Last updateFri, 21 Sep 2018 10am

When to tip – and not to tip

Tipping is woven into the fabric of Mexico’s social culture, chiefly because of its informal, cash-driven economy.


Most people working in Mexico’s service industries earn modest wages and rely upon tips (propinas) to augment their weekly take-home pay. Mexicans by nature earnestly aim to please, sometimes to a fault.

That’s when they tell you something with the sincerest smile, clearly knowing they cannot deliver on it. “Si, señor, I’ll have your driveway redug and replaced this afternoon.”  So it would be a rare event for a visitor here not to feel that genuine Mexican sense of “glad-to-be-of-use-and-service” at whatever need you had. The following instructions come from a variety of sources, including Mexicans themselves.


Situations where a tip is customary include the porter at the hotel who carried your bags; the concierge for booking a table at a local restaurant or the person who arranged a taxi for you; the attendant who helps with your bags on arrival and on departure, the person who washed your windscreen at the stop-light – and don’t forget the street busker at the stop light. He’s there to lighten your day after driving in Mexico’s apocalyptic traffic, which is often as chaotic as a motorized army in retreat.

Leave your hotel’s room maid a small tip of between US$1 and US$5 (equivalent in Mexican pesos) for each night’s stay spent at the hotel. If you’re staying more than one night, it’s a good idea to leave the tip daily as chambermaids work on a rotating basis.

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