40 Things That Seem Normal In Some Countries, But The Rest Of The World Finds Bizarre

Cultural differences are what makes us all unique and what greatly contributes to the excitement of travelling when you get to discover some particularities of a destination that aren’t too or at all common in your home country. Eating rotten fish might sound slightly (and literally) off to you, but it’s totally normal in Sweden. Having two passports from the same country is common in Russia, but might not exist at where you live. And the practice of eating fried Mars bars might not be the most popular one in North America, but it’s common in Scotland, or seeing policemen driving Lamborghinis as their work cars in Italy might not be seen anywhere else.

Check out the list of some strange things from that are only common in certain countries, vote for the weirdest ones, and let us know if you’ve experienced them in the comments.

#1 In Japan, Traffic Lights Seem To Be Blue

As the word for green originally didn’t exist till later and ‘blue’ was used to refer to both green and blue, Japan uses the most blue shade of green that is legally possible.

Image credits: David McKelvey

#2 Colombians Drink Hot Chocolate Cheese

The sweet cocoa drink is consumed with savory cheese slices. And if you’ve tried it, you know that it’s quite delicious, but surely not common elsewhere.

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Image credits: einalem

#3 Nepal’s Flag Is Non-Rectangular

The only modern country in the world with a non-quadrilateral flag is Nepal and it is said to derive from Hinduism.

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Image credits: Balathasan Sayanthan

#4 Luxembourg’s Public Transportation Is Free

In 2020, the public transport was made free for all locals and visitors alike.

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#5 Bathtubs Made Of Wood Are Used In Japan

The ofuro baths are for sitting and soaking in hot water and are not frequently found around the world.

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#6 In France, Milk Is Not Refrigerated

Most of the milk sold in France is pasteurised at UHT (ultra high temperature) and therefore doesn’t have to be stored in cold.

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Image credits: liz west

#7 In Italy Cappuccino Is More Of A Breakfast Drink

Italians associate milk with mornings; cappuccinos are traditionally drank as a morning beverage.

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#8 Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu

This place in New Zealand is said to have the longest name and it’s 85 characters. Have you tried to pronounce it?

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#9 In Thailand, People Remove Their Shoes Before Entering A Building

One of the things related to feet etiquette in Thailand is taking one’s shoes off before entering a building—that’s to keep dirt from the outside outdoors.

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#10 Police Drive Lamborghinis In Italy

A few years ago, Lamborghini were added to the police vehicle fleet in Italy, and it’s probably quite fast and, well, impressive to look at.

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Image credits: massimomormile

#11 Bamboo Poles Are Used As Drying Rails In Singapore

Don’t be surprised seeing clothing drying on bamboo poles in this country—the bamboo material is widely available, making it quite a popular tool to dry things.

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#12 People In The Netherlands Don’t Use Curtains

It seems that the Dutch don’t mind people looking into their homes. This might be coming from Protestant religious traditions and the notion of ‘I have nothing to hide.’

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Image credits: storebukkebruse

#13 There Are ‘Bra Studies’ In Hong Kong

At Hong Kong polytechnic, you can major in Bra Studies, where Top Form manufacturer has its lab and factory.

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Image credits: tinaxduzgen

#14 People In The UK Have A Competition To Roll After A Giant Cheese Wheel

The annually held Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling is a competition where people race down the 200-yard hill chasing a giant wheel of cheese.

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Image credits: Dennis Lam Sweden

#15 Some Streets In Japan Don’t Have Names

Due to the different addressing system in Japan, the blocks have names instead of the spaces between them (streets).

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Image credits: wikipedia

#16 Russians Have 2 Passports

Citizens of Russia have two passports: one national passport that serves more like an ID and a passport for travelling abroad.

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Image credits: mmamontov

#17 There’s A Dessert In Turkey That Contains Chicken Breast

Shredded chicken breast in a milk dessert, anyone? Tavuk göğsü is a sweet served in Turkey that might be not to everyone’s taste.

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Image credits: a 1 u c a r d

#18 You Can Walk From The North To The South Of Monaco In About An Hour

Due to the size of this country, you can easily walk the length of the whole country. How convenient!

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Image credits: Google Maps

#19 In Ecuador, The Trash Trucks’ Tune Is Similar To What Ice Cream Trucks Play In The USA

If you are visiting Ecuador, you might mistake the garbage truck tune with an ice cream tune and get highly disappointed.

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Image credits: natibal

#20 Fried Mars Bars Are A Thing In Scotland

This food item of questionable health value originated in Scotland in a fish and chips shop. It’s battered and deep-fried. Would you like to try?

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Image credits: Peter Shanks

#21 There Are No Street Names In Costa Rica

Although some streets might have names, they might not necessarily have signs, so the addresses in Costa Rica are still described by local landmarks.

