Tipping in Costa Rica: The Ultimate Guide to Tipping in Costa Rica

Tipping in Costa Rica
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Ok, so you planned and booked a vacation to Costa Rica. You get there and you realize that you are not sure whether or not you should be tipping. If you are wondering who or how much you should be tipping in Costa Rica, I have you covered.

Costa Rican love and work for tips just like Americans, but it is not required or expected everywhere you go.

Whether you are from the United States of America that loves to tip, or you are European and are not used to tipping.

You should always know and embrace the tipping culture of where you are. Even if that means pulling out your wallet when you are not wanting to.

With that being said. Let’s get into tipping in Costa Rica.

Tipping in Costa Rica

When it comes to tipping in Costa Rica, we are not only going to talk about dine-in restaurants. There are many occasions where you should pull out a few extra colonies and tip for the services provided.

Before we get into tipping in Costa Rica, you should be aware that most purchases you make will automatically add 13% tax to your purchase.

This is a nationwide tax and it is added to everything, supermarkets, restaurants, gas, tours, hotels, and even car rentals.

Now, this can come as a surprise if you were expecting it.

Some restaurants and tours that mainly deal with tourists know that this comes as a shock to their customers and have started to include it in the price.

Be sure to look at the menu to see if this will be included or not. It is usually always listed at the bottom.

On top of the 13% restaurants might also add a 10% service charge to the meal, but we will cover that just below.

Costa Rica Tipping Guide: Restaurants

As I was mentioning above, when you are eating out in Costa Rica, you will start to notice that when you get your bill it will be more expensive than you had thought.

That is because on top of the 13% nationwide tax, in most restaurants they will also add 10% more to your bill.

Now this 10% goes to all the staff in the restaurant, not just your server. It is split between the kitchen staff, bar staff, and your wait server.

A Costa Rican wait staff will make about $3 an hour in wages, which is not a lot. Tipping in Costa Rica is not mandatory, but it is nice to leave a few extra dollars on top of the 10% that is already included.

I normally tend to leave another 10% or so for average service.

This also depends on what kind of restaurant you are eating at. If you are eating at any sit-down restaurant, I would tip.

There are, however, “Sodas” in Costa Rica. These are mostly local establishments or fast food places. They serve great local food and can help you save loads of money while you are traveling.

If you are eating at a soda, you don’t really need to tip, maybe just leave an extra dollar or two.

Also, be aware that when dining in Costa Rica you have to learn to be more “Pura Vida”

This is a nice way to say you have to learn to deal with slower service.

Everything moves at a slower pace in Costa Rica. So don’t expect fast or even great service.

You are there to enjoy the moments and not be rushed.

Sit back and enjoy a few Pilsen’s while you wait.

The more you can get by on “Tico Time” the happier you will be.


Costa Rica Tipping Guide: Bars

Now if you are out at the bar, you will normally not be charged an extra 10% on top of what you order, that is because it is easier for them to include it in the price of the drinks.

When you are drinking at a higher-end place they still might add it, so be sure to look at the menu.

Always tip for your bartender. I think this is just a rule of thumb and should always be listened to.

Especially if you want to get your drinks fast and have them be stronger.

I would normally leave $1 per drink as a tip, somewhat similar to the US. This ensures that the bartender will be your friend, which is always a good thing.

It is also a great way to maybe get some free drinks from your bartender.

Costa Rica Tipping Guide: Taxi’s/Transport

There are different kinds of taxis and transportation in Costa Rica.

Most likely you will be taking “illegal” taxis that pay taxes and are qualified to be taxis.

There are however illegal “taxis” in Costa Rica as well. These are usually old beat down cars that are barely legal to be on the road and pay no taxes.

When taking a “legal” taxi or transport you will most likely notice a tax and even a service charge on the bill.

This usually goes to the company of the transport service and not the driver.

Cars in Costa Rica are very expensive, which is why you normally don’t see the nicest of cars in Costa Rice.

On top of that, the roads are horrible so your car gets beaten up, maintenance is not cheap, taxes on your car are expensive and fuel is not cheap.

It is not a business I would like to do in Costa Rica.

So with that being said, it is a good idea to tip your driver.

Whether or not you are using a legal transport service or an illegal taxi, their wage is not great.

It is always nice to leave something extra for your driver.

I tend to round up my bill and not ask for change back. They need more than you do.

Costa Rica Tipping Guide: HouseKeeper/Maid

I was raised to always leave money behind for the housekeeper/maid.

No matter where in the world I travel to when I check out of a hotel, airbnb or homestay I always leave a little something behind for the housekeeper.

Now you don’t need to go above and beyond and leave too much of a tip.

Your housekeeper in Costa Rica is probably earning somewhere around $400 a month for their total income.

Don’t go above and beyond what their weekly wage is, but leaving $5 – $20 dollars is perfectly fine.

Plan on leaving around $1-2 a night.

Surf Tour

Costa Rica Tipping Guide: Tour Guides

What is a trip to Costa Rica without taking an excursion? There is so much to see and do there it is hard to sit still and do nothing.

Even if you plan a sitting on the beach your whole vacation I am sure you will take at least one tour or excursion.

Please tip your guides. They work hard for your tips and it makes a big difference in their lives.

I normally go with the 10% rule here and tip them about 10% of the cost of the tour.

However, if you really like your guide and they were super friendly you can always tip more.

Tipping in Costa Rica: Spa Treatments

Not everyone comes to Costa Rica to enjoy spa treatments, but when on vacation why not treat yourself.

There are plenty of massages you can get on the beach, your hotel or nice relaxing spas in town where you can indulge.

I always apply the same tipping rules to my spa treatments in Costa Rica as I do to my spa treatments back home.

It is customary to leave from 10 -15 percent.

Of course like anywhere else in the world tipping is not mandatory, but it is welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Costa Ricans are some of the friendliest people I have met in all my travels.

All they want is for you to love Costa Rica as much as they love it.

Not sure where to go on your Costa Rican Vacation? Check out the Ultimate Bucket list in Costa Rica

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Tipping in Costa Rica

Tipping Guide to Costa Rica

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