Etiquette Around the World

Consumed by wanderlust?  Frequent flyer to all manner of exotic destinations? Busy with business clients from across the globe? Then it is imperative that you know the code of conduct of behavior from around the world.

We’ve put together a snap guide of the dos and don’ts when dining in another continent, the exchanging of gifts, driving, how to act in public and what your body language is really saying in the far-flung corners of the earth.

Out in Public

 Canada – Canadians might be known for their laid back manner however strict alcohol laws are in place and for most of the country it’s illegal to drink alcohol outside.

Japan – When dining in Japan don’t leave a tip at the end of the meal as it is considered insulting. Instead enjoy your fare guilt free.


Russia – Are you an avid whistler? Make sure you only do it outside as the superstitious Russians say that whistling inside is a one-way ticket to bankruptcy. Eek.

London – Londoners are notoriously impatient and always in a rush. When using an escalator, don’t stand on the left as this is reserved for those that prefer to hurry up and down.

China – When in China it is considered extremely unhygienic to put your fingers in your mouth so no nail-biting or thumb-sucking here please!

Singapore – Gum chewing is actually illegal in Singapore after the government imposed a ban in order to keep the streets clean.

The Body

Cambodia – Touching a Cambodian with your feet is the utmost bad manners. Cambodians consider feet to be the lowliest part of the body so keep those trotters to yourself.

Turkey – Always remove your shoes when entering someones house in Turkey, a refusal to do so is considered extremely rude.

Iraq – Showing the soles of your shoes or feet to someone in Iraq is very rude, feet are considered dirty here.

download (1)

Thailand – The head is considered the most sacred part of the body to Thai people so do not touch anyone, including small children on this part of the body without prior consent.

Nepal – Someone sitting in your way? In Nepal it is rude to step over someone, instead make sure you either ask them to kindly move out-of-the-way or take the time to walk around them.

Indonesia – Here, you shouldn’t eat with your left hand. It is traditionally used to perform ablutions and is therefore considered unclean.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Vietnam – In Vietnam make sure you accept a gift with both hands outstretched, accepting with only one hand deems you ungrateful.

Cyprus – When buying flowers here never give white lilies as they are strongly associated with funeral rites.

China – Never buy a Chinese friend a clock or an umbrella. Both of these words in Chinese sound like death and separation and they are considered very unlucky.

download (2)

Russia – Russians are also picky about the flowers they receive. Never give an even number of flowers in a bouquet to a Russian as even numbers of flowers in a bunch are typically taken to the graveside in mourning.

Japan – Avoid giving quantities of 4 or 9 to anyone in Japan as these numbers are considered unlucky and the gift will not be well-received.

Netherlands – It is bad luck to give a sharp object as a present in the Netherlands so no fancy kitchen knives or left-handed scissors for loved ones.


Germany – You may be able to drive as fast as you like on the autobarns of Germany but did you know that running out of fuel is actually illegal?

America – If you are pulled over by the police in America never get out of your car unless requested to do so, it is deemed aggressive and could land you in trouble.

Etiquette and Body Language

Brazil – flash the OK hand signal to a Brazilian and you could end up in trouble as this is widely considered as offensive and not as a gesture of goodwill.download (4)

Dubai –  Here in Dubai, being a strictly Islamic state,public displays of affection such as kissing and hand-holding are forbidden.

Philipines – Be gentle with your handshake in the Philipines as a strong handshake is sometimes mistaken as aggression.

Greece – Don’t display your palm to a Greek person in a gesture indicating ‘stop’, this is considered very insulting.

Bangladesh – However, pointing in Bangladesh is seen as rude, so you should instead gesture with the palm of your hand.

Thailand – If your paths should cross, ladies don’t touch or pass anything to a Buddhist Monk in Thailand, they ares strictly forbidden from touching women.

Hungary – Celebrating? Don’t chink your glasses here for it is associated with the execution of the 13 martyrs of Arad in 1849.

France – Proposing a toast? Don’t break eye contact when doing so in France, if you look away before making eye contact with everyone in your party you’ll be doomed for seven years according to legend.

On the Table

Mexico – If you’re a fan of tacos make sure you do like the Mexicans do and eat with your hands, leaving your knife and fork firmly on the table.

Chile – Whilst over in Chile, finger food is considered the height of unsophistication, so make sure you use your cutlery.

France – Don’t cut your salad with a knife and fork in France, this is widely recognised as bad etiquette.

Portugal – Never ask for salt and pepper if they haven’t already been put on the table. Asking for any additional seasoning on your food is seen as an insult to the chef, the Portuguese are very proud of their cooking.

Jordan – If you’re finished with your coffee never hand back an empty cup as this indicates that you would like some more, simply shake the mug to indicate you are done.

Bolivia – Save business for the boardroom as talking about money over dinner is somewhat uncouth here.

Japan – Think simply attempting to eat with chopsticks is enough in Japan? Not half. Never leave chopsticks upright in your rice as this signals death.download (5)

Venezuela – Never arrive early or on time to a meal that you are invited to here, it is seen as greedy. Always arrive slightly after the expected time as a gesture of politeness.

Taiwan – Here, belching is considered as a compliment to the chef!

South Korea – Always wait for your elders to start eating first as starting to eat before then is considered inpolite.

Ethiopia – A single plate of food is considered wasteful so communal plates with bread are shared up.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: