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17 ways you're actually offending people when abroad

Easyvoyage logo Easyvoyage 26-10-2017


17 sure-fire ways to offend people when travelling: Our cultural differences are what makes our nations unique and what inspires people to travel the world in the first place. But wolf down a beefburger in India or throw a backwards peace sign in England and you could have a fight on your hands. Here's how to offend people abroad. © Ekkachai Hiranyatrakarn / 123RF Our cultural differences are what makes our nations unique and what inspires people to travel the world in the first place. But wolf down a beefburger in India or throw a backwards peace sign in England and you could have a fight on your hands. Here's how to offend people abroad.

Our cultural differences are what makes our nations unique and what inspires people to travel the world in the first place. But wolf down a beefburger in India or throw a backwards peace sign in England and you could have a fight on your hands. Here's how to offend people abroad. 

1. Give flowers in even numbers
  Give flowers in even numbers: Giving flowers in even numbers is considered extremely unlucky in Russia as this is a custom reserved for funerals. So if you're planning on giving your significant other a dozen roses, think again; a funerary gesture can be a real romance killer. © Taiga/123RF Giving flowers in even numbers is considered extremely unlucky in Russia as this is a custom reserved for funerals. So if you're planning on giving your significant other a dozen roses, think again; a funerary gesture can be a real romance killer.
Giving flowers in even numbers is considered extremely unlucky in Russia as this is a custom reserved for funerals. So if you're planning on giving your significant other a dozen roses, think again; a funerary gesture can be a real romance killer.

2. Leave the house with a cold
Leave the house with a cold: If you're out in Japan and suffering from terrible cold then you are highly likely to receive some menacing looks for getting out your Kleenex. Here, it is viewed as disgusting to blow your nose in public - the Japanese word for snot is literally 'nose excrement' (and that's putting it politely). It's best to excuse yourself to the restroom and sort yourself out privately. © tomsickova/123RF If you're out in Japan and suffering from terrible cold then you are highly likely to receive some menacing looks for getting out your Kleenex. Here, it is viewed as disgusting to blow your nose in public - the Japanese word for snot is literally 'nose excrement' (and that's putting it politely). It's best to excuse yourself to the restroom and sort yourself out privately.
If you're out in Japan and suffering from a terrible cold then you are highly likely to receive some menacing looks for getting out your Kleenex. Here, it is viewed as disgusting to blow your nose in public - the Japanese word for snot is literally 'nose excrement' (and that's putting it politely). It's best to excuse yourself to the restroom and sort yourself out privately.

3. Give a thumbs up
Give a thumbs up: Rather than a jolly way to say everything is A-OK, a thumbs up gesture in Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Italy and Greece actually means "up yours". In fact, in Iran this is called a bilakh and literally means "sit on this". Charming. © rawpixel/123RF Rather than a jolly way to say everything is A-OK, a thumbs up gesture in Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Italy and Greece actually means "up yours". In fact, in Iran this is called a bilakh and literally means "sit on this". Charming.
Rather than a jolly way to say everything is A-OK, a thumbs up gesture in Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Italy and Greece actually means "up yours". In fact, in Iran this is called a bilakh and literally means "sit on this". Charming.

4. Arrive on time
Arrive on time: Whether it's sprinting in heels to catch the bus or getting wedged between the metro doors, we almost kill ourselves trying to be on time. In Argentina, however, you can embrace your tardiness in all its glory; arriving to a dinner date anything sooner than half an hour late will make you seem greedy. © pingpao/123RF Whether it's sprinting in heels to catch the bus or getting wedged between the metro doors, we almost kill ourselves trying to be on time. In Argentina, however, you can embrace your tardiness in all its glory; arriving to a dinner date anything sooner than half an hour late will make you seem greedy.
Whether it's sprinting in heels to catch the bus or getting wedged between the metro doors, we almost kill ourselves trying to be on time. In Argentina, however, you can embrace your tardiness in all its glory; arriving to a dinner date anything sooner than half an hour late will make you seem greedy.

5. Sit in the back of a taxi
Sit in the back of a taxi: If you're hailing a taxi alone in Australia and New Zealand, it's best to hop in the front seat next to the driver if you want to avoid looking like a snob. This means you accept the driver more as a pal rather than a chauffeur. God forbid, right... © madrabothair/123RF If you're hailing a taxi alone in Australia and New Zealand, it's best to hop in the front seat next to the driver if you want to avoid looking like a snob. This means you accept the driver more as a pal rather than a chauffeur. God forbid, right...
If you're hailing a taxi alone in Australia and New Zealand, it's best to hop in the front seat next to the driver if you want to avoid looking like a snob. This means you accept the driver more as a pal rather than a chauffeur. God forbid, right.

