 05:49 PM
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Grcxx3, you say folks who don't have small bills are "unprepared". Maybe not. Some folks may be like me, they don't care about giving a larger LE tip because when you work out the currency conversion, it isn't much. I would happily pay $10 or $20 LE for a clean bathroom. I guess it is all relative to your lifestyle.

I have known some well off travellers who, whilst in Asia, bargained folks down to such a low degree and were delighted to boast about it. To me, I thought they should of been prepared to pay more to help someone who works so hard to care for his family. Where I life in Australia, we are lucky, not everyone has the same fortune we do.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 06:19 PM
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I realize 10-20 LE isn't much to most of us - but it's a HUGE amount to the Egyptians and over-tipping just leads to higher tip expectations for those who follow.

As for bargaining - be assured that an Egyptian will never sell an item for a loss. My general rule was to take the first quoted price, offer them 2/3 of that price, and settle somewhere in the middle. If I was happy with the price paid, and the merchant was satisfied with the price - all was good.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 07:56 PM
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<<>>

I'm not really sure what the second sentence means. My "lifestyle" means I like clean bathrooms. I still think tipping $4.00 for a clean bathroom, which should be a given, is absurd. It's got nothing whatever to do with my income, or their's.
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Jan 2nd, 2010, 08:56 PM
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MissGreen-$400USD for a tip for the guide.
While I appreciate people giving service and I tip accordingly, the whole concept in Egypt is beyond imagination!
You tip the value of 50 cents in a washroom that the attendant has done NOTHING for you and then they yell at you for more because they don't think that that is enough.
If you ask for info from a policeman they want a tip.
If someone holds the door open in a restaurant, they want a tip.
The moment you get off the plane there is a hand in your face asking for a tip.It really gets to the point where you cannot enjoy the beauty and history of the country because you are being asked for a tip.
These comments were the whole topic of conversation whenever tourists got together on my various flights in and our of Cairo.One lady who had done Egypt twenty years ago that I met at the airport in Luxor said that she would not be coming back as Egypt had changed too much for her in the wrong direction.Seriously, the tipping and asking for it is WAY OUT OF CONTROL!(Even my 27 year old son who just finished living in India for the past two years said he thought it was ridiculous and obnoxious).
Jordan was such a nice respite from all of this crazy want of a tip in Egypt!
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Jan 3rd, 2010, 08:44 AM
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dutyfree - I agree that it's ridiculous for someone who has done nothing for you to expect a tip. That is just when you have to hold firm and walk on. Yes, they may fuss and yell, but too bad. But the reason most of these people keep asking/demanding/pushing for tips - is because there are people who will tip them. So, they figure why not?

Again, I do not begrudge the bathroom attendants. The women in Egypt do not have an easy life. I always gave them their 1LE and moved on.
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Jan 3rd, 2010, 09:04 AM
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Maybe we were just lucky but we did not have anything like dutyfree's experience - there were attendants in washrooms, etc and tipping was expected but we weren't berated for poor tips or asked for tips absent some form of service. I couldn't imagine not returning to Egypt because of the pressure for a tip....just wanted to mention that for people who have not yet traveled.
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Jan 3rd, 2010, 09:29 AM
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<< I couldn't imagine not returning to Egypt because of the pressure for a tip...>>

I agree.
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Jan 3rd, 2010, 09:33 AM
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Our experience was mixed - somewhere between dutyfree's and Elizabeth's. I remember one incident in particular that really galled me. We arrived early for our flight out from Cairo airport and couldn't get inside the terminal until our flight was posted (this was before the new terminal opened, and the old terminal was nothing but a crowded hallway and one cafe downstairs). We wanted to go downstairs to eat, but we had our bags with us. My daughter had a brace on her ankle, still recovering from ankle surgery. There was a man at the bottom of the stairs who offered to carry our bags down, but not for the tip I offered -- which was, as I recall, $1.00 per bag. He wanted more, so, having absolutely no choice, I scrounged for every bill I had, and ultimately gave him a combination of LE and $$ amounting to I think $5.00. This is the kind of thing dutyfree is talking about. Although he "did something" for us, this is the kind of thing someone here would do just to be helpful, there wouldn't be a hand out expecting anything other than a heartfelt "thank you" in return. I know here is here and there is there, but I understand what dutyfree is saying. Fortunately, LE is pretty much "play money", so you can go along without much of a cost in USD, but still, the process can be quite annoying.
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Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:12 PM
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Dutyfree, we had the exact same experience with tipping in Egypt and I can understand why people say they wouldn't go back. I have never encountered anything like it and that includes trips to India, China, and throughout Africa.

We were even 'held up' by a policeman who wouldn't let us pass until we paid him off. We were in some room at one of the sites (I think it was Edfu) and he blocked our path and wouldn't let us out until we had paid him. He kept saying he wanted more money until my husband stood up to him and then he laughed and let us go.

I don't have a problem with tipping. I actually overtip, especially in many of the places I have visited where there is such poverty. I just don't like getting a sheet telling me what I have to tip or being constantly badgered about it.
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Jan 3rd, 2010, 02:51 PM
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LOL!! That's the key! The more people that do that - the better!
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Jan 3rd, 2010, 03:13 PM
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"LOL!! That's the key! The more people that do that - the better!"

It's kind of hard though when he's holding a gun...
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