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Malaysia’s “Yam Seng” and How 4 Other Countries Say “Cheers!”


'Yam Seng!' And How 4 Other Countries Say 'Cheers!' - World Of Buzz 4

There’s no better way to learn about another culture than to just immerse yourself in it. As the saying goes, when in Rome, drink like the Romans. Wait… That can’t be right… Anyways, one of the most unique traditions of each country is their drinking culture and how they say “cheers” in their own language. So, make sure you learn a little about these five country’s cultures before making that enthusiastic toast! Or you may just suffer a terrible fate.


1.  Yam Seng!

'Yam Seng!' And How 4 Other Countries Say 'Cheers!' - World Of Buzz
Source: Flickr

Country: Malaysia, Singapore

Custom: Yell out and hold the word “yam” for as long as possible (until you run out of breath) before ending it with a short “seng” harmoniously with everyone. Like this: yaaaammmm, seng


  • Yam Seng,” or “cheers” in Chinese, is a Cantonese term that means “drink to victory”
  • It’s usually done at weddings to celebrate the marriage of two lovebirds coming together in matrimony
  • Typically done towards the end of the reception, friends and family will cram around each table in turns to drink a toast with their guests
  • This is also typically done during work functions, Chinese New Year, and any other occasions that are a celebration!


2. Proost

The Origin Of 'Yam Seng!' And How 4 Other Countries Say 'Cheers!' - World Of Buzz 2
Source: Mirror

Country: Netherlands, Belgium

Custom: You must look at your drinking companion in the eye.

PS: This is also practised in Germany, France and Italy, so make sure you keep that eye contact, even though you’re not trying to flirt! Embrace the eye contact and give your glass a good old bump!


  • Originated from the Latin word prosit which means “may it be good”
  • You can also say “gezondheid” when toasting which means “to your health”
  • Proost is said in any occasion including small gatherings with family and/or friends


3. Geonbae

The Origin Of 'Yam Seng!' And How 4 Other Countries Say 'Cheers!' - World Of Buzz
Source: CNN

Country: South Korea


  • In Korean culture, there’s a social hierarchy related to age
  • The younger person should always serve the older person and it is compulsory for the younger person to Geonbae back should the older person initiate the cheers first
  • If you’re younger, you’ll have to turn to the side to drink to avoid drinking ” in front” of the elders to show respect (This applies even if you’re one year younger ok!)
  • It’s considered rude to pour your own drink, so watch diligently to be sure your companions’ glass is never empty!


  • The word Geonbae literally translates to the phrase ‘empty glass’, which is similar to the English phrase ‘bottoms up!’
  • The saying implies that you should ‘down’ your drink. However, it’s not actually necessary (unless you very keng lah)
  • Geonbae is said at any occasion, from big scale events like weddings and company dinners to small occasions like a meeting with friends and even on dates

Other phrases:

  • Jjan!“= based on the sound effect of glasses hitting each other. Use it when with friends or people of the same age. Don’t use it with elders though, as it will be considered rude!


4. Chone gaow

The Origin Of 'Yam Seng!' And How 4 Other Countries Say 'Cheers!' - World Of Buzz 4

Country: Thailand


  • Raise your glass and utter ‘chone gaow’ while smiling as you clink glasses with the other person
  • It is important to be wary of someone’s age and status when clinking glasses with them. If they are a senior or of a higher status than you, clink your glasses lower than theirs


  • If you’re a guest of honour, you’ll be seated at the middle of the table instead of the head to make it easier for you to give a toast (which you will definitely be expected to at some point!)
  • If someone wants to propose a toast, they simply raise their glass and shout out ’chone!’ as a sign for everyone to raise their glass
  • Pro-tip: it’s always a good gesture to pour someone else a drink, so top up the glasses of the people around you. It is customary in Thai culture that a glass should never be empty, even by half so don’t down your glass unless you want a full refill!

Other phrases:

  1. Mote gaow = empty glass/bottoms up
  2. Chok dee = good luck
  3. Chai yo = winning, success


5.  ‘Salud!’

The Origin Of 'Yam Seng!' And How 4 Other Countries Say 'Cheers!' - World Of Buzz 1
Source: WSJ

Country: Spain, Mexico,


  • Say ‘Salud‘ when you clink your glasses or bottles together


  • The word literally means ‘health’
  • It’s theorised that it originated from the old times, when Greeks and Romans ran the world and the most effective way to get rid of the enemy was to poison them
  • Hence, saying ‘Salud‘ is a way of indicating that they are confident that nobody has poisoned their drinks as when they clink the glasses together, the few drops of wine that may spill into each other’s glass is a sign that if one gets poisoned, the other will as well
  • Saying Salud is also claiming health at least until the next big celebration

Other phrases:

  1. Por el futuro = to the future
  2. Por los buenos momento = to the good times


Interesting kan? And these are just five ways of saying ‘cheers’ and also their customs! Who knew there were so many rules or crazy superstitions for a mere toast?! 

While there may be many different ways to cheer, Heineken is bringing all these countries together as it celebrates its same great taste that’s present across a whopping 192 countries!

Malaysia's &Quot;Yam Seng&Quot; And How 4 Other Countries Say &Quot;Cheers!&Quot; - World Of Buzz
Source: Heineken Malaysia

From the humble beginnings of a small family brewery, Gerard Heineken’s dedication to quality got him the brand that everyone knows and love today – from Amsterdam all the way to Kuala Lumpur!

Heineken even launched 4 limited edition bottles and cans this August for Malaysians to collect!

These four designs are very meaningful as they are inspired by Heineken’s key moments of progress across 192 countries to becoming the world’s No. 1 international premium beer. Not the easiest feat that’s for sure!

'Yam Seng!' And How 4 Other Countries Say 'Cheers!' - World Of Buzz 3
Source: Heineken

Also, if you enjoyed this informational piece (I know we did!), you can learn more about other countries’ way of toasting by checking out the Heineken Star Lounge – in VR form too!

Here are the deets:

Location: Todd’s & Beer Factory, Melaka
Date: 17 – 18 August 2018
Time: 8pm – 1am

'Yam Seng!' And How 4 Other Countries Say 'Cheers!' - World Of Buzz 2

'Yam Seng!' And How 4 Other Countries Say 'Cheers!' - World Of Buzz 1
Source: Heineken

For more info about Heineken and their great beer, click here!

Now go share this with all your drinking buddies!

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