Tipping is not just expected, it is a way of life in Luxor.
have heard many suggestions concerning the amounts to tip. By and
large, local people who are not receivers of tips tend to suggest
that you tip modestly, explaining that local wage levels
are low and that big tips can distort relative income levels.
People who do receive tips from foreign visitors will emphasise
that workers in the tourist industry are particularly poorly paid
and tend to depend on tips to supplement their income. We will
leave aside the argument about whether generous tips
encourage low wages.
Tips are a personal gift as a reward for good service, so the
amount has to be discretionary. They will depend on the generosity
of the donor and the quality of service. Nevertheless, the indications further down the page may be helpful as a starting point.
Don't over-do it!
If you tip over-generously, you can easily become known as someone for local touts traders to target.
Local businessmen normally give around LE2 per bag. Tourists are normally more generous and the rule of thumb often promoted is LE5 per bag in a hotel. Please do not be over-generous at the airport. People often give £1 just to put a bag into the coach, because they don't have, or don't yet understand, the local currency. To put it in context, £1 is around a day's wages for most people, so it is far too much. If 30 people on a coach give £1 each, the porter will earn £30 just for loading one coach. It takes a teacher a month to earn that much.
An Egyptian businessman will probably give around LE10 every other day. A tip of LE10 per day for a short stay, LE50 for
a week or LE100 per fortnight is a good tourist tip. It can be helpful to follow the local tradition and give something every now and then, say on alternate days, rather than leaving it all to the end. It saves the staff wondering if they will get a tip or not and it can also help if you want little things done.
This depends a lot on the services that are provided, which varies
a lot between hotels. At the hotels where the pool
staff provide the towels, fetch and position the loungers and so
on, LE20 at the beginning, rather than at the end of your stay,
will encourage good service. Another LE20 at the end won't hurt
if you have been pleased.
10% is normal, but it can be difficult because the sums are so
small. For a local trip, 50 piastres to LE1 is fine. LE2 - LE5 would be normal for a longer journey costing LE25 or
more. For a half-day private tour on the West Bank, the normal charge would
be LE100 - LE130, and a tip of LE10 - LE20 would be fair depending
on how pleased you are with the trip. For a full day, LE20 would be OK as a minimum, but most tourists would give a little more if the driver has been helpful.
Take into account also that
if you are 'encouraged' to spend some of your West Bank time in
papyrus galleries or alabaster factories, the driver gets
up to 50% commission on your purchases. We tend to tip better if
the driver does not stop at these places unless asked.
Local people tend not to tip as a percentage of the bill, but give a fixed amount, typically LE5 per person. Tourists are normally more used to tipping in relation to the cost of the meal, but don't be too fussed about the calculation. If a service charge is not included aim for something around 10%
of the total, but depending on how satisfied you are and how
convenient the sums work out.
For example, if your bill is LE89,
a tip of LE11 would be a tip of about 12% and would round up the
total to convenient LE100. A LE200 bill might deserve a tip of around LE20 if a service charge has not already been included.
If a service charge is included in the bill, rounding up to the nearest convenient round number (a multiple of 10, for example) would be normal. So if a meal costs LE190 including service charge, you would probably still leave the LE10, but only if the service has been good.
Updated October 2014
10% of the tour cost, but see the comment about commissions relating
to taxi drivers and bear in mind that reps get up to 50% commission
Tips are normally quite regimented and are regarded as part of the
cost of the cruise rather than as a 'gratuity' in the traditional
sense. If you are in a group with a rep, the tipping arrangements
will normally be explained at the outset or quite early on.
On some trips you may be invited to pay a suggested sum up front.
More usually there will be an envelope that you put your donations in and
hand to reception towards the end of the trip.
If you are in a guided group, the amounts will be
suggested to you. If not, work on the basis of a minimum of LE10 per person per night. In practice, LE200 per couple for a one-week cruise for all
on-board staff and LE100 for the Egyptologist (if you do the excursions)
is not unusual.
The tips are distributed to all staff according to a formula, so
even the staff who do not normally come into direct contact with
the passengers get something. This doesn't prevent you giving a little
extra to people who may have provided particular services. It is
not uncommon to give the room staff a little extra, not necessarily
at the end of the trip, to encourage particularly good service.
When to tip
Sometimes it is handy to pay tips in advance. Wage levels are
very low compared with western standards and a tip can be rewarded
not only with especially attentive service, but also with favours
that might not otherwise be available. Giving the room staff something every other day rather than at the end is appreciated.
Tip in Egyptian pounds
It is quite difficult for local people to change foreign coins.
Tip in Egyptian pounds if you can. You can get some Egyptian pounds
at the bank kiosks at the airport (where they sell the visas), so
you can have some local currency right from the start.
What about tipping in dollars?
Some people advocate tipping in dollars. There are some advantages in this. Firstly, because it is a note, a dollar can be changed in the bank, unlike pound coins. Secondly, a dollar is worth less than £1 so it is a more realistic tip.
There are, however, some downsides. If you are American or normally carry dollars, this will not apply, but if you are from another country, and would not normally carry dollars, then you will have to get them from an exchange. You will probably have paid commission on the exchange, or you will have purchased the dollars at tourist rates. When the recipient changes your dollar in Egypt, he is going to get the bank rate, so he is not going to get as much as it cost you. The real winners are the banks, who sell to you at one rate and exchange into Egyptian pounds at another, less generous rate.
We think it is just as simple to change some cash at the airport on the way in and to ask for LE5 notes. Use these until you have built up your own stock of LE5 notes and LE1 coins. This way, whoever is getting your tip gets it all - and he can spend it straight away without having to wait for enough to take to the bank.
Finding the small change
It is relatively easy to leave a tip at a restaurant, because the
cash is usually already there as part of your change. At other times
it can mean finding the right amount of local currency. Small denomination
notes are often hard to get hold of. We suggest you keep hold of
any LE5 notes and LE1 coins you get, so that they are available for tips
and small purchases when you need them.