Rude! What You Should Never Do in Other Countries

Planning a trip abroad? Learn these seven rules to avoid offending the locals.

View as Slideshow

Don't tip in Japan.

Don't tip in Japan.Keith Brofsky/Getty Images
Service at restaurants and hotels will likely be exceptional in Japan, but tipping isn't done; and it could be seen as degrading.

Don't smile at strangers in Russia.

Don't smile at strangers in Russia.MACIEJ NOSKOWSKI/Getty Images
They'll see it as an intimate gesture, indicating a genuine affinity toward another person. If you don't know them, they might consider you insincere.

Don't use your left hand in India.

Don't use your left hand in India.webphotographeer/Getty Images
The left hand is thought of as unclean in Indian culture, so always use your right hand to greet someone, exchange money, or pick up merchandise.

Content continues below ad

Don't eat everything on your plate in China.

Don't eat everything on your plate in China. John Slater/Getty Images
That shows your host didn't provide enough food or a filling meal. Along with leaving a little, it's fine to burp after eating, as a compliment to the chef.

Don't honk in Norway.

Don't honk in Norway.iStock/Thinkstock
It's only used in an emergency—so your unnecessary beeping could cause drivers to panic.

Don't forget to say hello in France.

Don't forget to say hello in France.Ryan Lane/Getty Images
"Bonjour madame, monsieur" should be the first words out of your mouth, otherwise you're subtly showing you feel the person is beneath you.

Content continues below ad

Don't talk with your hands in your pockets in Germany.

Don't talk with your hands in your pockets in Germany.Westend61/Getty Images
It's considered rude. It's also customary to keep your hands on the table while eating, rather than resting them in your lap.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you the newsletter each week, and we may also send you occasional special offers from Reader's Digest. For more information please read our privacy policy.

45 thoughts on “Rude! What You Should Never Do in Other Countries

  1. I am left handed. I will eat with my left hand wherever I go. If someone doesn’t like it they don’t have to watch.

  2. You don’t have to worry about being rude to the French. They’ll be rude to you first

    In Europe, EVERYONE outside France can’t stand them…

    1. what a bunch of BS, have you been to France ? I am German living in the states ,they would have a lot of reasons to be rude to me, but since I am a very nice person, I never met a rude French man or woman, the opposite, I love France and I have seen more rude people in Germany and the US than in France, although nothing tops some Canadian shoppers that come to the US

      1. Yes, I HAVE been to a number of European countries, including France. My comment stands.

        Despite this, should it be required of us once again, America will gladly come to Lafayette’s rescue, because as we were battling the English for our independence, France did far more to bring that about than they are credited for…

  3. Don’t ever motion to someone to come toward you be using your index finger in China. That is the equivalent of flashing your middle finger at someone in the U.S.A. Use all your fingers on one hand to beckon them to come toward you. And of course you take your shoes off when you enter someone’s home in China. In Russia, too. It’s the polite and respectful thing to do. They will have a pair of slippers for you to wear inside the house.

  4. Using the left hand is considered rude in Muslim countries, too. That’s the hand you use for the potty. You don’t tip in China, either. It’s insulting. My wife from Shenyang was shocked when I tried to tip a waiter and if I burp after meals, she thinks I’m acting like a clown. Don’t do either of these in northeastern China. Most of these are old rules no longer observed. Ask first.

  5. Your left hand in India is the crapper hand as in no toilet paper and toilets that are nothing more than a slab with a hole in it with a flat surface for the poo to collect where one of the “untouchables” scoop it up and cart off. You eat with the right hand and sit on the left hand. When dining in China at someone’s house you do take off your shoes and place them at the front exit. Its mostly to do with China’s horrible plumbing as feces flows down the middle of many streets under clay tiles. China also allows public deification especially with kids. So think of all of China being Bourbon Street. when at the dinner table in China don’t just take a lot of the meat. Chances are, it cost them a week’s pay to make that meal with most of the cost being the meat if they went to a market. There is a good chance the meat was ran over or caught in a trap. Could also be the neighbor’s pet you are eating as all protein in China is kosher. So, you first take an ample portion of rice. You will like China’s rice because its different than what you get in the US. All party members in good standing get an allotment of rice just like the USDA gives away beans, milk, butter, and pork to Indian tribes in the USA. So take plenty of rice then the vegetables, which will be deliciously spiced. Spicing will be to perfection so don’t even think of asking for salt or pepper. Its perfect so don’t go there. The last item you take on your plate is the meat item, even if its roasted rat, cat or dog.

