8 cultural do’s and don’ts travelers should know


Oct, 2016


It’s both exciting and a little daunting traveling to places we’ve never been in. Daunting in a sense that we’re basically lost and on an adventure in an unfamiliar place to us.

It’s important to research about the places you’ll visit, hotel options, car rentals, itinerary suggestions, and the likes when traveling to a place. However, we advise you go beyond and read more about the country itself—current news and events and essentially, their must-know customs and traditions.

Get in the know of other nation’s culture, etiquette, custom and tradition so in case you plan on traveling there, you know ahead of time what you should and shouldn’t do.

1. Use of chopsticks

When in Japan, don’t cross your chopsticks, lick them or stick them in a bowl of rice. Also, do not rub the chopsticks together after you break them apart as to get rid of splinters, if you do so it means you think the chopsticks are cheap. These are perceived as rude acts.

“You only have one life to live and you ought to live it as much as you can.”

2. Where are you pointing?

Westerners and other nations alike have been used to pointing to things with their index finger. If you happen to travel in Indonesia, you might want to drop this habit for a while. Also, always use your right hand when passing anything: right with an open palm with your left hand supporting the wrist.

3. Let’s talk

Westerners could be in for a shock here. In many Middle Eastern and Asian countries, people regardless of gender speak with little space between them. So if you happen to be in these countries, don’t get too surprised if the person you’re speaking with moves closer to you.

4. No touching heads and raising feet

In Thailand, based on Buddhist beliefs, the head is the most valued part of the body. Given this, touching one’s head is a greatly offensive act.

As per with the least valued part of the body, pointing your feet at people or religious articles as well as raising your feet are considered offensive as well. When you’re entering in homes and religious establishments, you’re encouraged to remove your shoes.

5. Tipping

Over-tipping, under-tipping and not tipping at all is enough to make others at the table roll their eyes on you. In countries like Japan and South Korea, tipping is actually perceived as an insult. The reason is because workers feels they’re paid well to do their job. They’re proud of how much they make with their work; they don’t need any added incentives.

6. Thumbs up!

Most people and nations put up a thumbs up to express “good job” and “okay.” However, this doesn’t translate the same in other countries like Latin America, Russia, Middle East, Western America and Greece. A thumbs up means synonymous as flipping a bird or middle finger for Americans.

7. Did you enjoy your meal?

Usually, when you leave your plate clean at a table that means you enjoyed a delicious meal. That’s not the case in certain countries such as China, India and Afghanistan though. If you leave your plate clean, that would be seen as having served with not enough food. When you get the chance to visit these countries, make sure to leave bits of food on the plate as to indicate you’re full. Otherwise, your empty plate will get filled once more.

8. Use your right hand

When eating, accepting something or passing anything, you’re required to use your right hand, at least in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Africa and Middle East. The reason is that not all countries use toilet paper when dropping off the kids (if you know what that means) hence, they use their left hand to clean themselves. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

What other cultural differences, etiquette, customs, and taboos you think frequent and new travelers alike should know?

Share it with us—leave a comment below!

About Chie Suarez

About Chie Suarez

Guest Blogger

Chie Suarez sails from the PH. She spends her downtime writing for Holiday Inn Parramatta, the perfect hotel choice to stay in for both business or leisure.