People share insights on 10 offensive behaviors tourists should avoid in countries across the world to have a nice getaway.
Traveling can be a cathartic experience for people who are stuck in daily routines. It allows individuals to be exposed to diverse customs and traditions. But it's also important for tourists to be culturally sensitive and respectful to avoid unintentionally offending locals. It's ideal to know a bit about the local customs, dress codes and behaviors before embarking on a trip. Thankfully, the Reddit community delivered when u/Draculix asked them about some "extremely offensive" behaviors in different countries that tourists rarely know. Here are 10 of the most insightful answers that people provided.
Thailand. Don't touch people on their heads, it is the highest point of the body so therefore it's the most respectful part. Also never point your feet at a Buddha statue, it's considered very rude. Also, if you step on money, you'll be thrown in jail, it has the king's face on it and disrespecting him in anyway (like stepping on his image or saying you hate him) will get you a 1-way ticket to a not very nice prison. u/KakatteKoi. I was a Canadian visiting Thailand recently. I noticed the amount that his image was placed around Bangkok. Like, businesses would have full shrines outside for him. u/Shamussss. Probably shouldn't touch people on the head anywhere, I'm an American and would still be pretty weirded out if an acquaintance came up and started touching my head haha. u/los_rascacielos
U.K. Don't try to antagonize the Queen's guards, they're not decoration they're serving soldiers. Have a good gawp but leave them be. Reddit. I saw one video of a guy teasing a guard and that guy got a total beat down. His chums practically peed their pants. However, there was another one with a NYC Yeshiva student who did a very funny little standup next to the guard, made the guard blush and giggle a little and then the student immediately stopped the routine and did a little Tevye victory dance in another direction, while the guard composed himself by doing a view brisk paces back and forth. No harm, no foul. Reddit
When I lived in the Middle East showing the bottom of your feet (like when your legs are crossed) was offensive, saw expats do it all the time though. u/Permexpat. This ties into how throwing your shoes at someone is such an insult in the Middle East. The foot is the "lowest" part of your body, and you're throwing something that spends most of its time touching your feet. u/frachris87. Same thing with offering your left hand for a handshake. I'm pretty sure in the Middle East that's extremely offensive because they're taught to wipe with their left and eat food with their right. u/kcohle
German here: Doing the Hitler greeting, saying 'Heil Hitler' and the Swastika are illegal here. It's very obviously very inappropriate to visit Germany and pose with your right arm raised for photos, especially when visiting a historically or culturally important place and yet tourists keep getting into trouble because of this. We do not censor books, movies, or similar. It is, though, prohibited to worship the Nazis. Germany has free speech but we draw the line when it comes to hate speech. Our first and most important basic right roughly translates to 'A person's dignity mustn't be violated'. This is more important to us than complete free speech, and considering our history, that makes a lot of sense. Denying the holocaust is illegal as well. The moustache is not illegal but you don't want to be seen with it. u/KairyuSmartie
Costa Rica: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT slam on people's car doors. Specially taxis. Try to be gentle when getting in and out. I wouldn't call it EXTREMELY offensive but people will definitely give you the stink eye for that. Some rude taxi drivers could even give you a bad time. u/david_creek. In addition, do not make any kind of positive reference to Nicaragua. Like at all. Even neutral statements about Nicaragua incite a shit storm. u/Admiral_Amsterdam. People in Costa Rica do dislike the Nicaraguan government an awful lot. Mostly because they go out of their way to cause friction between both countries to divert attention from their real issues. This makes Nicaraguans resent Ticos and Ticos resent Nicaraguans. It's a never-ending cycle, so, in a way, we don't really care if anybody talks positively of Nicaragua, especially if you're a tourist (nobody will tell you otherwise) but in general is a topic that is best to avoid at all. u/david_creek
Swedes have a HUGE sphere of personal space. If you're American, and you're talking to me, you are standing WAY too close to me. Shields up. u/GryphonGuitar. Everything I read about Swedish personal space has me believing that the ideal distance is me calling from the US. u/weealex. I'm from the US and I'm the same way. When someone stands too close to me or talks too close, I will ask them to back up. It really irritates me and makes me uncomfortable when someone violates my personal space. It's rude here too to most people. Reddit. I think the main difference is the range at which this discomfort occurs, not the discomfort itself. I don't think people intentionally crowd Swedes, they're just surprised at how far away you actually have to not be 'crowding'. u/GryphonGuitar
Canada here. It's not offensive, but very annoying when people raise a fuss about not being able to pay in US currency. Or if stores do accept it they accept it at par. Stores are not banks, and you are in another country. You have no idea how often I had to deal with this working at a gas station near a campground like 200 miles north of the border. Reddit. I'm a truck driver and I'm in Canada a far bit. I try and use cards to pay so I don't end up with mixed currency but every once in a while I'll forget where I am and pull out cash to pay. I generally only realize what I've done when I get Canadian change back and the cashier apologizes for not having American and I apologize for not having Canadian. u/KnightFox
In the Netherlands, lots of tourists think we can smoke weed everywhere we want. This is not the case, you can only smoke it in coffee shops or at home. So, don't smoke on the street. u/Pandafurlulz. To add to this, do not walk on the bicycle lanes. Please, they are there for a reason. Another thing is, that we are very straightforward. If we don't like something we will express it. Complaining is in our nature. Try not to feel offended if someone tells you your work is mediocre, it means he sees potential, but right now it's not at the right level. A last point I would like to add is that we are, in general, sticking to our own business. We really don't care why you are here, as long as you don't inconvenience me, it's fine. Sure, we are more than happy to talk about our country but don't expect us to keep in touch after. There is a separation between social contacts and other contacts. u/Japinator
Ireland; if you're in a pub/at a bar, do not order a 'Black and Tan' or an 'Irish Car Bomb'. The former was the common name for the Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve during the Irish War of Independence. They're infamous for their violent and extreme treatment of the Irish people. Order a 'half and half' instead. The latter is because we don't want to be associated with terrorists and people tend to make a mess drinking them. There are a few places where it is okay to order these but they're more of an exception rather than the rule. u/MisterDeclan
I'm currently studying abroad in Senegal. On my second or third night with my host family, my host dad got legitimately offended that I didn't personally greet and shake hands with everyone in the home when I got home from school. It's common courtesy to do that here, apparently, but I never would have guessed it. u/breadplane. I can understand this. My family is Nigerian and they are big on this. When you have guests in your home, I have to properly prostrate ( kneel) and greet them all individually. It is a somewhat draining task. More often than not, my siblings and I will just hide out when guests are over because we don't want to deal with the process of greeting AND making terrible small talk. I can usually get away with a "hello" to every member of my family, but when guests are here, I better bust out my most polite moves. u/Iamnotvicki