Armenia, a land of ancient wonders and modern marvels, welcomes tourists with open arms. To ensure a seamless and respectful journey, it’s essential to be aware of the cultural nuances.
Here’s a guide to the top 10 things you absolutely shouldn’t do as a tourist in Armenia.
1. Don’t Disregard Customs and Traditions
Armenia is a country rich in customs and traditions. Don’t be the oblivious traveler; take the time to learn about local customs and be respectful. For instance, when entering someone’s home, it’s customary to bring a small gift as a token of appreciation.
2. Don’t Disrespect Monasteries and Churches
Armenia is home to ancient monasteries and churches, some dating back to the 4th century. While they are breathtakingly beautiful, remember that they are also places of worship. Dress modestly, speak in hushed tones, and never disrupt religious ceremonies for the sake of a selfie.
3. Don’t Bargain Aggressively in Markets
Haggling is an accepted practice in Armenian markets, but there’s a fine line between a friendly negotiation and aggressive bargaining. Be respectful and remember that the goal is fair exchange, not driving a hard bargain at the expense of local vendors.
4. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Greetings
Armenians value personal connections, and greetings are a crucial part of that. Don’t be the traveler with headphones on and eyes glued to a map. Take the time to greet locals with a friendly “Barev dzez” (Hello) and engage in simple conversations—it goes a long way.
5. Don’t Forget to Remove Your Shoes Indoors
Entering someone’s home in Armenia? Be prepared to remove your shoes at the door. It’s a sign of respect and cleanliness. Embrace the custom, and you’ll find yourself feeling more at home in the homes of locals.
6. Don’t Litter or Disrespect the Environment
Armenia’s stunning landscapes deserve respect. Whether you’re exploring the countryside or strolling through the city, don’t litter. Be a responsible traveler and help preserve the natural beauty that makes Armenia so special.
7. Don’t Overlook Local Cuisine
Armenian cuisine is a delightful journey for the taste buds. Don’t limit yourself to familiar dishes; venture into the world of dolma, lavash, and khorovats. Avoid sticking to international fast food chains; instead, indulge in the local flavors offered by traditional Armenian eateries.
8. Don’t Be Dismissive of Armenian History
Armenia’s history is both rich and complex. Don’t dismiss it. Take the time to visit museums, memorials, and historical sites to gain a deeper understanding of the country’s past. Engage in conversations with locals to hear their perspectives.
9. Don’t Ignore Transportation Etiquette
Whether you’re taking a marshrutka, taxi, or using public transportation, be mindful of local etiquette. Give up your seat for the elderly, be patient in queues, and, most importantly, don’t treat local drivers like your personal race car drivers.
10. Don’t Be Camera-Clueless
While capturing memories is essential, don’t be the tourist blocking pathways with your selfie stick or shoving a camera in someone’s face. Be aware of your surroundings and respectful of the privacy of others. Remember, your experience is just one piece of the bigger cultural puzzle.
Armenia is a treasure trove waiting to be explored, but doing so with respect and cultural awareness will make your journey even more enriching. By avoiding these tourist pitfalls, you’ll not only create lasting memories but also leave a positive impression on the wonderful people of Armenia. Safe travels!