6. Clear your plate
Clear your plate: In China it is customary to leave a small amount of food on your plate as it shows your host that they have given you more than enough to eat. You can also forget all your table manners and belch after a meal: it shows the chef that what they cooked was satisfying! © yuliang11/123RF In China it is customary to leave a small amount of food on your plate as it shows your host that they have given you more than enough to eat. You can also forget all your table manners and belch after a meal: it shows the chef that what they cooked was satisfying!
In China it is customary to leave a small amount of food on your plate as it shows your host that they have given you more than enough to eat. You can also forget all your table manners and belch after a meal - it shows the chef that what they cooked was satisfying!

7. Use chopsticks
Use chopsticks: Chopsticks are a tricky custom to navigate in that they are riddled with etiquette rules; the more you hold your chopsticks apart from your food the more sophisticated you are, you mustn't cross them over each other and definitely don't point them at people. But above all, avoid putting your chopsticks upright in a bowl full of rice as chopsticks and rice are left by the bedside of the recently deceased as a funeral ritual. © robtek/123RF Chopsticks are a tricky custom to navigate in that they are riddled with etiquette rules; the more you hold your chopsticks apart from your food the more sophisticated you are, you mustn't cross them over each other and definitely don't point them at people. But above all, avoid putting your chopsticks upright in a bowl full of rice as chopsticks and rice are left by the bedside of the recently deceased as a funeral ritual.
Chopsticks are a tricky custom to navigate in that they are riddled with etiquette rules; the more you hold your chopsticks apart from your food the more sophisticated you are, you musn't cross them over each other and definitely don't point them at people. But above all, avoid putting your chopsticks upright in a bowl full of rice as chopsticks and rice are left by the bedside of the recently deceased as a funeral ritual.

8. Get sassy
Get sassy: Known to many as "talk to the hand (...because the face ain't listening)", extending your hand palm-first in Greece is known as the 'moutza' and is highly offensive and insulting. It is linked to the Byzantine Empire, when prisoners were subject to having excrement and dirt smeared across their faces. It is so serious, in fact, the Greeks don't even wave hi or bye with an open hand. So unless you wish to tell someone "I'd like to rub faeces on your face", best to keep your hands to yourself. © larysaray/123RF Known to many as "talk to the hand (...because the face ain't listening)", extending your hand palm-first in Greece is known as the 'moutza' and is highly offensive and insulting. It is linked to the Byzantine Empire, when prisoners were subject to having excrement and dirt smeared across their faces. It is so serious, in fact, the Greeks don't even wave hi or bye with an open hand. So unless you wish to tell someone "I'd like to rub faeces on your face", best to keep your hands to yourself.
Known to many as "talk to the hand (...because the face ain't listening)", extending your hand palm-first in Greece is known as the 'moutza' and is highly offensive and insulting. It is linked to the Byzantine Empire, when prisoners were subject to having excrement and dirt smeared across their faces. It is so serious, in fact, the Greeks don't even wave hi or bye with an open hand. So unless you wish to tell someone "I'd like to rub feces on your face", best to keep your hands to yourself.

9. Let out your inner rock god(dess)
Let out your inner rock god(dess): The 'rock on!' gesture that is favoured among heavy metal fans should be avoided at all costs in Italy, Spain, Portugal and some parts of South America. Do this and you are effectively accusing the man you are directing it to as having been cheated on by his wife. And no one wants to be the bearer of that bad news. © tommasolizzul/123RF The 'rock on!' gesture that is favoured among heavy metal fans should be avoided at all costs in Italy, Spain, Portugal and some parts of South America. Do this and you are effectively accusing the man you are directing it to as having been cheated on by his wife. And no one wants to be the bearer of that bad news.
The 'rock on!' gesture that is favored among heavy metal fans should be avoided at all costs in Italy, Spain, Portugal and some parts of South America. Do this and you are effectively accusing the man you are directing it to as having been cheated on by his wife. And no one wants to be the bearer of that bad news.