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#22 Sitting In A Sauna In Finland Can Be A Competition

World sauna endurance championships were so famed that people from different countries would compete in this extreme activity in the homeland of saunas—Finland.

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Image credits: Hotel Arthur

#23 In Italy, Restaurants Include Service Charge

You are not expected to tip in Italy as it is quite normal for the service charge to be added to the bill.

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Image credits: tripadvisor

#24 The UK And Some Other Countries Still Drive On The Left Side

Driving on the left side of the road is a feudal heirtage of the days when it was more convenient to hold and use swords in the right hand and have any opposing traffic on the same side in order to fight them.

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Image credits: David Dixon

#25 In Sweden, Rotten Fish Is A Food Item

Lightly salted and fermented Baltic sea herring has been in Swedish cuisine since the 16th century and it’s famed for its extremely particular taste.

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#26 In Thailand, There Is A Nationwide Water Fight In April

If you are into water fights as much as Thai people, you should participate in Songkran, the Thai New Year’s national holiday (13th of April). The water fight is a part of ritual cleansing during the celebration period.

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Image credits: [email protected]

#27 People In Singapore Reserve Seats In Public Eateries

As you need to order food from the counter and risk not being able to find a seat, Singaporeans leave anything from umbrellas to packs of tissues to maintain seats reserved for when they return with their purchased meal.

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Image credits: CELSprojects

#28 On The Highways In Germany, Speed Limit Is Only A Recommendation

On the federal highway system AKA autobahn in Germany, the speed limit is only a recommendation and drivers can choose to drive as fast as they want.

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#29 In Scandinavian Countries, Parents Leave Their Kids To Nap Outside In Cold Temperatures

Most Scandinavian parents think that it’s healthier to expose their children to as much fresh air as possible. Therefore, they leave them outside to take their naps.

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Image credits: Bjonsson

#30 The Swedish Use A Special Cheese Slicer Instead Of A Knife

The Swedish are so serious about cheese that they use a cheese slicer (which is said to have been invented by Norwegians) instead of a regular knife.

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Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

#31 In The Netherlands, Stairs Are Usually Very Steep And Narrow

To some foreigners, staircases in the Netherlands might look more like a health risk than anything. Historically, the buildings were built up rather than out, saving all the centimeters possible.

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Image credits: Kirsten Loza

#32 Unmarried 25-Year-Olds In Denmark Get Covered In Cinnamon

This messy tradition derives from spice sellers in 16th-century Denmark who were famed to be single and were called ‘pepper men’ and this makes a perfect extra excuse to party more. So why not?

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Image credits: Steven Worster

#33 South Koreans Think That Writing In Red Ink Is A Bad Omen

In the past, writing someone’s name in red in the book registry meant that the person is deceased.

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Image credits: Crystal

#34 In Brazil, Hair Lightening Is Just As Popular As Hair Removal

Some women in Brazil like to bleach their body hair rather than remove it completely in order to keep the light fuzz.

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Image credits: Andrey

#35 In The Netherlands, It’s Common To Answer The Phone With ‘Hoi’

No matter how bizarre it sounds, it’s normal for the Dutch to answer the phone with the very old-school ‘hoi,’ that even gave the roots for the nautical term ‘ahoy.’

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Image credits: idleman

#36 In Slovakia, A Live Carp Is Kept In A Bathtub Before Preparing It For Christmas Dinner

A Christmas tradition in Slovakia is letting the carp that is meant for dinner swim in the bathtub for a few days to clean its tract, since it’s a bottom feeder. And, well, people don’t take baths unless they want to share the tub with a fish.

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Image credits: Andrij Bulba

#37 Swedes Cool Their Drinks Outside

A perk of having cold winters in Sweden is that you can cool your drinks outside in the snow. Perhaps a few countries take advantage of infinite alcohol cooling opportunities outdoors.

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Image credits: GregMontani

#38 Some East Asian Countires Wore Face Masks Pre-Pandemic

In countries like South Korea, for the safety of others, people would wear face masks even when having a common cold prior to the pandemic.

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Image credits: Gayatri Malhotra

#39 While Taking Photos, Dutch Say “Smile At The Little Bird”

Surprisingly, instead of saying “cheese” (after all, a lot of cheese is made in the Netherlands), the Dutch say “Lach eens naar het vogeltje” (“Smile at the little bird”).

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Image credits: Shim

#40 In Some European Shops, Sellers Don’t Have Price Tags On Goods

If you are stopping by a small grocery shop, there might not be price tags on the items as this is how sometimes the owners cut some extra money from the tourists.

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Image credits: Anggit Rizkianto