Tipping is different everywhere in the world, so how about tipping etiquette in South America?
The list below contains tipping guides for (at the moment) 11 South American countries and is based on over 50 sources, including TripAdvisor forums, Business Insider, Conde Nast Traveler and the websites of the official tourism boards. If you do feel something is off for a certain country, let me know and I'll make a note of it for a future update.
For what concerns tipping hotel staff, the tips mostly apply top mid-range to higher end hotels. No need to tip a bellboy if there isn't one :-)
Pick a country or simply scroll down to see them all.
(Not tipping etiquette in South America you're looking for? Check out tipping etiquette around the world for the continent of your choice.)
Tipping in South America
Tipping in Argentina is voluntary, but there are unwritten standards of what a good tip is for certain services. Ultimately, tipping is an opportunity to leave feedback to your server.
Tipping at restaurants and bars Ten percent is the standard tip in restaurants. Giving more than that is very generous and uncommon. It's okay to leave less or even nothing if the service is really poor. Bartenders will appreciate a small tip, but always place the amount in their hands and not at the counter. If you order a specialty cocktail, it's all the more reason to tip.
Tipping tour guides: Tour guides will be happy with 10-20% tip by the end of the tour. Then again, it still depends on the caliber of service.
Tipping taxi drivers: Tipping taxi drivers is not customary. You may round up to a convenient amount just so the driver won't need to count coins for change.
Tipping hotel staff: Generally, hotel porters are tipped 2-3 pesos per bag. Doormen expect a little more. Housekeeping will appreciate a tip of 4-5 pesos per day.
Good to know: If you see the term ‘cubierto' in your bill, it means there's a cover charge for the utensils, placemats, and bread at your table. This amount goes to the management and not the wait staff.
Tipping is discretionary in Bolivia. Nevertheless, a little generosity will go a long way especially if you're truly happy with the service you received.
Tipping at restaurants and bars Restaurants rarely include a service fee in the bill. With that, a 5-10% gratuity is warranted for good service. Tipping is not expected in bars, but you may opt to leave small change.
Tipping tour guides: By the completion of the tour, consider tipping the guide 8 Bs per hour or 50 Bs for one whole day.
Tipping taxi drivers: Taxi drivers do not usually receive tips. An exception is if you hire them for several hours or a day, in which case a 10% tip is suggested.
Tipping hotel staff: Hotel porters are typically given 4 Bs to 8 Bs. Housecleaning staff are tipped 7 Bs a day.
Good to know: When exchanging for local currency, try to have it in small denominations. Asking for change for a large paper bill can be quite a hassle.
Brazilians do not have a strong tipping culture. Still, giving a small gratuity to waiters, bartenders, hotel staff, and tour guides will keep you in their good graces.
Tipping at restaurants and bars For wait staff in restaurants, it is customary to tip 10%. This is often already included in the bill as “servico.” At bars, it is common to tip the bartender 10% for good service. You'll see that doing so will get you a stronger drink on your next order.
Tipping tour guides: Tour guides in Brazil rely heavily on gratuities. Consider tipping at least 10% of the excursion cost if you liked the service.
Tipping taxi drivers: A rule of thumb is to not tip taxi drivers. It is not customary in Brazil, and locals usually just round up to the nearest real.
Tipping hotel staff: Tip the hotel porter R$1 per item of luggage that he carries to your room. Tip the maid R$5 by the end of your stay. Concierge do not expect tips, but a few reals is reasonable if they do you a favor.
Good to know: In Brazil, you may encounter guys who will watch over your car while parked in a certain area. It is common practice to tip them 1 to 2 reals.
Chileans hardly make a big deal about tipping. When in doubt, the safe number is always 10%.
Tipping at restaurants and bars In restaurants, the standard tip is 10% of the bill. Most establishments already include this, but feel free to add around 5-10% more if the service is especially impressive. As with restaurants, most bars in Chile incorporate a 10% service charge in their bills. You are not obliged to tip further, but if you're very happy with the service, any additional amount is welcome.
Tipping tour guides: The amount you should tip your tour guides is dependent on the caliber of service. A good idea is 5-10% of the tour cost.
Tipping taxi drivers: The standard protocol is to simply round up the fare. Loose change has very little value in Chile, so it's more convenient to just give a rounded amount.
Tipping hotel staff: Porters are typically tipped 600 pesos per bag, while housekeeping staff receive around 500 pesos a day.
Good to know: Baggers at supermarkets are usually given a few hundred pesos. These guys are not given salaries so they highly depend on tips from shoppers.
People of Colombia are a tad relaxed when it comes to tipping. Your tip (or lack of) will reflect your level of satisfaction as a customer.
Tipping at restaurants and bars Colombian Law mandates that restaurants should ask their customers if they wish to pay the voluntary service charge. If you wish to tip, around 10% is a reasonable amount. You can always tip extra if you found the service exceptional. At bars, consider tipping the bartender $0.5-$2 per drink.
Tipping tour guides: Tipping tour guides is a common practice in Colombia, but the amount is entirely up to you. Consider the duration of the tour, how much it costs, and the level of service. A good idea is 10% of the tour cost.
Tipping taxi drivers: Taxis in Colombia are metered and it's not customary to leave a tip.
Tipping hotel staff: Porters are tipped $1, regardless of the number of bags. Chambermaids receive $1-$2 per day.
