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China / First Meeting / Greetings

How to Say Hello in China?

Bow to say hello and goodbye say “ni hao” (你好). To be super polite ask if they have already eaten. If they haven’t then invite them for a meal to make a great impression. Shake hands and bow is both accepted. Bowing in general is a sigh of respect. Many older Chinese lower their eyes during the greeting. This is to show they respect you.

Have you eaten?

After a greeting it’s always polite to ask: Have you eaten? is the direct translation from Chi le ma (吃了吗?), but indeed it is a greeting phrase when people meet each other, representing an intimate relations between them. It’s important to understand this is NOT an invitation for meal.

No Flowers

When meeting a Chinese host avoid to give flowers. Flowers (especially Chrysanthemum) are almost always connected to funerals. So if you like a Chinese woman think twice before you give her some flowers. Flowers are common in a lot of countries but not in China.

chinese tea
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Active traveller with a love for Asian food and Japanese anime.