Tipping in the Maldives – Tipping culture and correct etiquette to follow

Tipping in the Maldives is something that many visitors to this beautiful and exotic destination are unsure about. While there are no hard and fast rules, it’s important to understand what is expected so you can avoid any uncomfortable situations or misunderstandings during your stay.

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In this blog post, we will take a look at the Maldives tipping culture, discuss what kind of tips should be given, when they should be given, and how this should be done. We’ll also look at some general rules of thumb that apply throughout Maldivian society when it comes to giving gifts and expressing gratitude. By taking the time to familiarize yourself with Maldivian customs before traveling here, you can ensure that your experience will go smoothly!

A personal story

When I visited the Maldives a while back, I experienced all three types of islands: a big local island, a small local island, and a resort island. The way we tipped varied greatly depending on this, as it’s one thing to pay for a meal around $10, and a different thing to pay up to $250 for a massage.

Also, we were aware that people working in resorts have a different salary than the ones working on local islands, and their quality of life is different. A few dollars might make the day of someone on a small, local island, but might be nothing for someone from a resort island (but still greatly appreciated).

So, what did we do? We mostly tipped the people from the local islands more than the ones from the resort islands. On the resort island, we tipped if we thought the service was amazing and if we felt really spoiled by the staff. We had one situation when a member of the staff insinuated we should tip him something. We did, as we felt bad, but disliked the practice a lot. So if you’re more determined about this, please do as you feel.

Is the tip included in the bill in the Maldives?

Yes, a 10% service charge is included in the bill in the Maldives. This amount is going straight to the staff and splits evenly between all staff members, so you can be sure they are being thanked for their work anyway. Considering this, tipping in the Maldives is not mandatory, but of course, highly appreciated.

Tipping can be done as a gesture of appreciation or gratitude for excellent service and it is up to the discretion of each traveler. Be sure to check your bill before leaving as some establishments may include an optional tip line on their receipts. If they have, use this opportunity to thank their team for the great work they have done.

Should you tip in the Maldives at all-inclusive resorts?

You don’t have to, but it is customary to tip in the Maldives at all-inclusive resorts. This is not in any way mandatory as you are paying the 10% service charge anyway. Tipping can be done in cash or with a gift and should reflect the quality of the service you have received. It is a way to show appreciation for good work, and excellent service and highlight how you felt while being taken care of by these amazing people.

If you feel like the staff has gone above and beyond, 5%-10% of your total bill is an appropriate amount to tip. Many all-inclusive resorts also offer guests a chance to give an additional ‘thank you’ by tipping extra for particularly excellent service. However, no matter how generous your tipping habits might be, always remember that gratuity – not feeling obligated – should be the driving force behind your decision to provide one!

The beaches in the Maldives are extremely well kept, no matter if you're on a local island or in a resort, one more reason why tipping in the Maldives is a nice gesture you can make.

Is it mandatory to tip in the Maldives?

On resort islands, no. While any tip is greatly appreciated, it is not mandatory to pay more than your bill. Of course, if you want to reward an amazing service, it will be a nice gesture for the people working hard for your experience. But it is not mandatory to do so in a monetary way.

As a person who worked in service-based industries before, I have never done one thing and always hated the people who did. I have never asked for a tip, in any way, and I dread people that do this. It is not the customer’s obligation to give you a tip, even if you have provided great service. Doing your job properly is mandatory for all customers, and is rewarded by having a salary. If a customer is extremely happy with your service and decides to show you this, then great, but it should be their choice when, how much, and if they decide to offer a tip.

Proper tipping etiquette should be followed at any time, of course. You should never make it in a visible manner, waving your credit card or wallet like a trophy. You will “pay” by saying your room number when you’re at a resort, so showing off your money will not be appreciated by anyone.

If you’re on a local island, you have to be more reserved in your behaviors anyway. Try not to draw attention to yourself, and tipping is part of it. Just leave the money on the table, ask them to round up the bill when paying by card, or leave more when paying for the taxi in cash. You don’t have to brag about it in any way, and the people will be as gracious as possible as well.

Who should you tip in the Maldives?

It is customary to tip in the Maldives, and it is appreciated for any good service received. You should tip the staff at all-inclusive resorts such as restaurant or bar servers, housekeeping staff, tour guides, boat captains, waiters/waitresses, and other personnel. Gratuities should be given directly to those people who have provided services and are appropriate for hotel porters, cleaners, and massage therapists if you feel they have gone above and beyond with their work.

Additionally, tipping the taxi drivers is also common practice in the Maldives, but you will only do this if visiting a local island (most probably in Male). You will mostly travel by air or water though, so you can offer a small appreciation token to your water plane pilot or boat driver.

As a guideline of how much to give as a gratuity when tipping in the Maldives, aim for 10%-15% of your total bill; however, you can give more or less depending on the situation, especially when dealing with multiple people involved (housekeeping might change on a daily basis, bartenders as well, and one person might offer you a better experience than the other).

How much should I tip the housekeeping?

For housekeeping staff, anything from a few dollars to $10 per day is an appropriate amount to give as a gratuity. It’s better to offer a few dollars to each member of the housekeeping staff than to offer a big sum to one member and nothing to the others, as you never know if they split this money or not.

