Knowing how to greet someone when visiting another country can help you avoid an awkward encounter.
From bowing in Japan to kissing on the cheek three times in the Ukraine, here is how you say hello in 12 countries around the world.
France: Kiss on each cheek
- Flickr/Simon Blackley
The common greeting in France is kissing on the cheek. Typically, it will be two kisses but the number of kisses can vary depending on the region. As a common starting point, offer your right cheek and let the other person lead.
Japan: A bow
In Japan, the preferred way to greet someone you’re meeting is to bow to one another.
Argentina: Kiss on the right cheek
In Argentina, lightly press your cheek against the right cheek of another for a light kiss.
The Philippines: Mano
When greeting elders, take their hand and press their knuckles against your forehead as a sign of respect.
Russia: A firm handshake
- Flickr/Flazingo Photos
In Russia, a firm handshake is the standard way for men to greet one another in public.
Tibet: Sticking your tongue out
This tradition dates back to the 9th century and references the Tibetan king Lang Darma, who was known for his evil ways and had a black tongue. People still greet each other this way today.
This greeting is carried out by placing your hands together in a praying position with your fingers pointed upwards and bowing slightly when you say “Namaste.”
Ukraine: A triple kiss
Don’t pull back after a kiss on each cheek in Ukraine. Here, the custom is to kiss cheeks three times – left, right, left- to say hello.
- Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski
Place your palms together at your chest and bow your head so that your thumbs touch your chin and your fingertips touch your forehead.
- Wikimedia Commons
This one is a greeting typically done with those you’re close with. To perform it, place your nose and upper lip against the cheek or forehead of the other person and take a breath.
Botswana: An elaborate handshake
- YouTube/UBuntu Bridge
To say hello in Botswana, extend your right hand and take the other person’s hand in a typical handshake position. Next, grip the other person’s hand so that your thumbs interlock and raise your right arm up. Finally, return to the handshaking position for one more shake.
When breaking the handshake, you will do the handshake again, click the thumbs together and sometimes bring your arm to your heart as a sign of connection.
New Zealand: Hongi (touching noses)
- Wikimedia Commons
Known as hongi, this traditional Māori greeting in New Zealand is done by pressing your nose and forehead to another person’s at the same time.