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Rude! 12 Things You Should Never Do in Other Countries

Planning a trip abroad? Memorize these rules to avoid offending the locals.

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Don’t tip in Japan

Service at restaurants and hotels will likely be exceptional in Japan, but tipping isn’t done and it could be seen as degrading.

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Don’t smile at strangers in Russia

They’ll see it as an intimate gesture, indicating a genuine affinity toward another person. If you don’t know them, they might consider you insincere. Here are funny international laws you never knew existed.

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Don’t use your left hand in India

The left hand is thought of as unclean in Indian culture, so always use your right hand to greet someone, exchange money, or pick up merchandise.

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Don’t eat everything on your plate in China

That shows your host didn’t provide enough food or a filling meal. Along with leaving a little, it’s fine to burp after eating, as a compliment to the chef. Don’t miss more rude American manners that are actually polite in other countries.

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Don’t honk in Norway

It’s only used in an emergency—so your unnecessary beeping could cause drivers to panic.

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Don’t forget to say hello in France

“Bonjour madame, monsieur” should be the first words out of your mouth, otherwise you’re subtly showing you feel the person is beneath you. Find out how to say “bless you” in other languages from around the world.

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Don’t talk with your hands in your pockets in Germany

It’s considered rude. It’s also customary to keep your hands on the table while eating, rather than resting them in your lap. These are the 50 little etiquette rules you should always practice.

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Five London Taxi Cabs in Canary Wharf (licence plate numbers removed)

Don’t sit in the back seat of a cab in Ireland

There are actually a few countries—Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Scotland—where this goes against the rules of egalitarianism. Ride shotgun instead. It’s the polite thing to do.

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Don’t call the United States “America” in South America

To call the United States “America” in South America implies that only the United States are worthy of the title “America.” South America is an America too.

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Don’t open a gift immediately in India

There’s a bit of unchartered territory around this one in the United States too. If your boss gives you a random gift from a business trip, should you open it then and there, or wait? It’s not always clear. But if you’re in India, you’ll want to refrain; opening a present on the spot is considered greedy.

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Don’t ask, “What do you do?” in the Netherlands

Doing so can appear classist in this country, especially since it has a broad social-welfare system. Try a different ice-breaker instead.

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Don’t blow your nose in public in France

It’s considered repulsive. Instead, excuse yourself as if you’re going to the restroom. Countries such as China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey will also thank you for this one. Now, find out about the strangest etiquette rules from around the world.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest