In Hungary, tipping is expected for different services. This is especially true in the tourist-frequented parts of Budapest. But you don’t need to tip all the time.
It is good to know about the customs of the country you are about to visit. The same is true for tipping.
We can find ourselves in an awkward position if we don’t tip, as it can be considered an insult. Being too generous or tipping those not used to getting tips may also be weird.
Find out how you can express your gratitude in Hungary.
Table of Contents
- Guided tours
- Free of charge sightseeing walk in Budapest
- Petrol station
- Roadside check
- Beauty salons
- Theatre, cinema cloakroom
- Live music bars
- Massage salons
- Various educations
- Doctors and nurses
- Smaller grocery shops
- Ordering food
- Fortune telling
- Street artists
Tipping – A way of expressing gratitude
Being grateful feels great; it means we are satisfied with things that happen to us. We can express gratitude if we are appreciated and paid attention to. Expressing gratitude can happen in multiple ways: giving a sweet smile, a warm handshake, not stealing the towels from the hotel are all ways to thank others for their care.
Of course, there are more direct methods of showing gratitude. One of the most universal of them is tipping. Although it is rather widespread and has been here for several centuries, it still causes a headache for most of us. Where to give? When to give? How much to give? There are many questions to which the wrong answer can lead to the exact opposite result to the one we would like to achieve.
Tipping in the past
Of course, everything was better in the past. Dilemmas about tipping seemed much easier as well. The custom of tipping which started in tea houses in the 17th century was quite simple – if guests wanted to make sure that they received perfectly hot tea from the kitchen that was far away, they could rush the stuff by putting an amount of money into the tiny wooden boxes on the table. This way they could raise the quality of service.
Gradually, tipping moved to the end of the process, becoming a means of recognizing outstanding service. Waiters of 19th century Paris didn’t get a salary as tipping became the essential part of payment. What’s more, waiters even paid to work at certain places. Thus, for them, treating guests with special attention was of vital importance.
How much should we tip in different parts of the world?
Different countries, different customs – the same applies to tipping. People deal with this issue in different ways in different parts of the world. Let’s look at a few examples:
The Middle East
The hospitality of these people is legendary (sometimes a bit too much). However, nothing is free – this kindness should be appreciated by tipping.
Although the amounts do not necessarily need to be high, the frequency of the gesture represents our appreciation adequately. In general, 10–15% of the sum should be added at hotels and restaurants.
This amount is often already included in the bill. We can also add some extra to the hotel staff. A concierge is a man of great power there, so tipping them 10–20 dollars can help you get a few things done.
There is a variety of tipping customs in Asia due to its size as well. For instance, in China, tipping is not customary. In luxury hotels that specialize in wealthier tourists, porters won’t decline a bit of extra, but not too much.
In India, it is almost impossible not to leave a tip – even those who haven’t done anything want some extra. The standard 10% works here as well.
In Japan, however, our gratefulness might be rejected. Tipping is not only not expected, but even considered an offense in certain places.
In touristically-frequented or safe countries, tipping is quite common. However, it should be given discreetly. For example, in Morocco, one way to do this is shaking hands with a banknote in the palm.
Giving 5–10% as a tip in these countries is quite normal.
In the US and Canada, you are expected to express your gratitude with a generous amount of extra. 15–20% is the minimum, but no one will say no to a 25% tip either.
Given that thousands of dollars have been left as a tip to a few-ten-dollar bill, we can assume that there is no limit to tipping.
How often is tipping expected in Hungary?
One of the most unpleasant trips in my life was in Egypt. The Red Sea is beautiful and there are a lot of historical sites in the country, but I freaked out of the pushy Arabs.
You cannot sunbathe on the beach for 5 minutes without someone trying to sell you some crap. Once in the city, literally, every seller wants to drag you into their shop. “A present” – they say putting something into your hand. If you don’t want it, they get offended and start swearing. If you take it, they ask for a baksheesh (tip).
