Dine Like a Local

One of the joys of travel, is trying new cuisines and sampling local foods you otherwise may never have the opportunity to try back home. Dining abroad can sometimes be intimidating as you come into contact with a plethora of new and unfamiliar dining rules and etiquette. Here’s our list of tips on dining around the world, the do’s and don’ts and recommendations to get you blending in and eating like a local.


In Korea, you should not begin eating until the eldest guest at the table starts their meal. Should one of your elders offer you a drink, be sure to accept it with both hands.


Tipping in Japan is considered disrespectful. Additionally, never place chopsticks vertically in your dish. It’s considered extremely rude and resembles incense candles that are typically burnt at funerals. It goes without saying that stabbing your food and using your chopsticks like drum sticks is generally frowned upon too!

Image: via buzzfeed.com

Image: via buzzfeed.com


The same chopsticks rules apply to China, additionally, you should never point your chopsticks directly at people.

If someone tops up your tea, you can tap with two fingers (pointer and index) on the table to say “thanks”, a gesture that is supposed to signify bowing.


Don’t use chopsticks in Thailand unless eating soup. Thai eating etiquette also dictates that the fork is used to put food onto the spoon, from which you eat, rather than eating from the fork.


It is almost considered ‘snobby’ to attempt eating delicious tacos with a knife and fork, get stuck into these delicacies with your hands!


On the other hand (pardon the pun), it is considered bad manners to eat anything with your hands in Chile. Go for the knife and fork, even for fries.


Always put your hands on the edge of the table as apposed to in your lap while eating in Russia, as it is considered ‘suspicious’ to put your hands under the table.

Middle East + India

Always eat with your right hand in India and most Arabic countries. The left hand is off limits and is seen to be reserved for toilet duties and is therefore unclean.


It is generally considered rude to split the bill in France. Offer to pay the bill in its entirety and if splitting, organise the split with your dining group after dinner. Additionally, bread on the table is considered an accompaniment to your mains, rather than an entrée.


Although it may prove difficult with such delicious food on offer, it is considered polite to decline offers for seconds. If your host insists and seconds are offered again, you should always accept. Sound confusing? Just roll with it!


While punctuality is generally seen as a good thing, in Tanzania, showing up on time to dinner is considered an insult to your host. Instead, turn up 10 – 20 minutes late for maximum politeness.


Most dishes are shared on one large, communal serving dish with hands being used rather than cutlery. Asking for an individual plate is considered wasteful, so dig in and enjoy!

Image: via flickr.com

Image: via flickr.com


Don’t ask for salt and pepper if they aren’t present on the table. Doing so is considered an insult to the chef’s seasoning and flavour balance skills.

What did we miss? Leave any dining etiquette tips you’ve learnt while traveling in the comments below.

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