20+ Things About Other Countries That Tourists Just Can’t Understand

Places
4 years ago

There is a saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” so when we go to a different country, we follow the rules of this country. However, the differences in mentality and culture can be pretty shocking, even for the most experienced travelers. And if you don’t know the local rules, the least that can happen is that you confuse the local people, and the worst — you could get a fine or even a prison sentence.

We at Bright Side don’t want our readers’ vacations to be ruined by silly mistakes, so we decided to tell you about the most unusual behavior and rules in other countries.

Driving rules and transport

  • A rickshaw in India might charge you many times more if you don’t speak Hindi. And in the Southern states of India, the itineraries and number of buses are not listed in English. They are only in Malayalam and Kannada.
  • In Bulgaria, Montenegro, and Georgia (unlike the countries of Western Europe) driving laws are often broken.

  • When you are in Great Britain, prepare to spend a lot on public transport. A single trip costs £4.90 ($6.30).

  • During Shabbat in Israel, there is no way to take any public transport except for a taxi. Or you can go by foot.

  • In Vietnam, during peak hours, cars drive on the sidewalks. Just like cyclists in Germany, they drive at really fast speeds and will drive right through crowds of people. And if you are a slow pedestrian, they might also yell at you.

  • In Thailand, it is almost impossible to find a taxi with a baby car seat and driving there is not safe at all.

Stores

  • In Sweden and other European countries, many stores only take credit cards.
  • In India, there is no such thing as organized lines in stores. Whoever is the strongest and can push through, gets to buy the food. There may be 20-30 people, but you could spend hours waiting.
  • If you take a long time to look at something in a Thai store and then you don't buy it because you don't like it, the owner might get openly aggressive. In general, the people there are nice, but they might start yelling all of a sudden.

Service

  • In Italy, the service is included in the bill at almost every restaurant. Many tourists are shocked when they see the final price because it's different from what they expected. The Italian coperto is the service price, which depends on how popular a place is and where it is located.
  • In Europe, an internet connection may be very expensive.
  • It sometimes feels like it is not people that work in the service industry in Europe, but robots. It is impossible to negotiate and it sometimes gets absurd. An internet user shared this story, "We booked a transfer online for 2 people, but one day before our departure, one more person joined us. We were sure we would be able to negotiate with the driver. A bus that holds 50 people arrived, and only 4 seats were taken. The driver took our bags and wouldn't even listen to us: the reservation was for 2 people, so he could take only 2 people. So we traveled 80 miles on an empty bus."
  • In Italy, the price of coffee at a table and at the bar is different.
  • In the streets of Southeast Asia, there are a lot of wires everywhere. Aside from looking bad in photos, they are often damaged, so people have trouble using the electricity.
  • In India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, when you call a plumber, an electrician, or any other worker, prepare to have to wait for them for weeks. The same goes for buying water. It can take a long time to receive it and tap water in this part of the world is best to be avoided.

Food

  • In France, you can only buy cold popcorn.
  • In Italy, they don't drink tea. The best you can find in a restaurant is a teabag that costs €3. To put this in perspective, €3 is enough to buy 2 packs of tea at the supermarket.
  • Only the luckiest people manage to not get a stomach virus during their first week in India (even if you cook all the food yourself and wash your hands properly). But after just a few days of torture, your immune system trains itself so well, that it never fails again.
  • In the countries of Southeast Asia, people eat with their right hands. The left hand is for the "toilet business." So, if you don't want to be laughed at, don't touch your food with your left hand.

Habits, superstitions, and communication rules

  • In Thailand, Indonesia, and other countries of Southeast Asia, they take off their shoes when they enter into any building. It is quite tiring to take off your shoes every time you go into a shop.
  • In Canada, complaining to the authorities makes you a responsible citizen. Your neighbor might come by your place, drink a cup of tea with you, be nice to your daughter, and 30 minutes later, a group of people comes to your doorstep because someone complained about your unmowed lawn.
  • Norwegians can never sit in front of someone they don’t know on a bus. Instead, they will stand on the bus, even if it is uncomfortable for them.
  • What can be confusing is how friendly European people appear to be. An internet user said this, “I was visiting my friend in Sweden and I was treated like a Queen. Her husband is Swedish and he was very happy to help me. He drove me around their town, even though I tried to refuse. When I got back home, I was shocked by my friend’s call. She asked me to never come back again. It turned out that her husband was uncomfortable with me spending a whole month with them.”
  • In Georgia, people talk about all kinds of little things, all the time. Some people enjoy this, but it can be very tiring when you spend 15 minutes talking about how you went to the supermarket.
  • In Asia, nobody is in a hurry. When you are running late for the airport, a taxi driver might just stop and eat some street food for 10 minutes.
  • When you ask for directions in many countries in Southeast Asia, they might lie to you and confuse you. For some reason, they lie a lot.
  • Depending on the context, the same head gesture that Indians make can mean yes, no, or I don’t know.

