Tipping in Egypt
During your travels in Egypt you are sure to come across the word “Backsheesh”; usually whispered at you in hushed tones by hotel staff and eager toilet attendants.
It’s good to have an understanding of this concept prior to your trip.
A ‘Backsheesh’ can mean a tip, a bribe, or a charitable gift; however it usually refers to a unique combination of all three.
Essentially for tourists it’s a kind a tip. It’s endemic throughout the Arab world but nowhere more so than in Egypt.
A ‘Basksheesh’ will be requested of you by almost anybody who provides you with a service, and indeed by many people that do not. This includes situations you may be accustomed to, such as after a meal, or by a porter who carries your bags to your room. But it also includes situations that may seem a little unusual such as in a public toilet, or by a security guard or curator at one of the ancient sites.
The sums involved are usually miniscule by western standards, and help to supplement the income of low Egyptian wages (average about €55 per month).
Although Egyptians will accept most major currencies rather than to go without, it is better for everyone involved if you change your money for tipping in Egypt into Egyptian pounds. The reasons are twofold.
• You will get a lot more for your money and your tipping will go further.
• Egyptians prefer money that they do not have to change. Coins particularly, are almost impossible to change.
It is worth changing some tipping money in advance so you are never without small denominations of notes with which to tip. When you get given small notes in change hang on to them, they are gold dust!
When to Tip in Egypt?
In almost all cases you should tip after you have received the service. In your hotel, rather than tip each member of staff with whom you had contact, it is customary to leave an envelope at reception which can then be divided amongst them later.
How much to Tip?
Some rough Guidelines for Tipping in Egypt:
A restaurant: 10% of the Bill Security Guard or Museum Custodian: £E3-5 Toilet Attendant: 25-50pt Hotel Porter: £E2-5
As a rule of thumbs if you’re not sure how much to tip, give 10% of what you paid for the service.
When not to tip?
You do not need to tip everyone that asks. If the service has been greatly substandard (do not judge too harshly here, keep it relative to Egypt rather than what you would expect in your own country), or you have not received the service you wanted, feel free not to tip.
It is not customary to tip taxi drivers. If you agree a price for the ride beforehand they will usually factor in their tip to that figure. So you simply need to pay them the agreed amount.
Finally, you are bound to come into contact with children in Egypt holding their palms out to you.
There is always somewhere better for children to be than out in the street begging for money. By donating money in this way you are simply reaffirming this pattern of behaviour and encouraging them NOT to be doing something more productive such as studying and learning.
If you do feel that you would like to give something back to the country there are a number of organisations that help children that are crying out for support. Two such organisations incude the Sunshine Project in Luxor, and the SOS Children's Villages.