Except for certain neighbourhoods in central Brussels and the outer edge of Antwerp the port and docks, Belgium is a safe country. Belgians are somewhat shy and introverted, but generally helpful towards strangers.
For those landing in Charleroi and LiÃ¨ge, those are the regions that boast the highest crime rates in Southern Belgium. But if you keep an eye on your belongings, and avoid wandering alone at night, nothing really serious is likely to happen to you.
Muslims and people of North African ancestry may experience mild resentment, a problem that is particularly acute in Brussels and Antwerp. The Burqa is illegal in public.
Marijuana laws are quite lenient, with small amounts only punishable by fines.
The emergency phone number in Belgium fire, police, paramedics is 112.
Belgians don't like to talk about their income or politics. You must also avoid asking people about their views on religion.
The Flanders-Wallonia question or dispute and the high number of separatist and extreme-right votes in Flanders are controversial topics and you must avoid asking people about their views on these as well.
Do NOT try to speak French in Flanders, and Dutch in Wallonia! Speaking the "wrong" language can be considered very offensive in the two regions, and you will either be ignored or at worst get an icy response and substandard service. However, the closer you get to the language border this will happen less frequently. Across the country, the lingua franca between both Flemings and Wallons has become English especially among the younger generations, to avoid being spoken to in the "other language". That is why as a tourist, it is best to start a conversation in English or the "correct" language, that is Dutch in Flanders and French in Wallonia.
Do NOT tell the Walloons and most of the people of Brussels that they are French. Most Walloons, despite speaking French, are not and do not consider themselves French and dislike being associated with their neighbour France.
And for the same reason, do NOT tell the Flemish and also the people of Brussels that they are Dutch. Most Flemings, despite speaking Dutch Flemish, are not and do not consider themselves Dutch and dislike being associated with their neighbour the Netherlands.
Belgians in general are very proud of their comic book artists. The "Belgian school of comic books" is hailed as a national pride. In Belgium, comic books are valuable books printed with a hard cover. There are dozens of beautiful yet expensive merchandizing items, and the Belgians are fond of them. A plastic figurine of a comic book character or a special artwork of a hailed comic book artist would be a perfect gift for your Belgian friends and in-laws, for example.
Giving tips shows that you were content with the service given, but you are certainly not obliged to do so. It is sometimes done in bars and restaurants. Depending on the total, a tip of â¬0,50 to â¬2,50 is considered generous.
Belgium has a modern telephone system with nationwide cellular telephone coverage, and multiple internet access points in all cities, free in most libraries. Also in multiple gas stations, NMBS/SNCB train stations and diners on the highways there is Wi-Fi available.
Many cafÃ©s offer free WiFi nowadays, but don't write it on the door for whatever reason...