30 People Share “Unwritten” Rules In Their Countries That Foreigners Might Not Know About

Internet users share the unwritten rules of their area to the benefit of hapless tourists and travelers. The post 30 People Share "Unwritten" Rules In Their Countries That Foreigners Might Not Know About first appeared on Bored Panda.

30 People Share “Unwritten” Rules In Their Countries That Foreigners Might Not Know About

Traveling can produce a sense of wonder and excitement, but it’s pretty easy to commit cultural faux pas without even realizing it. From hand gestures to eating habits, some things are just not universal and tourists would do their best to prepare accordingly. Fortunately, well-organized internet users decided to ask locals what are the dos and don'ts of visiting their country, city, or general area.

So scroll down, dear Pandas, and upvote the rules that surprised you. Be sure to comment your own stories or unwritten local rules and if the travel bug has not left you, check out Bored Panda’s other lists of unwritten travel rules here


Ireland here; We don't care if you're the bloody love child of Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera, if you weren't born or raised in Ireland, you don't call yourself Irish.

I'm looking at you, American tourists...

Image credits: Eoin741


Germany - Be there by the time you told me or I will be very pissed.

Image credits: idonteven93


~~England~~ **UK** here.
Thanking the bus driver for the journey when you leave at your stop.

Image credits: chakraattack

Traveling often means dealing with a language you don’t know, sometimes involving a completely incomprehensible alphabet. So often, as tourists, we rely on hand gestures and smiles to communicate an idea. Can’t say thank you in the language? Just show a thumbs up! Unless you are in the Middle East or West Africa, where it is roughly equivalent to the middle finger! So if you are a person who gesticulates a lot, be sure to practice before leaving to avoid making an international incident. 

Similarly, the ‘ok’ sign, formed by making a circle with the thumb and index finger, is relatively insulting in Brazil. So the bottom line is, maybe learn a few useful phrases ahead of time and practice them at home. It will save you the embarrassment of accidentally flipping someone off and you’ll expand your vocabulary at the same time.


Americans visiting Canada: Don't call us America's hat or the 51st state or any of that other nonsense. It's not endearing and it's not funny. It's just annoying. We love your country very much, and you're totally out bestie. But we don't want to actually be you.

With love, Timbits and kind regards,


SWIM BETWEEN THE FLAGS. Or you will die. [Australia]

Image credits: squashedfrog462


South Africa - Don't ever pick up hitchhikers!

Image credits: kayoss922

It's important to also remember that something normal in your country might be weird almost everywhere else. For example, in most places, one takes their shoes off at the door, before entering a house, while Americans might leave them on. Now, this isn’t universal and consistent, but in much of the world, walking around your host’s home in shoes or, God forbid, boots, would be seen as rude. The origins of this American practice are unclear, but it’s often linked to American car dependency. If you go from driveway to car to driveway, your shoes are unlikely to be that dirty anyway.


(southern) Italy

1. Always eat offered food if visiting
2. Always accept to have coffe bought
3. Don t be scared of phisical contact. People will touch you, hug you, kiss you.
4. Offer to buy coffe. it s mandatory if you want to have "respect"
5. always talk to people. In line, in the bus, at the bank, at the post office

Image credits: anon


Denmark - "Janteloven"

Don't flaunt your s**t in the face of people who have less than you, and don't feel that you are worth more than others, merely because you are wealthy.


England checking in: Always queue. Never push. This morning since the tubes are down because of strikes, there were people actually queuing for queues. Intense.

Image credits: MaceoPlex

If you are traveling and you are unsure what small talk topics are acceptable, defaulting to the weather is a safe bet. This is stereotypically attributed to the Brits but can be applied everywhere. After all, the weather is a universal experience and affects both the rich and poor alike. Experiencing bad weather together also creates a sort of social solidarity. 


Northern Ireland: Do not bring up religion/scottish football teams in a pub unless you are looking for a fight.

Image credits: Kaos_pro



Don't sit next to someone on the bus if you can avoid it.

Don't talk to strangers.

Image credits: DirtMaster3000


Thailand - Always pay for items with the banknote showing the Kings head facing up.

The same goes for India and Ghandi.

Most won't bat an eyelid as your obviously a foreigner, however some will be very offended. Surprisingly this is something a lot of travelling folk have never heard of.

