It does not happen often, but every once in a while you are helping someone debug his code. You run across his Database and need to double check NOW how he created that thing.
To get this information you need to check:
SELECT @@character_set_databse, @@collation_database;
Alternatively, to display the values without changing the default database:
SELECT DEFAULT_CHARACTER_SET_NAME, DEFAULT_COLLATION_NAME
FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.SCHEMATA WHERE SCHEMA_NAME = ‘db_name’;
Straight from the MySQL Docu: https://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.5/en/charset-database.html