In 2019, two Norwegian women dived into a Venice, Italy canal for a swim and a few hours later they ended up at the local police station. They were fined around $3,000. It is illegal to swim in canals because it is dangerous. A few thousand miles away and at a different time, two Czech tourists were arrested in Bali, Indonesia for taking a bath at the holy fountain at the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary and posting the video online. While both these cases are extreme, the takeaway is the same – to know the basic dos and donts before travelling to another country.

We, at ways2wander, have compiled a list of basic etiquette you should follow as a tourist. These will not only help you avoid offending the locals, but learn something new about other cultures.


Avoid littering, as it is against the law in Australia. Specifically, refrain from discarding cigarette butts from your car window, as this act is a common cause of bushfires.

When attending a barbecue in Australia, whether it’s at a home, park, or beach, it’s customary to bring something. Whether you contribute a salad, provide meat, or purchase beverages, it’s always appreciated. Additionally, consider leaving any unconsumed beverages in the host’s fridge as a gesture of gratitude before departing.

While petting kangaroos are welcome in Australia, rules are different for koalas in different regions. It is legal to hold koalas in Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia. It is prohibited in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory. The restriction in certain regions is based on concerns for the well-being of koalas. Studies indicate that koalas can experience stress even near humans.


If honking is an everyday ritual for millions of commuters across India, it is the opposite of that in Norway. The locals honk only in emergencies. Honking outside of any emergencies leads to panic among the locals


While tipping is considered polite in countries like India and the USA, do not do it when in Japan. Tipping is an important aspect for it allows a client to reward the server as per their service. However, in Japan, it is considered degrading.

In Japan, you should remove your shoes before entering someone’s house or a sacred place. You might receive a pair of slippers to take you from the front door but you need to remove them when stepping on the tatami (reed mat).

Finally, avoid sticking your chopsticks upright in your rice bowl, it is similar to a Japanese funeral rite.


Shaking hands with one hand in your pocket is considered rude in Germany. Other things are considered impolite including not keeping your hands on the table while eating, Using the “okay” sign (index finger and thumb joined together to make a circle) and pointing your index finger to your head.


If you do not know the person, do not smile. Smiling is considered an intimate gesture, indicating an affinity toward another person. Smiling at people you do not know can be seen as insincere. In fact, Russians even have a dedicated proverb for this strange cultural norm. It is “Smejutsya tot kto smeetsya bez prichini” which translates to “He who laughs for no reason is a fool.”


Avoid extending your legs in front of you, as it is considered impolite. Refrain from pointing your finger when indicating something or referring to someone, particularly when showcasing religious items. Steer clear of making jokes about the Bhutanese royals, clergy, or authorities.

Keep in mind that Bhutanese individuals are known for their politeness and tend not to engage in aggressive negotiation. Trying to bargain with them is rude. Remember that climbing the sacred peaks of Bhutan’s Himalayas is strictly forbidden.


Refrain from labelling individuals from Ireland as ‘British,’ and likewise, do not mistakenly associate Ireland with the United Kingdom and vice versa. These two nations have distinct cultures.

Avoid resorting to stereotypes when interacting with your Irish counterparts, especially those related to alcohol and drunkenness, as such references are likely to be poorly received.

Opt for the front seat when taking a cab in Ireland to adhere to the principles of egalitarianism, rather than sitting in the back. Riding shotgun is considered a more polite and respectful choice.