While most people are generally excited about visiting a new country or tourist attraction for the first time either on vacation, adventure or for business purposes, there are some behaviors or actions which might be a norm in your country but might be frowned at in the foreign country. It is therefore advisable to check trip advisor for reviews on places you have never been to, another good idea is to watch travel channel for information on countries and tourist attractions before embarking on your trip. Some of the areas you can make mistakes unknowingly include but not limited to the following;
Indecent dressing such as exposing of vital body parts especially in Muslim countries and some tourist attractions like Dubai is a no-no, you must remember to dress decently when visiting any Muslim country unless you want to be humiliated.Countries like the Saudi Arabia, Iran and so many other Islamic countries take pride in their women’s body and do not allow them to expose themselves. So if you find yourself visiting for the first time, check your trip advisor or watch travels channel for information on the dressing mode in that country.
Pointing a finger must mean something different in another country from what you know. In America, it can be used as a form of direction while in some tourist attractions in Malaysia, they use their whole fist to show the way likewise in some other countries like the Philippines, they gesticulate to a direction using their lips or mouth. It is a taboo in many Islamic countries to make eye contact or shake hands with the opposite sex; also in Philippines a curled index finger used in beckoning motion is regarded as a low gesture for dogs and should not be used on someone.
LIMIT YOUR PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION
Kissing is not allowed especially in the public in some countries and sex is prohibited for unmarried couples, in some hotels it is not allowed for unmarried people to lodge in the same room. Some of these tourist attractions have laws with serious penalties like imprisonment. Also cuddling and holding hands is not also allowed in public and can lead you to serious trouble, checking up reviews on hotels, restaurants, bars etc on trip advisor can come in handy when you are not sure.
Some countries take their cultural way of making toasts seriously like in Germany and Scandinavia; you should make eye contact when saying Skalor Prost! in some tourist attractions in South Africa, they raise their glasses and say cheers while in China during a toast touching the other person’s glass below the rim is a sign of respect, in South Korea, when you raise your glass be sure to do so with your right hand and be aware that the minute you gulp and drain your glass, it is cue for your host to “refill”.In Czech, you should make eye contact with each person you click glasses with or you will be considered rude while in Mexico only men give toasts. Some of these ways of making toasts are shown on travel channel or written as reviews on trip advisor.
WHERE YOU SHOULD THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
There are some taboo subjects and unspoken codes that every country has which should not be mentioned to avoid problems like in Mexico, bringing up a topic on America’s policy on illegals is a sore point while in China, the three T’s – Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen Square shouldn’t be discussed.In India, inquiring whether a marriage was arranged or assuming it was is out of place. In France, asking a woman how old she is more of a taboo subject there than in any other part of the world while In US, it may be a taboo to discuss someone’s weight. Thus our consideration in attempting to avoid taboo subjects when abroad would be most likely appreciated by international friends and associates.
Drinking alcohol is forbidden in several Islamic states and tourist attractions across the world and public consumption of alcohol is banned, however in some places such as Lebanon, Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt it is legal to consume alcohol and bars are often crowded. Foreigners are able to drink alcohol in places like Dubai but only in bars, restaurants and four or five star hotels; Check trip advisor on reviews of bars restaurants and hotels you are allowed to drink in however drunken behavior can attract a jail term especially if you are caught drunk driving. Giving alcohol to Muslims as a gift is seen as an offence and because dogs and pigs are also forbidden in Muslim countries, giving a drink in pig’s skin is considered a big offence so watch out for that.
HEAD IS SACRED
Yes you heard me right! In some countries, it is no big deal to part someone on the head especially a child however in some tourist attractions like the Buddhist countries where the head is regarded as sacred it can be insulting and a taboo to part someone on the head. It is also best to avoid passing things over people’s heads. In some African countries the head is not supposed to pass under clothes hung, this is also regarded as a taboo.
WATCH HOW YOU EAT!
In some countries it is not ok to eat with your left hand or give gifts with your left hands. It is considered offensive and disrespectful and can cause problems in the country you are in; some tourist attractions take respect seriously.
A clenched fist is a favorite gesture among rock stars but to the Greeks, Spanish, Italians it may mean your wife is sleeping with someone else and that could lead to a fight. A clenched fist is when you raise the second and fifth fingers up together.
BE CAREFUL WITH JAPANESE CHOPSTICKS
Knowing the Japanese local manners really goes a long way in making friends, winning business and generally being a good guest. Some of the etiquettes you should follow regarding chopsticks are:You should hold your chopsticks correctly and use your chopstick holder, don’t eat directly from shared dishes but place it on your bowl before eating it, don’t hover your chopsticks all over the dishes when thinking of which dish to pick as this is considered greedy, don’t lick the end of chopsticks when talking, never rub them together or cross them when resting them on the table, crossed chopsticks are another thing that reminds Japanese people of funeral ceremonies. Always remember that the chopsticks are a very important cultural symbol to them.
KEEP YOUR SHOE SOLES DOWN!
In some counties like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Singapore or tourist attractions in Thailand it is an insult to rest your foot in your knee and bear your sole.
FLOWERS AND THEIR DIFFERENT MEANINGS
Different countries attach different meanings to different flowers so you should try and understand the meaning of flowers in you want to give, the trip advisor or travel channel can inform you about the different flower meanings in different tourist attractions or country, for example in France and Austria, red roses are romantic and suggest romance but in Chile and Mexico yellow roses are seen as a sign of grief andseperation.also in turkey, Spain, Italy, France and Belgium chrysanthemum are used for funerals while in Poland, Sweden and Germany carnations are used for funerals. The number of flowers also matter as an odd number of flowers in china and Indonesia is considered unlucky while an even number is considered unlucky in Russia, Turkey, Germany and India.
NODDING, IS IT YES OR NO?
Nodding your head vertically in most places signifies a yes while from side to side is a No, however in some countries like Bulgaria the reverse is the case.
JAPANESE HOUSE RULES
In some countries like japan, it is usually forbidden to wear your shoes or slippers on the tatami (red mat).you will be asked to remove them before entering their living room so always wear clean socks so you do not embarrass yourself!
While travelling abroad to new countries or tourist attractions is always a great idea, you should always try to learn about the culture of the people so as to have a great time there, as I have mentioned above if you are not sure of your travels destinations customs simply look up the information or reviews on trip advisor or travel channel.