Tipping Etiquettes in Indonesia



Tipping has become part of the culture of many nations.  We normally give tips for a job very well-done or when we are really very pleased with the products or services extended to us. We tip personnel and staffs in hotels, restaurants, and public utilities like taxicabs and airports. Depending on the practice, tipping can be mandatory or voluntary and the amount varies. With each country, there are tipping etiquettes that must be observed and followed.

Let us go to Indonesia and look at the manners of tipping in most of their services. As background for us, Indonesia is one of the most populous countries in the world and is predominantly Moslem. Pork is prohibited though the meat could be found in select restaurants like those owned by Chinese businessmen. Food are prepared “halal” or that the meat is slaughtered as prescribed by certain Islamic codes. Moreover, agriculture and tourism are some of strongest sectors in the country’s economy. Lastly, Indonesian money is called rupiah, represented as Rp.

Here are some points to remember in giving tips to services in Indonesia.

Major hotels.  Most hotels in Indonesia are charging 21% on top of the total bill. Of this percentage, 11% is government tax while the added 10% is service charge. Check your bill for this. If it has been added, no further tip is necessary. If not, you may or may not give a tip since tipping is not mandatory at all. Yet, you may give 5-10% of the total bill if you desire to tip. For the hotel staff like the bellmen, you may slip some Rp5,000. 

Restaurants. Likewise, some restaurants charge 5-10% to their bill. But if your bill does not include service charge, you may give between Rp5,000 to 10% of the total bill.

Drivers. It is not required to tip drivers for taxis are metered and you only have to pay what the meter shows. However, some taxi drivers do not carry coins around or are reluctant to give change so it would be imperative to round off your bill to the next larger denomination. For example, if your taxi shows Rp13,850, you would have to pay Rp14,000. If you are really pleased with the driver and his driving, you may give Rp15,000 or as much as you wish.

Similarly, it is not compulsory to tip car-hire drivers. But if service is satisfactory, a Rp5,000-tip would be fine. You may give more because car-hire drivers generally expect large tip.

Airport Porters. Rp3,000 is usually charged for a small bag. For larger bags, expect to pay Rp5,000.

For other services like in Salon, Spa, and Golf Course, the AWA Kayon Magazine had published in its Fall 2010 edition a list of how much American expats give as tips. For example, an average of Rp40,000 is tipped for stylists, Rp45,000 for colorist, and Rp15,000 for shampoo boy or girl. For the complete list, you may refer to this Table.

In general, tipping is not really mandatory in many hotels, restaurants, taxis and other utilities in Indonesia. Giving money away is a foreign concept to them. For this reason, resist the urge to tip everyone. The occasions most appropriate to give tips are when people have done you something special or pleasurable like being a humorous driver and prompt bellman.

However, people expect to be given tip, particularly in tourist spots like Bali. Base salary is generally low and barely enough to live on; hence, people need tips to provide for their needs. They will greatly appreciate and be grateful for the extra charge. But if you do not have enough money spared for tipping, do not worry for they will understand and not take grudge. Nobody will take offense if you miss to give a tip.

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