The worst thing is probably when you take a picture of the pyramids and an Arab with a turban on his head jumps into the picture from the side, then demands a tip frantically for “photographing” him – his soul got trapped in your camera.
If you argue with him saying it was he who jumped in front of your camera, there will be 4 of them around you in a single moment demanding a tip.
Luckily, nothing like this can be experienced in Hungary. Tipping is only compulsory in top-quality restaurants and clubs, and in most cases, it is already part of the bill in these places and they don’t expect a single forint above that.
There are services for which tipping is expected, yet it is not compulsory. If you don’t give any in these cases, it means you are very dissatisfied with the service. However, if everything was okay, don’t be surprised to receive dirty looks and strange faces if you still don’t tip. At least no one would shout at you or demand anything, like in Arab countries.
Tipping etiquette – Is tipping common in Hungary?
What about Hungarians? Hungary is one of the destinations where tipping is not as basic as in the US, but unlike in Japan, it won’t be rejected either.
In fact, we can say that it is appropriate to leave a tip. Yet, opinions differ on whether it is to be given in every situation or it should be earned. For many, it is quite natural to leave a tip at a restaurant or when taking a taxi.
Others say extra amounts aren’t essential. They only leave a tip if they receive special treatment. It is difficult to set up a directive that applies every time everywhere.
Don’t tip a rude waiter or a driver wandering around town just to avoid a potentially awkward situation. But it is also true the other way round: if you are at a place where the tip is not automatically added to the bill, but you feel the staff was perfect, you should show your gratitude with some extra.
How much is the standard tip in Budapest and Hungary?
Well, in many places, they make things easier by adding 10% to the bill. This amount is considered customary in Budapest and Hungary. It is OK if we give more, but tipping less (5%) should be avoided.
Is there any difference between the amount of tipping in Budapest and in the countryside?
Yes and no. Tipping is done along the same principle both in Budapest and the countryside. It is not easy to impress the staff in more elegant places in the capital.
Not even a greater sum would surprise waiters at a more exclusive bar in Budapest. However, once I left a larger amount in the countryside, and a waiter ran after me saying I had given him the wrong denomination. Of course, nothing like that happened, but I had to explain that I simply had a really good time there.
Good advice: if you experience excellent service somewhere and would like to return sometime, leaving a significant tip may help establish special treatment. In the countryside, a smaller amount would work perfectly well.
The price of Budapest – how cheap is the capital?
The extent to which one wishes to stand out by leaving a tip that exceeds the standard amount greatly depends on the basic prices as well. One of the most attractive traits of Budapest is still its cheapness. Yet, it does not equal worse service.
Where to exchange money in Budapest – A Complete Guide to how not to be fleeced
Tourism has undergone a tremendous development over the last decade and continues to this day. Over the last 3-4 years, the renewal of infrastructure and the realization that it is only worth filling this infrastructure with high-quality services have also led to rising prices.
There are some categories as an illustration:
- Hostel prices: 15–25 EUR/night depending on the number of people in the room
- Mid-range hotels: 30–50 EUR/night
- 4–5-star hotels: 70–300 EUR/night, depending on the location
- Street food/self-service restaurant: 1000–1500 HUF /course or menu
- Pizza: 1200–2000 HUF
- Fine dining: from 8000 HUF /3 courses up
- Taxi: standard tariff, 700 HUF basic fee + 300 HUF / kilometer + 75 HUF / minute waiting fee
However, it can still be said that we can get high-quality – especially luxury quality – services at fairly moderate prices compared to most European capitals and large cities. Thus, a tip of 10% or more is not uncommon.
How much tip to give different people in Budapest?
Let’s have a closer look at how much to prepare if we want to be generous.
tipping is not customary, but these are the basics:
- Porter: if we accept their help, we can thank them with the amount of 500–1000 HUF per the number and size of our luggage.
- Cleaners: tipping them is not customary, but if we want them to be a bit more attentive, a 1000 HUF every second day should be left on the bed.
- Concierge: they can do quite a lot of things – even make special wishes come true. It is recommended to give them a tip of up to 1000–2000 HUF, depending on the complexity of the request. This way, we can also ensure that we receive special attention during our stay.
- Room service: always be grateful for extra convenience services. The 10% rule applies here as well, but giving more will not be considered an insult.
There are more and more restaurants in Budapest adding a tip to consumption. Its amount varies between 10 and 15% depending on the target audience.
Always ask if the tip is included in the total before paying, as it is not always clear. If not, a tip of 10% or more could be given depending on your satisfaction.
If there is a service there, the restaurant tipping etiquette applies. If we are sitting at the counter, being served a draught beer is not necessarily a reason for a tip.
However, a particularly delicious cocktail is. It also has an incentive to keep the alcohol content of the next drinks high.
Tour guides won’t expect a tip, but they won’t be offended and give it back if given. The amount depends largely on the type and length of the tour and the size of the group.
If we had a really good time during the tour, we should show it by tipping a 5–10% extra.
Free of charge sightseeing walk in Budapest
What could be better than admiring the sights of Budapest all afternoon? Doing it free of charge!
Free sightseeing tours for tourists are organized in many places in Budapest. It takes about 2–3 hours. You might want to tip the tour guide if you are satisfied with them. It means 500–1000 HUF per person.
Have you seen the most spectacular sights in Budapest? If not, read my article on more than 100 sights in Budapest.
The first and most important rule when taking a taxi is to travel with official taxi companies only. Avoid “freelancers”.
They build in such an unacceptably high tip into the taxi meters. But you might want to check the recommended route on Google Maps with official companies as well.
This way, you can avoid allowing a simple trip turn into a sightseeing tour. If everything seems to be okay, you got to your destination quickly and the driver even drove you to the entrance so you don’t get soaked walking in the rain, 10% is the minimum amount to be given.
I have already written a useful article on cheating taxi drivers. You can read about them here.
If you come to Budapest by car, you will need to stop at a petrol station after a while where the staff will offer to help you – of course not without wanting something in return.
This help includes filling up the car, washing the windows, checking the oil level and tire pressure. Depending on the number of items you choose, the tip should be about 200–500 HUF; or more (800–1000 HUF) in case of bad weather. Of course, you don’t have to accept help.
No matter how polite the police officer is when setting a fine, DON’T EVER TRY TO “TIP” THEM as it is considered bribery!
Still, there are policemen in Hungary who accept something in return for arranging certain things. That is, they actually make you pay what they “deserve”. In such cases, cash hidden in the registration certificate is a possible solution.
Talking on the phone, crossing the solid white line and minor road violations usually cost 10 000–20 000 HUF.
However, there is generally no mercy for driving well over the speed limit, DUI, and major road violations. Still, if the problem can be solved with money, it means you need to reach deep into your pockets: 50 000–150 000 HUF.
You can sign up for guided museum tours where the museum staff will add some valuable and interesting information to make the visit more interesting. Tipping is not customary here.
A sexy hairstyle, an amazing makeup, shiny nails. You have two options if you can’t believe what you see: either sue the salon or leave a tip of 10–15%.
This ancient temple of men is in full bloom in Budapest, offering much more than a simple facial hair manipulation: the masculine show is livened up with welcome drinks, sports channels, and casual masculine discourses.
What is more, our physique will also be super cool. It’s worth a 10-15% tip altogether, isn’t it?
Where to find the best hairdressers and barbershops in Budapest to avoid inconvenient surprises.
Theatre, cinema cloakroom
It generally costs 100 or 200 forints, and it’s not customary to leave a tip.
Live music bars
At places where there is a gipsy band performing, there is no way you can avoid the violinist coming to your table as well.
