Learn a little about the culture of other people before you go for travelling abroad. What may seem normal or natural in one country may be prohibited or illegal in another.
1. Drinking and Islam
Alcohol is prohibited in Muslim countries and if Muslims drink they don’t do it in public so don’t embarrass them with a gift of a bottle of any kind of alcohol. Pigs and dogs are considered to be unclean animals in Islamic states, so your faux pas can be even bigger when you give a Muslim drinks in a handmade pigskin bottle holder.
- Public Affection
Public displays of affection such as kisses aren’t permitted in cities like Dubai. And sex without marriage is illegal in the entire of the UAE. One couple who had sex on a Dubai beach got 6 years of imprisonment.
- Thumbs OK or Up
In Europe and USA a thumb up sign means actually, that everything is okay or right. Showing a thumb up is a plain way to demonstrate you are having fun, good time or that everything goes right. But in Iran a thumb up is known as bilakh and stands for an unquestioned insult. Literally, it means ‘sit on it.’ The okay sign – when a thumb forms a circle with a forefinger – is a gesture that means everything is well used in European countries and the US. But in Brazil or Turkey this gesture tells the person that you compare him or her with a part of the human body best not mentioned.
- Pat Somebody’s Head
In Europe, patting children on their heads seems like a friendly gesture, yet demeaning if done to an adult person. In Buddhist countries, where the head is considered to be sacred as the seat of soul, touching insults even a small child.
- Pointing the Finger
Pointing the finger can be used to indicate the direction or object by people in America or Europe. Nevertheless, in Malaysia people point with the whole fist and the thumb at the top showing direction. On the other hand, Filipinos point to an object by shifting their look towards it or pursing their lips and pointing to it with the mouth.
- Taboo Subjects
Don’t talk about Tibet in China and when speaking with the Irish don’t call their Isle part of the British Islands.
- Dress Code
In Muslim states, be aware of showing flesh, especially by girls, as it’s extremely offensive. So no topless sunbathing or wearing shorts.
- Shoes Off in Japan
In such eastern countries like Japan, for example, it’s customary to take off your shoes and hat when entering a house or temple. The Japanese will often give you a pair of slippers but they also should be removed before you step on the tatami. Becarefulandwearcleansocks.
It’s a tradition to give flowers, but in some countries their variety and color have meaning. Don’t bring carnations to a dinner party in Germany, Sweden and Poland as they are used for funerals. This is chrysanthemum in Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and Turkey. In Austria and France red roses mean romantic interest, while in Chile and Mexico yellow roses are a sign of separation and grief. Give a bunch of flowers only unwrapped in Poland, Sweden and Germany. An odd number of flowers mean unluck in Indonesia and China; even number is considered to be unlucky in Russia, Germany, Turkey and India.
- What You Drink to?
Everybody likes a good toast. It’s friendly and fun but in some states like Russia and former Soviet Union countries it’s taken very seriously. In Germany and Scandinavia, make an eye contact saying Prost or Skal! In Russia, you must drink vodka in a single gulp. In Azerbaijan and Georgia, the toasts frequently go for hours and led by the tamada or toast master. It’s considered to be rude to sip or talk between the toasts.
Chopsticks involve a lot of etiquette. The more you hold your chopsticks apart from meals, the more sophisticated you are. Hold the chopsticks in the ⅔ up. Don’t cross them, point at people or rest them on the opposite side of your plate. The worst thing you can do while using chopsticks is to put them right in a bottle of rice. This is a Japanese funeral rite when the chopsticks are left by the bedside of a dead person.
- Sole of Your Shoe
Resting your foot on your knee and showing your sole is an insult while being in Singapore, Thailand, Saudi Arabia or Egypt.
- Nod Your Head if You Mean No
In most countries nodding your head vertically up and down means “yes” and from side to side is “no.” But in Bulgaria, the “yes” and “no” nod are reversed.
Remember these tips while travelling abroad and be sure you will never get in a trouble.