In Vanuatu you will find all of the locals to be very friendly and will always say hello to you when you pass them in the street.
It is thought to be impolite to bargain with them when making purchases and tipping is also frowned upon. A simple thank you is enough.
Most people in Vanuatu speak Bislama which is a form of patois, but whether you say hallo or bonjour, most people will be alot friendlier if you greet them, or wave to them in passing cars, always returning the greeting and often helping you out later - crazy in europe or australia - but in the islands the standard, and makes the whole place that much better.
This is pretty well known, no tipping or haggling, but i thought I'd put it in regardless.
Relationships between men and women are very different there. I've been told that in the villages men and women are separated. In the town, they do talk. in the hotels, i didnt notice anything.
Just a general warning, if you are a women, dont go out at night by yourself. its not unsafe, but my own personal experience lead me to feel that the people of the town see you in a different light if you do. the people in the hotels are exposed to aust culture and wont think anything of it, but this is not true of everyone. Not trying to put a somber mood, its just something i noticed. i cant stress enough that nothing will happen, but it isnt advised, you wont feel comfortable.
Kava drinking in Vanuatu commences each evening at sundown to the sounds of soft conversation, where people discus the days activities and contemplate the future in a calm and peaceful environment.This happens in many villages every evening, in the city of Port Vila and town of Luganville. Commercial kava bars abound (nakamals) Each person will have their favourite nakamal, which will feature kava from the owners area, and takeaways are no problem. Everybody is friendly and you can choose to be part of the conversation, or be alone to gather your own thoughts, but kava is always drank with company. Kava is of course an essential ceremonial ingredient, and no visiting dignitary or custom celebration would be complete without a kava ceremony.
Kava is well known for its muscle relaxant properties without any effect on the Central Nervous System, therefore making it ideal for use for muscle aches and pains, for general relaxation, and for anti-anxiety without the worry of addiction. Kava also has sedative properties, but with no negative safety-related performance. Ni-Vanuatu pride themselves of having the best quality Kava throughout Melanesia.
It began centuries, perhaps millennia ago, when a beaten woman ran away from her husband, Tamale. He found her hiding in a tall tree and called to her that if she came down he might beat her - but only a little. However if he had to get her she would be sorry. She refused. He climbed the tree and as he made his final grab, she leaped. In anguish at her death (or anger that he had missed her) Tamale jumped after her, not realising his wife had tied liana vines around her ankles and survived the fall.Tamale perished.
Vanu tu is recognised as one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. There are small communities of French, British, Australian, new Zealand, Vietnamese, Chinese and other Pacific Island people living in harmony with the Ni-Vanuatu. Until 1980 Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides, was jointly administered by France and Britain as a 'Condominium'. Most of Vanuatu's islands are lightly populated lush preserves of forest. Some have active volcanoes. All are surrounded by sea that is still clean. Of those inhabited, some such as Malekula and Ambrym are home to some of the South Pacific's last truly primitive people in places not easily accessible.
Please dont bargain when shopping. The people are extremely shy and very polite and it is considered polite to pay the asking price. If you think something is worth a bit less, you could ask for a couple of dollars off but dont take advantage of their good nature.
Most of the Ni-Vanuatu (native) people can speak English or French (or both) as well as Bislama and their own tribes' language. We didn't have trouble communicating with anyone.
Please don't wear clothes that are too 'brief' in public places, it is considered to be disrespectful. Especially women's thighs should be covered. At resorts bikini's etc are allowed though.
More Regions in Vanuatu