Continent Spotlight: Do’s and Don’ts While In Asia

Asia is a vast continent consisting of several countries that dominate many industries in the world. Its different cultures and history have transformed it into a unique melting pot that attracts millions of tourists yearly. However, there are norms and values unique to each country. So before you hop on that plane, here are ten do and don’t to adhere to while in Asia.

1. Do learn to use chopsticks

These are traditional kitchen utensils that are used throughout Asia. In fact, spoons and forks are hardly used in that part of the world, so be sure to get a few lessons before you travel.

2. Don’t touch.

Public display of affection is frowned upon in Asia. Chinese people do not like being touched by strangers, so be sure to keep your hands to yourself. Countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam have similar norms regarding PDA.

3. Do show good manners

In the Western world, we greet someone with a firm handshake. However in India, it is customary to say “Namaste” and bow your head with clasped hands. It is practiced by Hindus and seen as a sign of respect for others. Namaste is a Hindu greeting meaning “I bow to the divine in you.”

4. Do not photograph Geisha

In Japan, Geisha is a female entertainer hired to charm guests during special occasions and diners. She is a highly respected member of society and it is impolite to take pictures of her.

5. Do show respect for religion.

When entering a home or a religious establishment, all footwear must be removed. It is an Asian tradition in the home but mosques and temples are considered to be sacred places of worship.

6. Don’t chew gum.

In Singapore, there is a strict ban on chewing gum since 2004. Only dental or nicotine gum is allowed on medical grounds. There is a $700 fine for spitting gum. They also have strict laws against graffiti, litter, blowing the nose, urinating and jaywalking.

Do as you are told

In Vietnam, the oldest person sits first at a table. This is a means of showing respect for older persons who are seen as the foundation of society. When the older person has sat, then you may sit only after you have been shown where your place.

Do not shake hands

India has very strict laws regarding the interaction between men and women. It is against the norm to shake someone’s hand unless they have offered it. It is generally not acceptable to shake a woman’s hand either, even if she has initiated.

Do refrain from consuming alcohol

Local wines of Sabah

Majority of the population of Malaysia consists of Muslims. The residents do not drink alcohol. It is advised that tourists shy away from this act in order not to offend the majority of the people living in that area.

Do not wear swimsuits.

In Malaysia, women should not wear pants and vests at the beach. The natives are a conservative people and the women are usually fully dressed when bathing. Needless to say, sunbathing is prohibited.