Also, keep in mind that some tourists tip on a weekly basis, some do it daily, and others are tipping just once per holiday. Considering that your servers will change during your vacation, try to choose your way of tipping so that everyone is receiving what you intend to. As a side note, the usual way to do this is to leave the money on the pillow. If you see they don’t take it (something that might happen), you can leave the money on your nightstand the day before, and add a note to specify who is it for.

How much should I tip if eating in a restaurant?

In Maldives, it is customary to at least round up the total bill if eating in a restaurant. However, you may choose to give more or less depending on the situation. It is also recommended that you offer gratuity directly to those people who served you, instead of just leaving the money on the table for everyone.

This will also be different based on where you are eating. If you’re on a resort island, you might tip a few dollars, as the prices are high as well and the staff benefits from the 10% service fee anyway. If you have an all-inclusive package, your meal, and drinks will be covered already, so you can only leave the tip here or tell them to add it to your room bill.

If you’re eating at a restaurant on a local island, you can probably leave a bigger tip as the prices are smaller anyway, and the staff is highly dependent on this money. The quality of the service will probably be great here as well, as most people work in the hospitality industry and are very willing to go above and beyond to make you feel great.

Two sunbeds facing the sunset - the only picture worth taking in one of the adults-only resorts in the Maldives

How can I tip the staff I don’t see?

This is a great question you might not even know you had. We all tip the people we interact with, like housekeeping and waiters, but most of us don’t realize there’s so much happening in the background that affects our experience. How do we thank “the invisible people” then?

Well, a good starting point is to use the tipping box from the reception or main restaurant. This box is used for tips that are shared between all employees, so it will be received for the cleaning person and dishwasher as well. If such a box doesn’t exist, you can ask the people at the reception how can you go about this. They will point you in the right direction, no matter if they’ll give you an envelope to add your money or offer to charge your credit card straight away.

Keep this in mind while using the spa services as well. While you can tip the spa therapist on the spot, a small amount of money will be very well received by the other hotel staff like the receptionist and cleaning people. Ask about the tipping box at the spa’s reception and you’ll make a few people very happy. Another practice I have heard about is that you can leave the money in the changing locker you used for your clothes, and you’ll usually find a wooden box there if this is the case.

Should I tip the tour guide?

Yes, it is customary to tip tour guides in the Maldives. A good way of determining how much to give is by considering the length and quality of your tour. As a general guideline, you may want to aim for 10-15% of the tour’s price; however, this can be adjusted according to what you think is appropriate for the situation.

If you’re joining a group tour, you can discuss it with the other participants and offer the tour guide a common gratuity. This is a good option for boat tours, diving trips, and island day tours you might take. The tour guide benefits from the 10% service tax as well, so your generous tip doesn’t have to be a big deal if you don’t want it to be.

What currency should I tip in?

While the Maldivian Rufiyaa is the national currency of the Maldives, the US dollar is widely accepted everywhere. All the prices you’ll see are in USD, so using this currency for your tips shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re not going to local islands, you won’t even have to exchange money anyway, as you won’t pay in rufiyaa in resorts.

Of course, if you’re visiting local islands as well, you can exchange your money (or use a multi-currency card like Revolut) and tip in the local currency. In the end, no one will complain about “free money”, no matter what that money is.

FAQ about tipping culture and etiquette in the Maldives

Is $5 a good tip in the Maldives?

Most staff will be very happy with any tip, and $1-$5 will be perfect for most situations.

How much do you tip a Maldivian butler?

The butler or concierge will be the member of the staff you interact the most with, so they should get the biggest tip if you have been happy with their service. About 3-5% of the nightly room rate is a good rule of thumb in this case.

Can I tip with euros in the Maldives?

While the most used currency is the US dollar, most resorts, and staff will gladly accept Euro as well. Check out the exchange rate though and see which one is better for you.

Is it rude to tip in the Maldives?

No, it is not seen as rude. While not mandatory, tipping in the Maldives is a nice way to show appreciation for the great level of service you receive.

Do you tip the luggage guy?

It is customary to tip the person that carries your luggage to your room. The usual amount is one to a few dollars per piece of luggage.

Should I tip the hairdresser in the Maldives?

Hairdressers benefit from the 10% service tax as well, so you’ll tip them anyway. If you want to add something on top of this, they will gladly receive your appreciation.

Tipping in the Maldives – Key takeaway

The Maldives tipping culture is an important one to understand if you plan on visiting this gorgeous archipelago. Tipping is not mandatory in Maldivian resorts, though it is greatly appreciated and often expected by locals. When it comes to tipping staff at a resort island, usually a few dollars will suffice. If you’re using a tour guide or spa service, you may want to consider tipping 10-15% of the service’s price. Most importantly, always remember that any tips should be voluntary and never mandatory!

Happy Maldivian travel and happy tipping! 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Tipping in the Maldives – Tipping culture and correct etiquette to follow”

  1. This was a very interesting read, it’s great to share awareness of tipping culture in different countries and what is customary but I also enjoyed the part you mentioned about invisible staff and making sure they also get recognition for the work they do too!

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