Asia is a continent that is filled with a melting pot of culture. With culture, there’s always a lot of traditions and mutual respect to adhering to when you’re travelling around Asian countries. You’re bound to experience cultural differences so it’s good to understand their local culture and rules of a certain country when you are visiting. In hopes to not offend the people living in that country as well their customs, here are some big no-no things to do.
Cover image via Travel Wire Asia
Holy and religious places are deemed to be one of the main tourist spots in Asia. However, when you step foot in these iconic and historical place of worship, there are bound to be tons of rules you have to follow.
When you’ve entered a temple, it’s always best to leave your footwear outside the temple. Temples are considered to be a clean and tranquil place and we should treat it like how we want to see our house in. That is why also temples normally provide basin places outside where you may wash your feet.
Another thing to remember always to wear appropriate clothes when you’re entering this holy place. For men, it’s normal to wear long pants and shirts while women must cover up the majority part of their body. If you want to wear something revealing due to the hot weather, make sure you bring a jacket, scarf, or anything to cover yourself up when you’re inside the holy place. Some places they do sell scarf for you to cover up but why pay extra?
Of course be respectful of the items inside the temple, mosque, churches or whatnot. Plus, don’t be loud and obnoxious as other people are praying as well.
King and Leaders
King and leaders are revered in some Asian countries. Especially in Thailand, once found disrespecting their king can result in a 15-year old sentenced to jail. This doesn’t just apply to travelers but also for local Thais. Three years back, three Thai women were convicted of insulting the monarchy but now are being released from jail after receiving royal pardons. It is a serious crime here so remember to always be respectful of the beautiful culture Thailand has to offer.
While travelling in Indonesia, it’s always best to not insult the president or vice president. Although this law was declared unconstitutional and abolished in 2006, however, the government is planning on bringing back the law. If the draft is approved, an insult could get you up to five years in prison.
Any restaurants in Asia would sometimes require you to use chopsticks. There are a few ways to use them without insulting anyone. You shouldn’t stick your chopsticks vertically into your rice. It’s believed to resembles the incense sticks that Buddhists offer to the dead. Plus, don’t cross your chopsticks when you place them on a chopstick rest. In Korea, always place your chopsticks on the table and not parallel across your bowl when you’ve finished eating. As a sign of respect, Koreans would normally let the elders or the most senior person start eating first before they could.
Banana leaf is an essential food served in Malaysia and many Indian parts of the Asian places. When indulging scrumptious Indian food with the banana leaf, it’s a must to eat with your hands. Of course, it’s not shunned upon when you eat with a fork and spoon but it’s an experience and culture to try once in a lifetime. Lastly, after you’re done with it, always fold the leaf inwards towards you to show appreciation towards the meal. Folding outwards is usually done during a funeral.
Besides that, in Cambodia and China, you should eat up but not all the way. A rather unique taboo that you should leave some food on your plate but it only shows that your hosts were hospitable.
Mind Your Manners
Especially in Japan and Korea where respect is highly sorted after in their culture. Show your respect for the Japanese culture and customs by politely bowing to others. Blowing your nose, being loud, eat or drink while walking or on public transportation are all considered rude and frowned upon.
When it comes to Japanese culture itself, don’t tip anyone as it’s not part of their culture. Even leaving small change may have people running after you with it. This is due to the workers feel they are getting paid to do their job and take pride in it well, so they feel they don’t need an added incentive.
Most Asian household would offer you a drink or food to eat and never reject them. For example, if someone offers you a drink of water when you’re in Laos, accept it with an open heart, even if you’re not thirsty. Don’t step over food too.
Be that as it may, Asia countries are one of the most visited continents and perhaps presents some of the most iconic places ever. Following the simple etiquette rules might just help you explore the Asian world better with respect.