What should you never do in these countries?
One of the most important blessings that travel brings to a person is the happiness of getting to know different cultures. To be acquainted with these cultures, you need to stay in that country for at least a few days, even more than a week, spend more time with the locals, feel like a citizen of that country. Of course, you will be welcomed in that country, as the locals respect and sympathize with a tourist who wants to explore their country.
One of the most important things you need to know when mastering the culture of the country is what you should not do in that country. Yes, there are things that you should never do these things in foreign countries. Some states have some traditions and prohibitions that, if not following them, can cause negative impacts. These traditions and prohibitions are so nationalized that if you do not follow them, you can be punished, face pressure, and even be deported. What "never do these things in foreign countries" include?
Great Britain - Law from the cradle to the grave
The United Kingdom is one of the first countries in the world to monitor compliance with its laws. If you are not among the people who follow the rules in every matter, you must be very careful. Trying to break the culture of standing in the queue in the UK is a great danger for you. You even risk your life.
In the UK, it is disrespectful to ask people about their incomes. Therefore, you will find almost no words about work in their dialogues.
Another example of UK bans is: no matter how inhospitable it may seem in the UK, going to someone’s house uninvited is not welcomed. Only close friends invite each other to their homes.
Netherlands - Bicycles heaven
Roads in the Netherlands are not just for cars and pedestrians. In addition to roads for vehicles and pedestrians, there is also a road for bicycles. As everyone between the ages of 7 and 70 rides a bike in the Netherlands, the so-called “Land of Bicycles” is mostly preferred for public transport. Therefore, you cannot walk on the bike path; otherwise, you will be fined, or someone will cross over you by bike. In both cases, it is distinctly not welcomed.
Poland - No joke in transport
All over the world, it is forbidden to drink alcohol and smoke while using public transport. In most countries, if you break this rule, you may come across harsh reactions. However, the use of alcohol and smoking in public transport and while driving is a hefty fine in Poland, and you can face a great deal of public condemnation.
Speaking of Poland, it is worth noting that this country has a strange tradition. In Poland, red borscht is usually not eaten but drunk. Thus, you can get red borscht from coffee machines. Even if you want a hot drink in cafes, they can offer you red borscht.
The US - As strange as it is, big
When travelling to the US, you need to be more careful and follow the rules strictly. It is not advisable to touch children in this country, especially strange children. If you do it, you may be misunderstood. You can even be arrested for this reason. It is a great tool to prevent child trafficking and abuse. Nevertheless, for tourists who are unaware of this, it is a troubling tradition.
You can lean on someone you do not know about public transportation in the States. It is normal. Even if someone you do not know leans on you, it is better not to react. However, do not even think of leaning on someone you do not know in the store. It is rudeness.
The strange thing about US traffic is that the network is out of service in the USA metro. Therefore, it is recommended to finish all your online stuff before using the tube.
Sweden - Comfort is essential
You will feel very comfortable while in Sweden. However, firstly, you must first try not to disturb the comfort of other people. If there is no emergency, if you do not need help, it is advisable not to enter into a dialogue with strangers. It can disturb their comfort.
This “law” of comfort applies not only on the streets but also on public transport. So sit as far away from people as possible on public transport. Try to sit on empty seats. If the place is cramped, it is advisable not to sit at all. It is not a sign of Swedish rudeness or antisocialism. They are just polite and take care of each other’s comfort. For this idea of comfort, it is advisable to keep a distance of at least 3 meters between you and a stranger.
Norway - True sincerity
Do not wait for formality in Norway. Norwegians speak informally and address each other by name from the first date.
In Norway, asking questions about the church is disrespectful, as people in Norway usually do not go to church.
France - Rules about food
Are you wondering what do French people drink? Well, the French drink wine instead of water, milk, tea, or beer. It is difficult for them not to drink at least a glass of wine when eating delicacies. In a country where wine is so famous, it is impossible to add water to wine. It is also forbidden to add sauce to cheese or alcohol to food. Knowing this before travelling to France will help you make your trip better.
Ireland - Drinking is a must
If you are good with alcohol, then travel to Ireland will be more exciting and fun than you think. So, in this country, if someone invites you for a drink, you must ask him/her in turn, or, conversely, if you ask someone for a drink, regardless of gender, even if that person does not know you, s/he will not reject your offer, and s/he will invite you for a drink too.
Just as there are proper rules in drinking, there are also strict rules. It is not suitable for a person who has no money to go to bars in Ireland to drink and wait for someone to pay for him/her.
One of the strange traditions of Ireland is the issue of “tips.” You don’t have to give tips to young people working in bars, because they earn very well. However, you must provide tips for waiters in restaurants and cafes.
Do not even try to imitate the Irish dialect; you will fail. There is no Irish dialect for Irish people. Every region of the country was its dialect.
Scotland - “If you’re a real man, let’s drink!”
In Scotland, men’s strength is measured by how much they can drink and their tolerance to alcohol. No man drinks less, and no one refuses to drink in this country. If you offer a drink to a stranger, he will accept the offer for sure. If you don’t drink, it will be a little challenging to find friends in Scotland.
