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10 funny laws from abroad

Written by 2 December 2011 19 Comments

Things that you may not think twice about doing at home might not be considered impolite, or even illegal in other countries. Reading a few strange laws from my own country got me curious, so I did some research for you.  Some of the regulations I found are stupid: in Florida, it is illegal to fart in a public place after 6 P.M. on Thursdays. Some of them are downright scary: China’s one child policy.  But all were created at some point for some purpose.

I’ve searched through a plethora of laws and rules to compile this list of my personal favorites for you. Without getting too political, my qualifications for being mentioned here are: relevance (places that Travelettes like you and me travel to), legitimacy (a lot of the laws I found on shock sites aren’t even in effect anymore), and of course, entertainment value (smiling is fun).

Enjoy, and consider yourself warned!

theworldatyourfeet

1. Portugal

So… You’re on that perfect beach, sipping Vinho Verde, working on your tan when nature calls.  That great big ocean looks tempting, doesn’t it?  If you succumb then guess what? Peeing in the ocean is illegal in Portugal.  Although how you would get caught I’m not sure.  Personally I would go for it.  Not that I’m endorsing breaking any laws.

rachel fisher

2. Singapore

If you’ve ever walked down a Singapore street, you know how freakishly clean and neat everything is. Besides having a lot of money, the government is very strict about anything that could possibly sully their precious city.  Besides the ban on cigarettes, it is also illegal to spit and chew bubble gum.

nevesh chitrakar

3. Canada

Almost 60% of the country is covered in trees, and the government wants to keep it that way.  In Canada it is illegal to climb trees in Oshawa, Ontario.

sharyn morrow

4. Australia

If the light goes out in your Victoria hotel room don’t be surprised if the maid brings an electrician.  Only licensed electricians are legally allowed to change light bulbs in Victoria, Australia.

appraisal scoop

5. Switzerland

Think before you flush… It’s illegal to flush your toilet after 10pm if you live in an apartment building.  Found yourself a sexy Swiss man and took him home? He can’t legally pee standing up after 10pm either. (But of course, he should know that!)

6. Italy

The long standing tradition of feeding pigeons is illegal in Venice! I was shocked when I read this, as I remember having a ball with my friends drinking Prosecco and daring each other to stand still while being mauled by those dirty birds. But I haven’t been to Venice since 2004, and it wasn’t until 2008 the practice was outlawed for city sanitation reasons.

feggy art

7. Anywhere Durian is Sold

Maybe you’ve heard of this odd fruit?  Some call it an aphrodesiac of the gods, and some call it the nastiest thing since they couldn’t flush the toilet all night in Switzerland.  It’s smell is sort of a cross between rotting fruit, body odor and garlic.  For that reason it is banned in many public places, including trains, airports, and hotels in Southeast Asia.

8. Thailand

Raged too hard during that Full Moon Party last night? If you don’t remember anything else, at least remember where you put your panties. It’s illegal in Thailand to leave your house (or bungalow) without your underwear on. And for a good reason, those fisherman pants seem to fall down without warning.

rachel king

9. England

Those brits love their queen. Take care not to insult her in any way or form. Even placing a postage stamp upside down with her image on it is considered treason. Double check your postcards! I doubt you would really get arrested, but those cards you finally got around to writing may never leave the country. And it is legal for pregnant women to pee wherever they want! Maybe the queen put that one through while pregnant with Charles?

curlicue

10. United States

There are more senseless and outdated laws in the US than in every other country I have researched.  Google it.  It is ridiculous.  But speaking as a local and resident, the law that drove me the most crazy for most of my life is the drinking age.  In America you can vote, buy tobacco, buy porn, drive, run for office, and join the military at 18 or earlier.  But buy yourself a beer?  Nope!  Establishments (and their employees) caught breaking the law are hit with tough punishments.  Traveling to America and under 21? Make a copy of your older sister’s passport to use.

And that concludes my list!  Can you guess which ones I’ve broken, intentionally or unintentionally?  Which ones have you?

Tell me your travel secrets and maybe I’ll tell you mine…


* post written by Kyra Bramble. To read more of Kyra’s, check out her website.

