Shimla August 2011 001

China’s ‘Guidelines on Civilized Travel Abroad’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

Shimla August 2011 001A lovely little Post Office in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India. (Photo by KJS Chatrath)

The National Tourism Administration’s of China has issued  “Guidelines on Civilized Travel Abroad”* suggesting ideas of good behavior and  standards of etiquette in several popular destination countries, as perceived by the Chinese . Take a look:

General Tips

1: Refrain from limp handshakes.

2: Do not pick your nose in public.

3: Soiling a swimming pool is frowned upon.

4: Do not leave footprints on the toilet seat.

5: Keep nasal hair trimmed at all times.

6: Do not take airplane life jackets as gifts.

7: Do not coerce locals into taking your photo.

8: If you have to pick your teeth, do not use your fingers.

9: Try not to drink soup straight from the bowl or make slurping sounds.

10: Do not talk about people behind their back in Chinese (because someone nearby might understand you).

By Country: (As perceived by the Chinese)

Scotland: Do not buy stones as souvenirs.

Britain: Do not ask Brits whether or not they’ve eaten.

Spain: Women are considered naked without earrings.

Germany: Do not click your fingers (“finger clicking is for dogs”).

France: If invited to a home, do not bring yellow flowers.

Hungary: Do not smash mirrors.

Japan: Do not fiddle with your hair or clothes during meals.

Thailand: Do not talk about the royal family.

Nepal: Don’t touch people’s belongings with your foot.

Hong Kong: Do not try to get a refund for your food or smoke in air-conditioned rooms.

Algeria: Don’t touch other people’s heads.

Iran: Do not comment on babies’ eyes.

India: Don’t touch other people with your left hand.

Islamic countries: Refrain from talking about pork.

African countries: Do not call Africans “Negros.”


May I add some more suggestions for my fellow Indians travelling abroad:

(i) Be punctual. Being late is frowned upon in practically every country.

(ii) Please, please do not jump the queue at the airport and elsewhere. Wait at the designated waiting line till the person at the window nods you to come.

(iii) Do not get drunk on a  plane and put all Indians to shame.

(iv) Do not talk loudly in public spaces – airplanes, trains, buses, metro etc.

(v) Do not use your mobile in public places, unless it is an emergency situation.

(vi) Do not litter.

(vii) It is very bad manners to yawn or burp or pass wind loudly in public places.

(viii) Do not overload your plates in buffet breakfasts/meals. If need be come back for a second helping. Generally the items served in buffet breakfasts are meant to be consumed in the dining hall and not to be taken along.

(ix) Staring at ladies is bad manners and just not done.

(x) One needs to treat tourist guides/ hotel staff etc. with politeness and dignity.

(xi) Do not pat or touch children even if you want to show your affection.

(xii) No flowers or leaves should be plucked from any public place.

(xiii) And please do not pick up any towel from the hotel.

Have I left out anything important?


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One thought on “China’s ‘Guidelines on Civilized Travel Abroad’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

  1. Madhukar

    I would like to add that standing too close in any place except a crowded public transport train or bus is not proper, especially not to be done in a queue.


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