If you decided to visit this kind of place, it is considered very impolite not to show your appreciation of the artists. Use the smallest banknote you have – that is a 500 HUF banknote in Hungary.
Even pianists in bars can be asked to play a song for you if the wish is accompanied by some banknotes. Here you need to pay a bit more – approx. 1000–2000 HUF.
A good massage not only refreshes a person but also saves an entire vacation. Got up from the massage bed renewed? Express your appreciation by increasing the total amount by 10%.
Masseurs giving a massage at a thermal spa in Budapest only get a fraction of the amount paid for the service as they are simple employees. Thus, they are very happy if you leave a tip of 1000–3000 HUF depending on the price of the massage.
Where to go for a good massage in Budapest – Services with prices.
We can learn loads of things during our holiday, like playing tennis, riding a horse, dancing, playing golf, and many more. The price of the courses is generally predetermined and is usually paid to the instructors, so it is not customary to tip on these occasions.
Doctors and nurses
Once our problem is remedied, doctors like to be honored with a tip. It is customary to give an envelope with 5000 HUF in case of minor problems and consultations, but it is not compulsory.
Although doctors don’t say it, they do expect something in return after surgery. However, the situation is quite varying in these situations.
In the case of smaller surgeries, 40 000–50 000 HUF, after life-saving surgeries, however, as much as 150 000–200 000 HUF can be paid. It is important to note that tipping, i.e. “gratuity” is legally accepted and regulated in Hungary.
The law states that a doctor may only accept money after the curing activity and only if the patient gives it voluntarily. They cannot be obliged to pay gratitude before the start of the medical activity.
It is also customary to tip nurses to check up on you more often if you are in hospital. Here, everything is about sympathy. If someone is sympathetic and attentive to you, it is worth giving them 1000–2000 HUF. In my experience, doctors who earn a decent salary take the money in a heartbeat, while nurses – who earn much less – often reject it.
Smaller grocery shops
You tend to get more attention and help from shop assistants at grocery shops where the person who serves you is also the cashier.
They help you find what you are looking for, select the most beautiful fruit and vegetables, put the purchased items into a bag, and – time permitting –entertains you with a joke. It is customary to leave the change, which is generally 50–100 HUF.
Want to grab a pizza or Indian food on the beautiful green field on Margaret Island? Ordering food only takes a few taps on our phone.
In case of lower value orders, a 200 HUF tip is to be given to the delivery guy. In case of larger orders, give them 500 HUF.
Need to have a quick business meeting during the holiday? Use the service of excellent local interpreters. Their tariff is predetermined and it is not customary to tip when paying.
It is a little-known fact that Budapest is also an international spiritualist superpower. If you are curious about your future or just need some luck, visit one of the fortune-tellers in the capital. You can further enhance your luck by paying a little extra.
Street artists drawing portraits are also present in Budapest. Satisfied with the end result? You can make the artist happy by adding a bit to the pre-agreed price.
How much tip is too much in Budapest?
Of course, it is good to be generous sometimes, but there is no use wasting money. Don’t give more than the amount I described above.
A standard 10% tip works all the time. You can give a bit more, but going over 15% is unnecessary. Just forget about the 20–25% tips in the US. It is so much over normal tipping standards that no one will understand why you are so generous.
When not to tip?
As I said earlier, tipping is not compulsory. Don’t leave a tip if you weren’t satisfied with the food at a restaurant. It doesn’t mean you didn’t like it; it means it was unacceptable.
Don’t leave a tip if the hairdresser screwed up your hair or the cleaning lady hasn’t tidied your hotel room for days.
This is how you can show your dissatisfaction; and don’t worry about them getting offended or making faces.
How much to tip when in Hungary? – Summary
I hope this article will help you in the confusing world of tipping in Hungary and you can avoid some really embarrassing situations being familiar with the customs.
At the same time, those whom you express your gratitude to will also have some pleasant moments. And as we all know – giving is always better than receiving.