Hi! my name is Adam Pham, who started as a Free Local Guides and Opened a Non Profit Organisation (NPO) Hanoi Free Local Tours.
I would love to share with you my opinion on tipping for Free Walking Tour in Hanoi, or Free Tour Guides from all almost free tour organization? (in Vietnam).
Free Walking Tours become very popular all around the world when people can pay for what they use, pay for how they feel and sometime how much they have!
The Free Walking tours normally working on tip-based, to help the “Tour Guides" out with the money for the good-jobs after show travelers things they would not know without a local guide.
The same goes for Vietnam, you will have someone taking you around to the hidden places, enjoy the good but cheap foods that you would not know, tell you the interesting stories that are not mentioned on travel books.
But, that’s all!
Vietnam is totally different!
The guides are not the professors or professional guides expecting the tip for their living!
The original aim of being a guide is totally different,
in Hanoi or even in the whole Vietnam, the free tour guides are normally local university students (90%), we (I would love to say “We", because of I myselves did have been a free guide for long with my friends)
We are looking for the chance of improving our language skills, (the cost of English center in Vietnam is SUPER Expensive, we need to learn to have better lives, but we do not have money to do so).
We do it!
After doing the free tours, we know that not only Languages skills, but also soft skills are that we can improve together with other country cultures that hardly can we learn from books, teachers or any…
That is why many of my friends being so confident in the international company interview in English like (Samsung, Co-ca-co-la, Pep-si) after meeting many travelers in the world,
That is why lots of my Hanoi Free Local Tours members have a scholarship studying abroad because of they have their own stories of what that did to overcome themselves!
The free tour in Vietnam is different!
But, after several years, things changed!
in Hanoi, there was a free tour organization taking the Australian Prime Minister to the Temple of literature of Hanoi
in Hanoi, there was a free tour guide talking the Ministry of Culture Sports and Tourism Malaysia around the old quarter!
I do think that there are no free tour guides in the world can do so!
But in Hanoi we did!
After several years, lots of travelers visiting Vietnam and bring the different view!
They bring money and use money as TIP which has never been in the guides' brain before being the guide!
This is good, so good somehow! but I will show you why you should not TIP and never tip for these free walking tour guides!
Your money can destroy the original aim of being a free student guides
the same as your countries, students in Vietnam also have a apart time job to earn and to learn! they get from 1 to 2 USD/hour.
But when doing the free tours, normally ravelers tiped 10-20 USD/3 hours. (3 times more), and some travelers staying in luxury hotels tiped 50-100 USD/hours!
The money they get does not reflect the guides’ ability, this reflect your Culture and reflect how rich you are! and how much you love the guide.
but the guides gain the very bad habits, they forgot the original aim because of the easy money.
In the Organisation meeting, they do not discuss on how the improve language, what they learn from the tour, they talk to each other about how much they got
The share the experience on how to get the luxury guests on the name of the hotel they stay and reject the hostel ones or even travelers from the no-tip culture (Like Japan)
I did see many people graduated as a bachelor on (Marketing on Finance, on IT) from universities do not spend time learning and working for what they were dreaming of!
They are still be the free tour guides looking for Luxury Travelers with the high tip! (After many times high-tip-get discussion), they do not take a offical job, they do not learn to be a professional guides for a travel company, they do not have skills except for high-tip-get-one. they take the chance of other students looking for chance of improving themselves/
This did happen!
So do not tip, I will be much more happy seeing the our guides getting the 100% scholarship studying abroad, working for a good company at the position that they have the real passion for, even this may take them ton of effort in the beginning.
But, tip is good, again, this reflect the guides' ability, reflect how much you love them!
You should tip as your culture way, but in the different ways.
I do belive that, my recommendation for the alternatives will keep the original aim, keep the free tour guides in Vietnam different from other countries and motivate the student guides
That is enough! Thanks! Please!