Locals Are Sharing Social Norms And Insider Tips For Traveling In Their Country That People Might Not Consider (43 Answers)

According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals almost tripled in January to July 2022 (+172%) compared to the same time frame in 2021.

This means the sector returned to almost 60% of pre-pandemic levels. The steady recovery reflects strong pent-up demand for international travel as well as the easing or lifting of travel restrictions to date.

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However, if you’re planning to join the 474 million tourists who went abroad over the period, you must remember that you’re immersing yourself in a different culture. It sounds simple, but if you don’t do your homework, even seemingly little differences, inconsistencies, or whatever it is you want to call your tactless actions, can ruin the day for you or the locals.

But don’t worry, Bored Panda has you covered. We scrolled through the internet and compiled what people think foreigners should know about the places they live in before visiting, and their insights can act as a stepping stone for your further education.

#1

Also lived in Japan. This is what I have to say. Bow to people who bow to you. Bow to people in general when they give you a service. It’s a sign of respect and it goes a long way.

Also, take off your shoes and respect the culture.

Image credits: LazzzyButtons

#2

Denmark: DO NOT STAND OR WALK IN THE BIKELANE! You will get yelled at and/or run over.

Image credits: Tiralina

#3

ThE aNiMaLs ArE gOnNa KiLl YoU nah ignore that f*****g meme, the real danger to tourists in Australia is not swimming between flags at the beach and not wearing sunscreen.

Image credits: sarahmagoo

#4

Spain, unless you’re in a very touristic focus area you won’t be able to eat in a restaurant at 12:00 or have dinner at 18:00 – 20:00.

We have lunch at 14:00 – 15:00 and dinner at 21:00 – 22:00. Also, don’t expect people to speak English because the absolute majority of us do not.

Image credits: SaraHHHBK

#5

America is MASSIVE. You cannot see the grand canyon and NYC and vegas and Seattle in one trip unless you are a) here for a long time b) have money to spend on all those flights c) really really like driving.

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#6

Norway. It’s very expensive here.

We speak English quite well, so you’ll be perfectly fine language-wise if you speak decent English.

People will think you’re an insane weirdo if you sit next to them on the bus while there are free double seats elsewhere.

Image credits: _TenguDruid_

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#7

India – if you ain’t from there, make sure you negotiate the price before agreeing to a service or purchasing an item because dual pricing is a thing…

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#8

I live in Korea. Off the top of my head:

People are going to touch / gently push / bump into you in public places, without saying anything like “excuse me” or the Korean equivalent – this is a crowded place, get used to it.

Small talk with clerks or whatever in public places is not expected and is downright strange.

You should always be extra deferential to elders, especially if you’re young (say under 30) (giving them your seat on the subway, letting them cut the line, things like that).

People will ask you your age not because they’re rude, but because in Korea it’s important for establishing how they should address you when they speak.

Lotsa complicated rules for eating and drinking which I don’t have time to go into here but would if someone was interested.

PDAs are frowned upon, even minor things like a long kiss.

Same-gender touching/hugging/holding hands is common, without there being any sort of homosexual connotation.

Men should avoid going shirtless in public, even when exercising or running or something like that (some guys even keep their shirts on at the beach, and not because they’re overweight or something).

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#9

If you’re on the Tube: stand on the bloody right. Unless you want a horde of tutting Londoners staring angrily at the back of your head

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#10

When going to Germany y’all better bring some cash, because we don’t do card payments everywhere. It’s a bit random, but you should always have cash on you when checking out new places.

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#11

If you travel to the netherlands I advice to take a train daycard and travel across the country. Visit towns and nature you like and book a hotel somewhere you are. The Netherlands is much more than Amsterdam.

Image credits: Jonajager91

#12

Sweden:

We are very informal.

Everyone is on a first name basis, and we don’t use titles. If your doctor’s name is Maria Johnsson, you adress her as Maria during your visit.

And just because we don’t act as excited as a dog when their master is coming home, it doesn’t mean you are unwelcome here. We’re just a little toned down.

Also, unisex bathrooms are the standard here.

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#13

If you are female going to Saudi Arabia, make sure to dress as the locals there, because I want guarantee your safety tbh.

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#14

If you’re exploring the wilderness or even urban areas in Canada be warned that moose are one of the most dangerous encounters you can experience. They’re too big to outrun or outmuscle (even cougars you can, though rarely, fight off) and they’re too dumb to respond to you playing dead or running away or yelling at them. Just stay the hell away from them.