Another peculiar “rule” here is that no one in this country can be called “English.”
Belgium - Compliment, but it’s better to avoid
Complimenting someone in Belgium can be tiring. So, if you praise anyone, s/he will try to prove to you within an hour that your compliment is wrong, that s/he is much worse than you think. Even if you take it as a joke, they will insist on being serious.
Germany - Heil, Hitler!
Giving a Nazi salute in Germany is a serious crime. Thus, you can even be punished.
In Germany, it is not advisable to look people in the eye, as only uneducated and crazy people do it.
Unlike in other countries, friendly behaviour is not welcomed in Germany. So do not be too kind. Just as it takes time for Germans to get used to new people, you will also need time to get used to Germans as well.
If you have a German friend, do not congratulate his/her birthday in advance, since celebrating people’s birthdays in advance is not a good sign here. They believe that it can lead to death.
Kenya - Behave as you want
There is no discipline in Kenya. So be patient, as complaining about this indiscipline is pointless.
The majority of Kenya’s population is religious. Since the people of the country are very attached to their religious beliefs, you should also respect them.
In Kenya, if the person did not address you by name, you should also address him/her differently than by name.
Turkey - The land of tea
Though the Turkish TV series show that they enter each other’s houses in shoes, but in reality, this is not the case. Take off your shoes when entering the house of anyone in Turkey. If the landlord insists that you do not need to take off your shoes, then it is up to you to take them off or not. However, it is disrespectful to enter the home with shoes without the permission of the landlord.
In Turkey, which ranks first in the list of the most tea-drinking countries in the world, drinking tea is considered a culture. If you are offered tea, it is recommended to drink it. If you do not want to drink, it would be better to make an excuse not to disrespect the person who offered tea. But in any case, it is better to drink tea than to make excuses.
Iran - Be careful
One should be very careful in public places in Iran. Thus, men are not allowed to wear shorts, and women should wear headscarves in public.
Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social networks are banned in Iran, and access to these networks is blocked. That is, you will not be able to access these social networks after crossing the Iranian border. Despite the ban, Twitter is actively used by high-ranking government officials, including Iranian leader Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
China - Pay attention
In China, it is advisable not to drink tap water on the streets and at home since you can get a stomach ache or even die.
Japan - Don’t disturb, to not be disturbed
Looking for forbidden things in Japan? It is not allowed to talk on the phone in public transport, subway stations, parking lots, crowded places in Japan. It is perceived as disrespectful to others. If you talk on the phone, you can feel the cold attitude towards you. Therefore, it is best to write a message.
Hugging in public is forbidden in Japan. Also, unlike in other countries, giving tips in any cafe is not welcomed in this country. Employees think they don’t need tips.
El Salvador - it is better not to know English
If you travel to El Salvador one day, it is recommended not to speak English. If you speak English, the locals will think you are from the States. If they think you are from the US, then they will rob you at the first opportunity. The best is to learn Spanish or use dictionaries and language programs.
India - No intimacy
Although India welcomes you with its hospitality, it is severe and tough on some issues. For instance, kissing in public is forbidden in India. In general, any physical intimacy with the opposite sex is prohibited in public places.
Egypt - No equal rights
What can we say about Egypt bans? In Egypt, men and women cannot walk side by side in public. According to the laws of this country, a man must be ahead of a woman. It is disrespectful for a woman to walk ahead of a man. Rarely, you can see couples walking side by side.
Korea - One man, no man
When you want to give something to someone in Korea, don’t give it with one hand. That is considered disrespectful. When you give something, give it with both hands, especially when giving money.
Malaysia - Holy Head
In Malaysia, it is advisable not to touch anyone’s head. Since the head considered the most sacred part of the body in this country, you may not be welcomed if you touch someone’s head. Especially, do not sleek the head of children.
New Zealand - Strange, interesting
New Zealand has a bizarre tradition.
If you joke about the rugby game, the “Lord of the Rings” and the Queen of the United Kingdom in New Zealand, these jokes may not end well for you since these three concepts are severe issues for New Zealanders.
In New Zealand, you can often meet barefoot people on the streets.
Mexico - Talk, laugh, have fun
If you do not have a sense of humour, you may not enjoy your trip to Mexico. Everyone you will meet in this country likes to joke, and they will fool at every opportunity. So smile and joke. Mexicans consider people with a good sense of humour as their friends.
For Mexicans, friendship is not measured with a joke. They are more loving toward those who want to learn their language and traditions. If you don’t like Mexican traditions and language, and you show it, they may not treat you well.
Gift-giving customs in different countries
Yes, yes. Some countries have such surprising and astonishing customs and prohibitions. In the below-listed countries, some gifts are not welcomed, or it is prohibited to give them. So be careful when choosing a gift for a friend living abroad.
The USA - If you don’t like it, go and change
In the US, if you remove the price tag from the gift you bought, the recipient may not like it. The US residents keep a receipt for goods when giving gifts to each other. In this case, the recipient can change the gift if s/he does not like it. Just because of this tradition, after Christmas, there is a line of people changing goods in US stores.
Germany - Knowledge, feminism...
