An interesting travel difference between the two countries is the access to public healthcare as a tourist. In Europe you need to ensure your EHIC card renewal has taken place, if you’re a citizen of an EU country, to gain access to public healthcare for free or at a reduced cost. In Asia however, you need to make sure that you have private healthcare insurance. We’ve put together a list of the cultural differences between Asia and Europe.
GreetingsIn different parts of each continent, everybody has a different form of greeting. For example in Britain, a general greeting is usually a firm handshake, particularly between people that don’t know each other. Alternatively, a hug or a kiss on the cheek is used between friends. In Italy, people tend to greet each other, whether they know them or not, with a kiss on each cheek.
In Asia however, although these forms of greeting are known of, they have not been adopted by the locals. In Asia, most greetings that don’t involve direct physical contact tend to be preferred. It’s considered especially inappropriate for men and women, particularly those who don’t know each other to have any physical contact. If you’re visiting Asia, it’s important to wait for the other persons cue.
In China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, people tend to bow when they meet. In Southeast Asian countries, it’s more common to smile and nod politely. Verbal greetings such as ‘hello’ in the country’s language is also a good idea – and will always be appreciated.
FoodIn Europe is common for people to eat from their own plates, and have their own meal, solely from what they chose. European food is generally served on the plate before being given to the consumer.
However, in Asia, many people dish up themselves, and help themselves to more food from particular dishes as the meal goes on. This way, different people can try different things, rather than having just one. In some Asian countries you will end up using chopsticks, and in others a fork or spoon, it is all dependant on where you are.
GiftsIn Asian countries, people tend to give each other gifts on a regular basis, particularly when invited to someone’s house for a meal. In Europe, the standard form of gift in this situation is a bottle of wine and some flowers.
In Asia, alcohol can be deemed as an inappropriate gift, and flowers may also have a meaning that you are unaware of, due to ancient superstitions in the country. Sweets are generally recommended and appropriate as a gift in Asian countries. Make sure it’s beautifully wrapped and you will have yourself a winning gift, no matter the occasion.