Our guide to a warm Brazilian welcome

  • 29 July 2016

As a world-class travel destination, we get visitors from all over the world. From just across the Atlantic Ocean, on the continent of South America, we welcome many Brazilian guests to our shores. As the biggest country on their continent, how do you impress this larger-than-life culture?

With Welcome South Africa, we offer an in-depth look into the hearts and minds of travellers from across the globe with what we call our Tourist Toolkit. Check out Brazil’s “Know Your Tourist” to dive into even more detail. 

Meet and greet

The easiest way to impress your Brazilian guests is by greeting and welcoming them to South Africa in their home language: “Olá, bem vindo à África do Sul”.

You should feel at ease greeting your Brazilian guests with a kiss or hug. Both men and women are expressive, often using a pat on the shoulder or hand on the arm when emphasising a point.

If you find yourself in a formal setting with your guests, such as a meeting introduction for example, men are expected to shake hands on greeting, and often use one hand to shake hands and the other to grasp the other man by the shoulder. Women do things differently – they kiss on both cheeks, starting with the left. If a Brazilian woman wishes to shake hands with a man, allow her to extend her hand first, rather than extending your hand to her. 


When a Brazilian is a guest in your home, they may present flowers or a small gift to the hostess. It is traditional for the hostess to open her gift immediately, so don't put it away to open later as you may cause offence. Should you be in a position when you need to select a gift for a Brazilian visitor, avoid purple or black colours as these are associated with mourning and may be considered offensive. 


It’s customary for Brazilians to arrive half an hour after the appointed time for a dinner invitation, so bear this in mind when planning your menu. If you invite them to a large party or celebration, they are likely to arrive an hour late, as they are accustomed to doing back home. When it comes to a formal business meeting, however, they are always punctual.

Just be your South African self

Beyond their nationality, their culture, and their preferences, they come to South Africa to see South Africa. There’s no need to completely transform yourself into something you’re not. Just be aware of their culture and add those little touches that make a huge difference to any encounter with a foreign guest.