Customs / Etiquette / Laws


This can be a awkward area when travelling around the world. Whilst it may not be of any importance in for instance Australia, in North America it can lead to disgruntled service providers if not addressed properly.

A useful infographic can be found here: ‘Tipping around the world’



Cultural sensitivities / customs

Whether its blowing your nose in public in Japan to shaking a Islamic ladies hand in the middle east, if in this situation it can lead to losing face and respect with locals and also even break local laws in many cases. Remember culture is always changing, so what may have been customary years ago may be out of date in recent times. It always pays to do your homework.

A great book on this can be found here: Essential Dos – Taboo Book –

For country by country customs, I find Kwintessential have covered all bases.

Wikipedia have got it covered with peer-to-peer information on this area:

*** Culture (Wikipedia Portal) –


General examples of major taboos are:

In Japan, never blow your nose into a handkerchief. The Japanese word for snot is hanakuso, which translates to “nose sh-t”, so they don’t like the idea of anyone carrying it around with them.

Watch out – Carnations are used at funerals in Germany, Poland and Sweden. Chrysanthemums are used at funerals in Belgium, Italy, France, Spain and Turkey. It’s unlucky to give odd numbers of flowers in China and Indonesia, but odd numbers of flowers are lucky in Germany, India, Russia and Turkey.

Right is right – The left hand is considered the dirty hand in Africa and India, so use only your right hand when you eat.

If you are on business in Japan, the business card exchange is a ritual you need to know about. Receive the card with both hands and a slight bow, then read it carefully. Never put it into your pocket or write on it.

Never wink at anyone in India, unless you know it has sexual connotations.

Information obtained from:


Appropriate dress

Each nation around the world has various standards as to cultural norms and also any restrictions or taboos in terms of fashion. Make a wrong choice and in some nations it can send you to jail or face the scorn of the locals. This is especially true for more conservative nations where low cut tops and above the knee mini skirts for women are banned. Also applies for when you are visiting places of worship or reverence. It pays to do your homework.

More tips and matters to consider are expressed in the links below:


Religious Matters

Follow from the dress codes, religion often guides social norms and attitudes in many nations. In additon to dress code, what you should and should not do when visiting sacred places or also in general in more relgious nations are of most importance. For example, bringing meat to a hindu party will go down as taboo and insensitive, as cattle as revered in hinduism and its followers are vegetarian. Or bringing pork to an islamic household will generate gasps, as pork is considered haram (fordidden dirty meat) in the islamic faith. These are obviously extreme examples, but cultural taboos can be broken easily by a naive person, without doing some research. More information on regilous influences and is acceptable or not can be found here:


Music genres –
Jazz –

World legal systems

Commonwealth (guilt proven) vs civil (guilt implied automatically)


Links last checked : / /2015

Important Disclaimer

Any advice and recommendations given on this website are as a general and informal guide only, taken from practical experience of the owner of this website.

Any hyperlinks on this website that take you to third-party websites are provided for your reference and convenience only, and do not imply an endorsement of the material on the third-party sites or any association with the owners or operators of those sites.This website does not control any of these third-party sites and is not responsible for their content. You access and use the third-party websites at your own risk.

Copyright Information

© Anthony Warren and ‘Life Through the Lens’ 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Anthony Warren and the ‘Life Through the Lens’ Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.