Good to know: Large paper bills can be a hassle to exchange, so it's a good idea to bring a lot of small bills with you.
There are no strict tipping rules in Ecuador. Wait staff are generally accustomed to receiving tips but the amount is dependent on the quality of service.
Tipping at restaurants and bars Some restaurants add a 10% service charge in the bill. If you happen to dine in one, further tipping is not required. However, you may choose to tip an additional 5-10% if the service is outstanding. Bars may charge an entrance fee, and you'll find that the drinks are relatively cheap. Consider tipping the bartender a couple of dollars.
Tipping tour guides: The customary tip for tour guides is around $5-$6. If you have a driver during the tour, tip him half of that amount.
Tipping taxi drivers: Taxi drivers don't expect a gratuity, but if they've been chatty or they helped you with your luggage, rounding up the fare will be appreciated.
Tipping hotel staff: Tip doormen $1 if they hail a cab, porters 50-75 cents per bag, and cleaning staff $1 per day at the end of your stay.
When in Paraguay, you should tip as often as you can. Service staff usually have low wages and generosity is well-received.
Tipping at restaurants and bars In small eateries, a few hundred Guaranis should suffice. In upmarket restaurants, it is common to tip 10-15% of the bill. Tips are not expected in bars but consider leaving loose change for good service.
Tipping tour guides: For tour guides, Gs10,000 – 30,000 is a suitable tip.
Tipping taxi drivers: In Paraguay, locals are used to paying the exact metered fare. Drivers don't expect a gratuity but feel free to round up.
Tipping hotel staff: Porters are tipped Gs5,000 – 10,000 per bag. Hotel maids typically receive Gs10,000 a day. Some hotels include tips for housekeeping in the bill, so you may want to check this first before you leave your tip.
In general, giving gratuity is not a common Peruvian practice. However, it is more often done in tourist cities like Lima and Cuzco. Workers in Peru’s service industry only make a meager monthly wage of 750 Soles or US$ 250. Tips are greatly appreciated as it compensates for their low salaries.
Tipping at restaurants and bars Locals do not usually tip big at restaurants, but around 10-15% of the bill is an acceptable tip. In lower-end eateries, you can just leave a few Soles.
Tipping tour guides: Tipping guides can be a bit tricky. Just remember that it depends on how long the tour takes, how many people there are in your group, and of course, your level of satisfaction. The suggested tip hovers around S/. 5 to S/. 10 for a short tour. For whole-day tours, about S/. 20 should suffice.
Tipping taxi drivers: Taxis are not equipped with meters so you have to agree on a fixed fare with your driver. You are only expected to pay this price.
Tipping hotel staff: In hotels, porters are normally given 2 soles per bag. Chambermaids are tipped 1-3 soles per day.
Good to know: One of the most well-known Peruvian tours is the four-day Inca Trail. It is customary to tip all the staff involved (guides, cooks, porters, drivers) in this type of excursion.
Hikers are recommended to tip 15-20 soles per day. This amount will be distributed among all service staff.
The practice of tipping is not formally introduced in Suriname culture. In most cases, leaving some loose change or rounding up the bill is enough.
Tipping at restaurants and bars Restaurants in Suriname usually add a 10-15% service fee. Further tipping is not necessary. You also don't need to tip in Suriname bars and pubs.
Tipping tour guides: Tipping tour guides is not customary, but no one will stop you from doing so, especially if you're blown away by the service.
Tipping taxi drivers: It's not usual to tip taxi drivers. However, you can round up the fare so that the driver won't have to count coins for your change.
Tipping hotel staff: Hotels also include a service fee, and additional tips are not expected.
No one will force you to tip in Uruguay. Tipping is entirely voluntary yet gratefully received.
Tipping at restaurants and bars The standard tip is 10% of the bill. Also, check first if the establishment already charges for service in the bill. If that's the case (which rarely is), you don't have to tip extra. At bars, around 10% is a generous tip.
Tipping tour guides: If the tour guide particularly impressed you, a suitable tip is 5-10 pesos.
Tipping taxi drivers: Tipping taxi drivers is optional. If you wish to tip, simply add a few UYU to the total fare.
Tipping hotel staff: It's common courtesy to tip bellhops 20 UYU per bag and chambermaids 20 UYU per night.
Good to know: In Uruguay, it's customary to tip street parking attendants (10 UYU), gas station attendants (5-10 UYU), and windscreen cleaners (a couple of coins).
In Venezuela, you'll find that the wait staff will almost always provide attentive service. Deciding how much to tip should depend on how happy you are with the service you received. Locals are fine with just leaving loose change, and sometimes even nothing.
Tipping at restaurants and bars Restaurants usually include a 10% service charge in the quoted menu prices. Tipping an additional 5-10% for satisfactory service is fairly common. The same applies to bar service.
Tipping tour guides: If you truly liked their service, offer your tour guides 10% of the excursion cost.
Tipping taxi drivers: Taxis in Venezuela do not have meters, therefore all fares must be pre-negotiated. Locals rarely tip taxi drivers, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. If the driver is especially helpful and friendly, a suitable tip is around Bs.F.10 – Bs.F.20.
Tipping hotel staff: Bellhops look for around Bs.F.2 per bag while chambermaids are given roughly the same amount per day.