What is normal at home may be unusual or strange in another country, and vice versa. What's different and how to avoid problems.

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82
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9answers
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Tactics to avoid getting harassed by corrupt police

In Uzbekistan I was stopped, searched and questioned six times in one day. At the border with Tajikistan, one official tried hiding my paperwork to elicit something from me. In Kyrgyzstan, I was ...
49
votes
9answers
13k views

Do Russians smile at each other?

I'm planning to go to Russia. For my culture smiling is really common even to strangers. And I heard that Russians don't smile or laugh unless it's something funny or something that make them happy. ...
43
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6answers
8k views

How to use sink with separate hot/cold taps?

I just traveled to Ireland. I was amazed to find that water sinks (at home, restaurants and public) have separate taps for hot and cold water. If you use only the cold water, your hands freeze. If ...
42
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4answers
6k views

I have a tattoo. Can I visit a public swimming pool in Japan?

A friend of mine is currently traveling in Japan. She has a small tattoo on her neck. Now she wanted to visit a public swimming pool but was denied entry. It was difficult to understand the reason ...
39
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6answers
7k views

Japanese etiquette: Most common (and offensive) mistakes?

I am aware that Japan has many unwritten rules of etiquette. What are some of the most common (and offensive) breaches of etiquette made by visitors? On the flip side, what behaviors show respect ...
30
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7answers
14k views

Can I eat a beef burger in India?

I always heard that cows are holy in India. So I assumed that you can't eat any meat made of cows in India. But recently a friend told me, that it depends on the region. Not everywhere in India cows ...
30
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3answers
2k views

Saving leftovers from restaurants in Paris

Doggy bags for saving leftovers in restaurants are extremely common in the USA, especially as portions sizes are usually too large to consume in one meal. But I have read in various forums that it ...
30
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5answers
2k views

How to avoid suspicious looks when you are in the Western side of the world

Being an Arab with Arabian looks, after September 11 things have changed dramatically when Arabs or people with similar looks (Indians, Pakistanis, Turkish, Kurdish, Iranians...etc) go to the west ...
30
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2answers
4k views

Are there any cultures in which the “thumbs up” hand gesture is offensive?

In the USA it's common to give a thumbs up to say "Yes, this is good" or "Thanks" or convey another appropriate positive meaning. Are there cultures in which the "thumbs up" gesture a) would not be ...
26
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3answers
2k views

OK we're all nerds here, so really, how on earth should I use a Japanese toilet?

OK so for anyone who's traveled to Japan you know what I'm talking about. They're devices that are a textbook example of excessive featuritis. But I want to use something other than the flush knob ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

Breast feeding in Iran

We are considering a trip to Iran with a 5-month old. What is the local attitude to breast-feeding in public places? Is it legal? Are there any severe consequences? Do you need to use some special ...
23
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2answers
1k views

Vomitorium: Only common in the German-speaking world?

The first time I saw something like this in a Swiss Restaurant in Zurich I was really confused. What should it be used for? (photo by TheoPB, available under CC-by-sa) Then I was told that you ...
22
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2answers
3k views

Dealing with the 'unclean hand' when travelling (if you're left-handed)

"Among Muslims, the left hand is reserved for bodily hygiene and considered unclean. Thus, the right hand should be used for eating. Shaking hands or handing over an item with one's left hand ...
20
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5answers
2k views

How can I get people to speak the local language to me?

I went to Paris 2 years ago. When I was there, I was learning the language by talking and listening to the local people. But, while I was trying to speak French with them, they would speak English to ...
20
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4answers
1k views

When to hug, kiss, shake hands, or even “fist bump” in Europe?

I have to ask this because I'm Asian and we don't do any of these things there. I have been living in the UK and Germany for a while and I still can't understand how to do all of that in Europe. If I ...
20
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2answers
861 views

If you go to the pool and find all the sunbeds have towels on and you have nowhere to sit, what do you do?

When I've been staying in a hotels in Spain I often go down to the pool in the morning and find that there are no sunbeds to sit on because people have reserved them with towels. I'm never 100% if a ...
18
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3answers
1k views

Will I get in trouble if I drink beer in public in Dubai?

