It's true that much of India runs on tips, but you can get a skewed understanding of the system if you stay only in top hotels, where wealthy tourists and businesspeople are the majority of the clientele. In those situations, hotel employees have come to appreciate modest tips. In smaller towns, however, tipping is less institutionalized and not expected in many instances. Always trust your instincts and reward good service accordingly wherever you are. Some guidelines:
Always tip in cash. You should leave up to 10% on any restaurant bill, 15% for exceptional service. At some large luxury hotel chains, such as Oberoi, tips to individuals are not encouraged, but they ask you to leave one tip at the end of your stay, which management then divides among staff. At other hotels, you won't go wrong if you tip your room valet Rs. 20 per night. Bellboys and bell captains should be paid Rs. 10 per bag. For room service, tip 10% of the bill. Tip the concierge about Rs. 10 if he gets you a taxi, or consider a Rs. 100 tip at the end of your stay if he has helped you in several situations. Train-station porters should be paid Rs. 40 or more per bag, depending on the weight, plus Rs. 40 per 30 minutes waiting fees, if applicable. Set the rate before you let him take your bags (a sign may be posted with official rates). Taxi drivers don't expect tips unless they go through a great deal of trouble to reach your destination; in such a case Rs. 10–Rs. 20 is fair. Some taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers may ask for Rs. 10 per piece of luggage over and above the meter charge. If you hire a car and driver, tip the driver about Rs. 50–Rs. 100 per day, depending on the distance traveled and about Rs. 50 for each lunch or dinner; also give him a larger amount at the end of the journey if you have been using him for many days. Tip local guides 10% of the price of the tour.