#15

Police here is usually quite nice. No risk of randomly getting shot. Also, we dont greet strangers on the street or interact with them if not necessary. Joking about the holocaust or doing the hitler salute can very well get you in trouble.

Germany

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#16

Scotland with one T. Not Scottland. Scots, not Scotts.

It’s “Ed-in-Bruh” or “Ed-in-bu-ruh” not “Ed-in-borrow”.

It’s “Glas-go” not “Glas-cow”

We don’t really care about your Scottish heritage. Tartan as it exists now is mostly an invention by the Victorians, so no, that was not your actual clan tartan.

Don’t call it scotch. It’s just called whisky here, without the ‘e’, we will assume you mean single malt scottish whisky unless you specify otherwise.

#17

Brazil’s northeast has the best beaches in the world. White thin sand, warm waters, the beaches are not very wide (you don’t need to walk a mile to reach the sea) and it is hot al year long, easy access by car and usually cheap restaurants around. No other place in the world has beaches that congregates so many great things. Some places in the southeast have also great beaches, but the northeast has the best.

Most of the beaches all over the world have problems, maybe they have rocks and you need to use those special shoes, some are very cold and you can only really enjoy them during summer, some have a type of sand that is yellow and thick, not so good, some have a really difficult access, some are deserted.

Really… nothing beats the northeast of Brazil for beaches.

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#18

Iceland.

Don’t be fooled, we are really quite rude, and semi unhappy. Not all of us, but since just recently we have never been known for being the “happiest nation” ever.

The women are not as easy as you think.

There is no such thing as a traditional Icelandic restaurant. Today we eat a lot hamburgers.

I don’t want to be asked about my personal life. Most don’t, unless they’ve had a drink or two.

We really do love to party, but the party doesn’t start until 2:00 am. Don’t go out before 12 and expect excitement. Also we drink to get drunk.

Do your research. It is expensive here. Tax is included in everything. If you spend 4000kr or more on merchandise (excluding food, postcards and stamps) you are entitled to 15% of your money back at the airport. The office is open 24/7. If you get your tax back in the city you will only receive 10%.

Take off your shoes when you come into our homes. (I think this goes for most Scandinavian countries).

Shower naked before you get into our swimming pools. No one cares, or is thinking about your body. It’s a policy here, when in Rome and just do it.

I feel like I should also add that going to the swimming pools is one of the cheapest things you can do here they are heated and really are magnificent. It’s totally worth it.

There is one main highway. It will take you all around Iceland. It is the number 1. The one and only. If you are in Iceland and have rented a car please beware of the weather conditions (i.e. black ice) and darkness especially in the winter.

If you do not consider 10 and 11 in the morning to be early, then supermarkets do not open early.

Summer in Iceland is great. New years in Iceland is mind blowing.

Image credits: dingdongdobie

#19

I think for the US, people should definitely know a couple things:

Tipping in restaurants isn’t just polite, it is expected/basically required and if you don’t tip, you will most likely be treated very poorly if you go back. It’s not just extra money, but it is a very f’ed up system where waitstaff are paid drastically under the minimums and it is expected that they make their money through tips. This is also way most waiters in the US are aggressively friendly and come to check on you ever five minutes and will rush you out at the end of the meal: they need you to like them so you’ll give them a big tip and they need to turn tables quickly to get more customers. Generally you’re expected to pay 10-20% of the bill as a tip. This exact expected percentage could be a bit different now, I don’t live in the US anymore. Also, water is free in American restaurants.

Americans are generally very outwardly friendly. This is more true for some parts of the country than it is for others, but, they will smile at you on the street, say hello, or even start a brief conversation with you. If you do not return these, you will generally be seen as rude and they will get offended. Also, when an American asks “how are you”, you should generally assume it’s just a greeting. The proper response is “Fine, thanks. How are you?” Obviously if they are your friends or family, you can actually go in to detail talking to them, but if you start telling the cashier at Walmart about your recent divorce and grandma’s death weighing down on your spirits after they ask that, you will get met with a very distrusting look.

Things are sometimes very far apart in the US. Even short distances, though, are usually not walkable because there is no infrastructure for walking somewhere. And in most places, there is no safe, reliable public transit system. And walking around after dark, depending on where you are, is incredibly dangerous.

