Tipping in South Africa: Unique Tipping Practices in South Africa’s Diverse Regions

Uncover the cultural nuances of tipping in South Africa and embrace the spirit of generosity expressed through the concept of Ubuntu. Delve into intriguing stories behind the country's tipping customs and explore lesser-known practices in different regions. Whether you're on a safari adventure or strolling through vibrant city streets, gain insights into tipping etiquette and make the most of your journey in South Africa.
Tipping in South Africa
Table of Contents

Welcome to South Africa, a captivating destination known for its vibrant culture, breathtaking landscapes, and warm hospitality. As you embark on your journey, it’s important to understand the local customs, including the art of tipping. In this guide, we’ll explore the tipping culture in South Africa and provide you with essential etiquette and insights to ensure you navigate tipping situations with ease.

Tipping Culture in South Africa

South Africa’s tipping customs are deeply rooted in the concept of Ubuntu, which embodies the spirit of generosity and compassion. The philosophy of Ubuntu emphasizes the interconnectedness of humanity and the importance of kindness and respect toward others. Tipping is seen as a way to express gratitude for good service and support the local economy. While tipping is not mandatory, it is customary and appreciated in many service industries.

South Africans, in general, have a positive attitude towards tipping and appreciate the recognition for their hard work. The service industry plays a crucial role in the country’s economy, and tips often supplement the income of service providers. By tipping, you contribute to the livelihood of individuals who work diligently to make your experience enjoyable.

Tipping Etiquette in South Africa

To ensure you navigate tipping situations in South Africa smoothly, here are some specific guidelines to keep in mind:

Restaurants and Cafés

When dining at restaurants and cafés, it is customary to leave a tip for your servers. The standard tipping percentage in South Africa is around 10-15% of the total bill. For example, if your bill comes to 300 ZAR ($21), leaving a tip of 30-45 ZAR ($2-$3) would be appropriate. If you had an exceptional dining experience, you can always choose to tip more to show your appreciation. Tipping can be done in cash or by adding it to your credit card payment. If you choose to tip in cash, hand it directly to the server or leave it on the table at the end of your meal.

Hotels and Accommodations

At hotels and accommodations, there are various individuals who provide services that may enhance your stay. It’s common to tip bellhops and porters who assist with your luggage, usually around 10-20 ZAR ($0.70-$1.40) per bag. If you have multiple bags, consider tipping towards the higher end of the range.

When tipping housekeeping staff, it’s best to leave the gratuity in an envelope or on the pillow, along with a note of appreciation. A tip of 20-50 ZAR ($1.40-$3.50) per day of your stay is customary, depending on the level of service provided. If a concierge goes above and beyond to make your stay memorable, a tip of 50-100 ZAR ($3.50-$7) is appreciated.

Transportation Services

When using transportation services like taxis or rideshares, rounding up the fare is a common practice. For example, if the fare comes to 85 ZAR ($6), you can round it up to 100 ZAR ($7) as a tip. If the service was exceptional, you can add an extra 10-20 ZAR ($0.70-$1.40) as a tip.

For tour guides and drivers who accompany you on your South African adventures, consider tipping 50-100 ZAR ($3.50-$7) per day for their expertise, knowledge, and efforts in making your experience enjoyable. For airport and hotel transfers, a tip of 20-50 ZAR ($1.40-$3.50) is customary to show appreciation for a smooth and safe journey.

Other Service Providers

South Africa has a diverse range of services where tipping is appreciated. When visiting spas or wellness centers, it’s customary to tip around 10-15% of the treatment cost. For example, if you receive a massage that costs 500 ZAR ($35), a tip of 50-75 ZAR ($3.50-$5.25) would be appropriate. Petrol attendants, who often assist with refueling your vehicle and cleaning your windshield, can be tipped 5-10 ZAR ($0.35-$0.70) as a token of gratitude. When visiting hairdressers or barbers, a tip of around 10% of the total cost of the service is common.

Special Considerations

While the general tipping guidelines mentioned above apply to most situations in South Africa, there are a few special considerations to keep in mind:

Tipping in Safari Lodges and Game Reserves

If you’re embarking on a safari adventure in South Africa, it’s important to be aware of specific tipping practices. Some safari lodges and game reserves have a communal tipping box where you can contribute an amount that will be distributed among the staff members. This approach ensures that all staff members, from the guides to the cooks and cleaners, receive a fair share of the tips. It’s advisable to inquire about their tipping policy upon arrival and follow their guidelines.

As safari experiences can vary in length and the number of staff involved, the suggested tipping amount can range from 150-500 ZAR ($10-$35) per person per day, depending on the quality of service received.

Tipping During Group Tours or Activities

When participating in group tours or activities, there may be multiple service providers involved, such as guides, drivers, and assistants. In these situations, it’s customary to give a collective tip that will be distributed among the team. A suggested amount is around 50-100 ZAR ($3.50-$7) per day, depending on the length and quality of the tour. However, if you had an exceptional experience with a specific individual, you can also give an additional tip directly to them as a token of appreciation.

Tipping in Informal or Street Markets

In informal markets or street markets, tipping is not as common as in formal establishments. However, if someone provides you with exceptional service or goes out of their way to assist you, a small token of appreciation, such as 5-10 ZAR ($0.35-$0.70), can be given. For example, if a vendor helps you find the perfect souvenir or provides valuable information, offering a small tip would be a kind gesture.

Tipping Dos and Don’ts

To ensure you navigate tipping in South Africa smoothly, here are some key dos and don’ts to keep in mind:


  • Observe local customs and cultural norms regarding tipping.
  • Show appreciation for good service by tipping accordingly.
  • Use local currency (South African Rand) for tips to avoid confusion.


  • Avoid overtipping or undertipping excessively.
  • Don’t expect tipping in all situations; it’s not mandatory.
  • Disregard cultural norms and expectations regarding tipping.

Currency and Payment Methods

The official currency in South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR). It’s recommended to carry some cash for smaller transactions and tipping situations, as not all places accept credit cards. However, major cities and tourist areas usually have establishments that accept card payments. ATMs are widely available, allowing you to withdraw local currency as needed.


Tipping in South Africa is a way to express gratitude and support the local service industry. By understanding the tipping culture and following the provided guidelines, you can ensure a positive experience while embracing the spirit of generosity and Ubuntu in this diverse and enchanting country.

Now, as you embark on your South African adventure, remember to keep a few extra Rand in your pocket for those moments when you want to show your appreciation for outstanding service. Enjoy your journey through the remarkable landscapes and vibrant culture of South Africa, knowing that your gestures of gratitude will make a meaningful impact along the way.