25 Cultural Faux Pas You Don’t Want To Commit While Traveling

Posted by on June 4, 2012

Believe it or not there are a lot of things you do everyday that would be considered completely disrespectful and rude in other parts of the world. Take for example when Richard Nixon flicked off the entire country of Brazil by waving the “a-ok” sign from the steps of Air Force One. Of course, you might just be an average traveler so who will really bother you if you mess up a little bit. Well, don’t say we didn’t warn you. Although most of the items on this list are silly or laughable, not heeding others can cost you your very life. Here are 25 cultural faux pas you don’t want to commit while traveling (Note: locations are specified in general terms. Culture within countries varies significantly so when we refer to Brazil for example, it doesn’t necessarily mean all of Brazil).


25

Pointing at people using your feet (Southeast Asia)

Although we’re not sure why you would do this, if you happen to be passing through Southeast Asia, refrain from pointing your feet at other people. In some regions of Thailand and Laos the feet are considered the “lowest” and “dirtiest” part of the body, which is also partly why you should take your shoes off before entering someone’s house.

24

Touching people on the head (parts of Asia)

When in Asia, don’t pat or touch people on top of their head. Just don’t do it. In some Southeast Asian cultures, particularly in Thailand and Laos, the head is considered sacred and you just never know what sort of faux pas you may be committing by reaching for it.

23

A quick handshake (Fiji)

When first introducing yourself in Fiji be prepared – the handshake can be intense by western standards. After the initial firm downward motion your hands may very well remain clasped for the duration of your conversation.

22

Stepping over someone (Nepal)

Related to the fact that feet are considered dirty in much of south Asia, the Nepalese would take great offense to the act of stepping over someone, in particular stepping over their outstretched legs. It’s best to just go around.



21

Shaking hands across a threshold (Russia)

In Russia, trying to shake someone’s hand across a threshold may quite literally leave you empty handed. In fact, trying to conduct any transaction at all across a threshold is probably not a good idea. Russian superstition holds that this is unlucky and many times you will find that people either wait until they are invited in or you yourself step out.