Travelling to new countries, learning about a different culture, trying new cuisines, and admiring the popular sights and sounds are fun and life-enriching experiences. However, a lack of understanding of the local culture and customs of different countries can often lead to embarrassing situations. In worst-case scenarios, you may see your dream travel vacation ending with you sharing a dark, dingy prison cell with local felons!
Does this sound like a plot from the TV series, Banged Up Abroad? Well, you don’t have to worry if you stay away from contraband substances, illegal practices and general trouble. But there are some countries, where wearing a camouflage t-shirt, sporting a Buddha tattoo, or even abusing on online platforms can lead to deportation or landing up behind bars!
So, here are some cultural customs and norms of 10 countries to keep in mind if you're planning a holiday to these places. This travel advice was released by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in March, 2018.
- Ukraine: Smoking and drinking in public places are officially banned in the country. Avoid smoking or drinking at bus stops, train stations, airports, public squares, gardens, playgrounds, stadiums, underground crossings, government offices, etc.
- Australia: Don’t bring your pets or anything that leads to a breach of the strict quarantine rules of Australia. The country has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to keep pest and diseases out of the country to ensure the health of its citizens, native animals, and plants. Failure to comply the rules will lead to heavy fines.
- Spain: Camping in Spain is a very popular activity. However, it caused some serious issues of forest fires in the country. Therefore, causing a forest fire, even if its unintentional is treated as a criminal offence in the country.
- Turkey: Disrespecting the Turkish nation or the Turkish national flag as well as tearing or defacing the official currency are treated as an offence in the country. A conviction for any of these offences can lead to a prison sentence of six months to three years.
- Japan: The country has very strict narcotics policies and possession of drugs often lead to heavy imprisonment and fines. Even possession of medicines like Vicks inhalers or painkillers with traces of Codeine are banned in the country. It can lead to detention and deportation.
- Greece: Be careful of any indecent behaviour, gestures, signals or mooning as these are not tolerated in the Mediterranean country of Greece. Inappropriate behaviour and gestures could result in getting arrested, an additional heavy fine or even worst, spending time behind bars.
- Sri Lanka: Cover-up any forms of Buddha tattoos while travelling in Sri Lanka and avoid taking pictures posing in front of Buddha statues. The South Asian country has a very strict policy about the mistreatment of Buddhist images and artefacts. It’s a serious offence and can lead to getting arrested and deportation.
- Caribbean: Travelling to the beautiful tropical paradise that is the Caribbean islands? Make sure to remove any camouflage t-shirts, cargos, shorts from your bags as such clothes are banned even for kids in many Caribbean countries like Barbados, Saint Vincent, and Saint Lucia.
- Thailand: Don’t bring your vaporizers, e-cigarettes, e-baraku or refills in the country. These items will be seized and can result in being fined or getting a prison sentence for ten years.
- United Arab Emirates: Avoid swearing or making rude comments or gestures in the country, even on online platforms. These are termed as obscene acts and result in getting jailed or deportation.
Just keep these norms and rules in mind when you plan a vacation to these amazing destinations! Don't say we didn't warn you 🙂