Rules and fines

  • In China, having to go through metal detectors all the time, even in the streets, and especially downtown, can be very annoying. In Spain, you might have to pay a €500 fine if a policeman feels that you were not respectful enough.
  • The Berlin underground is divided into zones. The fine for going into a zone with the wrong ticket is €80. You buy the tickets from a vending machine and you have nobody there to ask for help.
  • In Singapore, you can be fined $400 for throwing a cigarette or chewing gum on the ground. If you are going to smoke in a public place, you will have to pay a fine of $800.
  • In Egypt, it is strictly forbidden to take photos of military objects and government buildings. You will go to jail for this.

Paid services and using money

  • In European shops, many sellers don’t put price tags on their goods and this is how they make money on tourists. Try checking other places before paying twice as much for some souvenir.
  • In Europe, it is impossible to pay cash for some services. If you don’t have a credit card, you might not be able to get from your hotel to the airport.
  • In Western countries and Israel, you have to tip everyone for everything: for cleaning your room, for helping with your luggage, for giving you a towel at the pool, etc.
  • Discounts and sales in Europe are never announced. You have to be aware of them.
  • Using the elevator in Georgia is not free when going up. It doesn’t cost a lot, but if you don’t have coins on you (and you usually don’t), you have to use the stairs. It is not much fun when you have bags to carry.

Other things

  • In Sweden and the Netherlands, there are no curtains on the windows. In France, they don't use mosquito nets.
  • Most Danish apartments don't have bathrooms, only showers. And the shower might not be in the bathroom, but is sometimes in the kitchen.
  • "The wrong" power outlets in any country will annoy anyone. Especially if your phone battery is dying and you only realize this in the evening, when all the stores are closed.
  • In the United Arab Emirates, doctors prescribe way too many antibiotics. Even if you only have a runny nose or a headache.
  • A regretful toilet story from an internet user, "When we were in India, we took a train to a different town. My friend went to the bathroom and 5 minutes later, he called me from the toilet. He was desperate. The Indians don't use toilet paper, but he didn't find this out until it was too late.

Have you ever been shocked by the things you have seen abroad?

Comments

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I appreciate your effort to represent a lot differences among contries, but as brightside.me is very respectful, I must disagree with this text. Some of the comments are true but some. aren't. In Europe, you can easily find open stores, bakeries, malls on Sunday's. You can negotiate for the price on markets, somewhere even in smaller shops and so on. AND in every single country there are transporting, traffic rules everywhere, very neat laws and they are respected and followed. Brightside, I like you but please do some better research first. All of above is very easy to find out. Greetings from the Europe.

P. S. Never generalise those kind of facts. Not recommended.

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I must mention that I am extremely disgusted that a publication has not verified any of the facts. You are just publishing stereotypes. Perhaps, it will be a bright idea to change the publication's name to Darkside.

You should be ashamed and issue public apology

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4 years ago
There's no point in hiding the truth, but we'll try.

Im from Europe. And just for fact here are a looot of different countries. And in most of them the stores ARE open on sundays, but not the whole day. they are open even on hollydays but again not the whole day. Everywhere you can pay witg cash, i never even use my credit card, and coffee is the same price wherever you sit (bar, table outside) but are different from city to city. Usualy when you must "order" a bus, yes, they will look at it as a reserved spot and they are usualy the ones who travel very far, but we have a loot of buses everywhere so its not difficult to find a ride. For internet.. its wi fi everywhere so all you need to do is ask (in store, bar, etc.) for pasword or they are just simply open to use. I am from Slovenia. we have Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia as our neighbours and the things are preaty much the same but at the same time totaly different. Saying all the Europe is the same is like saying all the Usa is the same. Nope. Different countries, different people, different prices,... Sorry for my slopy english.

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Has the author ever been to Europe? Nothing written is true. All shops are open on Sundays in the UK for starters.

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the things written about India and south Asian countries is not only wrong but also very disrespectful and rude.

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We absolutely use curtains in Sweden. Also stop writing Europe. It’s a big place. If you are going to write something wrong at least specify the country.

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I'm from Indonesia (South East Asia), and I found that this article is pretty offensive. In Indonesia, we take off shoes before entering the house due to hygiene issues. but you don't need to take off your shoes when you're entering the shops/malls. well, I agree with most comments here. please do some research before you got your articles published. don't generalize every stereotypes you know.

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WTF...

"In Asia, nobody is in hurry" - did you just summarize the daily life of an entire freaking continent? I can tell you that everyone who has a job or classes starting in less than 20 minutes in more in a hurry than any seppo.

"In Europe, an internet connection may be very expensive." - huh?