America is incredibly conservative and prudish. They will not take kindly to you if you are openly using bad language in public or are wearing clothing that is too revealing. You have to remember, the US was founded by religious fanatics. Also, they have a lot of laws regarding alcohol. For starters: no one under 21 can drink. I know in some countries it is seen as the parents decision, whether they let their kid take a taste. Not in the US. They are very strict about this and if you get caught drinking under 21, you will go to jail. If you get caught giving alcohol to someone under 21, you will go to jail. Also, if you are drunk in public or are caught drinking alcohol in public, you will go to jail.

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#20

All Canadians really aren’t polite. I don’t know how we got that stereotype but people can be friendly, but they can also tell you to f**k off lmao.

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#21

In Paris :

Wear f***ing pants. I’m looking at you, Americans. If you wear shorts, you’re either a kid or a skateboarder, or you’re at the beach. Newsflash, there are no beaches in Paris.

People work here, they have no time for your questions. If you ask something to a random guy in the street, he won’t answer. That’s not you, that’s also the case between them. If you press the issue, he’s definitely going you the wrong directions.

If no cars are coming, just cross the street. If you wait by the side of the street for the little guy to be green and no cars are coming either way, you’re just in the way. Move along.

If you stand on the escalators, keep right. If you don’t, you’re gonna get yelled at.

Don’t go to the Champs Elysees on new years eve. You’re gonna get robbed and/or find yourself in the middle of a fight between Police and drunk youths.

Image credits: [deleted]

#22

Thailand

When you meet someone you have not seen for a while , they will make a comment about your weight .. Heavier or Skinner .. they’re not trying to be offensive .. it’s just how they are ..

We’re pretty much the least homophobic place on earth, two dude who are straight like to make gay lover jokes to each other.

You can pay the policemen to get out of minor traffic stuff.

Feet are consider very dirty .. and head is very important .. don’t mix them up, ie : don’t put your shoes on any shelve that’s taller than your head.

You don’t have to tip a lot when dine out.

If you’re a tourist .. expect to pay way more than local when buying something .. a lot of business charges 3x the amount of service for tourist especially westerners. Bring a local with you to haggle!

Image credits: damn_jexy

#23

When visiting Cape Town, make sure to carefully check the weather conditions at Table Mountain. Different conditions like wind and fog affect when it’s open. It may appear like a totally fine day in the city, yet the mountain could be closed because of high winds on the cable car. If you are there for a short trip, visit Table Mountain at your first opportunity.

Image credits: elevenghosts

#24

Here are a few things visitors to Ireland should know.

If somebody buys you a drink you’re expected to return the favor. As a visitor it’s easier to avoid buying rounds if at all possible as the whole thing can be very complicated.

Outside of the cities, Irish people tend to say hello to others, regardless of whether they know them or not. Say hello back.

Most bars/pubs serve food in the cities. But it can be difficulty to decipher if there is table service, or if you’re expected to order and pay at the bar. Sometimes it’s just easier to ask as soon as you go in rather than waiting at a table. Irish people even get confused about this. There is no consistency.

Irish pedestrians do not wait for a green light before attempting to cross the road. If there is a gap in the traffic people will cross the road.

Security staff aka bouncers in pubs and bars generally will have a quick chat with people before they let them in. Just a quick hello, how are you. This is very true of people in larger groups. Stag party’s and hen party’s will not be allowed in to many bars outside of Temple Bar.

Do not drink anywhere in Temple Bar. It’s unbelievably overpriced and there are much better and more traditional bars one or two streets away in all directions. Any pint costing more than €5/€5.50 is expensive. Anything over €6 is a rip off. Excluding craft beers.

We tend to drink our beers in pints. Irish people do not generally drink pints of Guinness in a night club. The quality is bad, stick to bottles in night clubs.

The best pint of Guinness is not served in the Guinness factory. (Try Mulligans, Brogans, Grogans, The Palace, Long Hall)

Bar staff do not expect a tip but if there is table service it is generally expected to let the waiter/waitress keep the change after buying a round of drinks. €1-€2. Tipping is expected for restaurant service.

People tend to tip taxi drivers, just a euro or two, not a lot. This isn’t essential, but if your journey is short it is nice to tip the drivers.

Irish people have many many words for toilet. Jacks, bog, john, bathroom etc…

Irish people curse a lot in everyday f***ing sentences, ya bollix. Don’t be offended.

If Irish people in your company start speaking Irish (Gaeilge) they are talking about you.

Our language is not called Gaelic, it’s called Irish, or Gaeilge. Gaelic football is correct however.

Ireland is not part of the UK, it is part of the British Isles, but do not draw attention to that. Do not confuse Ireland as being a member of the UK. It’s a touchy subject. We love the English really, but rarely admit it.