10. Use your left hand
Use your left hand: Bad news to all the left-handed people wishing to visit the Middle East and India: if you eat, present a gift or touch someone with your left hand, don't be surprised if people visibly recoil from you. People usually clean themselves with their left hand, leaving it 'permanently dirty', so doing anything else with it here is pretty disgusting. © byheaven/123RF Bad news to all the left-handed people wishing to visit the Middle East and India: if you eat, present a gift or touch someone with your left hand, don't be surprised if people visibly recoil from you. People usually clean themselves with their left hand, leaving it 'permanently dirty', so doing anything else with it here is pretty disgusting.
Bad news to all the left-handed people wishing to visit the Middle East and India: if you eat, present a gift or touch someone with your left hand, don't be surprised if people visibly recoil from you. People usually clean themselves with their left hand, leaving it 'permanently dirty', so doing anything else with it here is pretty disgusting.

11. Curl your finger
Curl your finger: Beckoning someone with a curled finger is a detainable offence in the Philippines as you are essentially recognising them as a dog. You can even have your finger broken off as punishment. © cd123/123RF Beckoning someone with a curled finger is a detainable offence in the Philippines as you are essentially recognising them as a dog. You can even have your finger broken off as punishment.
Beckoning someone with a curled finger is a detainable offence in the Philippines as you are essentially recognizing them as a dog. You can even have your finger broken off as punishment.

12. Smile at strangers
Smile at strangers: In Korea, smiling at a stranger is a way of telling them you think they are stupid as this is typically how you would greet a child. © rawpixel/123RF In Korea, smiling at a stranger is a way of telling them you think they are stupid as this is typically how you would greet a child.
In Korea, smiling at a stranger is a way of telling them you think they are stupid as this is typically how you would greet a child.

13. Show some affection
Show some affection: In Dubai and Saudi Arabia kissing, hugging and any form of public affection between partners is a criminal offence. Get caught being too touchy-feely in the street and you could be ending your holiday shackled together in jail. © Maridav/123RF In Dubai and Saudi Arabia kissing, hugging and any form of public affection between partners is a criminal offence. Get caught being too touchy-feely in the street and you could be ending your holiday shackled together in jail.
In Dubai and Saudi Arabia kissing, hugging and any form of public affection between partners is a criminal offence. Get caught being too touchy-feely in the street and you could be ending your holiday shackled together in jail

.14. Open gifts

Open gifts: In China and India you must resist any urge to open a present that has just been gifted to you. Opening a gift in front of the person who you received it from is very rude and considered extremely greedy. © chaiyon021/123RF In China and India you must resist any urge to open a present that has just been gifted to you. Opening a gift in front of the person who you received it from is very rude and considered extremely greedy.
In China and India you must resist any urge to open a present that has just been gifted to you. Opening a gift in front of the person who you received it from is very rude and considered extremely greedy.

15. Wee in the sea
Wee in the sea: This may seem an obvious 'don't' around the world, but if you get caught relieving yourself on the Portuguese coast you will be breaking the law. And it isn't exactly badass to have a criminal record for public urination. © oneinchpunch/123RF This may seem an obvious 'don't' around the world, but if you get caught relieving yourself on the Portuguese coast you will be breaking the law. And it isn't exactly badass to have a criminal record for public urination.
This may seem an obvious 'don't' around the world, but if you get caught relieving yourself on the Portuguese coast you will be breaking the law. And it isn't exactly bad*** to have a criminal record for public urination.

16. Eat in public
Eat in public: In Rwanda and Japan, it is considered rude to eat anywhere that isn't a restaurant, bar or hotel. Eating your breakfast on the commute to work? Don't do it. Ice cream in the park on a hot day? No sir. © micchaelpuche/123RF In Rwanda and Japan, it is considered rude to eat anywhere that isn't a restaurant, bar or hotel. Eating your breakfast on the commute to work? Don't do it. Ice cream in the park on a hot day? No sir.
In Rwanda and Japan, it is considered rude to eat anywhere that isn't a restaurant, bar or hotel. Eating your breakfast on the commute to work? Don't do it. Ice cream in the park on a hot day? No sir.

17. Play childish games
Play childish games: We are most familiar with this gesture from our dads never-ending game of 'got your nose'. But try this with a Turkish child and you can expect a punch in the face from their protective parents. In Turkey, the index finger-tucked-into-the-palm is equivalent to the middle finger. © vvoennyy/123RF We are most familiar with this gesture from our dads never-ending game of 'got your nose'. But try this with a Turkish child and you can expect a punch in the face from their protective parents. In Turkey, the index finger-tucked-into-the-palm is equivalent to the middle finger.
We are most familiar with this gesture from our dads never-ending game of 'got your nose'. But try this with a Turkish child and you can expect a punch in the face from their protective parents. In Turkey, the index finger-tucked-into-the-palm is equivalent to the middle finger.

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