You’ve got to add one more item to your list of travel essentials. In addition to packing like a pro, making sure your passport is up to date, and knowing your must-sees before you arrive, you should also make sure you understand the ways in which a foreign country’s laws can affect your vacation.
It’s easier than you might think to make a cultural faux pas when you’re travelling. Swimwear, chewing gum, high heels, moustaches – the world has weird laws about pretty much everything.
Chewing Gum in Singapore
Singapore likes to keep its street clean. Chewing bubble gum has been banned in Singapore for over two decades. While the only penalty is a fine, it’s probably best to respect the city’s wishes and keep your gum at home.
Don’t Feed the Pigeons in St Mark’s Square, Venice
You could face a fine for feeding pigeons in St Mark’s Square, Venice. The act was outlawed in a bid to reduce pigeon numbers and associated damage to historic structures.
Keep Your Top on in Fiji
Fiji is a beautiful tropical paradise where sunbathing and swimming are part of daily life, but don’t get caught with your pants (or top) down. Public nudity and topless bathing are illegal here. Stay covered up and out of jail.
Milan Requires That Citizens Must Smile at All Times, or Face a Fine
Milan in Italy states that it is a legal requirement to smile at all times, except during funerals or hospital visits. Frowners could face a hefty fine.
Watch Your Camera in Kazakhstan
Want to capture one last snapshot of your family in the airport before you board the plane? In Kazakhstan, it’s against the law. Photography in and around airports is illegal, and taking pictures of military and official buildings is frowned upon as well.
It Is Forbidden to Be Fat in Japan in the Country That Brought Sumo Wrestling
It is illegal to be fat. In 2009, lawmakers set a maximum waistline, meaning every man aged over 40 must not have a waistline measuring over 31ins, and every woman cannot measure over 35ins.
Dying in Sarpourenx
We’re not exactly sure how this one is enforced… In the village of Sarpourenx, in southwest France, Mayor Gerard Lalanne has forbidden residents to die. In 2008, he issued an ordinance stating that “all persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sarpourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish” and if they do, “offenders will be severely punished.”
Lighting Up in Bhutan
If you’re a smoker, don’t plan on buying cigarettes in Bhutan — or bringing them in either. The small Himalayan country is notoriously harsh when it come to the nation’s smoking ban. There is a 100% tax on tobacco products at customs and smoking in public will cost you a hefty fine. Selling tobacco products is grounds for imprisonment.
Pack a Breathalyzer in France
In France, drivers are legally required to carry a portable Breathalyzer in their vehicle. If you’re caught without this gadget in your car, you’ll be expected to cough up 11 Euros tout suite. Tourists behind the wheel, this law applies to you too.
Canada Radio Law
Great news for Justin Bieber & Celine Dion fans. Part of the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission) states that for both types of programming there has to be at least a fifth by Canadian performers.
Don’t Wear High Heels at Archaeological Sites
In Greece, you are not allowed to wear heels at archaeological sites. The amount of pressure that just one pair of pumps exerts on ancient stone and marble is significant; multiply it by endless visitors over the decades and sites like the Acropolis have got themselves a problem. Just one more reason to pack your comfy shoes for seeing the sites.
Running Out of Petrol Is Illegal in Germany
It is illegal to run out of fuel on the autobahn in Germany. It’s also illegal to walk along the autobahn, not that it’s a particularly nice spot for a stroll.
Step on Currency in Thailand
Thai baht bear the picture of the King of Thailand.
Defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family is illegal — and so is stepping on paper currency.