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How to behave in different countries (part 1)

foreign traditionMany travel guides offer advice on how to behave in various countries. And you know, this is very important information indeed! Batting an eye, you can if not start a war, but get into a serious trouble or fight at least. We definitely don’t need this on a vacation. Therefore, be careful and don’t ignore this crucial aspect!

Here are several basic rules of behavior that will help to avoid some inconveniences while abroad.


In countries such as Thailand, the Philippines and China it will be very easy to injure people if you don’t know some features of their cuisine traditions. The owner of the house or restaurant will be definitely offended if you eat every crumb of the dish. This would mean that the dish was too small, and leaving an empty plate, you make a rude allusion to the fact that the food was not enough. Whatever the tasty dish it was, leave at least one piece on the plate.

By the way, in Russia it is all the way around. The empty plate is a great compliment to the chef.

If you are in Portugal, do not ask for salt and pepper. This can grossly offend the ability of cook to operate with spices.

The ability to deal with chopsticks is not limited to the movement of food from plate to mouth. Remember – in any case it is impossible to stick them vertically (in a bowl of rice, for example). This is reminiscent of incense sticks that are lit to honor the dead. To do so means to invite death to the dinner table.


If you want to ask the bartender for two beers, being in the UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand, never show two fingers. The fact is that here this harmless gesture is seen as a demonstration of the middle finger.

Forget about the sign of the horns, gesture of sticking out little finger and index finger, if are travelling in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil and some of the Baltic countries. Here, this gesture is considered literally and being indicated to a man means that his wife is cheating on him. In Russia, for example, the sign known as a goat gesture, is a favorite sign of metalheads and rockers, and means nothing more than approval of the rock musician! In fact it is the merit of the singer Ronnie James Dio, who popularized the “rocker goat.”

In Vietnam you should also be careful about showing for example crossed fingers of one hand. It looks like female part of the body. Be ready to expect an appropriate reaction.

Thumb. Taking a walk in Iran, Thailand, Afghanistan, Italy and many other countries do not show thumb up. It is considered to be offensive for a variety of reasons.


Visiting the Middle East and Arab countries do not be surprised to see quite close physical contact between men (we’re not talking about erotic contacts). Arab men often walk holding hands and there is nothing ashamed in this, it only points to the kinship of people. If your Arab friend takes you by the hand, do not panic, he only shows his friendly disposition!

Left hand. Forget about it in countries of the Middle East, South Asia, and even in some places in Africa. The left hand is intended to perform certain hygiene procedures. Never use it when it comes to food, products in the market or strangers.

In India, for example it is not just a fad, but a serious matter. It is a tradition associated with religious practice. During the Hindu prayers “prasad” (prasada or prasadam) – that is “offering”. It can be taken only with right hand. The Muslims eat only by the right hand. According to the Quran, Satan eats and drinks with his left hand.

Read more advice about behavior abroad.

1 comment

  • Dave Martin

    Very interesting facts! That’s how easy it is to offend people without knowing the customs. It will be helpful during journeys!

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