Vanuatu Local Customs

  • Local Customs
    by globetrott
  • Local Customs
    by globetrott
  • Local Customs
    by globetrott

Vanuatu Local Customs

  • Island time

    This is something somehow true throughout the whole Pacific Islands: you might have heard this expression before."I will pick you up tomorrow morning at 7 oclock at your hotel" is not to be taken as something certain: your driver could be there one hour earlier, or later, or might not come at all.On the other hand "Check-in at 2:20 pm" could mean...

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  • Proper dressing etiquette

    Ni-Vanuatu - as the majority of pacific people -respect a dress code, especially for what concerns women dressing.When in Port Vila or Santo, or if staying in some resort, ladies don't have to bother about wearing a bikini on the beach.In outer islands, or when living in more strict contact with locals (for instance, walking through villages, going...

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  • Customs of Vanuatu and travel tips.

    The Ni Vanuatu people are a very conservative people and therefor one must be mindful of this went travelling to thier country. Brief clothing of any kind is to be avoided outside the confines of your motel presinct. Loose cotton clothing is a definate must in the warmer summer months. The land is custom owned and only leased to investors on a 75yr...

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  • The Dressing for Modesty Thing

    Much has been made of the whole "women must cover up" thing. It's true, the local girls in Port Vila don't wear anything showy, will generally wear a t-shirt and maybe a skirt that falls below the knee. Some dress a bit skimpier but it's generally quite normal by western standards.I don't think they generally hold tourists to the same standards,...

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  • Ask Open-Ended Questions

    The people of Vanuatu are very friendly, and the last thing they want to do is offend or upset you. However, sometimes this can hinder communication a bit. If you need help finding something or getting information, ask an open-ended question. For example, let's say that I wanted to find the Nambawan Markets, but I wasn't sure if I was going the...

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  • Tankyu Tumas! Be friendly to all :)

    Ni-Vanuatu people are very polite. They are forever thanking each other and greeting each other, even when they drive down the road the wave at each other and beep to say hello! i realised how rude Australians are and how we never really say thanks and please unless we feel we have to, so make an effort to be polite to them because they really are...

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  • Bislama - the local English-based creole

    There are 113 distinct languages and many more dialects are found throughout Vanuatu - many of the Ni-Vanuatu speak more than one of these local languages becasue of inter- and intra-island trading. When Europeans arrived, a lingua franca evolved. It's name, Bislama, derived from the Bech-der-mer (sea cucumber) traders who developed a form of...

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  • Be on the lookout for carvings in...

    Carvings are everywhere, so keep looking for them. Carvings are made out of hardwoods, tree ferns, and sometimes stones. Wood is used for more utilitarian types of things like bowls, platters, and decorative items like turtles and birds. More interesting, though, are the humanoid figures carved from tree ferns, a ver soft substance. (You can also...

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  • You will notice cats are everywhere!

    Even in the best resorts there seems to be a million cats everywhere. I was told that they believe cats to be spirits of those lost. Apparently they catch them and put flea collars on them, and feed them etc. So yes, they are very well taken care of, and highly respected...

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  • Husbands - behave yourself or else!

    We had a very interesting conversation with our driver, Brian. We were asking him about local laws and customs and he revealed to us a startling fact. Apparently it has been known for the women to murder their husbands! If they drink and fight too much and don't bring home the money it's ' off with their head!'. Well not sure exactly how they do...

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  • No haggling

    When purchasing something please don't haggle with these people. It simply is'nt in their makeup to do this. They are very quiet, friendly and honest people and would be embarrassed if you started bargaining. Most prices are reasonable anyway.

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  • Local Fruit and Vegetables

    You can buy lots of different local fruits and vegetables fresh at the markets each day (except Sundays). They have things I had never seen or heard of before but it all looked so fresh and fantastic!Some of the things I recognised include sweet potato, lettuce, coconuts, cabbage, banana etc. :)

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  • The Locals

    Although Vanuatu is considered a very diverse country (made up of French, Vietnamese, Chinese, and other Pacific Islanders), the indigenous ethnic group are the Melanesians.The three official languages spoken are English, French, and Baslama (a form of pidgin English). There are an additional 100+ local languages spoken throughout the islands!The...

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  • Local Goods

    You can actually take a lot of things back home (at least to Australia) from Vanuatu. We had no trouble taking home kava, wood carvings (as long as they don't have holes in them), coconut shells (well cleaned), lava carvings, woven baskets etc. We weren't sure if we would have problems or not but luckily everything was okay. Just be careful not to...

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  • Money

    The local currency of Vanuatu is the Vatu. There are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 vatu coins and notes come in 200, 500, 1000, 5000 (and maybe 10000) denominations.When we visited Vanuatu the exchange rate was around A$1.20 = 100 vatu.

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  • Languages

    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.

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  • Cover up...

    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.

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  • Say hello.....

    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.

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  • Bonjour!

    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...

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  • Dont tip

    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...

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  • Kava drinking in Vanuatu

    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...

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  • It began centuries, perhaps...

    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...

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  • Please dont bargain when...

    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.

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Vanuatu Local Customs

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