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Heading east? Here are 3 Asian taboos to watch out for

Published on 18 January 2018|
2 min read

Are you hitting Asia to tick a few countries off your bucket list? Learn these Asian taboos before you go.

Taboos, or culturally unacceptable behaviours, are virtually present in all societies.

Every country has its culture, and every culture comes with its own set of taboos! So if you are planning  a holiday in any Asian country this year, read up and avoid these common social faux pas so you don’t embarrass yourself, or your host.

There are countless ways to inappropriately use chopsticks

Chopstick Taboo

There are many different taboos in Asian countries related to the well-loved eating utensil, chopsticks. In China, don’t point at others with chopsticks or stab at your food with them. Don’t bite or suck on your chopsticks. Never turn the chopstick into a knife to split your food.

Or if you are in Japan, avoid passing your food from your chopsticks to someone else’s pair. In their culture, bones of the deceased are picked using chopsticks and passed along to be placed into an urn. Furthermore, you are not allowed to keep your chopsticks vertically upward as it also resembles a funeral practice.


Inappropriate dressing (don’t bare too much)

Skin in temple taboo

As a rule of thumb, always dress modestly when visiting any place of worship, especially in Asian countries.

When visiting a temple in South East Asia, it is mandatory to dress appropriately. This means that your shoulders and knees should always be covered. You will not be allowed to enter any place of worship if you are not dressed modestly.


Don’t point your feet at someone or touch a person’s head

Bare feet taboo

For many cultures in Asia, the head is considered the most spiritual part of a human being’s body while the feet are the least sacred. So, you should never touch another person’s head or point your feet towards anyone.

It is preferred that you should tuck your legs under you while sitting.

Although the world has become so much smaller, we still must respect the cultures and beliefs of countries we visit. Then, you’ll be a welcome traveller wherever you go!

Do you know any other interesting Asian taboos? Share with us in the comments section below.

And speaking of using the chopsticks, check out the different types of noodle dishes you can have in Asia.

Featured Image Credit: Centre For Health Journalism

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