These brutally honest travel tips will keep you from embarrassing yourself in 15 different countries

It’s one thing to look like a goofy tourist while travelling — but offending the locals is even worse.

With that in mind, Reddit users have spent the last 24 hours answering the following question: “What should tourists NEVER do in your country?”

Like a similar Quora thread from a few months ago, the answers are much more interesting than the standard guidebook advice on tipping etiquette, and they will definitely help you stay out of trouble. Here are some of the best ones we found, spanning 13 different countries.

Gold coast, australiaRobert Cianflone/GettyAustralia’s Gold Coast


Don’t “say ‘mate’ unless you have had intensive lessons on correct usage. You will be forgiven because you will have an accent, but bear in mind that ‘mate’ has probably seven or eight connotations and they go all the way from very friendly to very unfriendly.” – /u/princhester

“Don’t go to our beaches without first applying sunscreen. Wear clothes and POLARISED sunglasses. We have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world due to extreme UV during summer.” – /u/halfcastaussie

“Don’t show up and assume that because you know how to swim, you can swim in the ocean, even if other people are doing it. […] Learn to spot a rip [tide], read any signs in the area, and if there are lifeguards listen to what they are saying and swim between the flags.” – /u/imperialmeerkat

Tobias AltPeyto Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada


“Canada is a very big country, so don’t expect to just have a day trip to see all the provinces (and territories) unless you have a burning need to spend weeks in your car.” – /u/Shochitelya

“Do not get out of your car to look at bears. Do not feed the bears. Do not stop in the middle of a highway lane to look at bears.” – /u/Nevakanezah

Same goes for moose. “You will become an inconvenience for traffic, and you might be mauled to death by large animals.” – /u/jeanvaljean91

Don’t “put ketchup on your poutine.”/u/BluBabe1981

England and the UK

Don’t “assume just because your country and our country speak English our cultures are remotely similar.” – /u/Megaross

Don’t call every country in the UK “England.” “The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As much as you think it’s all England (because it’s the biggest country), it’s really not, and we’ll be quite pissed off if you refer to all of us as England.” – /u/mixed-metaphor

Don’t ever — ever — criticise the BBC or the NHS. It’s ours; we can complain all we like because we pay for it. And we like to complain too. It’s our unofficial national sport. You are merely a guest — if you ever need to use the BBC or NHS, you do not get to complain about it!” – /u/StuHardy

“Fries are called chips, and chips are called crisps.” – /u/LavaMeteor


Don’t “make jokes about the Germans invading. […] German occupation is still within living memory, and it’s a time of French history that most of us are ashamed of.” – /u/mrdeuter

Don’t “talk to people in stores like servants. True, the customer is king, but in France, we behead kings.” – /u/mrdeuter

IcelandFacebook/Inspired by IcelandA backpacker in Iceland.


Don’t be overly friendly. “It’s not that Icelandic people aren’t courteous, or would respond unfriendly in the street. We’re just more used to everyone keeping to themselves in public.” – /u/KristinnK

“It’s usually not a good thing to start a conversation with us out of the blue at, say, a museum. […] Saying, ‘Hi, how are you?’ would be the weirdest experience of the week for any Icelander.” – /u/KFJ943

Palolem Beach, Goa, India

Shutterstock / Eduard Derule
Goa, India


“Be reasonable about your non-vegetarian way of life. You might come across people who will stay away from eggs cause they are “pure vegetarians”, and then you will come across people who eat meat daily but will cringe when you demand Beef or Pork. Beef is banned in Mumbai, avoid it if possible.” – /u/MournDay

Don’t get offended if people ask you personal questions about your job, your spouse, etc. In India, small talks usually begin with how much money we earn or how did we get married to [our spouse].” – /u/MournDay

“Never say cricket is boring.”/u/MournDay


“Please refrain from telling Irish people that you are ‘Irish’ or ‘part Irish’ due to heritage. We don’t care, it lessens you in our eyes, and you’re not f*cking Irish.” – /u/dolukian

“Never say ‘top of the morning to you.’ I have never ever heard someone use that without taking the piss. Also if we insult/take the piss out of you there’s a good chance it means we actually like you.” – /u/Dr-Kipper (“taking the piss” means “making fun”).

Don’t talk about the IRA or ask people if they’re Catholic or Protestant. “Please do your research. This’ll probably help you […] avoid stupid questions like ‘So is Ireland part of the UK?’ or ‘Is Northern Ireland British?’ Those are not questions you want to ask.” – /u/Arty6060

“Don’t ask for an Irish Car Bomb or a Black and Tan. Some bar staff will find this grossly offensive. […] If you want a Black and Tan, ask for a Half and Half.” – /u/CptnKrank. Both these terms are considered offensive because of their roots in the Irish War of Independence.

