World's Most-Visited Countries - Travel Etiquette
While tipping traditionally is frowned upon in Russia (many will probably tell you otherwise), it is a recent phenomenon, emerging after the fall of communism, and few waiters think that it's up to the guest to decide how much he or she wants to tip. Should you leave more money than the exact total when paying your bill at a restaurant - particularly if it happens to be more or less like 10% above the total, which is the customary tip in Russia - it will be interpreted as a tip. If the service was particularly bad and you want to make a point, be persistent in your demands to get your change back.
A lot of respect is required when it comes to talking about World War II and the Soviet Union. That conflict was a major tragedy for Soviets and every family has at least one relative among the 25-30 million people who died—way above all of Western Europe and America combined—and the scars of that conflict are still felt today.
Likewise, keep your political opinions to yourself. Ask as many questions you like, but avoid making statements or comments about its past and current political situation. Russia and the Soviet Union had an often violent history and most Russian people are tired of hearing "how bad the Soviet Union was" from western people.
Mexicans have a somewhat relaxed sense of time, so be patient. Arriving 15 minutes later than scheduled is often the norm.
When anyone, even a total stranger, sneezes, you always say "¡salud!" ("bless you!" or more literally, "your health!"): otherwise, it is considered rude.
The overwhelming majority of the population is and traditionally has been Roman Catholic, which results in many Mexicans being deeply religious and conservative in character, especially outside of the main cities.
General rule of thumb: be on Time!
Most Germans arrive 5-10 minutes early and take this for granted from everyone. Arriving more than two minutes late to a meeting is seen as rude and will be tolerated only with unknowing strangers, unless you can give good reason in your defense. It is seen as a courtesy to call the other participants if you seem to run late. Regular delays are seen as a disrespect for the other participants.
Insults against other people are prohibited by German law and, if prosecuted for it, can result in jail time and a heavy fine. It is unknown how often charges are brought, but exercise common sense in all cases.
Humour, even made innocently, is absolutely the wrong way of approaching the matter and is insulting. Even worse, what might sound funny abroad may earn you jail time (up to 3 years) and a hefty fine in Germany. All Nazi-era slogans, symbols, and gestures are forbidden (except for educational purposes, and even these are strongly regulated), and displaying them in public is illegal. Foreigners are not exempted from these laws. Do not even think about jokingly giving a stiff arm Nazi (roman) salute!
China is the birthplace of chopsticks and unsurprisingly, all important etiquette is related to using chopsticks. While Chinese generally feel tolerant over table manners, you will highly likely be seen as ill brought up, annoying , offensive when using chopsticks in wrong ways. Be stick to the following rules:
Never use your chopsticks to examine a dish piece by piece, making everyone to taste your saliva. Implicitly use your eye to target what you want, and pick it.
Once you pick a piece, you are obliged to take it. Don't put it back. Confucius says never leave someone what you don't want.
When someone is picking a dish, don't try to cross over or go underneath his arms to pick a dish farther. Wait until they finish picking.
In most cases, a dish is not supposed to be picked simultaneously by more than one person. Don't try to compete with anyone to pick a piece from the same dish.
Don't put your chopsticks vertically into your bowl of rice as it is reminiscent of incense sticks burning at the temple and carries the connotation of wishing death for those around you. Instead, place it across your bowl or on the chopstick rest, if provided.
Don't drum your bowl with chopsticks. Only beggars do it. People don't find it fun even if you're willing to satirically call yourself a beggar.
When a guest fails to comply with etiquette above, observe others' facial expression. It's common for them to openly stop you or show a scorn on it.
Bowing. Men bow with their hands to their sides. Women bow with their hands together in front. Women's hands look like they are settled in their lap when bowing, not in a prayer position. The exact degree of the bow depends on your position in society relative to the receiver of the bow and on the occasion, the largely unwritten rules are complex but foreigners are not expected to understand them immediately and a "token bow" is fine.
Many Japanese will, in fact, gladly offer a handshake instead!
When handing something to someone, especially a business card, it's considered polite to present it holding it with both hands.
When drinking sake or beer in a group, it's considered polite not to fill your own glass, but to allow someone else to do it. Typically, glasses are refilled well before they are empty. To be especially polite, hold up your own glass with both hands while one of your companions fills it.
Gift-giving is very common in Japan. You, as a guest, may find yourself inundated with gifts and dinners. Please be aware, though, that among Japanese, such generosity is implicitly expected to be returned in the future. Foreign guests are, of course, outside of this sometimes burdensome system of give-and-take (kashi-kari) but it would be a nice gesture to offer a gift or souvenir (omiyage), including one unique to or representative of your country. A gift that is "consumable" is advisable due to the smaller size of Japanese homes. Items such as soap, candies, liquor, stationery will be well-received, as the recipient will not be expected to have it on hand on subsequent visits. "Re-gifting" is a common and accepted practice, even for items such as fruit.
