156 votes
Accepted

Is it offensive to use 'Saigon' instead of 'Ho Chi Minh City'?

According to Fodor's Guide to Vietnam, 4th Edition, published 2016, under Introduction to Ho Chi Minh City on page 38: Still called Saigon by most residents, According to National Geographic ...
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  • 40.3k
125 votes
Accepted

Is it rude to ask if the food contains pork or alcohol?

As a white, Christian, American person I can definitely say that nobody would (perhaps should) be offended by your dietary restrictions. I have a number of friends who are vegetarians for no reason ...
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125 votes

What is way to eat rice with hands in front of westerners such that it doesn't appear to be yucky?

Do you have some kind of roti or some kind of flat bread that can go with the rice? People may be less edgy if they think of it as eating taco or burritos by hand. It might come down to whom you're ...
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  • 1,143
106 votes
Accepted

Is it rude to tell the ice cream man in Istanbul not to mess with me?

It'd be like going to a comedy show and telling the comedian off for making jokes at the audience. If it's expected and part of the 'show' or experience, it's what he does for a living, enjoys doing ...
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  • 157k
103 votes
Accepted

When and why do people clap/applaud after a plane lands?

A cabin crew member here, and I am from a country where people do not clap after landings and I was very surprised when I experienced this for the first time, so I started asking passengers when this ...
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102 votes

Is it rude to tell the ice cream man in Istanbul not to mess with me?

Simple You don't buy it Let's just analyse this for a bit shall we? You're not paying for the ice cream, you're paying for the experience. If you like ice cream but don't like entertainment or '...
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  • 2,430
98 votes
Accepted

OK, we are all adults here, so what is a bidet for and how do I use it?

Bidet Who Are You? The bidet is a sanitary installation which looks like a shallow toilet bowl with water taps. The purpose of the bidet is to clean up after you've done what you came to do in the ...
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  • 51.7k
98 votes
Accepted

Should I declare chocolate as "food" when entering the US?

Yes, according to US CBP officers, you should declare it as food. I bring chocolate every time I fly from Europe. Generally what happens next is they ask what exactly you are bringing, you say "...
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  • 21.6k
88 votes

OK, we are all adults here, so what is a bidet for and how do I use it?

I'm Portuguese and every bathroom has a bidet. Only the really small ones don't. It is something I find in European countries with Latin roots (specially Portugal, Spain, France and Italy). From ...
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  • 971
88 votes
Accepted

Is it considered rude if I present a list of pre-translated sentences?

Yes, it would be, if not "rude", then at least kind of awkward. Malaga, Barcelona and Madrid are all heavily touristed areas and most restaurant staff are very used to dealing with tourists who do ...
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  • 99.8k
85 votes
Accepted

What do locals call San Francisco?

Most locals just call it the City, when it's clear from context that you are talking about the local area. You could say: "I'm staying at a nice hotel in the City". This will be understood to mean "...
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76 votes
Accepted

What is the purpose of this cloth in hotel?

A bed runner is a small, long piece of decorated cloth used to enhance the appearance of an otherwise plain bed. While some prefer the look solely for aesthetic reasons and would choose it even if it ...
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  • 2,044
71 votes

What is way to eat rice with hands in front of westerners such that it doesn't appear to be yucky?

A bit of open mindness will not kill you, the same open mindness you'd like to receive from other people who you think find your habits disgusting. Follow me: First and foremost, you can eat the way ...
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  • 5,832
70 votes

Is it rude to ask if the food contains pork or alcohol?

Not rude here in the UK, or anywhere in the western world so far as I'm aware. It is polite, though, to tell your host at an early enough opportunity that they haven't already bought the ingredients ...
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  • 6,497
67 votes

Is it offensive to use 'Saigon' instead of 'Ho Chi Minh City'?

My wife is Vietnamese, and her entire family. I also visited Vietnam with them previously. They all spent most of their life in Vietnam prior to moving to another country. When I inquired (while ...
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63 votes

Is tap water in Munich safe to drink? If so, why do locals buy bottled water?

I live in Prague where the water is equally safe to drink and tastes well, however plenty of people still buy bottled water. The reasons are: Different flavors. Bottled water comes in a variety of ...
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  • 79.4k
62 votes
Accepted

Do Russians smile at each other?

Yes, it's true. In general, Russians never smile without a reason. No, you will not insult anybody in Russia if you smile. But, in some cases it can be assessed as rude or strange. For example, if ...
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  • 4,266
61 votes
Accepted

In a restaurant in Italy, should I be seated when my food arrives?

The only logical explaination is that he was simply suggesting you to hurry up, because the pizza was getting cold and you wouldn't taste it in its best moment (when the mozzarella is still hot). ...
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  • 688
60 votes
Accepted

Is it okay to mix in local language when I know it poorly?

It doesn't matter where you go in the world, the locals are pleased when an obvious foreigner makes an effort to be polite in the few words they know. (Even France, these days.) But as soon as it is ...
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  • 1,329
59 votes

Do Russians smile at each other?

In defense of @MikkaRin's answer, I offer a contrast of cultural norms regarding emotional expression in Russia versus USA. This may not clearly represent differences between Russian and global norms (...
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  • 2,157
58 votes

Is it offensive to use 'Saigon' instead of 'Ho Chi Minh City'?

I was born and grew up in Saigon. Saigon has always been and will forever be Saigon. Don't call it by any other name! A historical allusion to these naming is Leningrad, which, similar to most ...
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55 votes
Accepted

Why do public toilets in the US have large gaps (no privacy)?

I can't find a definitive link but there are a few reasons, a lot of which were already covered in the comments. One, the style in your picture makes the whole place easier to clean. You can hose ...
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  • 13.6k
55 votes

Should I put toilet paper in airplane toilets?

Should I put toilet roll in airplane toilets? YES. Airplane toilets are designed to take the toilet paper provided by the airline. The sign is to inform you that nothing other than the provided ...
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  • 32.1k
54 votes
Accepted

Is it rude to speak Swedish in Norway?

No, in itself it is not rude. You can do it in a rude way, by just ignoring the signals if the other person is not happy about it. Offer the person you talk with the choice. I would start with a ...
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  • 48.9k
50 votes
Accepted

What is the tipping process in restaurants in the US?

Normally, the sequence is this: Get the bill from the server. Check it for any issues. Give the server your credit card. The server goes off and swipes your card, coming back with your card and the ...
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  • 1,986
49 votes
Accepted

Why am I not allowed to buy alcohol at the store after 11pm in Russia?

It's a law that's designed to reduce public drunkenness / alcoholism, especially at night when you don't want loud, rowdy and sometimes violent drunk people in the streets. Sometimes vendors try to ...
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  • 8,976
48 votes

OK, we are all adults here, so what is a bidet for and how do I use it?

Edit: Since I've discovered that the "Number two" euphemism isn't global, I'll add here that it means defecation, and comes from the fact that "poo" rhymes with "number two". It's a common euphemism ...
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  • 1,101
47 votes
Accepted

What's the proper etiquette for visiting the German Biergartens?

The best source I can find is this picture gallery of the local newspaper (Süddeutsche Zeitung, in German). My advice is based on that, own experience and other sources where mentioned: You can bring ...
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  • 25.9k

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