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Tipping driver and guide in Vietnam

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Mar 20th, 2008, 08:59 PM
  #1
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Tipping driver and guide in Vietnam

Is tipping part of the Vietnamese culture (or tourist trade only)

How much would a driver and guide be expecting as a tip in Vietnam- (private car with 3 people)?

US dollars or dong?
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Mar 20th, 2008, 09:13 PM
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We tipped our drivers quite well because we were so glad to have arrived back safely. Traffic in Vietnam is absolutely horrendous and there is no way we could have ever handled this, so we felt a generous tip was well-deserved. Most of our guides got tips, but one didn't because of several issues we had with his services. I also felt that we have so much compared to them that tips were the last we could do.
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Mar 21st, 2008, 05:24 AM
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I agree with Julies. Even if tipping is not "part of their culture," it IS part of the tourist culture which you are partcipating in. Long way of saying that I, too, tipped drivers and guides. Dollars or dong wold be fine; I tipped in US dollars.
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Mar 21st, 2008, 06:04 AM
  #4
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Thanks for your responses but could you be more specific in terms of how much you tipped?
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Mar 21st, 2008, 08:05 AM
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Interesting regarding tipping and different nationalities.
Traveling with Dutch, Australian, British, and French, they did NOT tip. At all. Asking about giving tips resulted in blank stares.

That said, I tried to tip one guide who did an absolutely outstanding job. He looked surprised. It took 3 tries before he took it.

The others, had to say I agreed with my group. One guide actually was a little offensive.
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Mar 21st, 2008, 11:13 AM
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With more and more tourists visiting, the practice of tipping is becoming more common especially with north americans. But still tip sparingly (not like you would do at home) and only where it is deserved. Ten percent is about right.
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Mar 21st, 2008, 11:26 AM
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I had a guide and driver for airport transfers and for two whole days in Hanoi (one day for city touring including ethno Museum) and one day for trip to Tam Coc and Hoa Lu. Then they drove and retreived me from the Halong Bay cruise dock. I have no idea if my amount were in sync with expected amounts, but I believe I gave US$20 to the guide and US$10 to the driver. How does that amount jibe with what others tipped, if anything?
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Mar 21st, 2008, 04:22 PM
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Niblette, your comment about other cultures and their tipping habits (or not) is interesting.

One of the reasons I posed the question initially, is that as an Australian I have little experience with tipping. Tipping is not the norm in Australia, although some people do...


Needless to say, US tourists are very appreciated by cab drivers and wait staff etc in Australia.
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Mar 26th, 2008, 03:59 AM
  #9
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Still wondering about specific percentages/amounts to tip- thanks!
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Mar 26th, 2008, 05:06 AM
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I'd say only when it is deserved.

The way I see it, if a service if offered at "x" price, that's the price, and that's what you pay.

There is a propensity in Asia (encouraged and introduced, I suspect by cash-rich tourists) for people to offer services at ridiculously low prices - so you feel you have to add something on.

Not good. Leads to potentially unfulfilled expectations on the part of the service provider, and guilt on the side of the service user.

Overseas visitors are a milch cow. And because some people tip when it is not merited we get this spiral of low prices and high expectations.

I don't tip unless something exceptional has been given. Prefer to settle on a fair price in the first place.

Of course, that's the problem? What is a fair price? Always go informed about the minimum/average wage wherever it is. Helps put things in perspective.
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Mar 26th, 2008, 06:16 AM
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Agree with afterall.

So many tourists, Americans in particular, overtip all over the world. It does create problems and change expectations for subsequent tourists. US tipping customs are practiced NOWHERE else in the world. Some people seems to fail to grasp that concept. This is a very prickly subject as evidenced by the many threads all over this forum that frequently become insulting and contentious.
Tipping is getting out of hand in the US.

Lavender,
Tipping in not part of the Vietnamese culture. However, many tourists, in particular Americans, are changing this expectation for others.

I am American and follow whatever the country's custom is. I did not tip in Vietnam except when exceptional service was provided. Of the tours that I did, one guide did that. The others did exactly what they should have.
Someone who takes us around places, tells some history, and getting us back is doing the job. I already paid for that. No tip. Also private guides with his/her own business, no tip.

