Keen travellers will know that when you visit a new country, you get to experience a whole new culture too. The way people eat, greet each other and even where they sleep will differ from country to country, which is what makes travelling even more interesting. Cultural etiquette is a really important part of travelling and experiencing new countries in all their glory, but it can also make your next adventure slightly more embarrassing if you aren’t aware of the general do’s and don’ts of a country’s custom. We explore some of the more unusual rules from around the world that could save travellers causing any offense on their next trip.
In Egypt you wait until the oldest male has started eating
According to Expedia’s guide to unusual etiquette around the world, if you are out to dinner in a group, no one can start eating in Egypt before the oldest male at the table has started. Egyptians only ever eat with their right hand, so try to follow suit, and if you eat as a guest at someone’s home, you will be offered more food until you refuse. This gesture is called ‘Uzooma’ and you can avoid having to refuse more food by leaving a bit on your plate if you have finished. Tipping is culturally accepted and is usually 10% of your food bill.
Tipping in Japan is seen as rude
Unlike many other countries across the world, tipping waiting and bar staff in Japan is considered rude. This is a very easy mistake to make, especially for travellers who are used to giving their waiter a bit extra. But refrain from tipping as it will undoubtedly cause offence. Sticking with the topic of food, it is important not to mix food on a plate, instead make sure to sample small amounts from different dishes and try not to talk whilst eating too. If you are invited into someone’s home, make sure to take your shoes off outside the door and leave them there.
In Mexico you should always arrive late
In Mexico, being late for any social event and even a business meeting is socially acceptable. In fact, it is considered rude to be early or on time for an event and being up to 30 minutes late is the norm. When eating in Mexico, you must keep your hands visible at all times and rest your wrists on the table whilst you wait for food. Leaving food is seen as a positive sign after a meal and a clean plate is considered rude.
Keep your feet away from the family altar in Thailand
As one of the most popular spots for tourists from around the world, Thailand has some rather more unusual cultural etiquette rules to follow. All family homes will feature a family altar and if you are invited to sleep at someone’s home, make sure your feet never face it. Much like Mexican etiquette, it is considered polite to leave some food on your plate, and you should never take the last food item from the bowl. An important one to remember is not to lick your fingers, and also never pour your own drink!
Any intrepid traveller will know just how important it is to respect different cultures in the countries you choose to explore and understanding different behaviours and cultural norms are an important part of experiencing a country. These different etiquette rules may seem rather unusual, but it is important to know how what is considered rude and how to behave to avoid causing offense when travelling. Before you plan your next adventure, make sure you do your research on the culture, as well as the tourist attractions, to avoid any potentially embarrassing mistakes.