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10 Phrases To Know Before Traveling To Ghana

Learning a foreign language can be difficult.

And for people traveling to Ghana for only a short amount of time trying to become fluent in Twi, one of the country’s native languages, may be a bit farfetched.

However, learning some important phrases before you go can help prepare you for a more comfortable experience.

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Eti sen? How are you?

In Ghana, the people are extremely friendly, and everyone, even complete strangers, is going to ask you this.

Greetings are very important in Ghana, and if you don’t want to be seen as impolite then be sure to learn this phrase and use it as much as possible.

Eh ya. I’m fine.

When someone asks you how you’re doing this should always be your response, even if you’re having a terrible day.

If Ghana, people don’t share these troubles in response to someone greeting them, so no matter how you are really feeling, just say you’re fine.

drinks
Making new friends in Ghana

Ye fro wo sen. What is your name?

When you meet new people, make sure to ask them their names, even just to be polite.

It is more than likely that you will also be asked what your name is, so knowing this expression ahead of time can be helpful.

Maa chi/Maa ha/Maa jo. Good morning/Good afternoon/Good evening.

Politeness goes a long way, and when locals see that you’re making an effort to learn their language and greet them, they’ll respect you more and not look at you as a lost and confused foreigner.

It’ll also help you immerse yourself in the culture that much more.

Psst! Don’t forget to pin this post for later!

Immerse yourself in Ghanian culture on your trip to Africa. Visit Accra, Ghana national parks and important attractions, while interacting with locals by learning the Twi language. In this language learning post, I share the 10 most important phrases to remember! #WorldTravel #GhanaTravel #Travel #CultureTravel #Nomad

Oburoni. Foreigner.

This is an expression you will hear a lot. And, when I say a lot, I mean at least 20-100 times a day.

While it may sound offensive, as in many Western cultures shouting “foreigner!” at someone is taken rudely, in Ghana they mean it in a friendly manner as a way to say hello and try to get to know you.

Even if you don’t want to respond to the shouts of the locals, it is nice to know what exactly it is they are yelling at you.

Wo bay jay sen? What is the fare?

As a visitor to the country, you most likely aren’t going to have a car (and once you see the crazy drivers, traffic congestion, and pothole-filled roads in Ghana, you won’t want one).

Therefore, taxis and tro-tros — kind of like a packed out mini-vans — are going to be your transportation options.

If you are traveling locally by tro-tro, you almost bet that the fare will be under 1 Ghana Cedi.

However, if you are taking a taxi it can be helpful to know how to ask how much the fare will be.

tilapia
My tilapia dinner in Ghana

Te so. Reduce it.

On that some token, as an “oburoni” you undoubtedly will be charged the foreigner price, sometimes as much as four times what the locals pay.

Don’t feel bad about bartering the price down.

And, once the taxi drivers hear you speaking the local language, they will be more likely to give you a fair price.

Wa ye sen? This is how much?

Just like with taxi fare, be prepared for hawkers and market salespeople to charge you a higher price than the locals.

When shopping in the markets or buying food and items on the street, politely ask how much something is.

Then, go back to the prior phrase of “Te so”, and ask them to reduce it.

Koo se. Sorry.

As a foreigner, it is inevitable that you will make mistakes along the way.

If you find you have made a cultural faux pas, just be polite an apologize.

Me daa si. Thank you.

The people of Ghana are very friendly and will often help you figure your way around the area and local customs.

Whether someone points you in the direction of the nearest public bathroom, serves you a delicious meal, shows you the local beaches, or takes you on a guided tour of one of the historical castles, show gratitude and thank them.

learn a language online
Taking an online language course before a trip is a smart idea. Click here for a free lesson!

Taking An Online Twi Language Class

One of my favorite online language schools is Live Lingua, where you can learn everything from Russian to German to Arabic and beyond via Skype. 

They even offer a free Twi class, which you can take here

While you’re on their website, make sure to check out their other language offerings, too. 

Click here to view the full list of language lessons

Where To Stay In Ghana

Click here to browse hotels in Ghana!

Prefer self-contained stays? 

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays:

Ghana Travel Insurance

While you hope everything runs smoothly, sometimes travel just doesn’t go according to plan.

This is why I recommend always purchasing travel insurance. The scary truth is it only takes one bad accident to lose everything — or be thankful you were covered.

Personally, I use SafetyWing, as they’ve got a large network, offer both short-term and long-term coverage (including limited coverage in your home country), are budget-friendly, and offer $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

Click here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

ultimate travel planning kit

Do you have any more phrases to know before traveling to Ghana?


Enjoyed this post? Pin it for later!

Looking for Ghana travel tips? Whether you're visiting Accra or heading to the Ghana National Parks, you should spend time learning the Twi language, even if it's just a few key phrases. Language learning is a great way to immerse yourself in local Ghanian culture! #Ghana #Africa #AfricaTravel #Language #Culture
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3 Comments

  1. Kathi on at 11:15 am

    This is so exciting to read! We’re planning to go to Ghana next year (waaaaaaay too far away), but this makes me really looking forward to visiting and meeting all the people of Ghana!! I shall learn all of these expressions!

  2. leanne on at 5:23 pm

    Ah, this post brings back memories! I’m a doctor and I worked in Ghana in a hospital for 3 months. At one point we had to translate from a local tribal language to Twi to English requiring multiple translators! Another time one of the senior doctors shouted across the room at me ‘you, obruni, what would you do?’ I think that was the only time I found the word obruni offensive the whole time I was there! But in general, the Ghanaians are some of the friendliest people I’ve met whilst travelling!

  3. Hannah on at 11:52 pm

    Learning a few phrases is so helpful when traveling to a new country. We always find the locals really appreciate us trying and it usually is comical lol.

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