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Tips on Trips
Editor: Piero Scaruffi
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  • The suffix "san" must be added to a person's first name to show respect
  • Slightly bow to superiors and older people
  • "Yes" means "I heard you", not "I agree"
  • Eye contact and physical contact are considered rude
  • Don't shake hands

South America

  • Ask "permiso" before walking into somebody's house or an office
  • Remove your hat before entering a building, whether private or public
  • Remove your shoes before entering somebody's home
  • Kiss friends European style (both cheeks)
  • Refuse food a few times before accepting it
  • All prices are supposed to be bargained


  • Offer to remove your shoes when you walk into somebody's house
  • For latin countries, see Latin America
  • Kiss friends on both cheeks
  • Seat yourself at the restaurant

Buddhist countries

  • Never point your feet to a Buddha
  • Remove your shoes and socks before entering a temple


  • Refuse food a few times before accepting it, and don't finish the food in the plate
  • Remove your shoes before entering any private or sacred building
  • Eat only with your right hand (and usually with no fork)
  • Tilting one's head to either side means "yes"
  • You are expected to release a table as soon as you finished eating
  • The feet are considered the most unworthy part of the body
  • Do not touch children's heads
  • Men do not stare at women, women do not stare al men.

Arab countries

  • You are supposed to always tip people, even if you agreed on a price
  • It is perfectly ok for adult men to hold hands
  • Eat only with your right hand
  • Remove your shoes before entering a mosque
  • Shake hands when you meet somebody and keep hands clasped for a little bit
  • Every price is supposed to be bargained
  • Men greet men, women greet women
  • If you are vegetarian, explain it very carefully: it is insulting to refuse meat
  • Men and women are carefully separated in many occasions: make sure you are not in the women's area
  • Do not point at people
  • Do not touch people, unless they touch you

Slavic countries

  • Alcohol and cigarettes are the way to show friendship: if you don't drink and don't smoke, make sure people understand you are not trying to offend them

Black Africa


  • Anything goes as far as dressing, eating, etc
  • Smoking in somebody's face is rude and unpolite, and often illegal
  • A waiter will seat you at the restaurant
  • Americans consider it rude to drive aggressively, and will snap at you
  • Americans are obsessed with speed: speed limits are controlled by police with radars
  • Stand in line
  • Tip waiters (15%) and taxi drivers (5-10%)
TM, ®, Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.