Things Not to Do in Other Countries

Stay stress-free on your next overseas trip! Take note of these handy reminders.

By Mathew S. Chan
July 10, 2015




Every country we visit has its own set of laws and cultural practices we may not be familiar with. Although most fundamental laws are the same, there are some things you commonly do back home that can be seen as rude, offensive, or even against the law abroad. Read on for some simple tips when visiting a new country.

1.    Japan – Do not tip anyone.
Tipping has never been a part of their culture. Chances are if you do leave a tip, they will chase after you thinking you left your change by mistake.

2.    Russia – Do not give even numbered flowers as a gift.
An even number of flowers is only given at funerals, while an odd number is for gifts and celebrations.

3.    Malaysia – Do not use your forefinger to point at anything.
Pointing with your forefinger is considered very rude, so just use your thumbs instead.

4.    India – Do not make physical contact with the opposite sex.

It is not illegal, but it is frowned upon when members of the opposite sex have physical contact, especially handshakes or hugs, so it’s better not to.

5.    France – Do not talk about money.
Money talk is considered rude. You can talk about it in general terms, but talking about specifics is downright frowned upon.

6.    Singapore – Do not spit in public.
You can get fined for doing things in public if you get caught; this includes spitting, urinating, and smoking.

7.    Germany – Do not greet anyone an early happy birthday.

There is a superstition that if you do greet someone before his or her birthday, something bad might happen to him or her.

8.    China – Do not give an umbrella as a gift.

Words and homophones are important in Chinese culture. In Chinese, the word “umbrella” sounds like the word for “separation” so that’s a big no, especially if you’re talking about someone’s relationship.

9.    Norway – Do not talk about going to church.

According to the European Social Survey, only 2% of the Norwegian population attend church. Bringing it up can seem intrusive, and you might be deemed rude if you talk about going to church.

10.    Ireland – Do not try to imitate their accent.
To the Irish, they don’t have a singular accent but rather plenty of distinct accents, depending on what part of Ireland they’re from. 


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