Last Updated: 6th Jun 2013
In most of the countries visited, revealing clothing is unacceptable off the beach. Shorts are generally fine – as long as they aren’t too short. People tend to dress as well as they can afford to – the local people are often astonished by some travellers’ choice of dirty and tattered clothing.
When visiting most pagodas and temples, shorts and tank-tops are unacceptable – cameras may not be allowed in all areas either. Your knees and shoulders must be covered. Footwear must be removed in pagodas. Shoes are usually removed upon entering private homes too.
In terms of behaviour, public displays of affection between men and women are considered shocking. On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal for a pair of men or a pair of women to link arms or hold hands. Upon meeting someone new, people may simply nod to each other or may shake hands. Using both hands to shake someone’s hand is a warm gesture of respect.
Beckoning someone by crooking your finger is very rude. The correct way to call someone over is to extend your hand with the palm down and flap your fingers towards your wrist. To ask for the bill in a restaurant or shop, extend one hand in front of you with the palm raised and pretend to write on your palm with the other hand.