Expressing gratitude is slightly different from obligatory gift-giving. Even if you brought a gift for your Japanese host, once you return, it is a sign of good ettiquette to send a hand-written thank you card or the like - it will be much appreciated. Japanese guests always exchange photos they have taken with their hosts, so you should expect to receive some snapshots and should prepare to send yours (of you and your hosts together) back to them. Depending on their age and the nature of your relationship (business versus personal) an online exchange may suffice.
The elderly are given special respect in Japanese society, and they are used to the privileges that come with it. Visitors waiting to board a train may be surprised to get shoved aside by a fearless obaa-san who has her eye on a seat. Note that certain seats ("silver seats") on many trains are set aside for the disabled and the elderly.
If visiting a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple, follow the appropriate cleansing procedure at the chÅzuya (æ‰‹æ°´èˆŽ) before you enter. After filling the dippers with water, first rinse your left hand, followed by your right hand. Thereafter, cup your left hand and fill it with water, then use it to rinse your mouth. Do not touch the dipper directly with your mouth. Finally, rinse your left hand again with the water remaining in the dipper.
It is customary to kiss friends, family, and acquaintances on both cheeks upon seeing each other and saying goodbye. Male-to-male kisses of this sort are limited to family members or to very close friends, otherwise a firm handshake is expected instead. So same as in France or Italy.
Spaniards are keen to maintain physical contact while talking, such as putting a hand on your shoulder, patting your back, etc. These should be taken as signs of friendship done among relatives, close friends and colleagues.
During lunch or dinner, Spaniards do not begin eating until everyone is seated and ready to eat. Likewise, they do not leave the table until everyone is finished eating. Table manners are otherwise standard and informal, although this also depends on the place you are eating. When the bill comes, it is common to pay equally, regardless of the amount or price each has consumed.
When Spaniards receive a gift or are offered a drink or a meal, they usually refuse for a bit, so as not to seem greedy. This sometimes sparks arguments among especially reluctant people, but it is seen as polite. Remember to offer more than once (on the third try it must be fairly clear if they will accept it or not). On the other hand, if you are interested in the offer, politely smile and decline it, saying that you don't want to be a nuisance, etc. but relent and accept when they insist.
While Spaniards may not always be the most punctual people in the world, you should never arrive late to appointments: this will seem very bad to most people.
If you are staying at a Spaniard's home, bring shoes to wear inside such as slippers.
Walking around barefoot in the house is viewed as unsanitary and also an easy way to catch a cold.
It is considered very rude to be loud in a crowded place, such as a subway car or restaurant. Keep in mind that, though you may be enjoying your holiday, most people around you in the métro or other places are probably going to or back from work and may be tired and thus will react very coldly to tourists babbling at the top of their lungs. If you listen to the locals talk, you will notice that they talk rather softly.
If you try to use your French to address people be careful about the use of "tu" (informal, friendly, and called tutoyer; which is a verb, to call someone "tu") and "vous" (formal, respectful, and called vouvoyer; vb. to call someone vous) forms. Using tu can be demeaning to people, since this is the form normally used for addressing children or close friends.
People who do not know each other well seldom use their first name to introduce themselves. Refrain from using someone's first name unless you are invited to do so or if you are with people used to dealing with foreigners. Actually French people will use the "tu" and the "vous", "first name" or "surname" depending on their relationship and the code is not easy to learn.
Italy has a reputation for being warm and welcoming and Italians are uncommonly friendly and laid back, as well as very used to interacting with foreigners. If you are polite and civil you should have no problems, but don't expect that the average Italian speaks or even understands English (except for young people).
Italians greet friends with two light kisses on the cheek. To avoid ending up kissing on the lips note that you first move to the right (i.e. kiss the other person on their left cheek) and then to the left. Even if you're merely acquaintances, this form of greeting is usual, both on arrival and departure. When groups are splitting up, expect big delays as everyone kisses everyone else. On first introduction a handshake is usual, although not necessarily the firm businesslike shake other nationalities may be used to. In general, when joining or leaving a group, you will shake hands individually with (or kiss, depending on the level of familiarity) each member of the group. In the South, it is considered bad luck for four people to shake hands (two and two) at the same time, forming a cross. You will see Italians, especially older ones, pull back from a handshake and wait to shake your hand until the other handshake is finished, to avoid this.
Advice for women
Sexual harassment is not regarded in the same way in Italy as in English-speaking countries. The general atmosphere is pretty unreconstructed, and women should be prepared for attention. However, the tone of this 'attention' is generally less aggressive than you may be used to. Men will call out compliments such as 'bella' (beautiful) or, if you are lucky, 'bellissima' (incredibly beautiful) instead of muttering crude suggestions. And, culturally, these comments are not seen as insults; if you respond angrily everyone will be very surprised.