Quote of the moment

"I have to tell it again and again: I have no doctrine. I only point out something. I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen. I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window. I push open the window and point outside. I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue." Martin Buber

Monday, September 12, 2011

Holiday and everyday hints for tipping in Chile

Singing folkloric song for the cueca, the national dance during Fiestas Patrias. Image credited to Flavio Bastos Amie
As spring greets Chile in September with the fresh bloom of cherry trees and flowers, it also brings with it fiestas patrias (literally "patriotic parties").  Fiestas patrias are a time for all Chileans to gather together and celebrate their country, culture, and independence from Spain.  For days before and after September 18, the Dieciocho, the country celebrates with parades, festivities, food, music and beverages.

For many of us who have service workers in our apartments and homes as well as individuals who provide a little extra personal care, it is also a time to say, "Thank you for what you do."  While not required by law,  you may wish to show appreciation to the people who serve you, especially your nana (maid),  apartment buildings  doorman, porter or concierge, your home's gardener or pool boy, your paper boy. You may also want to remember you hairdresser, gym staff and personal trainer as well as giving a little extra to the baggers.

Some staff or service workers may offer you an envelop, often with a stamp of the Chilean flag or other patriotic symbol for you to slip in a little extra to help them celebrate. Or you may simply offer your own envelop of good cheer to them that includes a small, percentage of their week's salary. You will also notice the grocery stores begin to sell food boxes usually priced between 10,000cLP to 20,000CLP for donation to your staff or people in need.  Another suggested offering is a bottle of wine or Chicha a celebratory drink of the holiday season.
Pitcher of chicha. Image credited to simenon simenon, Wikipedia commons


Christmas signals the beginning of summer, end of school and vacation time in Chile. As with Fiestas Patrías, is is customary to show appreciation to the people who serve you, especially your nana (maid),  apartment buildings  doorman, porter or concierge, your home's gardener or pool boy, your paper boy. You may also want to remember you hairdresser, gym staff and personal trainer as well as giving a little extra to the baggers. Once again you will notice the food boxes appear in the grocery stores that many offer to their service providers.

Tipping etiquette in general

The Spanish word for Tip is Propina.
Good tipping or propina is usually remembered with service often even better the next time you return to a place. What may be a small amount to you can make a huge difference to someone else.

In Chile 10% on top of your restaurant bill is considered a good tip and is appreciated.

In Chile the livelihood of most waiters and waitresses depends almost entirely on tips. They may be lucky to have a base/minimum salary, often barely enough to cover the transport to and from work.  Be careful to check the bill before giving a tip as it may already be included,  though that is not the norm. Some waiters may also try to hid the their tip elsewhere within the bill and then try and get a cash tip.

Service providers

In general tipping small amounts is customary for all services. You do tip porters, at beauty parlors, the kid who packs your supermarket shopping.  The amounts vary but porters at 5 star hotels are usually happy with a 1000 peso bill, the same with the assistant hair dresser at a beauty parlor, though some offer 10% of the bill, your hair dresser will appreciate slightly more.


The young people that put your groceries in the plastic bags at the supermarket do not get a salary. They depend entirely on tips so giving them a couple of coins is always appreciated. Some do it to help out their families and others for their own personal expenses. The baggers at supermarkets are happy with 100 pesos if it's a bag or two, but for a full cart, anywhere from 300 to 500 pesos is very good. However if you want the bagger to help your car or to the nearest taxi stop, anywhere from 300 to 500 pesos is right. If you live near the market you may also request the bagger to carry your groceries home for you in the cart. They may ask if you wish help putting the items away. A tip of 1000 pesos would be appropriate for taking that extra step.


You do not tip taxi drivers but people usually round off the fare in their favor. You will also find that unless you have exact change, for taxi fares ending in 50CLP, you will not likely receive the 50CLP in change. Rather the driver will figure it in as his "tip." You may ask for it back,  however you may be created with a shrug or grumble. Taxi drivers should give you correct change but you can say, "Quedese con el vuelto," if it's going to be a small coin or two.

Tour guides

It’s always good to tip the local tour guides since in general they also get paid a very low salary. How much you should give depends on the type of tour and how long it went for though around 5-10% of the tour cost is appreciated.

Car parking in streets

Parking attendants in designated locations (estacionamiento controlado) may appreciate a small tip for assuring they have not let your car be hit while you were away. Official parking attendants wear a distinctive dark blue and red pants and jacket. Some controlled areas may also have individuals who offer to wash your car. These individuals are not officially a part of the parking service, but rather opportunists. Their fees are extra and not figured in the ticket given you by the attendants. If they are very attentive to your car you may wish to provide them an extra 100CLP.

Parking attendants or acomadores may be found on many city streets and near commercial areas or businesses.   A few of these attendants may represent the property owner. But more often acomadores are opportunists looking to make some money. The acomador will help guide you into your parking spot when you arrive and help you back up when you leave. You may pay/tip them from 100 to 200 pesos

 Gas station attendents

Gas stations are full service in Chile. You may want to consider tipping the attendant 200pesos or so if he not only fills your tank but points out he zeroed out the liter indicator, washed your windows, checked your oil and other wise gave you excellent service.

Other ideas

If you know of other tipping hints or suggestions for holiday gifts for the people who work for you please share away.  Or if you  have more questions regarding tipping etiquette post them here and I'm sure an answer will be forth coming.

1 comment:

  1. A friend shares: It is common that many of apartment buildings give a bonus to the concierges, and it is noted in the building fees.