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Russia is one of the most visited countries all over the world – it belongs to the list of the world’s top 20 destinations for travelers. The country is known for its
vodka, bears, Gulag gorgeous churches and cathedrals, beautiful nature and a culture that is rich in history. Don’t forget that Russia is also famous for its communist past.
One of the most common questions that a lot of travelers ask is “do you have to tip in Russia”? You probably also want to know who should you tip and how much. In this post, I’ll give you answers to all of these questions about tipping.
Before we start, Leo wants to cheers! It’s not too early to drink, isn’t?
How to Say Tip in Russian?
This is very important to know and it’s nice to be able to speak in Russian if needed.
To say “tip” in Russian is not as easy: the word in Russian is “чаевые” (chayevyye).
Here are a few examples of using a word “chayevyye”:
English: this tip is for you. Russian: eta chayevyye dlya vas.
English: how much is a tip? Russian: skolka chayevyye?
English: do I need to give a tip? Russian: nuzhna-li davat’ chayevyye?
Tipping at a Hotel
Like in most countries, it is common to tip the bellboy at hotels in Russia and giving 50-100 Rubles for help is fine. It’s up to you if want to tip a housekeeper around the same amount. It is not a requirement, especially if you are not staying at a five-star hotel. If you wish to tip to housekeeping, simply leave the money on the bedside table or you can give it directly to them (but make sure to make it discreet).
If you have way too much money you can also tip to concierge if you are satisfied with their service. I mean, if they really helped you a lot you can tip them 200-500 Rubles.
But in my opinion, it’s NOT necessary to tip at hotels in Russia. Hotels stuff in Russia have a set salary and those at the five-star hotels already making decent money for what they do.
They helped to take luggage to your room? Good, it’s their job and they’ll get paid for it from their employee. Don’t tip unless you asked to help.
What to Tip at Restaurants?
For many years it wasn’t a thing to tip at restaurants in Russia, but it’s been changing lately. Especially in the big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg – it’s a good manner to tip a little bit if you are satisfied with the service.
At high-end restaurants, you don’t have to tip 15%-20%, because you are already paying them a big buck. But some touristy places are automatically adding a service charge to the bill (it’s very common these days, it’s how they trying to get more money). I feel like 5%-10% is a fair amount to tip, like a “win-win” situation for you and a restaurant worker. At cheaper restaurants and cafes I usually tip 100-150 Rubles, which is like $2-$3. You can also round-up the amount – if the bill is 430 Rubles, you can pay 500 Rubles and tell your waiter that you don’t need change (in Russian – “mne ne nuzhna zdacha“).
At fast food places and buffet type of restaurants in Russia (stalovaya), you don’t need to tip at all. Stalovaya’s are very popular in Russia – my favorite one in Moscow is Moo-Moo restaurant.
I would recommend to tip in cash (for safety reasons) and you can choose to give it directly to the waiter or leave it on your table. It’s important to know that there are some restaurants in Russia that do not accept credit cards at all (most places don’t accept American Express) – so, it’s always good to keep some cash in the pocket.
What About Tour Guides/Drivers?
Those who book a tour guide and a driver should also consider giving a tip. As always, you are not required to tip anything and it is your own choice
because Russia is a democratic country.
It’s hard to tell how much to tip tour guide in Russia – I would probably suggest to tip around 200-300 Rubles (which is close to $5) per person for a day tour. People tip more to tour guides in the US and Europe but $5, in this case, sounds fair to me. Once again, don’t overtip unless you are extremely happy with the service.
To your driver you can tip a little bit as well – 100-200 Rubles as a tip will make them very happy :).
There are some restaurants that will give free meals and snacks to tour guides and drivers, but if you are eating at a restaurant that won’t offer them free meals, then you have to include them in your party as a courtesy. As a courtesy, you’ll also need to pay for them.
Be nice to the tour guides and they’ll make your trip to Russia unforgettable! 🙂
Don’t Tip to Taxi Drivers!
I mean, why would you tip a taxi driver? Or even better question who even take taxis these days when there are so many ride-sharing apps, such as Uber?! They are cheaper than taxis and they don’t ask you to tip!
In general, the situation with taxis in Russia a little bit crazy: there are still a lot of illegal taxi drivers on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg (they call them “bombila”). These bombila’s really like to get people at the train stations, airports… Foreigners are their favorite, especially if they are new here and they don’t speak Russian. When you see them you just know they’ll rip you off. That’s why if you don’t want to pay triple the price and get screwed I recommend you to read this article.
Do You Tip at Beauty Salons?
You might be also wondering if you should tip in Russia when going to get a hair cut or getting your nails done at one of the beauty salons.
At most places, the tip is not required but it depends on where you are. If you are going to a fancy place, you will already be paying big bucks, which means you not necessarily have to leave a tip.
This is the main difference compare to the United States, where they kind of expect you to tip at all places and for all services. You did a hair cut at a cheap place which wasn’t even good? Please, still leave a 10% tip. You did a haircut with a color at Tony & Guy? Then on top of the $100+ you are already paying, you’ll give another $15-20 as a tip. Ridiculous!
In Russia you won’t be asked to leave a tip, there is no such a line on the receipt if you pay with the credit card. It doesn’t mean that you can’t tip – you definitely can if you wish to do so. If you are really happy with the provided service, go ahead and tip as much as you think is a fair amount. Either way, you won’t be judged.
So, let’s s’um it up! Do you need to tip in Russia? As you can see, tipping in Russia is similar to tipping in any Eastern European country. It’s not as extreme like in the United States and you don’t need to tip a lot, except if it’s something that you wish (you are very satisfied with the service that you receive and you have the means to give that much).
At the end, I recommend you to watch this funny video – compilation of fails at Russian weddings. Hilarious!