There are few rest-stops on our motorways. It is better now than in previous years, but if you need to use the bog then go before you leave on a long journey. Most of our cities are no more than 3 hours from Dublin, which is the centre of the universe, so the journeys are never too long.

Irish drivers do not use indicators. They are for decoration only. We are generally safe drivers however.

Buses and trains never leave on time. Do not believe the timetables. Download the official apps before arriving. The real-time information is somewhat reliable.

#25

Stop this so called slumdog tourism..

Going on guided tours to these slums and taking photos is akin to those human zoos in Belgium where they had African kids for amusement…

Those slum people are not some animals and you are not on a safari…

Also just because you visited a few temples, took selfies with some sadhu and donated some chocolates worth a Starbucks latte doesn’t mean you ” found yourself”…

I’m living in India for 28 years but still haven’t found myself.

#26

If you are going to France, don’t stay in Paris. Try to visit other places in the country.

Paris is horrible even for French people. People are kind of rude there and there are so many scammers and thieves waiting for tourists. Stay like a day or two there to visit some famous places.

You will see while traveling that France has some beautiful places outside Paris, like the “Côtes de Granite rose” in Brittany, many mountain ranges like the Alps, the Pyrenees or The Central Massif (to cite the biggest ones), the Auvergne’s Volcanoes, the “Calanques” in the South and even other beautiful big cities.

France is quite a small country compared to the US for example. You can easily travel across the country in less than a day with trains or planes. Even with a car it would take you around a full day.

Yes some people will only speak French, but they are very friendly and willing to help you out. If you visit some well-known places in the “countryside”, there will be people talking at least English. Don’t worry!

#27

Avoid ‘harbour cruises’. Instead, take a ferry ride from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay or Manly. Great harbour experience and quite cheap.

Sydney Harbout Bridge climb – very expensive but 100% worth it. Go at dawn or dusk

I hope for you it stops raining by the time you get here.

#28

In Morocco, make a point to stay at riads — townhouses with internal courtyards — whenever you can. They vary in price and room type (think: hostel dormitory to fancy and high-end). They are invariably unique, well decorated, and staffed by friendly helpful people. Most have a courtyard and roof terrace that offer a nice place to relax only a few meters from the chaos outside. Finding Riads can be a problem if it is your first trip to the medina, as they are often tucked down winding alleys, and some barely have a sign on their front door. Check a map before you arrive, and note down the name and address in case you need to ask people for help.

Image credits: travel_ali

#29

Don’t ever use your phone while you are walking on the street or even while you are stuck in the middle of the traffic because you will get robbed. Also, pay special attention to motorcycles, if there are two people on one, there is a 95% chance they will take away your phone or purse.

– Sincerely, a Peruvian that hates her country

#30

If your are going to Argentina and hear someone asking for the time, just ignore them or run really fast. You’re most probably going to get mugged.

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#31

Poland here. Don’t smile at strangers and don’t try to make small talk in public spaces. If you do, we’ll assume there’s something wrong with you.

Image credits: LongFeesh

#32

When coming to Slovakia, these tips might come in handy:

Bring some cash. Not all places and tourist sites you come to accept cards. Also, stay clear of Euronet cash machines, and verify the exchange offices on internet. You want good exchange rate.

Also, be ready to use a translating app on your phone when you need an assistance in a shop. Most of people here don’t understand English language, and you’d be lucky to find a person who understands English language. Just last week, I went to buy some nicotine pouches, and there was a guy who wanted something from the cashier, but she didn’t understand. So, I had to step in, and help them understand each other.

Some people here are rude. Some are not. You will know them when you run into them. Just don’t act like a self-righteous prick, and you will be alright. Because when you argue with Slovakians, you are sure to get s**t thrown your way (not literally).

Be careful with the alcohol. Bars and restaurants are expensive, so when you come here with your mates to get drunk, just buy the liquor of your choice in a shop. It’s way cheaper that way, and almost as cheap as Czech alcohol.

If you are coming here for adult entertainment, you better not. Some of the brothels are owned by mafia, so if you don’t want trouble with them, just stay away. Strip clubs are also rare.

If you are homosexual, be closeted about it. Don’t show it, don’t talk about it. Just pretend that you are two friends of the same sex on a trip. This country is still largely homophobic (which is a shame), and even in the big cities like Kosice, Nitra, and Bratislava, you might get physically or verbally assaulted for that.

