"Saludos" in Peru, Gestures of Hello

If you’re traveling to Peru, it’s safe to assume you’re going to meet some Peruvians along the way. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, it is a good idea to be familiar with the basic etiquette of greetings, introductions and farewells.

The little gestures and phrases that are used to say hello and goodbye to someone in Peru are called saludos and are expected in social situations. When meeting new people in Peru, you’ll want to be polite and friendly, though you may not know which saludos are best to use in formal and informal situations. To help you along your journey, we’ve compiled some tips so that you’ll better understand the appropriate ways to greet people in Peru.

In Peru, the people are usually exceptionally polite when speaking to their elders or figures of authority. If ever you are in doubt as to how polite you should be, just remember that it is always better to be overly polite than rude. The following are some formal saludos you can use when greeting someone in Peru:

Buenos días - This greeting means “good day” or “good morning” and can be used until noon.

Buenas tardes - This greeting means “good afternoon” or “good evening” and can be used from midday until nightfall.

Buenas noches - This greeting means “good night” or “good evening” and is typically used during night time, both as a greeting and a way of saying farewell.

If you wish to be extra polite when greeting a figure of authority or someone you don’t know every well, you can tag on the word señor when greeting a man, señora when greeting a woman or señorita when greeting a young woman.

When greeting someone they know very well, it is common for Peruvians to simply use a quick buenas in passing or the standard hola, meaning “hello.” These greetings are friendly and informal and can be used along with other informal phrases such as:

¿Cómo estás? - This standard question means “How are you?”

¿Qué tal? - Similarly, this phrase means “How are you?” or “What’s up?”

¿Cómo va? - This greeting means “How’s it going?”

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