Bath students everywhere are flocking back to university to begin another year of sleeping through lectures and waiting in bus queues. Many of them will be proudly showing off their tan-lines and brandishing their summer adventures; a month spent in the south of France; backpacking through Central America; volunteering in Africa. Hopefully, the biggest problem they will have faced is how to fit all their cool new Aztec jumpers into their luggage, but sometimes travel just isn’t that simple.
It is easy to forget the severity of petty crimes when you are travelling with friends, and many students often cross the invisible line between welcome visitor and offensive foreigner, without realising it. One way to be a more responsible, culturally- aware traveller is to do your homework before you go: take a look at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website, with their “Travel Aware” campaign to find all the information you need on the culture, politics and rules of your destination country. In the meantime, we have compiled a list of some of the weirder laws you might come across on your travels, so that you can avoid small fines, jail time, and international scandal.
The weird, the wonderful, and the down right ridiculous – here are some the world’s strangest laws:
- In the Philippines, it is possible to receive a fine for “unjust vexations” – a vague phrase, which means that annoying people can be legally punished.
- In Thailand it is illegal to step on money! It is seen as highly offensive to the king, and you can be arrested for it.
- In Zimbabwe, it is against the law to wear camouflaged clothing, so leave your ASOS “camo jacket” at home!
- The importation of chewing gum into Singapore is prohibited. If you are
caught chewing gum whilst out and about you could receive a fine of up to $100 or around £60.
- An old Italian law states that it is illegal to eat or drink on the steps of churches in Florence. While this is not always enforced, it’s probably best to enjoy your lunch in a Piazza instead.
- Although many of the rules in the United Arab Emirates are different from the UK, perhaps the easiest for students to forget is that public displays of affection are not permitted. In many cases, you can be arrested for kissing your loved one in public.
- In Vietnam, foreign visitors are not allowed to invite Vietnamese nationals of the opposite sex into their hotel rooms for the night. If you wish to stay with a Vietnamese family, you must first be registered with the local authorities. Say no to impromptu sleepovers!
- In Barcelona, Spain it is illegal to wear your swimming costume when not on the beach. If you wander away from the playa, make sure you bring a t-shirt!
- In Indonesia, gambling is strictly prohibited due to the high Muslim influence. All casinos, poker rooms and even bingo halls are illegal, and participation can result in heavy fines.
- In France, it is a legal requirement that at least 40% of the music played on the radio is French. Not something that could get you in trouble, but still, pretty weird!
photo credit: Jo Freeborough