The exceptional guide obviously wanted to share his love of his country. He discussed how his country had changed with free trade, both negative and positive impacts. He wanted people to experience more of Vietnam than just the usual tourist paths. He did not fish for a tip and was surprised when I gave him one (50,000 dong tip, tour was $45).
On the high end tour, the guide talked about money thru much of the tour. And kept telling to tip people who I considered doing their regular job. I did not (except one) and did not like the pressure. This can only be the result of over tipping tourists.
The tour was 2X higher than another recommended tour. Restaurant was the same. Itinerary apparently was the same. Difference: fancier boat. My guide actually did less than the cheaper tour. They got detailed history, I did not.
I did not tip. Talking to others who took the other tour, neither did they (German, Australian). Their rationale: they paid for the service already.
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Mar 26th, 2008, 06:26 AM
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Thank for that post, Nibblette..I found it very helpful and thought provoking.
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Mar 26th, 2008, 08:33 PM
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"Someone who takes us around places, tells some history, and getting us back is doing the job. I already paid for that. No tip."

I guess you could say the same about a waiter/waitress in a restaurant. They tell you about the specials, they take your order, bring you your food (sometimes) then collect the bill. You already paid for the food. But the waiter/waitress gets a tip for doing the job. And waiters/waitresses get paid an hourly wage on top of the tips. Of the $50 paid to the tour company, the guide gets a small amount in comparison.
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Mar 27th, 2008, 05:32 AM
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Bisbee,
you are thinking about US servers, not the rest of the world.
In the US culture, the customer is expected to tip to supplement the employer's low wages. It is like that nowhere else. The US cannot be compared to the rest of the world.
Though I usually round up, I don't otherwise tip servers in the rest of the world if that is not the culture of the country. I follow the culture of the country.

Most guides are paid a living wage and more. Many of my Asian guides said the tourist trade jobs, at least in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, are very competitive because they are among the best paid in the country.
Some of the most competitive college programs in Vietnam are tourist-related. These people make more than doctors and teachers! Think about that!

Americans are the ONLY culture who tip over the top. Americans do not make up the majority of the traveling public.
When I was in Vietnam, the majority came from the area: China, Japan, Korea, Australia, and as well as former colonizer, France.
In fact, I observed very few Americans vs Europeans and the aforementioned groups. And the others don't tip.

Because of the Vietnam War, I asked about Vietnamese perception of the US and Americans visiting. I was told that Americans are very popular because not only do they tip but they tip very well. While another one of those infuriating and uncomfortable "hints", an interesting comment as the first thing that came to his mind. It indicates how Americans importing their tipping practices have influenced treatment of others that follow. Would he have said that to a non-American? He otherwise said little about perceptions about Americans.
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Mar 28th, 2008, 12:03 AM
  #15
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Thank you all for some very interesting discussion-

I must say that not being an American, I hadn't really planned on tipping, just assumed I would be paying whatever the appropriate rate was for the driver and guide.

vietnamstay.com led me to believe that tipping would be expected so I thought I'd run the concept by this forum..

Thank you for your enlightening contributions.

I am not averse to tipping anyone for service that is really exceptional, going beyond the expected- I just resent the concept of tipping when it is expected and becomes a hidden expense on a trip.

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Mar 28th, 2008, 04:07 AM
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lavender - agree without reservations. See previous post.

But how do we stop people from upping the ante all the time?

We can't. And so inexperienced holiday makers (can't call them travellers) continue to go to places they find "exotic" with absolutely no understanding of relativity. They have no idea of the average annual wage in the countries they visit. Quite possibly no idea at all about the politics and history. Clueless really.

They should understand that tipping someone the equivalent of a day's wage gives the following signals:

Outsiders do not know the value of money.

Outsiders are ignorant.

Outsiders are there to be taken for everything they've got.

Can't blame the locals.

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Mar 28th, 2008, 06:00 AM
  #17
 
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Lavender,
Please only tip if outstanding service is provided. Tipping in not part of Vietnamese customs.

To put things in perspective, in Vietnam, a teacher makes on average about $750/yr; a tour guide $2500-$3800/yr WITHOUT tips. Guides are paid very well. Giving a 10% tip can be a half to whole day's wages or even more!
If you are getting a private service contracted directly with the guide, there is no need to tip. The guide has already set what he/she considers a fair price.

I read a lot about any country I visit prior to going. As independent travelers, we use tours or have guides as supplements. Nothing is better than an eyewitness/local perspective.
But when the guide targets me for money because of my nationality, it both annoys and disappoints me. I can't enjoy the tour as much and also realize that this is the result of prior Americans' ignorance of local customs. I've learned not to use tour services that cater primarily to Americans. I don't like being treated like a walking ATM machine!
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