Local Customs

Local Customs


The Capital of Kenya derives its name Nairobi from Enkare Nyrobi, a Masai phrase which translates to cold water, yet its more popularly known as the Green City in the Sun. Fast making a name for itself as the gateway to East Africa, with a daily influx of thousands of travellers, it is also home to many multinational conglomerates and business institutions. A generous mix of modern shopping malls and lush green suburbs, golf courses and even a race track, this is a perfect place to mix business and pleasure and there are numerous top attractions within easy reach.


Tempered by its high elevation, the climate tends to be less hot in Nairobi than the rest of Kenya. As the city is near the equator there is little variation between the seasons and generally people talk about wet or dry seasons as opposed to summer, winter, spring or autumn. Although rain does fall during late summer and into autumn, it is seldom very heavy and does not detract, making this an attractive year round destination.


The currency is the Kenyan Shilling, where KES is made up of 100 cents.


More than 40 ethnic languages are spoken in Kenya. Although the national language is Swahili, most Kenyans also understand and speak very good English.

General Etiquette 

The dress code in Kenya is reasonably conservative and Kenyans love dressing up for a special occasion and in the evenings. Bring light to moderate casual wear, jeans, cotton shirts, blouses and dresses for the ladies. Kenyans are humble, friendly and social people. Hand - shaking is a cultural gesture and you are always encouraged to strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Remember to say please and thank you as well as offer up a warm smile, all will go a long way with this gracious nation. Jambo or hujambo is a generic hello and may come in useful.

Business Etiquette

Before you begin work in Kenya, you should know a bit about local etiquette. Address all people with their full name or title at first and no matter what you have heard about 'Kenyan time', try to be punctual for appointments and business meetings. In the urban business world, particularly in the private sector, being punctual is more and more appreciated. If there for business dress accordingly.

Kenyan Food

Traditional Kenyan foods reflect the lifestyles of the various groups in the country. Although Nairobi is very internationally influenced and offers a rich diversity of dishes from Indian, Italian, Asian Fusion and European influences. Whatever you are looking for, you are bound to find it.


Most major hotels and restaurants include a service charge on their bill. Although tipping is not mandatory, you may tip porters and taxi drivers at your discretion. Ten percent is customary in restaurants, clubs and bars where service charge is not included.

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