To Honk or Not to Honk?

Are you one of those people who honk at someone when the traffic light turns green and the car in front of you is not moving?

to honk or not to honk?Photo via

Honking has become so common in Southeast Asia that people even honk at animals when they run across the road. Crazy, right?

If you think that you are an obsessive honker, here are a few meanings to different types of honking and what do they mean in different countries in Southeast Asia.

1. India

The most unique cultural takeaway from India - even more than Bollywood and cricket fanaticism - is the car horn. 

Indians honk like nobody's business.

to honk or not to honk?Photo via

Even on a busy street that cars hardly move, everyone is honking.

They even honk at the cows that block the traffic!

2. Vietnam

to honk or not to honk?Photo via

Honking in Vietnam can have many meanings, usually less aggressive.

"Hey, I'm here", honk. "Please let me pass", honk. "You are in my lane", honk. "Look out!", honk. "The light turns green now, let's go", honk.

You can even find a fun guide to honking in Vietnam.

3. Thailand

To our surprise, the Thai don’t use their horns at all!

to honk or not to honk?Photo via

In Thailand, the use of the horn is considered rude and provocative, if not downright offensive.

If you hear a quick “beep, beep” of the horn, it is done as a thank you.

4. China

The car horn is used, on average, about 40 times more often in China than in Europe.

to honk or not to honk?Photo via

There are various types of honks on the streets of China and each one carries a specific type of message.

  1. Short honk - indicate to potential passengers of their presence.
  2. Short combinations of honks - to warn pedestrians of the presence of a quickly approaching vehicle.
  3. Ear-piercing honk - angry and impatient gesture

5. Indonesia

The streets of Indonesia are quite noisy. But in Indonesia, horns are a communication tool and rarely signal aggression to other drivers.

to honk or not to honk?Photo via

A tap of the horn can mean anything from “I’m passing you” to “don’t back up yet” to “I’m going to run this red light, please don’t hit me” to “what’s up bro?”

So, next time think before you honk.

By: Rayelene Chin