Here are 10 different ways to politely say hello in different countries and cultures—some of which don’t involve any touching at all.

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In many Western countries, a handshake is considered a warm, respectful greeting when meeting strangers or kicking off business meetings. But in other places in the world, not so much. Taking the time to lớn learn how locals meet & greet is the first step lớn making a meaningful connection no matter where you are. From bumping noses in Qatar khổng lồ bowing in Laos, here are 10 ways people greet each other in different countries and cultures.

1. Stick out your tongue


Blame this greeting tradition on a really bad king. It all began with monks, who would stick out their tongues to lớn show that they came in peace—and weren’t the reincarnation of a cruel 9th-century king named Lang Darma, who was known for having a đen tongue. Needless to lớn say, the greeting caught on.

2. Bump noses

Qatar, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates

Want lớn demonstrate that you view a potential business contact as a peer? Forget shaking hands; instead, bring your nose in for a few friendly taps. Just remember: Sniffing isn’t part of the equation.

3. Air kiss on the cheek

France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, Ukraine, and Québec, Canada

In Argentina, Chile, Peru, Mexico, São Paulo (Brazil) và Colombia, one air kiss is standard, whereas in Spain, Portugal, Paraguay, Italy, and cities like Paris and Québec, it’s two. In Russia và Ukraine, three is the norm, & in some parts of France, it’s up to lớn four air kisses on alternating cheeks.

To địa chỉ cửa hàng a little more confusion khổng lồ the mix, there are some tricky gender & relationship rules, too. In all of the countries mentioned, women air kiss women, và in most of them, men air kiss women, but only in Argentina do men routinely brush cheeks with other men who aren’t relatives or romantic partners.

4. Rub noses (and sometimes foreheads)

New Zealand

If air kisses sound too intimate for your taste, try on hongi for size. This pressing together of forehead and nose is what New Zealand’s indigenous Māori people điện thoại tư vấn a “sharing of breath.” The greeting signifies the sacred welcoming of a visitor into Māori culture & is used at pōwhiri (Māori welcoming ceremonies)—although the honor requires an invitation and isn’t extended khổng lồ everyone.

5. Shake hands

Botswana, China, Germany, Zambia, Rwanda, và the Middle East

A handshake isn’t as simple as it seems when you take it on the road. In Middle Eastern countries, for example, handshakes involve the right hand only, where the left hand is considered unclean. Visitors to trung quốc will want khổng lồ lighten their grip, while folks introducing themselves khổng lồ Germans should know khổng lồ stop after one firm downward yank.

Not sure what to do if your hand is dirty or wet? There are country-specific procedures in place for that, too. In Morocco, cảm biến the back of your right hand khổng lồ the back of the other person’s right hand khổng lồ complete the gesture. In Rwanda, grasp the other person’s wrist, unless, of course, their hands are muddy too, in which case, just cảm biến wrists to lớn convey “hello.” In Botswana, things are more complicated, even when hands are clean. The local handshake between two people entails multiple steps: Clasp right hands, shake up and down once, interlock thumbs, raise your arms to lớn a right angle, grasp hands again, then release lớn a relaxed “shake” position before letting the other person’s hand go.

6. Clap your hands

Zimbabwe & Mozambique

There’s something kind of nice about applause as part of a hello, isn’t there? In Zimbabwe, the clapping of hands comes after folks shake in a call và answer style—the first person claps once, and the second person twice, in response. Just be careful how you slap those palms together. Men clap with fingers & palms aligned, and women with their hands at an angle. In northern Mozambique, people also clap, but three times before they say “moni” (hello).

7. Put your hand on your heart


It’s very formal, but this traditional Malaysian greeting has a particularly lovely sentiment behind it. Take the opposite person’s hands lightly in yours. Then, release the other person’s hands and bring your own hands lớn your chest và nod slightly to lớn symbolize goodwill và an open heart. It’s polite for the other person to lớn return the gesture. Lưu ý that men should wait for local women khổng lồ extend a hand, & if they don’t, a man should put a hand on his chest and give a slight nod.

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8. Bow

Cambodia, India, Nepal, Laos, Thailand, and Japan

When it comes khổng lồ bowing, the question isn’t just when lớn take a bow, it’s how to vì chưng it. In India, Nepal, Cambodia, Laos, & Thailand, press your palms together in an upward-pointing prayer position at heart màn chơi or higher, then bend your head slightly forward to lớn take a bow. In India và Nepal, you might hear the phrase namaste uttered during this greeting; the Sanskrit term translates to “bend or bow khổng lồ you,” and is considered a sign of respect and gratitude.

In Thailand, taking a bow is referred to as the wai, & the higher you place your hands, the more respect you’re showing. In Japan, on the other hand, a deeper bow indicates a higher cấp độ of respect (90 degrees is the max) & prayer hands aren’t used. Men bow with their hands at their sides, và women with their hands on their thighs. Among the younger generations, a head bow (like a nod, but more pronounced) is becoming the new norm.

9. Sniff faces

Greenland và Tuvalu (Oceania)

There’s nothing quite lượt thích the smell of someone you love . . . Or someone you’ve just met. In Greenland, kunik, the Inuit tradition of placing your nose & upper lip against someone’s cheek or forehead & sniffing, is limited lớn very close relationships. But on the South Pacific island of Tuvalu, pressing cheeks together và taking a deep breath is still part of a traditional Polynesian welcome for visitors.

10. Greeting your elders before younger people

Asia & Africa

Throughout Asia and Africa, honoring your elders is a given. This means greeting seniors & older folks before younger people và always using culture-specific titles & terms of respect upon first meeting. In the Philippines, locals have a particularly unique way of showing their reverence. They take an older person’s hand and press it gently to their foreheads. In India, locals cảm biến older people’s feet as a show of respect. In Liberia, as well as among members of the Yoruba people in Nigeria, young people drop to one or both knees to honor their elders.

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This article originally appeared online in January 2018; it was updated on April 8, 2020, to include current information.

Chris is a Barcelona-based writer, translator & artist with Midwestern roots. She shares her adventures as a Missourian in the world at