Tipping in Sri Lanka

Over the past decade or so, since the end of the civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka has seen tourism boom. Those employed in the service and tourism industries have come to expect small tips from travellers as wages are not particularly high, nor do service changes necessarily go to the workers.

Is tipping customary in Sri Lanka?

A 10 per cent charge is usually added to food and accommodation bills, but there’s no way of knowing if this actually goes to the workers. More often than not, the owner will pocket this ‘tip’.

We recommend tipping 10 per cent in cash to servers in restaurants, bars and cafes and the same for drivers.

When it comes to hotel staff, luggage porters are generally tipped USD 0.50 per bag, while we suggest leaving anywhere up to USD 1 per day for cleaners.

Participate in a tipping kitty

Your local leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty on the first day of your trip. In a group tipping kitty, everybody contributes an equal amount at the start of the tour that your leader uses to tip drivers, local guides and hotel staff on your behalf. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent, which can be checked at any time. Any money remaining at the end of the tour is returned to group members.

This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassle of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty is optional, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader.

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