Rude! What You Should Never Do in Other Countries

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

By Taylor Shea
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    Don't tip in Japan.

    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.

    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.

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    Don't use your left hand in India.

    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.

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    Don't eat everything on your plate in China.

    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.

    It's only used in an emergency—so your unnecessary beeping could cause drivers to panic.

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    Don't forget to say hello in France.

    "Bonjour madame, monsieur" should be the first words out of your mouth, otherwise you're subtly showing you feel the person is beneath you.

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

    It's considered rude. It's also customary to keep your hands on the table while eating, rather than resting them in your lap.

    Your Comments

    • Ramart

      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.

    • Moontaha Alam

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

    • Sugi

      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.

    • Karmen

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

    • It’s Just Me

      Burping is NOT a compliment to the chef in China. Good grief.

    • Yasenia

      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.

      • chris

        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

    • bb91103

      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.

      • It’s Just Me

        They might think you’re crazy, though.