Image credits: SPullen

Similarly, be sure to avoid certain topics or small talk in general. Learn about a country's history and religion before, so you don’t accidentally offend a local or provoke a rant about their horrible neighbors, rival football teams, or anything else. In some places, like Northern Europe, small talk is uncommon and it is best to simply stay silent.


America: When someone on the train or subway says - "Good Morning Everyone.. My name is..", you turn around cuz they're about to tell a sob story and start begging for money.

Image credits: danrennt98


England: Always moan about the weather.

It's never "just right". You are either too hot, too cold, too wet, too dull, too windy.

Three flakes of snow on the ground and the whole f*****g country comes to a standstill.

Image credits: Tcbf88


Always take off your shoes when visiting an Estonian. They might not say anything if you don't but you'll practically FEEL their disapproval.

Image credits: SigridPixie


Sweden checking in. Respect for personal space is probably #1 here

Image credits: mr_loveboat


Southern US- If you propose something and everyone just nods and smiles, it's a southern no.


In San Francisco, you are expected to act like nothing fazes you.

Old man dressed entirely in leather straps with a ball gag in his mouth? Obese homeless lady with an electronic skeleton playing a banjo? Three young women wearing only sandals? Robin Williams? No matter what you encounter, you're supposed to pretend that it's a part of your daily routine to see it. Outsiders are quickly identified by their tendency to stare, comment, or otherwise take notice of the city's eclectic sights and sounds, at which point they will be swindled by a junk vendor.

Image credits: RamsesThePigeon


Ireland. Stand your round. When you go out to the pubs with a group of friends, make sure to pay for a round of drinks when it's your turn. The other members of your group *will* make a big show of trying to pay for you, telling you to put your wallet away, etc., especially if you are new to the group or are a foreigner (or both). DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, GIVE IN TO THIS TOMFOOLERY. If you do, you will be secretly labeled a cheap bastard and will not be invited out the next day.

(The foregoing should be interpreted half-jokingly, but no more than half.)


America: If you cut someone off in traffic, give a little wave - it makes everything okay. I swear I could have a head on collision at their fault, but if they waved afterwards I'd feel bad that I called them a f*****g douchebag.

Image credits: danrennt98


Trinidad & Tobago. You better say good morning/good afternoon/good evening when you enter public transportation vehicles.

Image credits: thisisbowling


in america if someone random asks you hows it going just say "good, you?". dont actually tell them how's it going.

no idea how this became a thing


Don't mess with the seagulls.

Aberdeen, Scotland.


Ireland-give as good as you get! If we like you we will 'rip the p**s' (tease you/insult you) and expect you to do the same in return!! It's called banter and it's basically our 2nd language!!


Southern USA-
If someone offers you something, or offers to do something for you, refuse at least three times. Three times is obligatory. If they continue to offer after that, it's a true offer, but if they say after the third refusal "are you sure?" you say yes, you are, and then all is well.

Also, Yes means yes, sure means maybe, maybe means no, no means "how could you possibly be so rude as to continue to pester me until I have to say no?"

Finally, "bless your heart" is not a compliment.

Image credits: citrusonic


Canadian here. B***h about the cold, but only to other Canadians. Nobody else needs to know that we're f*****g sick of minus 30 with the windchill.


India: Lanes exist on the roads but lane driving doesn't.

Image credits: anon


Puerto Rico:

Another puertorican in a street of PR? Enemy.

Another puertorican in a street of anywhere in the world? Long lost best friend.

This is how I ended up with my current roommate. I was at the gym and I notice that he had a PRican flag and island tattoed on his arm. I said "Boricua?" (which is the native word for puertoricans) and we hit it off right away. We've been best buddies since then.



No parmesan on pasta seasoned with fish sauces

No capuccino after 11am

If you have 3 people coming for dinner, cook for 19.

And I only listed the food rules!


Iran: If there is money involved, the person receiving money (shopkeeper, taxi driver, lender) HAS TO say a phrase that basically means it's free, similar to "it's on the house."

It is NEVER free. It's just something that has to be said, to the point that shopkeepers emotionlessly say it while taking your money at the same time. And even more extreme they will say it even after an argument about the money or bargaining has taken place.

No one can explain it, it's just the way it is.