River Cruise Tipping in Southeast Asia

We talked about tipping on your Europe river cruise last week and I noted that even on the same line, the tipping will vary by what part of the world you’re cruising. This makes sense since you wouldn’t necessarily tip the same amounts in Europe as you would in Southeast Asia. Also, in this part of the world, the US dollar is desired.

AmaWaterways Cambodia shore excursion

Part of Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia has been overtaken by the jungle. Read on to find out how much to tip your guide for this sort of activity.

Sure, you can use the Cambodian riel, Vietnamese dong, or Burmese kyat, but you wouldn’t want to have too many of those left over at the end of your trip. They can’t be used anywhere else, but if you don’t spend all your US bills, it’s okay. Make sure you have lots of small US denomination bills like $10 or $5 (for purchases at markets and restaurants) and definitely bring a lot of $1 bills with you for tipping. And make sure the bills are crisp.

Here’s a look at the suggested gratuity amounts by river cruise line in Southeast Asia.

AmaWaterways

  • Pre and Post Cruise
    • National Guide US $2 per person, per day.
    • Local Guides US $1 per person, per half-day tour, US $2 per person per full day tour.
    • Bus Drivers US $0.50 per person for half-day tour, US $2 per person for full day tour.
  • Cruise
    • Cruise Director US $2 per person, per day.
    • Ship’s Crew US $10 per person, per day.
    • Cruise Guide in Cambodia US $2-3 per person, per day (covers all shore excursions in Cambodia).
    • Cruise Guide in Vietnam, US $2-3 per person, per day (covers all shore excursions in Vietnam).
    • There’s no mention of Myanmar in the cruise line’s tipping guideline online for Myanmar (Burma), but reasonable amounts would be as above for Cambodia and Vietnam.

Avalon

  • Avalon doesn’t offer any guidelines and notes that gratuities are discretionary.
  • Note, gratuities are included for pre and post land tours (hotel staff, wait staff and porters), but please tip the Cruise Director, Local Hosts, Local Guides, driver and ship’s crew.
  • At the time of writing this post, Avalon does not sail  in Burma.

Uniworld

  • Gratuities for the ship’s crew can be billed to onboard accounts and paid with a credit card. You may also feel welcome to use US dollars or local currency as gratuity during all points of the travel experience.
  • Cruise/Tour Manager US $5 per person, per day (given on the last day of the cruise/tour before departure)
  • Local guides US $5 per person, per day (given at the end of each guide’s service)
  • Drivers/Boatmen US $1 per person, per excursion (given at the end of each service)
  • Ship staff and crew US $8 per person, per day (given on disembarkation day and will be divided among all ship’s staff and crew). You can pay with credit card. You may also choose to offer your gratuity throughout the river cruise experience with cash in either US dollars or local currency.
  • At the time of writing this post, Uniworld does not sail in Myanmar.

Viking

  • Gratuities not included in the cruise fare.
  • Onboard staff US $15 per person, per day.
  • Tour Escort US $10 per person, per day.
  • Local city guides US $2 per person, per day.
  • Coach drivers US $1 per person, per day.

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