turkish money on turkish flag - Tipping in Turkey

Tipping in Turkey: Everything you need to know

Tipping practices vary from country to country. It is always important to figure out acceptable practices before you travel abroad. Tipping in Turkey is no different. We will talk through what is expected, what to look out for and how much you should tip each industry.

In Turkey tips are called “bahşiş” (bah sheesh). In general, tipping in Turkey is quite modest compared to an American standard.

It is also much more tied to good service. In general, if you’re not pleased with the service, don’t tip. If, however, they did a great job, tipping is great idea.While most industries outside of tourism don’t expect tips, many within the tourism industry have come to expect it and count on it to help supplement their lower wages.

You can’t go wrong in being generous as long as it is within reason. By this I simply mean that you won’t want to be so generous that you draw attention to yourself and make yourself a target for a scam or something. Be wise and generous at the same time.

Let’s dive in!

Turkish Standards for Tipping

Each of these industry has different standards but one thing can’t be re-emphasized enough: tipping is an indicator of quality of service received. If you don’t feel like you got great service, feel free to do less. If you had excellent service, feel free to do more.

Also, locals don’t really tip unless it is a large group at a restaurant and it is a big bill. They may round up sometimes but more likely than not, they won’t tip.

Because it is so common in western culture to tip, they have come to expect it from us. So be generous when appropriate and don’t sweat the small stuff.

It is important to note, however, that tipping in Istanbul, or any other major city, will feel much different than if you go to a smaller village. You will not be expected to tip in a small village as it is out of the ordinary.

Tea at Tlos
Housekeeping$1 / day – though not necessary
Bellboy1$ / bag
Taxisround up to next multiple of 5
Public TransportationNone
Hamams & Spas10 – 15%
All-inclusive resortsAs you want in the tip box
Tour Guides10% of tour’s cost
Street Musician Whatever you want
Musician @ Restaurant$5-10 if they sing at your table
Restaurant5-10 %
Valets10 – 15 tl for each retrieval

Regarding this chart, it is simply a recommendation. While there are fees in $ it is only because the economy is quite volatile right now. It is best to tip in Turkish Lira (tl). If you’re in doubt, %10 is a safe bet. Also if it is something small, you can always just tip 5-10 10tl.

Hotels

While tipping hasn’t been a part of Turkish culture for long, the foreigners have brought the concept with them. More and more it is being expected but mostly in touristy areas and mostly from foreigners.

That being said, hotels will generally have a tip box that you can easily put money into at the end of your stay. While it is nice to tip the bellboys who help you with your luggage, tipping can be reserved for excellent service.

Taxis

In Turkey no one “tips” per se but the common practice is to round up. So if your taxi ride is 23.50 tl, you can just hand them 25 tl and call it good.

If it is a longer ride, to/from the airport for instance and they get you there quickly it is good to tip a little more. I usually do like 3% on a long drive.

Musicians

If you come in the spring, summer or fall, you will likely see a lot of street musicians. They play for tips. If you give a request or want to take a photo with them, make sure you tip them.

You can also throw some money in if you really like their style. This is as you want it to be.

Musician in Istanbul
Street musician in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Diyar Shahbaz on Unsplash

Dolmus/Public Transportation

You never tip on a dolmus, minibus or any public transportation. You also don’t tip at government buildings or anywhere not touristy.

Hamams & Spas

This is a place that a tip is expected. Whether you just get a standard scrub or if you add in a massage, it is good to tip 10-15% of the cost to the person who provided the service.

If it was just alright, 10% is sufficient. If it was excellent, 15% is great.

This also goes for spas and salons (kuafors) as well.

All-inclusives

Tipping at an all-inclusive is not expected but you can always add tips to the tip box.

The one person that would be nice to tip is the bellboy. Sometimes it can be hard because they will take up your luggage without you being there as a means of preparing it for you. If that is the case, don’t worry about it.

Tour-Guides

There are all kinds of tours. You have walking tours and day trip tours and multiple day trip tours. Each one will be priced quite differently and include such different things.

One of the best tips is to simply go with about 10% of your trip costs as for how much to tip. If the tour guide did an excellent job, of course you can always give them more.

Make sure to also include a little something for the driver if there is one.

Side note: if you go to a shop or winery or something of the sort know that whatever you buy, the tour guide will also get a commission. This is another way to get something for yourself and help locals at the same time. But don’t forget to haggle.

Turkish breakfast spread

Restaurants

Generally a good rule of thumb is 5-10% for a tip at a restaurant. Here especially if you receive great service tip at the upper end. If you get bad service don’t tip at all or towards the lower end.

If you get drinks at a bar, make sure you tip the bartender directly.

If there is a musician or belly dancer walking around you can give them a tip if you want them to stay at your table for a minute or wave them on if you’re not interested. A suitable tip is $3-5 in Turkish lira.

Valets

Lastly we have valets. Cars are a tricky thing in Turkey, especially in Istanbul. If you’re just going for a night somewhere, obviously you won’t give the same amount as someone else. Also if it is compulsory it is different than if you choose to do it.

If you’re staying at a hotel, 10-15 tl every time you pull the car out would be acceptable.

Home Delivery

This is the one place I always make sure I tip. There is one major reason…all the stairs.

In many Turkish buildings there aren’t elevators. So often if you order something to your home (think meals, food, water) they have to carry it up all the stairs. So I have something that is bigger being delivered, I make sure to tip.

The one caveat to that is I don’t tip when it is cargo being delivered unless, again, it is something large.

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Tips for Tipping in Turkey

Here are a few tips and things to think about as you adventure your way through Turkey. Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the tipping world with ease.

  1. Always use Turkish Lira
    If you are are tipping enough that you would use a note in Euros, Dollars or Pounds then a foreign note is acceptable. What isn’t acceptable is foreign coin. Best to just give it in lira.
  2. Make sure you tip in cash
    There isn’t a spot for writing in a tip on a credit card receipt here. It is best practice to always make sure you have some small bills that you can leave a tip with if you want. The bill usually comes in a box of sorts, you can simply leave the cash inside.
  3. Check your bill for a service charge
    Some restaurants, especially high end ones or in super touristy areas, will add in a service charge. If it is there, there is no need to tip unless they just crushed the service. Tipping at that point is at your discretion.
  4. Tipping isn’t usually compulsory
    If someone didn’t provide good service, you don’t have to leave a good tip. While it is often expected from foreigners, it isn’t mandatory.
  5. Use this Turkish phrase
    Üstü kalsın (oostoo kalsin) – this simply means keep the change. You can say to the taxi or any other service provider to let them know you don’t need change.

I hope this has been helpful for you. I know when I got here this was a very confusing topic of conversation. Even now it is confusing. If you ask 5 different people you will likely hear at least 3 different things.

That being said, 10% is a great place to start. More if they excelled at their job and less if they didn’t.

What’s your experience with tipping in Turkey?

Catch you on the next post! As always, feel free to reach out with questions or concerns anytime.

– Kimberly

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