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Saturday, May 26 2018 @ 11:34 PM EDT

How Much Should I Tip in Panama?

Food & DrinkBy DON WINNER for - Received today via email: "Hi Don, really appreciate Panama-Guide! I was wondering if you would do an article on "proper" tipping practices. We have lived in Panama for a couple years and I am still very confused on it -- I want to be kind and not a rude gringo, but I also don't want to be a stupid sucker throwing away money. I searched the archives, but didn't find much. I think many would appreciate your help on this subject. Thanks for your consideration, and keep up the great work. MD."

Editor's Comment: Great question. In the United States people generally tip more than in Panama. But at the same time in many places the cost of food or eating out is less here than there. I can only speak from personal experience because there really is no accepted standard - some Panamanians tip more, some less, some not at all. About 10% seems to be about the standard, especially in the larger restaurants and places that cater more to rich Panamanians and foreigners than poor locals. So, I sort of start off at about 10%, but then adjust that depending on the level of service provided. If the service sucked, then I have no qualms whatsoever with getting up, paying my bill, and leaving with no tip whatsoever. If the service was excellent then I'll leave more than 10%. Restaurant workers and people in the food service industry work really hard and they count on the tips to make ends meet. At the same time, in my opinion anyway, tips should be both earned and deserved. The jobs in bars and restaurants that cater to foreigners are most sought after, because the service personnel know they are better tippers. The bottom line is - just do what feels right - and you can't be wrong no matter what. And of course if the waitress is smoking hot, then all bets are off. Just hand her your wallet - which would be cheaper than marrying her. (grin)

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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How Much Should I Tip in Panama? | 2 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
How Much Should I Tip in Panama?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 14 2012 @ 10:58 AM EST

I was told, by a Panamanian, that in a lot of restaurants the servers don't get to keep their tips (goes to the house) or they have to tip pool and spit it with everybody. I know several places that the tip pooling was policy. I tipped better at places that I frequented regularly because I expect excellent service and have no problem compensating for it. Even though the server wasn't getting my full tip they knew I would leave a generous gratuity. A bar or restaurant that I didn't frequent often then 10% was my rule of thumb. Cab drivers I usually rounded up to the dollar unless they helped with luggage or packages. Some change to the gas attendant. Some change for the kid at the grocery store if he helped load the bags into the car.

How Much Should I Tip in Panama?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 14 2012 @ 11:57 AM EST

Check the bill for your food. A lot of places add a 10% propina "tip" so if you add a tip to the total you are tipping on top the 10% they already stuck you for. I think that 10% on your bill is put in a "box" that they share with all of the workers. If I get exceptional service I discreetly give the server the extra tip and tell him/her it is for them and not to go into the caja to share with everyone else.