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19 Comments »

  • Raquel said:

    This is so odd. I’m Portuguese and have never heard about a no peeing in the ocean policy. And it must be one of the hardest to prove too!

  • nfonseca said:

    peeing in the portuguese ocean… lol… and not only in the ocean.

    9. England
    Those brits love their queen. Take care not to insult her in any way or form. Even placing a postage stamp upside down with her image on it is considered treason. Double check your postcards! I doubt you would really get arrested, but those cards you finally got around to writing may never leave the country.

    ohhh really ?!?!?!

    http://i.minus.com/ibqTZEzAwFhr8g.jpg

  • Kyra said:

    I have no idea how they would prove it either! Definitely one law I will continue to break next time I end up back in Portugal. Glad I made you ladies laugh :)

  • Sophie said:

    tell me about it! i spent my 19th birthday in the States…sucked.

  • Jenn said:

    As a Canadian, it is absolutely news to me Re: Rule 3.
    Ooops…

  • Michelle said:

    Haha what! Those are hilarious. I’m from Canada and didn’t even know that one!

  • barrettbrown said:

    @Sophie – Now, now, no reason to get MADD at the interstate highway system..

  • Esso said:

    For all the Canadians as baffled by the can’t climb trees law as I was, I clicked on the link and see that this law is apparently on the books in the community of Oshawa, ON. Seems misleading to make it appear like a federal law (which we all knew it wasn’t) but there you have it. Everyone else in Canada, go ahead and climb those trees. You might have to worry about falling off, but you won’t have to worry about being ticketed.

  • Kyra said:

    @Esso- Thanks for the heads up, I updated the article to reflect specific area of Canada the law applies to. The purpose of this piece was more for entertainment value, I do doubt anyone would really get ticketed for climbing trees, but I thought the fact it was still on the books was humorous.

    I did do my best to make sure I could find evidence to prove all the laws were true before posting about them. I found a lot of fictitious laws while researching this article and did my best not to help spread any of them.

    I appreciate all your comments! Happy tree climbing!

  • Tina said:

    I am Swiss and we DO flush our toilets after 10pm :)

  • Ruth said:

    Durians should never ride on public transports or be eaten in places especially with air-conditioning. No matter how much I love it, the smell never leaves!

  • Kylee said:

    In the United States you have to be 16 to drive a car, not 18.

    but the rest of those things are legit, and it’s dumb.

  • Annie@GreenTravelReviews said:

    Haha, I especially love the Swiss ones – fabulous! ;-) Thanks for sharing these.

  • Tony Abbott said:

    Re point 9.

    In 2014 it is not considered illegal to place upside down stamps of the queen. Neither do pregnant women have a right to pee anywhere, not even in the proverbial policaman’s helmet.

  • Evelyne said:

    In Switzerland it is prohibited to flush after 10 p.m.? I didn’t know that… and I’m a Swiss lawyer. I’ll make sure to let all my clients know that they should be careful with that (although I know it is an urban legend hehehehe)

  • Nadege said:

    It may not be illegal to flush after 10 pm here in Switzerland, but a friend of mine did receive a note from his neighbors asking him to stop taking showers after 10!

  • Bell said:

    I love the chewing gum law and wish it was a global one, sorry the stuff is nasty and too many people seem to think nothing of leaving it in places to get stuck on your clothes and shoes!

    We’d wondered if you could really smell it if someone cut open durian in a hotel room, last time we were in south east Asia we found out the answer to that is YES!

    Funny about the light globe one in Aus, as an Aussie I say we have a few too many rules/laws sometimes!

    Great post though :)

  • Mafalda said:

    Ahahah I’m Portuguese and I didn’t know that :D but it’s true, all mothers teacht us not to do it! But nobody cares that mutch!
    Know, you must admit that peeing in the wave that is going in direction to the children that are playing by the sea is not nice :)

  • Eddy said:

    I’m more shocked on #1, #5 and #9.

    Having a huge Portuguese family, I bet most of them peed in the ocean many of times lol. As for Switzerland, I flushed the toilet a lot after 10pm and I didn’t see any police coming after us. Finally, I don’t get how placing the queen’s image upside down results in treason. Why Britain, why.

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