Tipping In Prague - How Much To Tip
Communism Proves Tipping is a Good Thing
Before 1989, Communism ruled the land. Because everybody is equal and work is something you do to make the state a better place for everyone, there was no tipping.
Waiters brought your food because their lot in life was to be a waiter. They went to school for it and every month they got a steady paycheck for it. A waiter did his job because it was what he did, not because he wanted to make money. He did not want nor need a tip.
Well, that is how it was supposed to work. Unfortunately, what the communist neglected to account for was that waiters are human.
How does a human act if you tell him that he is a waiter for life, has a set salary and there are no rewards for good work? He instantly gravitates towards being a terrible waiter. Without tips and an incentive to please the guests, his goal is to be the worst possible waiter. His hope is that the guests never come back again. His goal is to have an empty restaurant.
A classic example from the days before tips: The waiter would be slow to take your order, he would give the impression that you are wasting his time when he takes your order and finally he would completely disappear when you were ready to pay the bill. He did not want you to pay the bill because if you pay the bill and leave that meant that he will have to clear the table and new guests will sit down - and he will have to do everything all over again.
Fortunately, for you and your eating out experience, communism was ousted and tipping is the norm. Waiters greet you, smile at you and show concern with your well-being, of course it's all phony, but it’s the thought that counts.
Tipping Is All About Rounding Off
Before we discuss the details and start throwing numbers around it will make things easier if you know how much Czech Korun are worth. To further simplify you have American Dollars.
- 20 Czech Koron is 1 US Dollar
- 100 Czech Koron is 5 US Dollars
- 500 Czech Koron is 25 US Dollars
Tip a TAXI Driver
Taxi drivers have a bad reputation in Prague – they deserve it. In 2010 a study was done to determine how much taxi drivers charge tourists for a ride from the airport to city center. Half of the taxi drivers overcharged.
A taxi ride from the airport to city center should cost around 600 CZK. A few taxi drivers have charged ‘tourists’ 5000 korun.
After many complaints from tourists the city started to listen and did a few things to ratify the problem. When you step out of the airport you will notice a special place for official Prague taxis. These taxis have a fixed price for specific destinations in the city center. There is no more haggling or surprises - just check the sign for the destination where you want to go and it will tell you how much the taxi ride should cost.
Also all around the city are designated taxi stops with a sign describing how much you should be paying from one destination to another. For example, if you want to go from the Main Train Station to the Airport, simply check the sign and it will tell you how much you should expect to pay. When the taxi arrives confirm with the driver the price and you are safe.
Of course, if you hail your own taxi from some random street at 3am, you are at the taxi-driver’s mercy – enter at your own risk.
Since the prices from the airport to city center are fixed you do not necessarily need to tip from the airport. But if you are in a giving mood, 10% is an acceptable amount. Try to round it up to the nearest 20 CZK or 50 CZK. If the bill is 380 CZK then pay the man 400 CZK. If the bill is 660 CZK then pay 700 CZK.
Tip a Waiter
Thanks to the defeat of communism, tipping in restaurants is now the norm. There are still some Czechs who are accustomed to old ways and do not tip at all, or they round to the nearest 10 CZK – a bill for 292 CZK will earn the waiter 300 CZK. The waiter might frown a little but he will not be surprised.
But you, a tourist accustom to tipping, should tip around 10%. For an average meal you should round up to the nearest 20 CZK or 100 CZK. A meal for two with a couple of beers will cost around 270 CZK – give the waiter 300 CZK and he will be happy.
Also it is not customary to leave a pile of bills and coins at the table. When the waiter comes to collect he will show you the bill and you will give him the money including tip and say ‘dekuji’ (thank you).
If you do not have change and you are feeling adventurous, for a 270 CZK bill you can give him a 500 CZK bill and somehow say ‘tři sta‘ 300 – he will take that to mean that you want 200 in change.
Tip a Porter
I have never been in a Prague hotel so I have never needed the services of a porter. But I hear an acceptable tip to give for lugging your brick-filled luggage around is 40 CZK.
Tip a Hairdresser
Let’s say you need a haircut during your vacation. Seems like something you should of done before you came to Prague – but who knows – maybe you spit your gum out, the wind catches and it lands in your hair. How much should you tip the hairdresser?
In a situation where you are not sure how much to tip, the general rule is 10% or simply to round up. My haircuts cost 85 CZK, I pay 100 CZK.
The Tip is Included in the Bill – Avoid These Restaruants
In the main tourist spots there are restaurants that attempt to remove the confusion by automatically adding the tip to the bill. Usually, when you enter the restaurant, there is a sign stating the practice and it will be written on the bill.
This practice is supposed to solve two problems:
- Eliminate the need for the confused and uncertain customer to figure out how much to tip.
- Eliminate the practice of a stingy tourist assuming that there is no tipping in Prague.
You might think this is a good practice – all the hard calculations are done for you. Simple – get a bill and pay the number at the bottom.
Unfortunately there is a major drawback with the tip included in the bill. If communism has taught the world anything it is that guaranteeing a waiter a set wage results in poor service. The waiter does not need to work to get a tip so his work suffers because there is no motivation to make the diner happy. You have to tip him regardless of the service level. And the worst part is that he knows that you, a tourist, will never come back again so he does not even worry about losing a returning customer.
You have a choice to make: do you want the simplicity of having the tip calculated for you with the risk of poor service. Or would you rather go someplace where you can reward the waiter based on service? It’s a personal choice, but most people in Prague do not regret the 1989 revolution that ousted the communists.
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