Colombia Travel Tips
The following basic rules of etiquette may be useful for travellers visiting this popular country in South America.
Keep your feet grounded
It is considered rude to place your feet on furniture in Colombia.
The standard greeting in Colombia is to maintain eye contact, smile and give a firm handshake. A kiss on the cheek is generally reserved for family and friends that you may know well.
Colombians are generally warm and social people
Colombians tend to place a high focus on the importance of family and social obligations. They will happily display emotion and get close to people whilst speaking. Touching on the hand or arm during conversation is common when people in Colombia are familiar with each other.
Don’t make stereotypical jokes about drugs
This may be a sensitive subject for many people living in Colombia. Whilst you’re being cautious about making puns about drugs in Colombia – avoid making jokes or comments about local politics and religion as well.
Arrive fashionably late for social engagements
Punctuality is not expected when you are invited to a social event such as a dinner at a home or drinks at a local bar. However, in a working environment it is always best to remain punctual.
Respect your elders
Seniors are considered wise and worthy of great respect in Colombia. If attending a dinner party they should be the first people that you greet. Seniors are the first to be seated and the first to be served.
Dining etiquette is generally formal
Hands should always be seen above the table and never place elbows on the table. Wait until the host toasts before you drink and they will announce “buen provecho” (have a good meal) before people start eating.
Gift giving etiquette
When you're invited to a Colombian home it's a good idea to bring such gifts as; quality chocolates, wine from your home country, a potted plant or even a fruit basket. When giving flowers you should avoid giving marigolds or lilies as they are associated with death and funerals.
English is not widely spoken
Learning some basic Spanish is always a good idea. The locals will definitely appreciate your efforts to try and speak a little bit of Spanish.