It is not welcomed in Germany, known all over the world for its knowledge, to give stationery and office supplies, especially daily necessities - pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. as a gift. It shows that you are sceptical of that person’s knowledge.
In Germany, as well as in many European countries, it is not right to give kitchen utensils, especially knives, plates, pots, etc., as a gift to feminists. It indicates that you think that women are only good to work in the kitchen. If you make such a gesture, you may even face the pressure of feminists.
France - Women always deserve attention
In France, where women live freely, happily, and beautifully, you have to be careful when buying flowers for such ladies. It is not right to give French women carnations, red roses, and chrysanthemums since red roses and carnations are used more in mourning ceremonies and chrysanthemums in medicine. Therefore, be careful while choosing flowers.
In France, it is considered impolite to another man to give a married woman perfume. Only a husband can give perfume to a married woman. But the best gift for single women is perfume.
China - Not three, but the four times make a habit
Be careful when buying gifts for Chinese gentlemen. If you give them souvenirs of weapons, especially pistols, daggers, knives, they will not accept it since these gifts are considered a sign of ending friendship in China. It is generally not advisable to give these gifts to Chinese women.
Giving yellow and white flowers to Chinese women is not welcomed as well. It is recommended not to give these gifts as the yellow flower is a symbol of separation, and the white flower is a symbol of mourning.
The best gift you can give to the Chinese is a watch. They love this gift as they are accurate people, and almost all people use a watch. However, pay attention not to give wall and table clocks, as well as alarm clocks to the Chinese.
When you go to a Chinese house and shop for them, prefer more fruits and vegetables. But do not buy eggs under any circumstances. Eggs are a sign of stupidity in China. Therefore, Easter eggs should not be given as a gift as well.
If you give a duck doll to Chinese children, a duck souvenir to an adult, a duck picture, in short, a duck gift, you will insult them. In China, a male prostitute is called a "duck". The word “duck” is also used as swearing.
Finally, you have to be very patient when giving a gift to a Chinese. Your Chinese friend will refuse the gift three times before receiving it. He will accept it after your 4th insistence.
Korea - Red Death
In Korea, red is considered a symbol of blood and death. Therefore, it is impossible to see red gifts in this country. They do not even use red gift paper or postcards. They also do not write the name of a living person in a red colour.
The Koreans do not give each other shoes. Thus, they don’t know each other’s foot sizes.
Handkerchiefs are not given as a gift in Korea.
Vietnam - Money and cat
Gifts such as knives and clocks are not accepted in Vietnam.
To gift a cat to a Vietnamese, insult them. The pronunciation of the cat’s meow means weak in Vietnamese. That is, “mgheo” (mew) means “weak” in Vietnamese, and “ngheo” (neaw), which is similar to it, means poor in Vietnamese. Therefore, giving a cat as a gift is a sign that you want to call them poor or weak.
If you want to make Vietnamese happy, gift them money, which symbolizes that you are with them in their hard times. Giving money in a red envelope is a sign of wealth, i.e., you wish wealth to the recipient.
Japan - Why did you buy the gift?
While the whole world celebrates the New Year grandiloquently, Japan, one of the countries seeing the New Year earlier, considers this holiday as ordinary, not special. Therefore, it is not right to buy expensive gifts for the Japanese in the New Year. It is not right to give sweets and toys to Japanese children on New Year’s Eve. If you want to make Japanese children happy and satisfied, then give them an envelope with money in it. According to Japanese tradition, this is the most suitable gift for children.
The most beautiful gift to be given to officials in Japan is a distinctive, delicious fruit. For example, black watermelon or Yubari king.
It is not acceptable to give yellow and white flowers to Japanese, especially a woman. It is recommended not to give these gifts as the yellow flower is a symbol of separation, and the white flower is a symbol of mourning.
In Japan, gifts should not be delayed on birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions as it is disrespectful to the person in front of you, and a late gift will not be accepted.
The most embarrassing thing for the Japanese is to receive a gift from someone they forgot to congratulate on their turn. Therefore, the Japanese are very attentive and caring.
In Japan, where numbers have a mystical meaning, it is not allowed to give anything having the numbers 4 or 9; or giving 4 and 9 items of the same thing. 4 is a sign of death, and 9 is a sign of pain here. Never do this in Japan!
Most importantly, you cannot buy a gift in Japan for no reason. You can put them in an uncomfortable situation, so don’t be surprised if they do not accept your gift.
Farhad is the author of a storybook “Intoxicated with poison”, CEO and Founder of “Istiglal” publishing house in Azerbaijan. He has a few partnerships and cooperation in the field of journalism. His lusting after litreary activity and reading propelled him into creating and naming the concept of “Autumn Bookcafe” in Baku city, Azerbaijan. In parallel with this purpose, Farhad made his way in film industry and succeeded to make 20 short movies. He won nominees at around 10 filmmaking competitions and one of his films was awarded with “The most influential movie” nomination. All together he operated as a cameraman of the documentary called “From Tent Encampments to New Settlements” (2019) which was demonstrated in UK. Farhad also proved himself as a successful photographer and videographer who gained a great fame in competitions. Concurrently, he is working on his upcoming books.