Local laws and customs are an essential part of national culture, and ignorance of them can lead to unpleasant consequences. While most European countries are relatively clear, in Singapore, for example, you can receive a hefty fine for littering, and in Bangkok, for feeding an elephant. By thoroughly researching the restrictions in your destination country, you can protect yourself not only from losing money but also from encountering the police. Here, we discuss seven countries whose laws warrant a closer look.
Iran and strict clothing
In Iran, the appearance of residents is monitored by special police, and all the rules apply to locals and visiting travelers. For example, men are not allowed to wear T-shirts and shirts with sleeves above the elbow. Women are encouraged to wear long, loose dresses and must cover their heads with a headscarf. If a woman is found in a public place without a headscarf, she may be arrested and could even be prevented from flying. Interestingly, Iranians do not wear ties, considering them a hostile cultural element of clothing. In addition, Western music is strictly banned in the country: make sure your phone does not suddenly play jazz or rock in a public place.
Italy and Venetian pigeons
It seems that St. Mark’s Square in Venice is never empty: flocks of pigeons (as well as crowds of people) have become an integral part of the city’s image. Unsurprisingly, feeding pigeons in the square became a favorite tourist tradition. However, this activity became so popular that in 2008, the city authorities were forced to ban it, arguing that the birds were damaging the city’s historical landmarks. Breaking the ban is not cheap. On average, pigeon feeding in Venice is fined $50-$60, with the maximum fine being $600.
Southeast Asia and Durian
Durian is the only fruit in Thailand with advertising images displayed on the walls of hotels and cinemas, and placed on the boards of planes, buses, and taxis. In Southeast Asia, the spiky fruit, resembling a cross between a pineapple and a porcupine, is called the King of Fruit. However, due to its strong smell, durian is forbidden in most public places, including buses, subways, hotels, and airports. Transporting durian is usually done in dried or canned form or processed into jam or candy; otherwise, a fine of $1000 may be incurred.
Singapore and standards of conduct
You may already know how strict Singapore is with order: a significant fine can be received for littering or spitting, and smoking in a public place can cost you $1000. The “perfect state” also forbids nudity, not just in public places (which is obvious), but even in your hotel room. If someone sees you walking around your room naked or even in your underwear (essentially, in any form that offends public morality), be prepared to pay a fine of $1600 at best, or at worst, serve a three-month prison sentence.
The United Arab Emirates and food in a public place
If you’re going to the UAE, check your calendar. During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, locals observe a strict fast, prohibiting eating, drinking, and smoking during daylight hours. Regardless of your faith, you will have to follow these rules and avoid consuming food in public places. Otherwise, you may be fined $550 or jailed for up to one month.
India and romance on the street
India is an ancient state with its own rules of conduct and regulations that apply to locals and tourists. In Indian culture, it is customary to express one’s feelings privately, and personal life is kept away from public display. Kissing in public is illegal, and other expressions of affection (such as hugs) are not approved. Although the fines for such offenses are small ($10-$25), we recommend adhering to local traditions, which become more critical the further you move away from the coast.
Israel and Arab countries
We rarely plan our travels far in advance, but you will have to if you are going to Israel. In particular, you can immediately exclude Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, and Sudan from your list of countries to visit next, as you will not be allowed entry with an Israeli stamp in your passport. However, entry to Israel with stamps from the aforementioned countries may still be possible. Be prepared for a delay at the border, as border guards will question you about your previous holidays in Lebanon or Iran. Sometimes, these conversations can last up to six hours.