What not to do guide to visiting - South America

So you've decided to visit the beautiful continent of South America. Maybe you already have your flight booked, your bags packed, but do you know how to act while you are there visiting?



Aside from finding some of the Seven Wonders of the World, you will find a rich diverse culture of Latinos that vary in language and cuisine. 

wonders of the world in south america


Learn a few phrases in Portuguese and Spanish.

I don't like to generalize entire groups of people, however it is important to know there are several customs that set us apart from one another and vary from country to country. That is the beauty of diversity, but it also means you must be aware of them in order to avoid being offensive or rude. 

Cultural Etiquette Tips to Follow When Traveling to South America


Pouring wine

Pouring wine

In both Argentina and Bolivia, it's considered polite to pour wine from the bottle with your right hand, and by holding the wine bottle in the middle or near the top. Pouring it with your left hand or holding it from the bottom can mean disrespect for your dining guest.

A traditional tea called Mate is served in Argentina out of a gourd and passed around to each person who is present at a gathering. It is considered a sign of social acceptance. In Paraguay, this tea is called Terere and is served cold.

At the dining table, be sure not to keep switching your utensils around in your hands. Keep the knife in your right hand and the fork in your left. Don't start to eat too soon. Typically the host will sit last and say "Buen Provecho!" to let everyone know it's time to dig in.

When passing food around the table, the proper way is to pass dishes to the left. Lastly, be sure to always keep your hands visible above the table. 

Fabulous Llama in Peru

Fabulous Llama in Peru

Being Late

In general, expect everyone to be late. Punctuality is more relaxed in this part of the world. If you're invited to a dinner, it's not uncommon for people to arrive 15-30 minutes late. This is also true of the hospitality. It may take some patience, but the service industry may not be as quick as we would expect. 




Social Customs

If you're invited to someone's home, it's a good idea to bring a small gift for the host or hostess. Some ideas include bringing wine, chocolate, or a small bouquet of flowers. Do avoid lilies or marigolds, as many countries see these as associated with funerals.

Be prepared to be asked many personal questions about your career, family, financial status, relationship status, marriage, etc. Don't be offended, it is part of showing interest. 



It is best to avoid the following types of gestures:

  1. The sign for "OK" using your forefinger and thumb is offensive in Brazil

  2. Putting your hands on your hips gestures a signal as a challenge in Argentina

  3. Putting your feet on the table is rude

  4. Raising your fist near your head level is a gesture associated with Communism in Chile

  5. Putting your hands in your pockets is rude in Mexico

  6. It is often considered rude to point at a person or even an object with the index finger. People usually motion with the whole hand or with a movement of the head and a puckering of the lips towards the object or person

keep these customs in mind when visiting the lovely south american countries and you'll be sure to enjoy your trip.

Are there any other customs that i missed?