Don’t be afraid to break cultural taboos, and don’t let others dictate your behavior. Here are some tips on how to behave correctly when visiting Tanzania.
1. Dress modestly
Tanzania is a Muslim country, so women must cover their arms and legs with long-sleeved shirts or pants. It’s also recommended that men wear long trousers rather than shorts. If you’re going to the beach, remember to bring a swimsuit that covers your shoulders and knees. You can find these in most department stores.
2. Respect local customs
When arriving at the airport, it’s customary for Tanzanians to give a small gift of money (TSH. 10,000) to the driver who will take you to your hotel. This is not mandatory, but many people do it as a sign of respect. In rural areas, it’s common practice to greet locals by kissing them on both cheeks!
3. Be respectful of elders
It’s always good manners to respect older people, whether family members or strangers. Older people should be given special treatment; avoid talking to or interrupting them.
4. Smile and say “Salaam”
When meeting someone for the first time, it’s polite to offer a greeting called “Salaam Alaikum” – meaning ‘peace to be upon you.’ Say this after shaking hands.
5. Use public transport
If you have no choice, try using public transportation instead of renting a car. The buses are cheap and run frequently. Just make sure you sit near the door where there is air conditioning.
6. Keep your voice low
Talking loudly in restaurants, bars, or even your home is considered impolite in Tanzania.
7. Ask permission before taking photos
If you want to take pictures of people, ask for their permission first. Never start snapping away without asking.
8. Bring gifts
People love receiving presents, especially from foreigners. But it’s not obligatory, so feel free to buy something locally made, like coffee, tea, or honey.
9. Learn some Swahili words
You’ll need to know basic Swahili phrases to communicate with locals. There are lots of different dialects, but here are some useful ones:
* Hello – “Habari”
* Goodbye – “Jambo”
* Please – “Tafadhali”
* Thank you – “Shukrani”
* Yes – “Hakuna”
* No – “Haiso”
* I’m sorry – “Mungu wangu wa kusaidia”
* Excuse me – “Samahani”
10. Avoid saying ‘no’
It might come across as rude, but it’s better to say “I don’t think so” or “I’m sorry, I can’t help you” than to refuse outright.
Greetings in Tanzania are essential
A greeting is an integral part of any conversation. Socially, there’s an emphasis placed on people and their relationship with each other, and it’s considered impolite to start talking right away without first making small talk.
If someone shakes your hand and continues holding it for a while, don’t be alarmed; it’s just a friendly gesture.
Older adults are treasured and welcomed respectfully. Say “shampoo” to any elderly person: “I take care of your feet.” You can also bow slightly and put your right arm behind your back when shaking someone’s outstretched palm. These actions show deep respect for elders. Finally, if you want to greet them properly, you can place your right forearm across your chest and gently touch their shoulder.
We hope this cultural tip guide has helped answer all your questions about how to behave in Tanzania. We hope you can begin this incredible experience as soon as possible. For this reason, we let you know that you need to get your [Tanzania Tourist e-Visa]. Everything you need to know and how to apply quickly can be found here.