top of page

Bow, shake or both? Demystifying the Greeting Culture in Asian Countries: Peerless Etiquette

In many Asian countries, the appropriate greeting depends on the specific culture and the context of the interaction. Here's a general guideline, but always remember that customs can vary widely even within a country, so it's essential to be observant and adaptable:

1. Japan: Bowing

Type of Bow:

A slight bow (Eshaku) is common for greetings and expressions of gratitude.

A deeper bow (Saikeirei) is used for formal occasions, meetings, or to show deep respect.


A quick, slight bow is sufficient for casual situations.

In more formal settings, a longer and more profound bow is appropriate.


A return bow is expected as a sign of acknowledgment and respect.


2. China: Handshake

Type of Handshake:

A firm, brief handshake is widely accepted and common in business settings.


Keep the handshake relatively short and maintain eye contact.


A smile and a nod during the handshake indicate friendliness and respect.


3. South Korea: Bowing

Type of Bow:

A slight bow (Eshaku) is appropriate for casual greetings.

A deeper bow (Saikeirei) is used in more formal or respectful situations.


A quick bow is suitable for most interactions.

Longer bows are reserved for more formal occasions.


Return the bow with a smile and a polite greeting.


4. India: Namaste or Namaskar

Type of Greeting:

Namaste involves placing palms together in a prayer-like position and bowing slightly.


Commonly used in India, especially in Hindu culture, as a respectful greeting or farewell.


Return the gesture with a smile and a reciprocated 'Namaste.'


5. Thailand: Wai

Type of Greeting:

The wai involves pressing palms together in a prayer-like gesture and bowing slightly.


Used to greet, show respect, or say thank you.


Return the wai with a smile and a nod, adjusting the height of the hands based on the other person's status.


Always approach greetings with a genuine and respectful attitude, and if you're unsure, it's perfectly acceptable to ask or follow the lead of the locals. Adapting to local customs demonstrates cultural awareness and respect for the people you're interacting with.


bottom of page