Enjoy this? Share it!

How much does "Thank You" cost in Cape Town?

6 min read
· Posted on
November 20, 2020
by Lucie Hett

Each country around the world has a different tipping culture and knowing who deserves a tip and how much to give, is an etiquette challenge that everyone faces when travelling to a foreign country.  In many countries tipping is mandatory and people in the service and tourism industries rely completely on their tips to pay their bills and support their family.  However, in certain places around the world like Japan, leaving a tip for someone is actually considered to be extremely rude.   Also, the acceptable amount to tip someone varies from country to country and having some knowledge about this can be essential in order to stick to your travelling budget.   Read on to find out more about the common tipping practices in Cape Town.

Who: Restaurant servers

Amount: 10% or more of your bill

Do: Try and always leave a cash tip rather than on your credit card.

Don’t: Leave your tip on the table rather hand it to your waitron.

Cape Town has a sensational food culture and the city is home to a huge range of unique, eclectic and authentic restaurants and eateries.  This coupled with the fact that dining out is in general very affordable in the Mother City, means that during your time here you will likely be eating at restaurants on a regular basis!

Like in many other countries around the world, it is mandatory to leave your waitron a tip of about 10% of your bill.  In Cape Town the salary for most servers in restaurants will be extremely low so waitrons rely heavily on the tips they receive.  You shouldn’t have any problem giving a generous tip at the end of your meal in most of the restaurants in Cape Town because staff are generally really friendly and the standard of service is very good.


Who: Bar staff

Amount: 10% of your bill or R2 – R5 if only buying one drink.

Unlike in a lot of other countries around the world, in Cape Town it is also common practice to tip bar staff 10% of your bill.  This applies to all establishments- restaurants, bars, pubs and clubs.  Even if you are only buying one drink it is standard to tip the bar man between R2 and R5 each time.

Who: Baristas and waitrons in coffee shops

Amount: 10% of your bill.

In recent years there has been an exponential growth in roasteries in Cape Town and this coffee trend is now one of the things the Mother City is famous for.  Today there is an endless array of little coffee shops and cafes dotted all over the city and Cape Town is becoming widely recognised as the coffee capital of Africa.  Like in restaurants and bars, it is standard to tip your barista or waitron 10% of your bill.  Even if you are only having one cup of coffee, it is customary to give a tip of R2 – R5.


Who: Parking attendants

Amount: R2 – R5

Do: Make sure you always have a small amount of change on you or in your car.

Don’t: Feel indebted to leave a tip if the guard did not provide you with a service.

One thing that you will notice during your visit to Cape Town, which is different to what you are used to back home, is the presence of parking attendants and security guards in all public car parks and by most roadside bays.  When leaving the parking space at the end of your stay, wherever you are in the city, you will be greeted by a man in a high visibility jacket who will seemingly appear out of thin air!  These attendants offer to watch your car for you and assist you with entering and leaving your parking space.  It is customary to tip them between R2 – R5.  In saying this, parking guards are not employed by the government and the service is open to anyone who has the initiative to claim a territory and wear a yellow jacket, therefore it is at your discretion to pay them and it is important to be the judge of your own experience.  If the parking attendant wasn’t in sight when you arrived, and you were only away from your car for 5 minutes, many people feel it is not necessary to give him a tip.

Who: Petrol attendants

Amount: R5 – R10

Do: Always keep small change in your car and give a tip which reflects the extra services they provide you with.

Don’t: Leave a tip on your credit card

Another distinctly South African phenomenon is having your car filled up for you by a petrol attendant.  In South Africa we have the luxury of petrol attendants at all stations and they fill up your vehicle’s tank as well as offering to check your oil and water, clean your windows and pump up your tyres.  It is expected that you tip them between R5 and R10 for filling up your car and often people give more money for the extra services they require.

Who: Taxi driver

Amount: Round your fare up to the nearest 10.  Or leave between R10 and R20 for a journey of 30 minutes or more.

Do: Do your maths correctly to avoid leaving the incorrect amount when rounding up!

Don’t: Let the taxi driver take you on a longer journey to increase the fare.  Do your research before ordering the taxi and always insist on the meter being on instead of a set fare.

In Cape Town private taxis operate by the same rules as in most other countries around the world.  You call and order your taxi to take you to your specific destination and the fare will reflect the distance traveled and time it takes to get there.  Some taxi drivers will try and offer tourists a set fare rather than a meter journey to try and get more money out of them so it is important you always insist on the meter being on for any short journeys.  If you are looking to be driven far out of town for a whole day’s excursion, it is possible to get quotes for a set fare from all the taxi companies that operate in Cape Town.  On each taxi company’s website you will be able to find what they charge per kilometer and you can use this to work out the value of their quote.  Do your research and it is sometimes worth getting hold private tour companies to quote you for a day’s transport.

Recommended taxi companies:

Rikkis Taxis

Exicte Taxis

Who: Beauty therapists and hairdressers

Amount: R20 – R40

Do: Ask your hairdresser whether the people who wash your hair receive tips at the end of the day and if not it is a nice gesture to give them a R5 – R10 tip as well.

Don’t: Leave a tip unless you are really unpleased with the service you have received.

Like in many other countries around the world, many people in Cape Town don’t give a tip to their beautician or hairdresser because the price of treatments is generally quite high.  People only tend to give a tip when they have been using the same person for treatments for a long time.  If you do feel like you have received a service which is worthy of a tip, anything between R20 and R40 is an appropriate amount to leave.


Who: Guides on private tours

Amount: R50 – R200

Do: Observe your guide’s attitude, attentiveness and attention to detail throughout your trip and give them a tip that reflects this.

Don’t: Feel obliged to leave a tip if you do not feel that the service they provided was worthy of it.

There are a huge number of reputable, private tour companies that operate in and around Cape Town.  Joining a guided tour is a convenient, educational and in general affordable means of exploring different areas of the Western Cape, and it is also a great way of meeting other like minded travelers.  Usually there is one local guide and in general they are friendly, informative, passionate and very attentive.  If your guide has added value to your tour then show your appreciation by giving him a generous tip!  It is therefore a good idea to ensure you have some cash on you although, in most cases guides will accept foreign notes (not coins) because they can be exchanged.

*Please remember this is just a general guide to tipping in Cape Town and it is important to always use your discretion and judge your own experience.

Bridging Gaps Photography

What should you do next?

Easy - there's only one thing for it - download this free 37-page PDF guide we wrote just for you. It'll give you an overview of everything you need to know and do to have a rewarding and unforgettable learning experience abroad.

Featured Programmes