Whenever you visit a new city or country, there are subtle yet important cultural norms and behaviors that, as an outsider, you might not be familiar with. So redditor u/AkselsArtHouse asked, "What should people know before traveling to your country?" I also combed through advice on r/Travel. Here are some responses from people all around the world.
1. "In South Korea you should always be extra deferential to elders, especially if you're young — say, under 30. We show respect by giving elders your seat on the subway, letting them cut the line, and other things like that."
2. "In Paris, wear pants. I'm looking at you, Americans. If you wear shorts, you're either a kid, a skateboarder, or you're at the beach (and there are no beaches in Paris). We wear pants all year round."
3. "When visiting Cape Town, make sure to carefully check the weather conditions at Table Mountain. Different conditions like wind and fog affect when it's open. It may appear like a totally fine day in the city, yet the mountain could be closed because of high winds on the cable car. If you are there for a short trip, visit Table Mountain at your first opportunity."
4. "In Japan, bow to people who bow to you. In fact, bow to people in general when they give you a service. It's a sign of respect, and it goes a long way."
5. "In Morocco, make a point to stay at riads — townhouses with internal courtyards — whenever you can. They vary in price and room type (think: hostel dormitory to fancy and high-end). They are invariably unique, well decorated, and staffed by friendly helpful people. Most have a courtyard and roof terrace that offer a nice place to relax only a few meters from the chaos outside. Finding Riads can be a problem if it is your first trip to the medina, as they are often tucked down winding alleys, and some barely have a sign on their front door. Check a map before you arrive, and note down the name and address in case you need to ask people for help."
6. "In London if you’re on the Tube, stand on the right. That is, unless you want a horde of tutting Londoners staring angrily at the back of your head."
7. "In Sydney, avoid 'harbour cruises.' Instead, take a public ferry ride from Circular Quay to Watson's Bay or Manly. It's a great, beautiful harbour experience, and it's quite cheap."
8. "In Spain, always order the menú del día. Lunch in Spain is the biggest meal of the day, and many Spanish restaurants offer a three-course (aka the menú del día), which also comes with a drink (sometimes this even includes wine) and bread. You typically have a few choices for each course, and rarely does the total exceed €15."
9. "If you are visiting France, think beyond Paris. You will see while traveling that France has some beautiful places like the Côtes de Granite rose in Brittany, many mountain ranges like the Alps, the Pyrenees or the Central Massif, the Auvergne's Volcanoes, the Calanques in the South, and other beautiful, big cities. France is quite a small country compared to the US, so you can easily travel across the country in less than a day on train or plane or even by car."
10. "If you come to Brazil, don't miss the beaches in the Northeast. Here you'll find some of the best beaches in the world. Think: white sand, warm waters, hot all year long, easy to access by car, and usually close to great, cheap restaurants. No other place in the world has beaches like these."
11. "If you travel to the Netherlands, buy a train ticket and travel across the country. Visit small towns and see the nature. Book a hotel somewhere you like and spend the night. The Netherlands is much more than Amsterdam."
12. "In Sweden we are very informal. Everyone is on a first name basis, and we don't use titles. If your doctor's name is Maria Johnsson, you address her as 'Maria' during your visit. And just because we don't act as excited as a dog when their master is coming home, it doesn't mean you are unwelcome here. We're just a little toned down."
13. "America is MASSIVE. You cannot see the Grand Canyon and NYC and Vegas and Seattle in one trip unless you are a) here for a long time b) have money to spend on all those flights, or c) really, really like driving."
14. "In Scotland, don't call it scotch. It's just called whisky here, without the 'e.' And we will assume you want single malt Scottish whisky unless you specify otherwise."
15. "Don't participate in so-called 'slumdog tourism' in India. Going on guided tours of slums and taking photos is akin to taking photos of a human zoo. The people who live in slums aren't animals, and you are not on a safari."
16. "In Iceland, shower completely naked in the dressing room before you get into our hot springs and swimming pools. No one cares or is thinking about your body. It's just a hygienic policy here, and everyone does it."
17. "In Denmark Do NOT stand in the bike lane. You WILL get yelled at and/or run over."
18. "In the US, tipping in restaurants isn’t just polite. It is expected and basically required. Waitstaff are paid drastically under the minimum wage, and they make their money through tips. This is also why most waiters in the US are aggressively friendly, come to check on you often, and even rush you out at the end of the meal. They want you to like them so you leave a tip, and they need to turn tables quickly to get more customers. Oh, and water is free in restaurants."
