Travelers are used to experiencing a certain level of culture shock when they arrive at a new destination. They might experience unfamiliar traffic patterns, strange food and cultural customs that baffle them at first.
Every country is different, and every country has different laws. Sometimes these laws border on the seriously ridiculous and other times they point to important cultural values that might be different than your own.
There is not a single country that has not banned at least one thing on its territory. But some of the things forbidden by law around the world are really quite funny. Let's get acquainted with some of the things that are prohibited in different countries.
It is illegal to chew gum in Singapore
Sometimes we all suffer when fools break the rules. After vandals used chewing gum to mess with the Mass Rapid Transit system and the Housing and Development Board spent $150,000 a year to clean gum liter, Singapore banned all gum substances in 1992.
Anyone importing, selling or making gum in Singapore can get fined or serve jail time, with the exception of nicotine and dental gums offering therapeutic value.
Canadian radio stations must play songs of Canadian artists
The Canadians are a patriotic bunch. So much so that all Canadian radio stations are required, by law, to play Canadian artists on the airwaves at least 35 percent of the time, especially during the hours of 6 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday.
This means that in an hour of radio during the workweek, you will hear more than 20 minutes of artists like Nickelback, Alanis Morrissette, Celine Dion, Michael Bublé and Justin Bieber — all of whom are proud Canucks.
Do not run out of gas on the German autobahns
Notorious for having dynamic speed limits that give drivers a chance to travel more than 100 miles per hour, car enthusiasts and speed demons love trips along the German autobahns. But, if you run out of gas, you could face a big fine. And do not even think of walking to a gas station; you will get another fine for that!
Why? Germans believe you have the power to keep your car properly gassed up, so if you run out of gas, it is your own fault. Walking along the highway is unsafe, as is having your vehicle stalled on or on the side of the road.
It is illegal to hike naked in Switzerland
After Swiss and German travelers decided to make naked hiking a thing in Switzerland a decade ago (really!), Swiss officials reminded folks that a public indecency law still exists and you can be fined if caught in the woods in the buff. In 2011, a Swiss man was fined more than $100 for his bare-bottomed walk.
You cannot feed pigeons in Venice
With thousands of pigeons descending upon Saint Mark's Square and Venice, lured by the tourists readily handing out food in exchange for Instagram-worthy photos, Venice lawmakers officially made it illegal to feed the pesky fowl in 2008.
It is said the cleanup from the birds cost each citizen €275 per year, so now, the tables have been turned. If you are caught feeding the pigeons, you could face fines of up to €700. Better to get the picture-perfect shot of Venice's beautiful bridges instead.
It is illegal to wear high heels to the Acropolis
When packing for a trip to Greece, make sure you have the right shoes. The country banned high heels at the Acropolis in 2009, so no stilettos at the Parthenon.
Not sure why anyone would want to make a trek around the ruins and dirt in heels — surely it is tough to walk and will damage the shoes — but the Greeks put this ban in place to protect its ruins from damage caused by the sharp shoes. The ruins are nearly 2,500 years old, so be respectful and wear some soft-soled shoes when you visit.
Do not wear your Winnie the Pooh T-shirt in Poland
The cuddly little bear all stuffed with fluff also does not wear pants. Because of this, Poland issued a ban on Winnie the Pooh around playgrounds and schools, finding the AA Milne character a bit too risqué for the likes of impressionable children.
It is illegal to wear a suit of armor in British Parliament
We know, we know — you have been dying to don your suit of armor for a visit to Parliament during your next trip to London. Still, there is this ancient law dating back to 1313 that prohibits it. The Brits could revoke the law, but, as armor really isn't as fashionable as it was in the Middle Ages, why should they bother?
Riding cow in drunk state prohibited in Scotland
Before you get any crazy ideas — you should know you could get a ticket for cow riding while you are drunk. Technically, the full 1872 law mandates people cannot get drunk when in charge of a cow, horse, carriage or steam engine.
In case you are wondering, the same law states you cannot have a loaded firearm on you while drunk, as well. (We have to admit, that's a pretty good rule.)
It is illegal to wear camouflage in the Caribbean
Leave the Camo attire at home when you head to the Caribbean — to wear it is a big no-no in many island nations, including Barbados, St Vincent, St Lucia, Antigua, Barbuda and Jamaica. Camouflage is only allowed to be worn by the country's military personnel.
No Selfies with Buddha in Sri Lanka
When you take a selfie with Buddha, you are turning your back on him. Tsk, tsk. This sign of disrespect is punishable by imprisonment in Sri Lanka. It is also considered disrespectful to point your finger at Buddha, and sometimes there are bans on taking photos with the statues.
Although not illegal to have tattoos of Buddha, a British woman was jailed for three days in 2014 for inappropriate tattoos of the man 70 percent of Sri Lankans feel is a prophet and avatar of the god Vishnu.
Be polite and cover tattoos, respect "no photograph" signs, and don't turn your back on him.
It is illegal to wear a mask in public in Denmark
Not only masks, the Danish government wants to stop anyone from covering their faces in any way in public spaces. This includes masks, helmets, scarves, hats, fake beards and even burkas.
The controversial ban went into effect in August 2018. Officials' claim the ban helps to properly identify people during crowded events, should anything negative happen and someone need to be identified.
Registering as married at a Hotel in North Carolina
Let's say a man and a woman walk into a hotel in North Carolina, request to share a room, and claim they are married. By common law marriage rules in the state, that man and woman would legally be married.