"In Europe, not a single store is open on Sunday. You can’t even buy bread.'' - Again, American propaganda, as you all seem to believe that we're a big entity under socialist regime... I've lived in several European countries in Southeastern, Western and Northern Europe and most supermarkets are open on Sunday. You just have to, you know, get up and WALK there.

"In the streets of Southeast Asia, there are a lot of wires everywhere. Aside from looking bad in photos, they are often damaged, so people have trouble using the electricity." - from what I've seen in some travel videos, there are a lot of ugly wires in many places all over the world. Including USA

"Only the luckiest people manage to not get a stomach virus during their first week in India" - disrespectful comment

"The Berlin underground is divided into zones. The fine for going into a zone with the wrong ticket is €80." - The Zone division, not just for the underground, but also tramways and buses is common in European cities. I bet it's a thing in some Asian and African big cities too.

Most Danish apartments don’t have bathrooms, only showers. And the shower might not be in the bathroom, but is sometimes in the kitchen. - I live in Denmark, never seen that

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Wow Bright Side! You managed to offend half the world in one article! I suggest you start travelling yourselves rather than rely on hersay, jokes and stupid references or stop writing articles about things you know nothing! Whether you are americans and proud of it or not that does not give you the right to spread lies and misinformation about other countries and continents.

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4 years ago
Oops, the admin pressed "delete".

I am from Serbia and those facts are wrong. Stores 24/7 can be found easily, paying in cash...coffee the same price etc. All the best.

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Hi. In Singapore, chewing gum is banned due to irresponsible disposal of it. I live in Singapore and everyone smokes cigarettes everywhere. They will only be fined if they smoked in places like malls and any other closed public areas. And also, in Asia, not all countries have electricity wires suspended. At least i know for sure Singapore doesn't. All these 'facts' are too general and SUPER OFFENSIVE, especially to asians. Oh and btw, Asians are VERY RUSHING. Why else do you think ppl dont want to q and wait patiently in lines in India and traffic rules are broken? You think we are all very chill n dont care about anything? You think we are dumb? Never been so offended in my life! Also, if you dont know what the Indians are saying with their head gestures, then learn the language! Lemme teach u some tamil. Aama is yes. Illey is no. Theryaley is im not sure or idk. Ta-da! Done! NOW STOP CRITICISING ASIANS!! I normally love brightside but pls stop posting 'facts' about other countries that are not even a quarter true!

P.S. Asia is a HUGE part of the world, in case ur too ignorant to know. NEVER OFFEND US.

P.P.S I'm 14 and smarter than y'all.

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It was banned because when the MRT service started, people left the gum between the train doors that made the doors stuck to each other so they banned the selling and buying of gum

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Uh.... Are you sure? I'm a Singaporean too, and the buying/selling of chewing gum is illegal. You can eat chewing gum in Singapore. MAJULAH SINGAPORE 🇸🇬

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So wrong about labor hours in Greece. We actually work twice as much as citizens of the rest EU and we get pain less than half of them.

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What a crapload of nonsense... Almost all "facts" about Germany are false, and what do you mean by "in Europe"?!?? We are a bunch of around 30 different countries and nations, all with completely different settings and traditions! Same goes for "Asia". WTF?!???

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Missed the mark on Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Wtf you trying to say Danes dont have bathrooms?? Thats mental. And Norwegians on the bus? We might stand instead of sitting next to someone, personal space is a big thing, but in front of each other? That's just completely off. I work in public transport, and I'm Norwegian. This is all false.

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Most definitely shocked when while on a road trip from Germany to Paris, France we stopped on the side of the road to utilize the latrine. I got down with one of my daughters. It was a shocker to find no light switch and no toilet. There was just this hole in the floor and after relieving ourselves and opening the door next thing we know there was a flood of water on the floor that got our shoes wet. Worst traveling experience ever.

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Many people run like a garbage truck with all the filth stuffed in their minds. This article’s writer is one of them. You know nothing and pretend to be an expert.

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3 years ago
Oops. The comment was captured by a UFO.

hello you idiotic authors, i am from hong kong and have been to mainland china, and i absolutely do not remember having to go through dumb metal detectors all the time duh where on earth do you get your information

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I'm so offended by the fact that the generalization made are so rampant. Who said that you have to take off your shoes everytime you go shopping in stores in South East Asia's countries?? That's so absurd.

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9 months ago
The comment wasn't about avocados. Sorry, we had to remove it.

Brightside often makes terribly gross generalities, usually about societal roles of women, and what women should do or not do to be attractive. I think I'm done with this terribly awkward website. If you think Brightside is American, we're normally much more tactful and progressive about assumptions and stereotypes when writing.

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I am Canadian and I have no idea what your talking about. Neighbors are usually very friendly with each other and I do not understand who this group of people are that come to your door to complain about your yard?? If you got that one so very wrong then how are we to believe any of these statements.

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