19. "Foreigners always assume everything in Brazil is close to the beach, but Brazil is HUGE. A lot of states are very, very far from the coast, so do your research and choose where to visit accordingly. And even if you live in a city with beaches, it can still be quite a trek to get there. I live in Rio, and if i want to go to the beach, I have to take a 50-minute subway trip."
20. "When you visit Greece, think beyond Santorini and the major beachy islands. There are so many fantastic off-the-beaten-path places. Just for starters, Mani is a beautiful little village. Kea is a tiny island a short boat ride from Athens with great authentic food. Matala is a hippie town with amazing caves you can explore."
21. "In the US, people here tend to be friendly even if they've just met you, and especially if you are visiting from another country. You might feel like we are interrogating you, but people honestly are just interested in other cultures and will try to find a way to relate to you. Just be prepared and maybe have some chit chat handy for those situations. Or, practice how to explain to someone that you don't want to talk to them in a way that doesn't sound rude."
22. "In the Philippines always remove your shoes when entering someone's house. Most likely, they have guest 'slippers' for you to use, but never bring your shoes inside the house. It is disrespectful and dirty. And never turn down food if it's offered. That straight-up will assure you will never be invited again."
23. "In Hong Kong, prioritize exploring the New Territories. My biggest regret about my time in Hong Kong was not exploring them enough. Tai Long Wan, Lantau Island, Lamma Island, Sai Kung, and the neighboring areas are some of the most incredible beaches I've ever been to. They are quiet and serene, and the surrounding sleepy neighborhoods have great local markets, restaurants, and phenomenal hiking."
24. "To save a ton of money in Iceland, consider renting an Airbnb with a kitchen. Eating out is expensive, and you'll pay around $30–$50 for an entrée just about anywhere. Cooking at home is a great way to save cash."
25. "If you're traveling to Thailand and want a beach vacation, think beyond Phuket. Most travelers think of Phuket when they think of the Thai islands, but there are so many amazing islands worth checking out. Koh Lanta is a quiet island with very little nightlife. It's never very crowded, so it's perfect for honeymooners or families with young kids. Koh Phi Phi is by far the most picturesque island I've seen. There are no cars because it's so small, but everything is in walking distance. Koh Chang on the East Coast is my favorite island because it's the only one that still feels authentically Thai. It's much less crowded than the other islands, and lots of locals live there."
26. "In the Middle East, please don't wear shoes, take photos, or make loud noise when visiting mosques. These are holy places and we're there to pray, so it's distracting and rude when tourists do this."
27. "I’m from Portugal, and everyone loves going to the Algarve on holiday. I can understand some of the hype because the beaches are great and you can pretty much count on good weather, but it's overrated. Everything is crowded, expensive, and the food is mediocre. Instead of the ever-popular Algarve, I would recommend the coast of Alentejo, which has the same nice weather, much better food, nicer people, and is much more fun."
28. "If you take the subway in NYC and you're in a crowded car near the door, PLEASE step out of the car when it stops to let people out. You will be the first one back on — don’t worry. It’s so rude to forcibly stand there and expect people to squeeze around you, and you'll make others miss their stop."
29. "When you go to the Louvre in Paris to see 'Mona Lisa,' turn around and admire Paolo Veronese's 'The Wedding at Cana.' I tell this to every person I know who asks for travel advice about Paris and the Louvre. It’s the most amazing piece and it's truly overshadowed by the 'Mona Lisa.' I’ll never forget the feeling when everyone else was busy looking at the da Vinca and I was the only one to turn around and look at 'The Wedding at Cana.'"
30. "In New Orleans, instead of spending your time on Bourbon Street there are literally dozens of other cool neighborhoods filled with bars, cafés, and shops where you can carry your drinks around. Go to the Warehouse District, Uptown, Frenchmen Street, or even Decatur."
31. "Visiting the Statue of Liberty in NYC is amazing, but it takes a full day to experience it. Instead, I always suggest jumping on the Staten Island Ferry. It's a ton of fun, it's absolutely free, and you get amazing views of both Lower Manhattan and Lady Liberty."
32. "When in London don’t pay for an overpriced and gimmicky sightseeing bus tour. There are several amazing public bus routes through the most famous parts of the city that cost just £1.55. Google the best routes and go!"
33. "In Thailand when you meet someone (or see someone who you haven't seen in a long time) they will often make a comment about your weight (whether you look heavy or trim). No one is trying to be offensive — it's just how the Thai are."
34. "In Ireland our buses and trains never leave on time. Do not believe the timetables. Download the official apps before arriving. The real-time information is somewhat reliable."
What is something that tourists should be aware of before visiting your home city or country? Tell us your most helpful tips in the comments.
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.