Take the time to learn how to say “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you” in the local language. Your hosts are very friendly people and they highly appreciate it when foreigners take the effort to learn their language. In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar a respectful way of greeting another individual is to bow the head slightly with hands pressed together at the chest, as if in payer. Be aware, these societies are still firmly rooted in a system of class and social hierarchy.


Keep calm, be patient

Travelling though developing counties can be unpredictable and frustrating at times, but losing your temper will not help. Whatever the situation, try to stay calm, firm and courteous and speak without raising your voice. Personal dignity is extremely important here. Becoming angry is considered a major weakness and local people will be embarrassed for you. If you do get into a stressful situation it is always better to ask for help than to finger blame.  “Saving face” is a subtle but important aspect of personal dignity. Criticism is not at easily accepted as it is in western countries and should only be made when also giving praise.


Try to understand the local culture

Keep in mind that every country has many different ethnic groups, each of which may have its own etiquette and taboos and listen to the advice of your guide; you may not understand the significance of everything you see and learn, but this mystery is part of the beauty of travel. Cultural diversity and exoticism is what you came looking for; accept it, enjoy it – don’t try to change it!

Do tell locals about your own culture – many may have a wrong idea about your country and its customs and most are just as curious as you are to learn about other cultures.


Connect with people before taking pictures

It is polite to always ask permission before taking photographs of people of filming them and, in the rare case they refuse, please respect their wishes. Refuse to pay for photographs as this encourages begging. Take some time to chat; your photo will become a shared memory, which you can send back to them.


Answer questions

Be prepared to answer, numerous times, questions like: ‘where are your from? where you are going? Are you married? How old are you? While you may find these questions disconcerting and too intimate, most people are just trying to be friendly, to practice their English skills or start up a conversation.

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