HOW TO TIP IN TURKEY
In the U.S. tipping is customary and expected for everything from lackluster to outstanding service. It is an etiquette which is ingrained in all trades, from wait staff at restaurants to our baristas, valets, cab drivers, porters, and many more trades. In Europe tipping is not as habitual, however in Turkey it is a way of life; they consider it to be polite! Don`t worry about how it will hurt your wallet because tips (or `bahsis` (pronounced bah-sheesh)) are much more humble than you are accustomed to.
The Turks do not tip just anywhere; this guide attempts to cover most situations that you, as a tourist, will encounter. Hopefully using these `tips`will provide a smooth experience when interacting with locals in restaurants, bars, hotels, tour operators, and taxis.
The currency of Turkey is the Turkish lira (₺). U.S. dollars are not accepted, and while the Euro may be accepted in some larger areas, it is best to use the local currency for ease and for the best rate. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for lira upon arrival. In the past few years, the acceptance and widespread use of credit and debit cards was finally achieved in Turkey; we still recommend taking out some Turkish lira upon arrival, however. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. IF you find that you need Euros for something, please use a bank or currency exchange desk to obtain them.Restaurants, Cafes, and Bars: When should I tip? How much is customary?
There is not a national service charge added to bills in restaurants in Turkey. You will find that restaurants in many cities, such as Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, and Ankara, will automatically add a service charge between 10 and 18%. It is still appropriate to tip in this case, but don`t tip if you have experienced bad service. If you received passable service and above, please tip your server directly, as in give a tip directly to the server, because some unscrupulous managers and owners do not divide this charge among their staff, and instead it ends up in their own pockets. Servers here are paid a living wage but many still depend on tips to round out their income.
In cafes, diners, and casual eateries it is common to tip from 5-10% of the total. Err on the smaller side in these establishments, unless you have received stellar service. In bars, tip your bartender directly, usually by rounding up your bill to the next ₺5 or ₺10, or leaving behind your change from each drink you pay for. As mentioned earlier, larger and more upscale restaurants may include a service charge, but an additional tip for your server between 10 and 15% is greatly appreciated.
It is paramount to note that tips must be in cash (bills or coins), and as noted above, must be given directly to your server. In bars, cafés and restaurants you server will bring the bill to your table, on a plate or in a small booklet. You can pay (in most places) by credit card, however there is no way to add an extra amount to the bill before paying it by credit card. Carry around small denominations of bills and extra coins for tipping purposes.
Watch out for: Musicians. Some establishments (meyhanes, fish restaurants) have strolling musicians for entertainment, and they only play for tips. If you don`t want them to play at your table, it is not impolite to graciously wave them away. If you enjoy them and allow them to stay at the table for a few songs it is rude not to tip them. The correct technique is to slide a ₺5 or ₺10 note behind the strings of the violinist when he leans over the table. Alternatively, you can just drop some money in his pockets.
Hotels are easy in Turkey - in as far as that everybody expects a tip. Again modesty is the rule of thumb, but remember that tipping will inevitably lead to better service. For the porter who helps with your bags graciously leave ₺5 per bag, and the same amount applies for room service. Chambermaids receive ₺5-10 per day for their work. Leave this daily on the bed or nightstand. Hotel concierge can be very helpful; they are a wealth of information and suggestions. Tip them around ₺15, or more if they score you hard to get reservations or show tickets. Some hotels have a tip box at the reception box and, if so, it is appropriate to leave tips here.Taxi Drivers: Should I tip?
Turks simply do not tip taxi drivers. The common pratice (which is more to avoid headache for the driver and yourself) is to simply round up the fare. For example, on a fare of ₺8.60, leave ₺9. If the driver was helpful and carried or loaded your luggage to and from the car, leave a little extra, but again only IF the driver went out of his way to help with your bags. If you use a Minibus (Dolmus) for transportation do not leave a tip.
Always remember when travelling abroad that it is good practice to agree on a final fare before the cab driver begins driving.
Tipping tour guides is very much appreciated but not expected.To be honest, the operator has likely already included a service charge in their quoted price. The guides themselves are not particularly well paid, so if you feel the guide provided exceptional service and information or was extremely friendly you may want to leave a tip. This is generally done as a group, with each member throwing in a few lira, no more than ₺2-₺5 per person. If you are a solo traveler on a large tour where you don`t know the other travelers, tip between ₺10 and ₺15 to the guide if you liked the tour.Miscellaneous: Is there anyone I should tip that I would not normally?
Airport: Every airport has professional porters who operate by an official tariff. If the tariff is not prominently posted the common tip is ₺2 or ₺3 per suitcase. If that does not meet the offical tariff, rest assured that the porter will not be shy about letting you know. This also applies in bus and train stations.
Turkish Bath (Hamam): There is no way you can avoid or forget to tip the bath/hamam attendant(s). When you are ready to leave, they will all come `to say goodbye.` Be sure you have some cash money on you. It is common divide about 15% of the total amount you spent among the attendants - and there will likely be several!
Other Services: In the event that you are in Turkey for a special occasion (wedding, honeymoon, graduation gift, birthday, etc..) and employ the services of a hairdresser, make-up artist, party planner, personal shopper, tailor or spa services and the like, use your best judgment in tipping. Factor in the cost and quality of service and, as a general rule, stay well within the 5 or 10% range.
Remember that it is perfectly okay to abstain, especially if you are not happy with the service provided. Unlike in the U.S., waiters are paid a living wage, and the expectations for tipping are lower here than in America. This is also true for hotel staff, though if you encounter a problem with the service within the hotel, we highly recommend speaking with themanager.
Try to pay for services in cash (other than your hotel). While credit cards are widely accepted, as noted above, many places simply do not have options for tipping once the transaction is approved. If you feel uncomfortable, be sure to ask for a receipt. If there is a discrepancy, it is important to have your receipt to settle it with the manager of the establishment and to prove that you paid for the service.