The DON’Ts and DO’s complete guide.
What you need to know now before going to Argentina
Beautiful landscapes with high mountains and the famous La Pampa, a long and massive coastline, big cities like Buenos Aires and a healthy mixture of cultures – these are just a few things that make Argentina a country worth visiting. But, as I personally know, it is always hard to understand and follow the different customs of a foreign country without committing a faux pas. So I decided to give you some helpful tips which will help you to avoid disapproval glances.
• Do not be offended by Argentines open, direct and loud communication style. That’s just the way some can be.
• Don’t be intimidated when Argentines look you directly in the eye in public places. BTW Argentine men tend to stare at women, is a cultural thing.
• Do not eat on the street or on public transportation.
• Do not drink alcohol in public places (you will see people or group of youngsters do this, but they’ll be seen as uneducated), or on public transportation. (Technically drinking in public areas in the City of Buenos Aires is illegal, but police rarely enforce that law.
• Not showing up on time to someone’s house for a party in Argentina is not considered rude. Arriving there 20 to 40 minutes late is usually the norm.
• Argentines often use nicknames that recall physical traits. Don’t be surprised or offended if you have dark features (skin, hair, or eyes, etc.) and people call you ‘negro’ (black). They often use nicknames like ‘gordo/a’ (fat); ‘flaco/a’ (skinny) etc in an endearing manner. Note: they have other serious derogatory words.
• Do not be offended by the Argentine sense of humour. It is just the way some are. For example, sometime could make fun of your appearance, weight, or attire. I know it can be hard, but don’t take it literally, they are just kidding.
• Do not head to a bar until 11:30 pm. The nightlife in Buenos Aires is considered to be among the best in the world and crazy as it sounds the bests nightclubs will open their doors after 1 AM.
• Do not talk about sensitive topics unless you are well prepared. Things like the political relationship with the USA, Brazil or Great Britain, which could cause strong reactions.
• Do not voice your opinion on Argentine politics or religion. Argentines generally don’t take well foreigners opinions on this matters, unless your knowledge of Argentine Social, cultural and economics are excellent.
• No need to tip taxi drivers.
• Never never never compare dulce de leche with caramel, or mate with tea.
• Do not put your feet on the furniture.
• Do expect a ONE kiss on the cheek for greeting since is the typical and normal greeting way in Argentina. Even to a total stranger no matter boy or girl. The meeting starts and ends with a kiss and a “chau”.
• Do ask before taking pictures of people, especially children.
• Do dress nice and be presentable because Argentina is a very fashion-conscious country.
• Do expect a late dinner in Argentina. People will usually have dinner at 9 pm or 10 pm, and even later on weekends.
• Do tip 10% at restaurants.
• Do bring a gift for your dinner/party hosts, such as flowers, candy, pastries, chocolate, or a bottle of Argentine wine. When receiving a gift, open it right away and show how happy you are.
• Do try yerba mate, which is a national drink of Argentina and a cultural ritual as well. The mate is passed clockwise and shared as a sign of friendship.
• Do learn to dance the tango or at least watch others dance it. Dress nicely, no jeans, sneakers, or other too casual attire.
• Do carry enough small change. Only A few stores have change for bills over 20, and taxis never have change for anything over a 10.
• Do go to the post office to mail letters or postcards, not the mailbox. And do not mail things that are important as the Argentine postal service is not very reliable.
• If you are invited to an asado or parrillada (an Argentine BBQ), you can just sit back and relax if you are a man. The women, even guests, will help out in setting up the table, preparing the salads, snacks, and desserts. The men are in charge of the meat, and everything that goes on the grill.
• Do be patient and respect the queue. Many day-to-day chores are done in person in Argentina, as opposed to online, so you’ll see a lot of people doing lines everywhere, at supermarkets, banks, post offices etc.
Now you are prepared to go to this wonderful country and you can impress all the Argentines by showing how much proper etiquette you know, but even if you fail one or twice, don’t be worried, in fact, Argentines are very helpful and relaxed people.