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yestravel Feb 14th, 2012 03:40 PM

How much to Tip Guide and Driver in VN
this is our first trip to SEAsia. This is one of the few times we have used a private guide and driver. We were picked up Sunday am in Hanoi and will stay with them until Thursday afternoon when we arrive in Sapa. Driver is excellent, I feel completely confident in his abilities. His ability to navigate the narrow, wi nding foggy roads is superb.

Our guide is young and doesn't have much depth of experience. He is very solicitous and nice and easy to be around. He is completely flexible with our plans. All this is good. his shortcomings r that he seems to only know basics and not much else. for example in a museum the other day, he read each exhibit to was written in Engliish as well as VN. this was a tiny musuem so not really a lot to remember as a guide.
When we ask questions often he doesn't know. Not sure how difficult one would consider the questions.
We are at loss as to what to tip. Tonkin tours provided the driver and guide. any recommendation s would be greatly appreciated.

WillJame Feb 14th, 2012 04:04 PM

What to tip is the least of your worries. The problem is that you are not getting the level of expertise and service from this guide that you deserve. We had five guides and drivers in five cities in VN through Tonkin last year. Every one of them exceeded the level your guide is at--in fact, I would rate each of them as first class and highly knowledgeable. It's probably too late to switch now, but a complaint to Tonkin would be in order. As for the tip, anything you give will be welcome. Maybe $20-30 each? It's not that you got poor service from the sound of things, just inexperienced service. As a result you did not get the tour you had a right to expect and your visit to Hanoi is not all that it should have been. I'm disappointed to hear of this experience.

yestravel Feb 14th, 2012 04:12 PM

thanks for your suggestion. For clarification, the guide did not take us on tours in Hanoi. we were picked up at our hotel and left the city for the NW. Yes, we are far from Hanoi and there would be no way to switch out for another guide even after the first day. He has been pretty well versed on the Hill Tribes which is the major reason for us for coming to this area .

I will let Nhung at Tonkin know about our experience. Our understanding is that many guides do not like to take this trip of five days away from their families.

crellston Feb 14th, 2012 11:21 PM

Personally I would not tip for poor service but that is the English rather than the American approach. Whether or not this poor service was down to inexperience or not is irrelevant. You did not get the experience you were expecting and that is down to the tour operator. If you do decide not to tip then you should make it very clear to the guide and T/O what the shortcomings were. If you feel this is too harsh then tip say half what you were expecting explaining why you are reducing the tip.

I doubt that many guides would be unhappy about taking on a 5 day trip as this represents a significant income for most of them.

For what its worth, we used a guide and driver to explore the NW around Ba Be. The guide was a young female student who was excellent. The driver however, was a real pain who was as miserable as sin, insisted on driving with the windows wide open despite the freezing temps. When we asked for the windows to be closed and the heating put on he simply refused. In the end we got the guide to call the office and ask them to explain to the guide that he was out of order - we got the windows closed but he had a face like thunder for the remainder of the trip. When we were dropped of at the airport we tipped the guide and asked her to explain to the driver why he was not getting a tip (which she took great delight in!)

yestravel Feb 15th, 2012 01:51 AM

Thanks, crellston. Actually I'm not sure I would characterize it as poor service. It's average. today he actually contributed a lot about the various ethnic minorities that we were passing. Went into several villages and he chatted with the people and provided good information. Half day left tomorrow, so guess we'll c how it goes and decide.

aprillilacs Feb 15th, 2012 04:35 PM

The tipping question was one we struggled with a bit as well. Our guide in the north was with us for 9 days; our main driver was with us for 5 days, in difficult driving conditions. He was really nice and managed the road extremely well, though he was consistently undergeared. We ended up tipping our guide about $10 a day, and the driver about $5 a day. Both were away from their homes/families for the whole time.

Too much? Too little? We were comfortable with the sum, and it was happily received, I believe. Would be interested to hear what others have done.

TravelsMonicaJoe Feb 22nd, 2012 04:36 AM

What to tip is an interesting question. Tonkin informally suggested $5/day for the driver and $10 for the guide. We usually ended up paying much more. Our rationale was that all but one of our guides was excellent and all of our drivers kept us alive. We were also aware that an extra few dollars for us means a lot more to people earning so little-by our standards.

rhkkmk Feb 22nd, 2012 07:34 AM

tip what you feel the extra services you received were worth and what you feel is comfortable.... remember they DO NOT make much in salary...

i would give the driver a candy bar, one you had already taken a bite out of...

dogster Feb 22nd, 2012 07:52 AM

Well, the tips were paid on February 16th, a week ago - or not. I'm sure yestravel will let us know how it went.

rhkkmk Feb 22nd, 2012 01:07 PM

what did she give you dog??

yestravel Feb 22nd, 2012 04:18 PM

Correct, the tips were paid. driver and guide were thru Tonkin Travel. We gave the driver $5 per day and the guide the same. As I said when I posted the question, we thought the driver was very good and the guide was ok, not very good, but not awful. We had an outstanding guide for a day, Jermsak, in Chiang Rai and we gave him $15 tip for a day. He also worked for himself so an agency did not get a huge cut of the entire amount we paid for his services I assume.

Tipping in foreign countries is always an interesting exercise.

kuluk Apr 9th, 2012 01:07 AM

I am also someone who struggles with the tipping issue, and I am aware I probably over-tip due to all the factors discussed above.

That being said, in Hanoi I took a short tour with a young woman from Hanoi Kids, and they do not accept tips, but we used a taxi who demanded a tip at the end of the 4 or so hour ride. I expressed surprise, as I had been told by people not to tip, but the Hanoi Kid sheepishly told us that the taxi driver had heard that Americans were big tippers and he wanted a big tip!

thursdaysd Apr 9th, 2012 04:22 AM

Yes, that is precisely why importing US tipping customs is such a lousy idea!

Geordie Apr 9th, 2012 03:39 PM

thursdaysd - Completely agree but unfortunately it seems to fall on either deaf or ignorant ears

hawaiiantraveler Apr 9th, 2012 05:52 PM

Thats a terrible comment to make about someone else's opinion

yestravel Apr 9th, 2012 05:54 PM

Yup, how one can expect to influence another's opinion with an attitude like that is puzzling.

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