As far as I know, Dubai is a Muslim country. And as far as I know, it is forbidden to drink alcohol in Muslim countries. Is this also true for Dubai and tourists? So as a tourist can I drink alcohol ...
16
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3answers
742 views

In which cultural regions is taking pictures of people considered offensive?

I have the impression that in Muslim countries taking pictures of people is often not welcome. On the other hand there are other countries where people really enjoy it (and also sometimes expect some ...
16
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4answers
524 views

Does one tip in the US/Canada for bad service?

In Aus/NZ you don't tip, it's not generally part of the culture. In the US/Canada you seem to tip for almost everything, but it's meant to be for a good job. However I've also found some workers ...
15
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4answers
5k views

Are women required to wear skirts to get into some tourist sites?

There is mention of not wearing short skirts; does that mean skirts are required for women when wanting to visit places like churches, the Vatican, etc.
15
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3answers
386 views

References for tipping etiquette in different countries? [closed]

Where can I find information about tipping etiquette in different countries? I'm hoping for a comprehensive database so I don't have to ask about the countries one by one here.
14
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8answers
2k views

Are there any man-only places in the world?

I know it is forbidden to enter to Muslim's mosques/shrines without proper Islamic cover or having your shoes during walking through temples/tombs/shrines in India and some other Hindu countries or ...
14
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5answers
1k views

Tipping in Poland: saying “thank you” when the waiter collects your money

I read that while tipping in Poland is standard, you should not say "thank you" to the waiter when he takes the cash if you are expecting change. Otherwise, he will assume that the amount overpaid is ...
14
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5answers
1k views

OK we are all adults here, so really, how on earth should I live without bidet?

This is the part four in the interesting series: "OK we are all X here, so really". You can find the past episodes here: OK we're all adults here, so really, how on earth should I use a squat ...
14
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3answers
5k views

What are the rules surounding alcohol in Morocco

I will be in Morocco for New Year's: what are the rules surrounding alcohol? Firstly is alcohol even available? If so do I need a permit or is it just a case of showing your passport at the store? ...
13
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3answers
767 views

What should you do if you're really broke in a country where tipping is customary?

Say you're travelling on a shoestring budget, say at the end of a long trip where you've spent almost all your money but still have time before your flight home. Sometimes people you meet travelling ...
13
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1answer
581 views

In Asian restaurants and airlines is it correct etiquette to use the hot towel on my face?

In many Asian restaurants both inside and outside Asia, and also on some Asian airlines such as Korean and JAL if I recall correctly, hot cloth towels are given out to all passengers before each meal. ...
12
votes
4answers
787 views

Are there any standard clothing restrictions when visiting mosques?

I know from visiting many catholic churches that many require knees and shoulders to be covered, so dressing appropriately is essential for hassle-free travel. Are there similar rules that might apply ...
12
votes
6answers
985 views

Avoiding or minimising altitude sickness?

From my personal anecdotal experience, I've seen first-hand some horror stories with altitude sickness. I will always tell people now to acclimatise, drink fluids, and follow the local tricks like ...
12
votes
3answers
467 views

How to cope with disgusting fellow travellers?

This summer I was in Krakow. We stayed in a hostel and did an organized tour from there. We visited Auschwitz concentration camp. We were a group of approximately 10 people and unfortunately some of ...
12
votes
2answers
596 views

Chinese etiquette: Most common mistakes

My question is inspired by this one: Japanese etiquette: Most common (and offensive) mistakes? Which made me think about my upcoming trip to China. As a Dutch citizen, I have experienced a lot that ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

How to find a sauna/bathhouse in Korea that allows customers with tattoos?

Apparently here in Korea there is a similar common rule to in Japan forbidding people with tattoos from using public bath houses. I was telling a couple of traveller friends in my hostel here about ...
12
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2answers
4k views

Are there cultures in which walking in the nude in public is not frowned upon?

Although some cultures are less prudent then others I have the impression that walking in the nude in public is frowned upon world wide. Is this a correct assumption? I know that for example going to ...
11
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5answers
1k views

Can I swim in Iran with my girlfriend in bikini in the Caspian Sea?

