Know before you go – unusual foreign rules/laws

Winding up on the wrong side of the law in foreign countries is something you could reasonably expect if you were to be involved in a fight or if you were caught breaking driving laws, for example (check out a texting while driving lawyer if you’ve been affected). But at other times you could attract the attention of the law by accident… 

Singapore – chewing gum

What could be more harmless than increasing the saliva flow in the mouth after a meal to reduce the chance of cavities by chewing gum? Well, if you visit Singapore, you might want to think of alternative means of protecting your enamel, because the import and sale of chewing gum has been banned in the island city-state since 1992. Certain expectations are permitted, such as nicotine gum, but the sale of gum with medicinal value is strictly limited, with chewers needing a doctor’s prescription to get access to even one bite of chewiness. The reasons for Singapore’s disdain of gum come down to the actions of vandals, who for a time in the 80s went about depositing spent gum in mailboxes, in door keyholes, and on the lenses of onboard train cameras. They ruined it for everyone. 

Dubai – different ways of thinking about justice 

Dubai is on many people’s bucket list. Who wouldn’t want to witness the world’s current tallest building (Burj Khalifa), or see The Palm islands up close? However, visitors to Dubai may find that the legal system is significantly different to their own country’s way of handling justice – the first person (of however many parties involved in an incident) to report their indignation to the police may be favoured as far as justice is concerned in comparison to other parties. This means that justice can play out in ways that could be unexpected to foreign travellers. See Detained in Dubai for more info. 

Thailand – vaping 

Thailand advises visitors against bringing vaping paraphernalia into the country. If you attempt to get your various e-cigarettes and vaporisers through customs, and if you are found out, you could hope that the most that will happen is that your equipment will be confiscated, but fines and jail time are also very real options. Thailand operates what it calls ‘blue laws’, which restrict a variety of activities in order to preserve restful times of the days – this means that alcohol is also not sold outside of lunch and evening hours (purchasing alcohol at the wrong time of day could land you in a sticky situation with the authorities). 

Sri Lanka – the rules round all things ‘Buddha’ (including tattoos)

Sri Lanka is a religious place. Taking photos of yourself in front of a statue of Buddha is heavily frowned upon, and you may find yourself facing an angry mob if you were to overstep these rules. Likewise, you may be denied entry to the country if you have tattoos of the Buddha on show. Religious respect is valued here, and you shouldn’t take their views lightly.