Embarrassing Things You Should Never Do in Other Countries
December 28, 2017
Traveling is a lot of fun until you do something that will land you in hot waters. Every country, and every city for that matter, has its own customs. While tourists will rarely knowingly disrespect locals’ culture they may end up doing so anyway.
Don’t honk in New Zealand
Pretty much the only time it’s OK to hank in New Zealand is to wave other drivers a thank you as you pass by. And this honk is usually quick honk-honk. All other kinds are considered too noisy and rude, and people don’t honk.
Don’t leave tips in Japan
It can be considered rude and degrading. Don’t even leave change; the waiter will probably chase you to give it back.
Don’t talk about money in U.K.
British people won’t relevel their salaries to others and they hate talking about it, so don’t even bring it up. A 2015 study found that locals are much more likely to talk to you about their intimate lives than about money.
Don’t touch people on the head in Malaysia
The head is considered to be the most sacred part of the body – the home for the soul - so leave it alone.
Don’t talk about religion in Norway
People don’t talk about God, faith or the Church. Everyone minds their own business when it comes to personal issues and they like to keep it that way. They don’t criticize or judge.
Don’t give even number of flowers in Ukraine
An even number of flowers is given only at funerals. Odd number is for festivities.
Don’t show the OK in Turkey
The OK sign in Italy is very rude; it’s an insult. A circle made with the index finger and thumb with the three remaining fingers up implies you are accusing someone of being gay.
Don’t say Happy Birthday before the day in Germany
People are superstitious and think that something bad – like dying – will happen to them before their birthday if you congratulate them. Many people in Eastern Europe believe that to be true as well.
Don’t wear outdoor shoes in Russia
Just like in Japan and other Asian countries, guests in Russia are expected to take their shoes off when entering a home. People just don’t appreciate others bringing the streets’’ dirt in the house. Dirty shoes are especially offensive to people who have religious altars inside.
Don’t call people by first name in Kenya
People are addressed by their academic or professional title followed by their last name. You may be able to call someone by their first only after a close personal relationship has been established.
Don’t order cappuccino after 10 a.m. in Italy
Cappuccino is for breakfast. Ordering a cup after that screams that you’re a tourist.
Don’t clink glasses during toasts in Hungary
The story goes that when Hungary’s 1848 revolution against the Habsburgs was defeated, the Austrians celebrated in Vienna by toasting and clinking their beer glasses. Hungarians vowed not to cheers with beer for 150 years, according to We Love Budapest. They still don’t.
Don’t raise your arm as hello in Greece
You may think this is “hello,” but locals in Greece interpret this gesture quite differently. It is an insulting gesture, called a mountza.
Don’t accept anything with your left hand in Indonesia
The left hand is thought to be the unclean one because it is assumed people use the left hand to clean up after going to the bathroom. This is true for most countries in the Middle East and countries with big Hindu populations.
Don’t talk against Lord of the Rings in New Zealand
Unless you have great things to say about the fantasy saga, don’t mention it. It was filmed there and locals adore it.
Don’t kiss in public in India
Kissing and hugging in public is not accepted in many conservative parts of the country. Play it safe, if you’re not sure, and avoid it. In some parts kissing in public can even get you arrested for public obscenity. Whether it’s legal or not seem to be a hot topic.
Don’t walk in the bicycle lane in the Netherlands
Don’t walk where you’re not supposed to. People bike a lot. The bicycle is the main means of transportation for many. Don’t get in their way.
Don’t turn down food in Italy
Who would say no to any kind of food in Italy? Just in case you’re thinking of refusing it, think twice, especially if it was made by your host. It’d be rude of you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just eaten; just take the food.
Don’t look for Starbucks in Italy
Italians are very proud of their food and coffee, so don’t be the one asking for the most commercialized brand of coffee ever. You may not find it anyway. Starbucks' first store in the espresso motherland will open next year in Milan.
Don’t give clocks or umbrellas as gifts in China
Superstition is the problem here again. The word umbrella sounds a lot like “separation,” and “clock” sounds like “paying last respects.” You can see why these items are avoided, right?
Don’t talk with your hands in your pockets in Germany
This is just rude. Are you trying to tell people that you’re bored even talking to them? Don’t do it.
Don’t eat everything on your plate in China
While this may be considered a compliment to the chef in many countries, in China people take it to mean that the host did not provide enough food for the guests.