  6. Korea never serve your own drink! There’s a few more things around drinking like on how you hold your cup when someone is pouring your drink depending on seniority or not.

  7. In Greece, holding out the palm of your hand toward someone (as in our “stop” gesture) supposedly is considered at least as offensive/provocative as flipping someone the bird in, say, NYC.

  8. Islam says that it’s a sin to leave food on the plate … unless you are unable to have more of it …

  9. I am from India. May be in some parts of India this comment is true. I have lived in Delhi, Punjab and in some south states. This comment is not valid. People equally use left or right hand as required by the situation.

  10. I am left-handed. That would be pretty difficult when I go to India then, LOL

  11. Wow, there is no tipping in japan. That is wonderful! Here in Los Angeles everybody wants to get tipped now days. Pretty soon we’ll have police and fire personal expecting a tip as well. It’s getting to the point of ridiculous. Oh yeah, and what it’s considered an acceptable tip days have gone up. 12%-14% was considered sufficient for a job well done, but now they want 18%. I suppose that most people have forgotten that tipping was originally done as a token of gratitude for a job well done. It was not considered a must. It has gotten out of hand.

    I also like the idea of NOT using the horn in your car unless it’s an emergency in Norway. Another beautiful concept. It sounds so civilized.

    1. I only tip if the service is remarkable. Otherwise flat 5 or nothing. is the server/waitress isn’t trying hard to earn a little extra, im not giving it to them

      1. so if you tip 5 to a waitress this is what you are tipping.
        20 % to the food runner.
        10% for the busser.
        and if you declare the tip the tax will take at least 30% of that. How much did you tip the waitress??? may be you want the waitress to suck you dirty and small D… dignity.
        to add another fact the waitress make 2.95 $ an hour and when they get cheap as-s.tronautas like you they end up with a check that is 0 $$.
        thank you for you support. i guaranty you that you go to a restaurant and don’t even say hi, or please or thank you.
        please don’t leave you house cause no server wants to serve you.

        1. waiters serve multiple tables at a time, one low tip isn’t going to ruin their life.

  12. The smiling at stranger is b.s. I’ve been to Russia. I smiled at people and they smiled back pretty much every where I went.

  13. #6 should be considered good manners virtually everywhere. I’m an American working in service and find it very rude when my fellow Americans can’t even be bothered to say a one or two word greeting.

      1. Send us apost card from Pakistan and we will know you are a mental case instead of suspecting it.

        1. Yawnnnnn, wow, you sure told me……send me your address will you?

          1. Thanks for the compliment but you arent my type. You are liberal and I am straight. Try Craigslist.

  14. It is also very rude to immigrate to the USA and use a bomb against people watching a foot race. By the is extremely rude to immigrate here and then fly airplanes into buildings. Little rude gestures such as these can ruin respect between cultures.

    1. Grouping all visitors/migrants from overseas into the same category as terrorists is also quite rude, not to mention incredibly ignorant.

      1. Dont start wars you are not prepared to fight. Drones are not dropped by the way…they drop and your “warriors” should not hide behind civilians, it doesn’t work well.

        1. Dude… I see where you’re going with this. And it just doesn’t work that way. Tourists = Terrorists? No not really.

          Just relax a bit dude. Not everyone is out here trying to blow us up. Go drink a beer and eat a burger or something.

    2. Also extremely rude to immigrate here illegally and get driver licences, voter registration, college tuition, bridge cards, free medical care etc.

  15. I wonder if people from other countries ever consider what might be rude or unacceptable when visiting America? I doubt it.

    1. They don’t because no matter what they do in comparison to what Americans do everyday its not rude.

    2. There’s usually advice about waiting in line, leaving tips, and smiling.

  16. Very true about Left hands …in Indian culture….considered very rude to give or take anything…esp food..using the left hand…(unless u are using forks or spoons)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.

Fields marked with an * are required
Foods That Harm Foods That HealWant a Free eBook?
FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL offers important information about the role diet plays in the struggle against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other serious illnesses. Answer the question below to receive your FREE digital eBook.

Someone in my household experiences the following conditions:

Send me a link to download FOODS THAT HARM, FOODS THAT HEAL:
By clicking below, I agree to the Trusted Media Brands Privacy Policy