Dining Etiquette From Around The World

Etiquette while dining is an important way to show respect for your host and for those present at the table too. Often times, you can give offense and not even know it because travelers can be unfamiliar with local customs. To help you prepare to be a gracious guest, here is a handy guide to help you navigate dining etiquette wherever you in the world.


Do follow the lead of your host- they are the first to sit, eat, give a toast, and even when it’s time to get up at the end

Do give a toast later in the meal

Do leave some food on your plate at the end

Do hold your knife in the right hand and fork in the left

Don’t keep your hands in your lap or rest elbows on the table


Do wait to be seated by your host

Do pass all dishes to the left

Do rest your wrists on the table when not holding silverware

Do put your utensils horizontally across the plate so they are parallel

Don’t switch around knives and forks in your hands- keep them in the same hand

Don’t use a toothpick


Do you use the fork in the left hand and knife in the right hand

Do finish your entire plate

Do leave your wine glass full if you want no more

Do cross your fork over your knife if you are not done eating

Don’t start chowing down until the host says “bon appetite”

Don’t put your elbows in the table- keep your hands out of your lap at all times

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Do sit around the table on the carpet

Do eat the food closest to you from the communal plate- no reaching around

Do use a piece of bread or thumb and first two fingers of your right hand to scoop food

Do take any choice cuts offered to the guest by the host

Do use the wash basin to wash hands and dry them in the towel provided

Don’t lick your fingers or put your hand in your mouth- everyone is eating from communal dishes

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Do wait for the host to tell you to start eating

Do hold any forks in the left hand and knife in the right

Do pour drinks for any women next to you or wait until any men next you a drink

Do keep hands above the table- but no elbows

Do take second helpings when offered

Do use bread to soak up sauces

Do leave a little food on your plate

Don’t get up until the host says it’s ok to leave


Do sit on the rug on the floor around a table

Do wash your hands before and after

Do use only your right hand

Do use flatbreads to scoop food

Do follow the cues of the oldest person to sit and also when to start eating

Do eat with your hands

Don’t waste food- it’s a sign of disrespect


Do drink from the soup bowl and bring up towards your mouth- spoons are not common

Do sit on cushions on the floor to eat

Do eat sashimi and sushi by first dipping in soy sauce and eat in one bite

Do say “I gratefully receive this meal” before and thank them after

Don’t pass food using your chopsticks

Don’t leave a tip if at a restaurant

Don’t cross, lick, or stick chopsticks vertically into a bowl- this is rude

Everyone enjoys relaxing, eating good food, and good company- just simply smile and thank your hosts for the meal. If all else fails, look to the host- they will be able to help you of you get lost. Now armed with rules for dining etiquette from around the world, you can dine without fear and enjoy that local dish you’ve always wanted to try or go on that tour that brings you to a local’s home for a meal.