Is it possible if she is not Iranian to swim in her swimsuit or bikini in the sea? She is not from Iran, she is European as me. Is there some "police" that watches how people dress on the beach?
11
votes
2answers
254 views

What considerations should I make for traveling in Israel on the Sabbath?

I am planning to travel around Israel (from Oct 19 to Nov 5th), and I am wondering what effect the Sabbath will have on transport, restaurants and the sights. Should I be planning to not do anything ...
11
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2answers
9k views

Can solo travelers go to a mixed gender onsen?

I'm planning on going to a mixed gender onsen (konyoku), and one place suggested to me in Nyuto onsen village, Tohoku, has a male only section, a female only section, and a mixed section. If I'm by ...
11
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3answers
1k views

What game can I eat in South Africa?

When I was in South Africa, I wanted to try some game meat but when I asked people what I could have I got replies with answers like 'Game' or 'you know Game Kudu, Zebra etc' or was just shown the ...
11
votes
2answers
548 views

What should we consider when buying a gift for a host family in Turkey?

In September, we are traveling to Turkey. Part of the trip is a family home stay. We will be staying with a local family who will feed and house us for the night. We want to thank the family with a ...
11
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2answers
146 views

How do I find out which holidays will disrupt my travel and by how much?

I'm sure it has happened to many of us: You travel to a country with a different culture, and suddenly, you find yourself in front of closed restaurant/shop/museum/etc doors (or, alternatively, you ...
11
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1answer
2k views

Is it possible to go with a mixed group of people to bathe naked at the Abanotubani sulphur baths in Tbilisi?

There is a very old and traditional sulphur baths in the old town of Tbilisi, Georgia called Abanotubani. I assumed it would've been originally a Turkish hamam and have only segregated sex bathing. ...
10
votes
3answers
688 views

How much to haggle for a hotel room in India?

I need to book a hotel in Delhi, India for mid-November. Someone suggested to me that I should haggle over the price for the room. Is it considered acceptable to haggle over hotel room prices in ...
10
votes
3answers
365 views

Is it usual for Japanese sentos to offer cheap overnight stays like their Korean counterparts (jjimjilbangs) do?

Japan and Korea both have similar concepts of communal bath houses. In Japan they are called sentos and in Korea they are called jjimjilbangs. In Korea it is usual that jjimjilbangs offer very cheap ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

Will Armenia and Azerbaijan permit a tourist to enter if they have the other country's stamp in their passport?

I know that there are certain pairs of countries (which do not get along with each other) where a traveller will not be permitted into one country if they have a stamp in their passport from a visit ...
10
votes
1answer
988 views

Square donuts in Dubai

I've been in Dubai some time ago and in a Starbucks I've found square donuts. Can you explain why? Is there a religious rule?
10
votes
1answer
759 views

Exchanging business cards in Japan

In Hong Kong (and I believe other parts of China as well), one offers his business card by holding it with both hands with the text unobscured and oriented so that the other person can read it. After ...
10
votes
2answers
315 views

What is a good gift for hospitality in Nepal

I am planning an extended Motorbike tour through Nepal and India and was wondering what a good token of appreciation would be .. besides money .. to give to people inviting me for a meal or giving me ...
10
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4answers
418 views

Meeting other people while traveling

I tried searching on here, but didn't find any questions on this. How does one meet people while traveling alone? I would understand meeting people in a hostel (assuming they spoke the same language) ...
10
votes
2answers
187 views

How to pass customs in time in case of a flight delay

I'm a non-US citizen flying to the US with a changing time between flights of 1:50 in Atlanta. Since this is rather on the short line according to this answer, I was wondering what to do in case of a ...
10
votes
1answer
207 views

In Costa Rica - Invite Strangers to Dinner?

We are traveling in rural, southwest Costa Rica. We were walking down the road and began talking to two local guys in their 20s. They offered to give us surfing lessons, and eventually said "you can ...
9
votes
3answers
317 views

What is the proper etiquette at Japanese onsen?

Japan is a volcanically active country which means it has a plethora of onsen (hot springs) all around the country. Visiting these onsen is supposed to be a popular vacation destination for the ...