From stilettos to swearing: the world’s most surprising tourist bans revealed


Tokyo is a top pick among Asian travelers for New Year's Eve.
Slide 1 of 29: No stealing, no vandalizing, no speeding: we all think we know the law. But the rules you think you know can change drastically once you go overseas. In some countries, the most innocuous acts, such as drinking water or stepping on money, could land you with a fine or even a lengthy jail sentence. Here are some of the most unusual laws around the world, from the practical to the utterly bizarre.
Slide 2 of 29: In super-clean Singapore, it’s not just chewing gum, but also importing it that is a total no-no. The ban on chewing gum was introduced in 1992 as just one of many laws to improve the cleanliness of the island: there are also bans on spitting, graffiti and littering. However, as of 2004, chewing gums with health benefits, such as nicotine gum, are available for purchase.
Slide 3 of 29: Think twice before packing any trendy khaki gear: wearing camouflage print in Trinidad and Tobago could get you in trouble with the law. The pattern is banned in the country to prevent those who aren’t in the military from posing as soldiers.
Slide 4 of 29: Watch where you walk if you're in Thailand, because inadvertently stepping on Thai money could land you with a hefty jail sentence. Thai banknotes have the image of the King on them, and stepping on them could be construed as an insult to the monarchy.
Slide 5 of 29: Leave the stilettos at home if you’re planning to visit some of Greece’s famous ancient sites. Heels have been banned at many of the country’s awesome archaeological sites, such as Athens’ Odeon of Herodes Atticus, due to concerns that the footwear could damage monuments.
Slide 6 of 29: You might like to stay hydrated on the plane, but leave your bottles of water behind when you land in Nigeria: it’s illegal to bring mineral water or soft drinks into the country. Those who do could be subject to fines and confiscation.
Slide 7 of 29: Whether it’s light or dark outside, if you’re driving in Denmark, you must have your headlights on at all times. If you accidentally forget to turn them on, you could be landed with a substantial fine.
Slide 8 of 29: You might think that feeding the pigeons in St. Mark’s Square is a quintessential Venice activity but beware: this tradition was banned in 2008 due to fears the historic buildings in the square might be damaged by increasing numbers of the pests. Tourists who flout the law could face hefty fines.
Slide 9 of 29: Staying with Italy: Florence has banned any new fast food outlets from opening for the next three years in a bid to cut down on litter. Alfresco eating is now such an issue the local mayor has also banned it on sidewalks and outside buildings. Fines of up to €500 ($568/$450) could be issued for anyone caught chomping on one of the Tuscan city's famous ice creams or pizzas in the street.
Slide 10 of 29: You might think all you have to do is look right and left before crossing the road, but in America you’d better make sure you’re only walking on a specified crossing with a green light. If you do jaywalk, you could be slapped with an on-the-spot fine and could even be arrested.
Slide 11 of 29: Lots of us use nasal sprays for allergies or colds, but carefully check the label of your medicine before you travel to Japan. It’s illegal to take some common nasal sprays containing pseudoephedrine into the country, and those who unwittingly break the law could face a fine.
Slide 12 of 29: If you're driving a hire car in Spain note that it’s not only illegal to wear flip-flops while driving, but also to wear backless shoes, footwear that is open at the front and high heels when behind the wheel. And don't even think about driving barefoot. Those who contravene the law could face fines if caught.
Slide 13 of 29: It’s not clear how anyone could actually be caught doing this, but if you enjoy using the sea as a toilet, avoid doing so in Portugal – not least for your fellow swimmers. This law was put in place to keep beaches family friendly.
Slide 14 of 29: Whether you’re Muslim or not, if you are in the United Arab Emirates during the holy month of Ramadan, you’re expected to stick to the rules and refrain from eating or drinking in public. If you break the law, you could face a large fine or even jail time.
Slide 15 of 29: Speed camera location warnings are one of the best things about sat navs. However, making use of this feature is illegal in France and could land you with a fine of up to €1,500 ($1,707/£1,352), as well as six points on your driving license.
Slide 16 of 29: If you’ve usually got a potty mouth, you might want to keep it shut when in Australia. In New South Wales, police have the power to charge anyone who curses in public with a $AU500 (US$56/£282) on-the-spot fine.
Slide 17 of 29: It might be tempting to save on data roaming charges, but if you connect to someone else’s wi-fi network while in Singapore, you’ve officially broken the law. The government views this action as hacking, and if you break the law you could face a fine of $10,000 (US$7,287/£5,773) or a three-year jail sentence – or both.
Slide 18 of 29: In Germany it pays to be prepared: it’s illegal to stop while on German autobahns, even if you run out of fuel, so make sure you fill up before embarking on any epic road trips. You'll be fined if not.
Slide 19 of 29: Well, not all of Canada, or we’d never have Drake, Celine Dion or Justin Bieber, but in Petrolia, Ontario, there’s a rule to prevent yelling, shouting, whistling, hooting or singing at all times.
Slide 20 of 29: There’s nothing more frustrating than being told to smile if you’re not in the mood, but in Milan it’s actually a legal requirement. An old law requires people to smile in public places. The only people who can frown without risking a fine are those attending funerals and also hospital workers.
Slide 21 of 29: The famous coffee shop culture in Amsterdam doesn't mean that using drugs is allowed in the Netherlands. Soft drugs are only tolerated in designated areas, and if you possess or buy prohibited substances, you could face a prison sentence.
Slide 22 of 29: Be sure to indulge in all the food and drink you'll need before you get behind the wheel in Cyprus, because you could face a high fine if you’re caught even taking a sip of water while driving.
Slide 23 of 29: While it's unlikely to be enforced, one village in southwest France banned people from dying as the cemetery was too full. The mayor of Sarpourenx issued a statement saying: “all persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sarpourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish… Offenders will be severely punished.”
Slide 24 of 29: Most people would assume that the make-up of their beds would be their own business, but not in Argentina. The country banned feather beds, on the grounds that “such an indulgence induces and encourages lascivious feelings”.
Slide 25 of 29: Need the bathroom late at night? Better not go in Switzerland: it’s not only illegal to flush the toilet after 10pm if you’re in an apartment, but also illegal for men to urinate standing up late at night.
Slide 26 of 29: In yet another bizarre, toilet-related law, it’s illegal to pass wind in public in Florida after 6pm on Thursdays. Very specific, but you’ve been warned.
Slide 27 of 29: Just one more toilet-related example, we promise. While we’d hope that everyone flushes after using the toilet, in Singapore it’s an actual law. If you leave without flushing, you could be fined nearly $130 (£100). There’s also a law against urinating in elevators: they’re equipped with Urine Detection Devices (UDD), which detect the misdemeanor, set off an alarm and shut the doors until the police arrive.  Discover the world's most unusual museums. 
Slide 28 of 29: Make sure you keep your car looking spotless if you decide to drive in Russia, as driving a dirty vehicle, especially if it obscures your number plate, can land you with an on-the-spot fine.   Read about the unusual ways of getting from A to B around the world. 
Slide 29 of 29: Well, not all of Spain: specifically Barcelona, where, a few years ago, a new law came into place banning people from wandering the streets of the city in swimming costumes. If you’re spotted wearing a bikini, swimsuit or trunks away from a swimming pool or beach, you could be landed with a fine of up to €300 ($341/£270).   Now read: 66 questions about flying answered. 

