Local Customs

When dining at restaurants and you are ready for the bill, you will need to ask for it (“la cuenta, por favor”). Mexicans consider it rude to rush diners by bringing the check before they ask for it. See our tipping guide below for how much you should tip at the restaurant.

Water from the tap in Mexico is not good for drinking. At large resorts and restaurants, they serve purified water and ice that is safe to drink, but otherwise stick to bottled water. This means using bottled water to brush your teeth and avoiding ice in drinks as well. Larger grocery markets will sell disinfectant drops in the produce section that you can use for washing vegetables.

Prices in stores are fixed and it is not appropriate to bargain in these situations. If there’s a door, you don’t barter. If you are shopping from stalls in an outdoor market or buy jewelry on the beach, you can have some fun bartering

Many restrooms in Baja are operated by septic tanks. If you see a waste bin next to the toilet, throw your toilet paper into that bin instead of the toilet bowl to help keep the toilet from overflowing.

It is customary in Mexico to greet someone and ask how they are, how they’ve been, how their family is, etc. before getting down to business. While the level of conversation obviously depends on how familiar you are with the person, a polite “¿como esta?” to the hotel concierge is much appreciated before delving into your specific needs.

While many Mexicans in the tourist industry speak some English, it’s polite to know at least a few basic phrases in Spanish before traveling to Mexico. A simple “por favor” or “gracias” is always appreciated.

Tipping is customary in certain situations in Mexico. See our guide below for appropriate tipping amounts:

  • Restaurants: Generally 10 percent is a sufficient tip. At nice restaurants, 15 percent is customary. Sometimes the tip will be include on the bill so make sure to check twice before leaving an extra tip.
  • Gas station attendant: You shouldn’t feel obligated to tip if the attendant just pumps your gas, but if the gas attendant washed your windows or went above and beyond, you can give him 5 pesos.
  • Hotel maid: If you are staying at a nice hotel, you can feel free to leave money for the maid in your room at the end of your stay. If it’s a cheaper hotel, you can leave your tip at the front desk with your room number to ensure that it gets to the maid who serviced your room.
  • Bellman: At nice hotels, you should give the bellman 10-30 pesos for bringing your luggage to the room.
  • Taxi drivers: Unless your taxi driver went above and beyond the call of duty, you don’t need to include a tip.
  • Green Angels: Technically, the Green Angels are not allowed to accept tips.