10 Don’ts in Different Countries


If you enjoy traveling, take note of these 10 things you mustn’t do in different countries.


1. Do not stick chopsticks in rice in Japan

Chopsticks should always be kept up a little; they cannot be crossed or used as a pointer. And the worst thing you can do is to stick them upright in a bowl of rice. It is done only during funeral rites in Japan.

2. Do not call Ireland one of the British Isles

Each state has its “taboos”. You should not discuss aborigines in Australia, talk about dowry in India and human rights in China. Irish people categorically do not like when their land is called “one of the British Isles.” If you are not sure whether you can talk about something in a particular country, then stop on neutral issues – gastronomy and landscape beauty.

3. Do not show “thumbs up” in Iran

In all European countries and the United States, a clenched fist with the thumb up is a gesture that tells you that everything is fine. But do not express your feelings in such a way in Iran. This is a gross and obscene insult. Another familiar Euro-American gesture of showing “OK”, when the thumb and forefinger form a circle, should not be used in Turkey and Brazil, as the locals will think you are comparing them with some intimate parts of the human body.


4. Do not touch the head in Thailand

In Buddhist countries, the heads of living beings are sacred, and the soul is thought to live in them. To touch the head of even a tiny child means to insult him/her. It is also unacceptable to point at something with your finger. For example, in Malaysia, it is considered very impolite, and in the Philippines, the locals can afford to point to objects and people only with their eyes.

5. Do not dress like gauchos in Argentina

Some tourists cannot resist the temptation to try a national dress on. However, before you dress like the locals, learn the laws of the country. For wearing batik in Indonesia, you will have to pay a fine, and it is absolutely improper to wear gaucho outfits in Argentina and go to the barbecue.


6. Do not enter the Japanese house in shoes

In Japan and other Eastern countries, be ready to put off your shoes before entering a temple or any house. You will certainly be offered to replace the street shoes with slippers, which can be worn from the front door to the living room. But before you step on the tatami, you will have to part with these shoes too.

7. Do not give a bouquet of 12 carnations as a Gift in Germany

You should be careful with flowers, because the choice of the flowers themselves, their color and number may have a hidden meaning. In Germany, Poland and Sweden carnations are usually brought to the funeral. In Belgium, Italy, France, Spain, and Turkey, chrysanthemums are used for this purpose. In France and Austria, red roses mean romantic interest, and in Mexico and Chile yellow roses are a sign of mourning and separation. An odd number of flowers can bring bad luck in China and Indonesia, and in Germany, Turkey, India and Russia, on the contrary, the bouquet should not contain an even number of flower stems.


8. Do not confuse Chinese name and surname

Chinese people write their names in a different order, unlike in Europe and America: the name usually follows the surname, and therefore addressing Lee Wong Chi as “Mr. Chi” you will sound ridiculous, just as when addressing John White as “Mr. John.”

9. Do not give alcohol as a gift to a Muslim

Islam does not allow drinking alcohol. Even if the Muslims drink, they do not do it publicly. Therefore, to present Muslims with a bottle of cognac means to point at his sin. If the bottle is enclosed in a luxurious pigskin case, it will be an even bigger insult, because dogs and pigs are considered unclean animals in Islamic countries.


10. Do not drink between toasts in Georgia and Azerbaijan

In Northern Europe, Russia and former Soviet Union countries, toasts are treated very seriously. In Scandinavia and Germany, saying “Skol!” or “Prost!” you need to look into the eyes of those with whom you raise glasses. In Russia, foreigners are recommended drinking vodka in one gulp. And in Georgia and Azerbaijan, toasts can be pronounced for hours! However, it is considered indecent if you sip a little from the glass between toasts.