“Don’t just stay in Dublin. It bothers me when people come to Ireland and then don’t leave that city.” – /u/boneyarsebogman

Byodo-in Temple

Shutterstock/Luciano Mortula
Byodo Temple, Japan


Don’t “yell, scream, or talk loudly. This is absolutely not done in Japan and you are a barbarian for doing it in public.” – /u/capnhist

“This is changing, but [don’t] eat on the street. Kid with an ice cream cone? Cute. You stuffing a kebab in your stupid hungover face? Horrifying.” – /u/capnhist

“Don’t double-dip kushikatsu in hot sauce. In Osaka, depending on the shop, this can get you anywhere from a strong reprimand to kicked out of the restaurant.” – /u/TheLastBeast

“Don’t do drugs. […] In Japan, Weed is a Drug and Drugs Are Bad, and penalties are strict. Be careful even talking about drug use with Japanese acquaintances; some younger Japanese are more flexible but it will still get you a very negative rep with most people.” – /u/TheLastBeast

Amsterdam, NetherlandsReuters/Michael KooranThe Netherlands

The Netherlands

“Just because weed is sorta legal here, does not mean you can smoke inside, [on] a train, or in someone’s house, or anywhere else than in a coffee shop.” – /u/jangeest

“Don’t walk on the cycling paths, unless you enjoy being yelled at.” – /u/toproper

“Don’t rent a bicycle because you want a taste of the culture. You’re not used to it and it can get pretty hectic during certain times, even in the smaller cities. [Instead,] get out of the cities and find actual recreational biking routes if you want to have some fun.” – /u/Hegemott

New Zealand

Don’t “go on an overnight bush hike without proper gear. The interesting thing about [the] rainforest is that it’s damp and sunlight never reaches ground level. At night you’ll die of hypothermia, even in summer.”/u/I_throw_socks_at_cat

“If you’re visiting a region known for its geysers and happen to spot of a sign reading RISK OF DEATH BEYOND THIS POINT on a chain-link fence… stay on the right side of the fence.” – /u/I_throw_socks_at_cat

“If you’re visiting New Zealand, don’t compare Australia favourably. I don’t care if something was better there.” – /u/GeebusNZ


Don’t ask people how they’re doing unless you’re ready to get deep. “We will give an actual answer.” – /u/maiset

Don’t hike unarmed “when visiting the Svalbard archipelago here in Norway. You are required to always have a firearm with you to protect against polar bears when travelling outside the populated areas.” – /u/Lick_my_balloon-knot


“Don’t go swimming without protective footwear with thick soles and always drop by a pharmacy before your first beach trip and buy a can of weever-fish spray. It’s cheap and will spare you the most painful trip to a hospital.” – /u/888mphour

“Don’t say ‘gracias’ ever! Say ‘obrigado’ or ‘thanks.’ Here everybody speaks English, but many tourists think that speaking to us in the language of our sworn enemies is not the most offensive thing in the world.” – /u/888mphour


“Never go hillwalking without the proper equipment. People die weekly on Scotland’s mountains.” – /u/paddygordon

Don’t drink at a window-less pub because this could be a sign of rough clientele. “There are no windows because enough rocks/pint glasses/people have been thrown through them that the pub owners decided to just brick them over.” – /u/greencheekfarmer

“Don’t talk about London or the Tories.” – /u/Psyprus_Sun

Don’t “ask why we aren’t all wearing kilts and eating haggis. We generally only wear kilts for weddings/formal events/Scotland games.” – /u/Psyprus_Sun

Don’t be afraid to approach people. “They may look a bit rough, but Glasgow is one of the friendliest places you could go to if you’re nice. Us Scots are all about laughing and having a gid time so don’t be weirded out if some random guy just strikes up a conversation with you. Edinburgh on the other hand isn’t as friendly.” – /u/Psyprus_Sun

South Africa

Don’t say “safari,” say “game drive.” And “keep your doors locked and windows rolled up. Otherwise, enjoy being Simba’s lunch. Respect the wildlife, they are wild animals and have no qualms about killing you.” – /u/SonicBeastZA

And don’t wear head-to-toe khaki. “Just dress like normal, don’t go around wearing your safari clothes. I’m pretty sure not a lot of people own them, so you’ll be an easy target.” – /u/Padrone__56

United States

In places where marijuana is legal, don’t smoke in public places. “The main problem is that legalization was a close vote here [in Colorado] and our governor openly says it was a mistake to legalise. We have a lot of people actively looking to shut this down so people get pissed when others come here and abuse the privilege that we have.” – /u/trose89

Don’t “assume the whole country is the same and say you didn’t like the food just because you ate at a Denny’s in Minnesota.” – /u/Super_C_Complex

“Don’t attempt to imitate a southern drawl. You look like an idiot. And don’t assume that everyone will have one, as that’s not true.” – /u/EmilysButt

“Don’t stand super close to people when you’re waiting in line… You should be able to extend your arm to its full length and not touch the person in front of you.” – /u/shinyfriend

“Hint: people from the US don’t generally stare, so if people keep glancing at you, you might be doing something wrong or awkward.” – /u/shinyfriend

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