If you are indeed considering going to a bar, be careful. There are “bar streets” in each big city, but regardless of the size, if you give someone the wrong look, you will get your s**t kicked in by drunks. If you are a foreigner who doesn’t understand Slovak language on some level, stay clear of pubs in villages, because local drunks are usually older people who hate foreigners (and usually are also racist on some level).

We have a sh**ton of historical sites, and beautiful nature. Give especially the caves a try, you won’t regret it. However, a lot of tourists get lost in our forests, or die in the hills, because they are underequipped and unprepared. I have seen a few tourists in High Tatras with flip flops. It’s dangerous to go hiking without the right shoes. I mean, I did go nearly to one of the highest peaks of High Tatras in Converse shoes, but that was because I spent a lot of time hiking through my entire life, and I had to throw them away after we came down because they got absolutely destroyed on the way down.

Image credits: BandicootSVK

#33

Israel. If you seem like a tourist you will get scammed by literally every person you meet (not regular people, but taxi drivers or independent service workers like in the market). Which sucks because when you don’t speak our language you 100% seem like a tourist so there’s no way to hide.

Image credits: Bibihaking

#34

In Hong Kong, everyone walks very fast and have stern face as default. Don’t be texting on the road or blocking the way, because there might be a poor guy hurrying to go to work.

Always bring a jacket, cause our air-conditioning in shopping mall is very cold.

When you arrive, make sure your vaccine status right and you are negative for COVID.

For that LeaveHome Safe apps, if you dine in, please use it (I hate to say this) because the restaurant will be in BIG trouble if they don’t obey to aid such treacherous surveillance, particularly those with a pro-democratic or even just pro-HK people stance.

PS: Our government sucks, and don’t blame us, we don’t elect them. If you see police on street, stop and search you without reason, speak English or whatever non-Cantonese, they cannot handle it, and if you speak Mandarin, to my best knowledge, they will let you go easily.

Image credits: Used-Type8655

#35

Smoking weed in public/on the streets is not liked .

Smokers that are native in the Netherlands have a moral code!

– Don’t smoke in shopping/general people walking streets.
– Don’t smoke where kids are (playground, schoolgrounds etc)
– Smoke at home or a public park.
– Try not to blow out your smoke into other people faces
– You may stink, so wind your self out / use spray.
– You don’t need to say directly how stoned you are in public.
– Don’t be that over confidences tourist if you never smoke, get some sugary drinks/foods. So your body will turn bit normal.

#36

From Costa Rica! Most of us are really polite, friendly and approachable people, that doesn’t mean you can’t get mugged. Be careful! Also don’t smoke here, we have a lot of laws against smoking in public and we have really good air, don’t come to contaminate it!

Yes some people do smoke, but not in restaurants, bus stops, sidewalks, etc. Honestly I don’t know if there is a place where smokers can go! Just don’t do it! Is disgusting!
I was in Europe a couple of months ago and God I was shocked. Everyone smokes. I was sooo happy when I came back!

#37

South Africa – be aware of your surroundings when you are out exploring. Unfortunately, crime is common. Keep a close eye on your pockets and don’t walk around at night.

#38

I’m Colombia if you see the exact same motorcycle more than 2 times run.

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#39

Its in the South East Asia, meaning there are no blacks (Africans/African descent) but most people tend to have slightly darker skin tone, that’s why if you’re black, they might call you the n word, but they’re not being offensive, most of them just don’t know that the n word is considered offensive

Image credits: Default_88

#40

My biggest regret about my time in Hong Kong was not discovering how amazing the New Territories are until just before I moved back home. Tai Long Wan and it’s neighboring stretches are maybe the most incredible beaches I’ve ever been to, in part because of how empty they are. The neighborhoods up there have nice local markets and restaurants with interesting transportation options and phenomenal hiking. I was always concerned with not being able to get where I wanted to go or possibly being stuck and having to camp (which isn’t the worst thing in the world and is fun in it’s own right) so I put off going north for far too long.

Also: karaoke. If you don’t speak Cantonese it will all sound amazing to you.

#41

In spite of the hilarious s**t you see in the news, you’ll find most Americans do not feel comfortable talking about politics with outsiders and would much rather talk about the positive things about the US and will want to learn about your country too. The same goes for Americans visiting overseas, don’t embarrass them by opening with “That Trump guy, eh? Hahahaha!” (yes, this happened to me).

#42

We are known to have cheap food (not the main reason). While that may be true in the main part of the country. About the rest of it nah man get ready to pay 200$ for a entire one for of spaghetti. (Greece)

#43

Cities are boring and ugly, but geography is awesome… Chile
Source: boredpanda.com

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