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Guest Etiquette Around the World: How to Live Like a Local

02/08/2016, 14:10

There are certain unwritten rules of etiquette that apply when you stay in someone’s home, regardless of where you are in the world…

  • Don’t leave a mess
  • Don’t make noise when your host is trying to sleep
  • Don’t hog the bathroom
  • Do tell them when you’ll be arriving (and let them know if you’re running late)

In general, just treat the place like you would want a visitor to treat your home.

However each country has its own unique customs. If you want to fit right in and be the perfect guest it pays to learn how things are done in your host country.


Hello – Sa-wat-dii

Nice to meet you - Yin dee têe dâi róo jàk

(When first meeting someone add ‘kha’ onto the end of sentences if you’re female and ‘khrap’ if you’re male).              

  • Remove your shoes before entering the home.
  • Step over the threshold of the home, rather than on it (traditional Thais believe a spirit lives in the threshold of homes).
  • Don’t dwell on negativities or be surprised if your host brushes bad events under the carpet. Just say “mai pen rai” (“nevermind”) and carry on.
  • Only ask your host one question at a time. If you ask two or more questions in a row, you’ll only get an answer to the last one.


Hello – Guten Tag. (GOO-ten tahk) or Hallo (hah-LOH) (informal)

Nice to meet you – Nett, Sie kennen zu lernen. (net zee KEN-en tsoo LER-nen)

  • Don’t bin recyclables, especially items bearing a Pfand symbol  – Germans take recycling seriously and that Pfand symbol means the item is sold with a deposit that can be claimed back when it’s recycled.
  • Gentlemen – please sit down when you pee. The risk of “spillages” is taken so seriously in Germany that a tenant was recently taken to court by his landlord for refusing to use the seat.
  • Unless it’s really, really hot outside, keep windows and doors shut. As a general rule, Germans hate drafts. Many believe they will make them sick.


Hello – Konnichiwa (kon-nee-chee-wah)

Nice to meet you – Hajimemashite (ha-gee-meh-mahch-tay)

  • Remove your shoes at the door. You will probably be given a pair of slippers to wear. If you aren’t wearing socks, it is polite to bring a (clean!) pair to slip on after removing shoes.
  • You may find separate toilet slippers are provided for bathrooms. Leave your regular slippers outside the door, but don’t forget to switch back as you leave the room.
  • Bathtubs are used exclusively for soaking – clean yourself in the shower first and ensure no soap gets into the tub.
  • If you fall ill cover your mouth with a mask while around other people.
  • If you need to blow your nose, go to your room or somewhere private.


Hello – Merhaba (MEHR-hah-bah)

Nice to meet you – Memnun oldum (memnun oɫdum/)

  • Wash dishes under running water. The Turkish don’t believe in washing things in stagnant water – if you do your host will probably wash everything again.
  • Don’t hand your host sharp objects (like knives or scissors) directly – it’s believed this will cause two people to become enemies. Instead, put them down, and they will pick them up.
  • Your host may have clearly defined private and public areas of the home. Don’t ask for a tour around any rooms you’re not willingly shown – it’s considered very rude.


Hello – G’day

Nice to meet you – Nice to meet you

  • Introduce yourself as and use your host’s first name. Addressing them as “mate” is okay too.
  • If your host invites you to a BBQ (or barbie) and asks you to “bring a plate” it means bring some food to share – not a literal plate.
  • You’re also expected to bring some drinks. Beer or wine are generally a safe bet.
  • Unlimited broadband plans aren’t the norm in Australia, so be careful how much time you spend streaming.


Hello - Namaste (NAH-məs-tay)

Nice to meet you - āp se milkar khushī huī

  • Unless told otherwise, remove your shoes before entering the home (you can keep your socks on).
  • If food is offered to you, don’t decline – it’s considered very impolite.
  • Ask about your host’s family – family is very important in Indian culture and your host will love to talk about them.
  • Dress conservatively (around the home - not just in public). 


  Hello - Ola

  Nice to meet you - Muito prazer

  • Greet your host with a kiss on each cheek (more of a cheek to cheek touch than an actual kiss).
  • Don’t be shocked if your host asks you if you want t a shower as soon as you arrive. They’re not saying you smell – Brazilians shower a lot so it’s customary to ask if guests want one, too.
  • If your host offers you food, you’ll probably be expected to eat it with a knife and fork – that includes foods like pizza and open sandwiches.


Hello – Zdravstvuy

Nice to meet you – Priyatno poznakomit’sya

  • Take off your shoes at the door then quickly change into “home clothes” – Russian streets aren’t very clean and these practices help prevent dirt being carried into the home.
  • Do not shake hands or give a gift over a threshold (i.e. a doorway) – this is said to cause arguments.
  • If offered a drink of Russia’s most popular tipple, vodka, do not ask for a mixer – it’s considered blasphemy.
  • Avoid whistling inside the house – many Russian’s believe it will cause money problems.

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