Weird laws you need to know about

Chewing gum in Singapore

Wearing camouflage in Trinidad & Tobago

Stepping on money in Thailand

Wearing heels in Greece

Taking mineral water into Nigeria

Driving without your lights on in Denmark

Feeding birds in Italy

Eating fast food in Florence

Jaywalking in the USA

Bringing nasal spray into Japan

Wearing flip-flops while driving in Spain

Peeing in the sea in Portugal

Eating or drinking during Ramadan in the UAE

Using a speed-camera sat nav in France

Swearing in Australia

Connecting to wi-fi in Singapore

Running out of fuel in Germany

Singing in Canada

Frowning in Italy

Carrying or using drugs in the Netherlands

Driving while eating or drinking in Cyprus

Dying in France

Sleeping in a feather bed in Argentina

Flushing the toilet at night in Switzerland

Passing wind in Florida

Forgetting to flush in Singapore

Just one more toilet-related example, we promise. While we’d hope that everyone flushes after using the toilet, in Singapore it’s an actual law. If you leave without flushing, you could be fined nearly $130 (£100). There’s also a law against urinating in elevators: they’re equipped with Urine Detection Devices (UDD), which detect the misdemeanor, set off an alarm and shut the doors until the police arrive.

Driving a dirty car in Russia

Make sure you keep your car looking spotless if you decide to drive in Russia, as driving a dirty vehicle, especially if it obscures your number plate, can land you with an on-the-spot fine. 

Wearing a bikini in Spain

Well, not all of Spain: specifically Barcelona, where, a few years ago, a new law came into place banning people from wandering the streets of the city in swimming costumes. If you’re spotted wearing a bikini, swimsuit or trunks away from a swimming pool or beach, you could be landed with a fine of up to €300 ($341). 

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