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Tipping In Prague - How Much To Tip

EMERGENCY ANSWER:

The waiter is approaching with the bill:
-confirm whether tip is included in the bill, if not then tip 10% -15%.

The taxi driver is waiting for you to tip him:
-if you agreed on price before you got in then no need to tip. Otherwise you can round up and tip 10%.

Communism Proves Tipping is a Good Thing

Before 1989 Communism ruled the land. Everybody worked willingly to make the state a better place for their comrades. Naturally there was no need for tipping.

Waiters served food and drink because it was their lot in life - it was what they were put on this earth to do. They went to school and studied the art of tray balancing and fake smiling. After graduation they received a bowtie and a dependable paycheck.

A waiter worked hard because the harder he worked the better the state would be. A satisfied patron was his greatest reward, he did not want or need a tip. A thumbs up from a satisfied comrade was the only tip he required.

At least that is how it was supposed to work. What the communists system of rewards neglected to account for was the annoying fact that waiters are human.

How does a human act if you brand them a waiter for life, give them a set salary, and compensate hard work with pats on the back? The great communist experiment proved that because they are human they become a terrible waiters. Without tips to encourage good service and with a set monthly paycheck the incentive is to become a bitter and unpleasant waiter. The main objective on the job becomes to ensure an empty restaurant.

A common experience from the days before tips: The waiter is slow to take your order, either hiding in the kitchen or on his third smoke break. When he finally cames around he fidgets with the pencil and rolls on his heals to make it clear that you are wasting his time. When you are ready to pay the bill he would promptly disappear into the kitchen. He would rather that you do not pay the bill because when you leave he will have to clear the table and make room for the next guests - forcing him to go through the whole process of serving again.

Fortunately, for you and your eating experience, communism was ousted and tipping is now the norm. Waiters greet you, smile at you and display concern with your level of satisfaction. It's phony, but the waiter knows that if his act is believable enough you will reward with a tip.

Who to Tip and How Much

Before we discuss the details of tipping it will make things simpler if you know how much Czech CZK are worth:

Roughly:

  • 20 Czech CZK is 1 US Dollar
  • 100 Czech CZK is 5 US Dollars
  • 500 Czech CZK is 25 US Dollars

Tip a Waiter

Tipping in restaurants is the norm. There are still a few Czechs stuck to old ways refusing to tip (usually the older generation). At most they will round to the nearest 10 CZK – a bill for 292 CZK will earn the waiter 300 CZK (a 25 cent tip for $15 meal). The waiter frowns but gets satisfaction contemplating that this non-tipper belongs to the oldest generation and will soon be gone.

But you, a tourist, should tip around 10% - 15%. For an average meal it is simplest to 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 not frown or imagine you in a coffin.

It is not customary to leave a pile of bills and coins on the table. When the waiter comes to collect he will show you the bill and you will hand 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 a 500 CZK bill and say ‘tři sta‘ 300 (say the total including tip) – he will take that to mean that you want 200 CZK in change.

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 CZK.

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. No 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 costs.

All around the city are designated taxi stops with a sign describing how much you should pay 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 pay. When the taxi arrives confirm with the driver the price.

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 tip. Try to round it up to the nearest 20 CZK or 50 CZK. If the bill is 380 CZK then pay 400 CZK. If the bill is 660 CZK pay 700 CZK.

Tip a Porter

I have never been in a Prague hotel so have never needed the services of a porter. But I hear an acceptable tip for lugging your luggage 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 – maybe you spit your gum out, the wind caught it and it is in your hair. How much should you tip the hairdresser? In a situation where you are not sure how much to tip, 10% or simply to round up. My haircut is 85 CZK, I pay 100 CZK.

The Tip is Included in the Bill – Avoid These Restaurants

In tourist zones there are restaurants that attempt to remove confusion by automatically adding the tip to the bill. Usually, when you enter the restaurant, there is a sign stating the practice and the tip is written on the bill.

This practice is supposed to solve two problems:

  1. Eliminate the need of the confused and uncertain tourist trying to figure out how much to tip.
  2. Protect the establishment from stingy tourists who assume that there is no tipping in Prague.

You might think this is a good practice – all the hard calculations are done for you. But 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. Because the waiter does not need to work for a tip there is no motivation to make you happy. At these places you have to tip 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 need to worry about losing a returning customer.

You have a choice to make: do you want the simplicity of having the tip calculated for you and poor service. Or would you rather go someplace where you can reward the waiter based on service? It is a personal choice, but local people in Prague do not regret the 1989 revolution that ousted the communists.

Am I Being Helpful?

I hope you find this website helpful. I created the website because I love Prague, I enjoy writing about it, and I get a weird kick out of helping you make your trip to Prague more enjoyable.

I wrote a book about local travel in Prague. The book is my pride, my joy, my unbiological offspring. It was written with a passionate heart. If you find this website helpful consider reading my book. You will receive an entertaining book full of useful tips that will instil in you the confidence to wander the local streets of Prague. The book is also included in the popular Prague Local Explore Kit Bag.

Thank you,
Roman : Prague 2017

Prague Local Travel Book