As the couple "outwardly present themselves as husband and wife to the public," they are deemed a common law marriage that is honored and valid in North Carolina.
Should you find yourself in need of a hotel room for the night, you may want to fess up if you aren't a married couple.
It is illegal to fly a kite in Victoria, Australia
In Australia's southeastern tip of Victoria, home to Melbourne, it is illegal to fly a kite in a public space if it bothers another person. In fact, you cannot even play a game in a public place if it annoys someone else.
Listed as part of Summary Offences Act of 1966, the Aussies probably will not mind if you do decide to fly a kite while you visit.
No water pistols on New Year's in Cambodia
New Year celebrations in Cambodia get so crazy that the capital city of Siam Reap will not allow for the sale of water pistols leading up to and during its big celebrations. The ban went into place to prevent "traffic accidents" and "public disorder."
Apparently, any other time of year is okay for a water gun fight, but if you go for New Year's, shop owners won't sell you the plastic toy.
It is illegal to be shirtless in Barcelona
In an effort to keep the streets of Barcelona free of beachgoers in bikinis and men going shirtless, lawmakers in the Spanish town on the Mediterranean banned anyone from being topless or in a swimsuit in public anywhere but the beach or a pool.
Passed in 2011, fines for walking around half-naked could cost you up to €260.
Do not swear in the UAE
In the Muslim United Arab Emirates, swearing could get you fined, jailed or deported. Under Article 373 of the UAE Penal Code, "swearing disgraces the honour or the modesty of a person."
This is not just for saying the inappropriate words aloud. It includes indecent physical gestures and extends to your text messages and social media, as well. Not even indecent emojis are allowed.
Earlier this year, the British Express reported a man sent an angry message to a car dealer who seemingly did him wrong. He was threatened with three weeks in jail for his choice of words.
You should not dance in the dark after midnight in Japan
Japan was like the country version of the movie "Footloose." Dancing after midnight was banned for generations, as it is just too sinful. Well, it was really just too American. Enacted in 1948 while US soldiers occupied Japan, the ban was placed to stop
liberal Americans from corrupting the good citizens of Japan.
Finally lifting the ban in 2105, you can dance after midnight, as long as it is not in the dark.
You cannot fly a UFO over Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
If extraterrestrial visitors plan on visiting earth anytime soon, they might want to stay away from France. Well, specifically Châteauneuf-du-Pape in southeastern France. The anti-UFO legislation originated in 1954, after a local saw "deep sea divers"
coming from a "cigar-shaped" space ship. The former mayor immediately made a decree: "Any aircraft, known as flying saucer or flying cigar, which should land on the territory of the community will be immediately held in custody."
Do not drive a dirty car in Russia
Although dirty car fines in Russia have been around since 2006, it is still unclear what exactly qualifies an automobile as filthy. In a readers' poll conducted by the Russian newspaper Izvestiya, 46% agreed that a car is dirty if it is license plate is no longer
visible. How does that happen? Are Russians parking their cars in swamps? Regardless, you sure will not be tempted to get these cars dirty—meet the Leaders of the Pack: the Best New Cars for 2018.
You cannot play the piano at midnight in Germany
The team at Learn out Live joked that Germany is "the country of a million laws" and debunked legal myths about using pillows as a weapon and singing the national anthem. One law that rings true, however, is the one that forbids the playing of musical
instruments after certain hours. Renters are only allowed to practice their instruments from 8:00 to 12:00 and from 14:00 to 20:00 to be respectful to their neighbors. They also have time restrictions for various instruments to prevent artists from playing
marathon symphonies the rest of the neighborhood never asked for.
Ketchup is banned in school cafeterias of France
In 2011, Christopher Hebert, the president of the national association of municipal catering managers, banned ketchup from school cafeterias. "The weird thing about this rule is that it was not put into place for health reasons — otherwise mayo might
have been taken off the menu as well," Annie André writes at How to Live in France. "But because Monsieur Hebert thinks that every spoonful of ketchup is like eating the 'incarnation of Americanism.'" In order to preserve the French culture, ketchup is
only allowed on French fries (ironically enough), which are only allowed to be served once per week.
It is illegal to die in certain cities of Italy
It is illegal to die in at least two cities in Italy, and also several other cities around the world. In part, this has to do with depopulation and aging towns, but also addresses local health crises. In the case of Sellia, Italy, residents who fail to take preventative
death measures by getting an annual health check-up will be fined 10 EUR per year. "The old 'ban on death' manoeuvre, in short, is often the local government equivalent of a naked calendar — a good-natured way of driving attention to their cause," Leo
Benedictus writes at The Guardian. "In Sellia, 100 people signed up for their health checks in the flurry of publicity that followed the prohibition of dying and, who knows, perhaps one or two did have their lives saved as a result."
Reincarnation is illegal without the government's permission in China
This law has been passed around for several years, but recently came back up with the aging Dalai Lama. "Although the ruling Communist Party is an officially atheist organisation — officials are barred from practicing religion — it is perennially
uncomfortable with forces outside of its control, and has for years demanded the power to regulate the supernatural affairs of Tibetan Buddhist figures, determining who can and cannot be reincarnated," Jonathan Kaiman writes at the Los Angeles Times.
"Experts say it is also part of a wide-ranging effort to tighten control over the turbulent region."