Traveling With the Law


Laws aren’t meant to be broken, especially when you leave work for your summer vacation.

To prepare you for wherever your passport may go, Bing Travel has put together a list of unknown laws from ten countries. And if you run into a cop familiar with the rule book you could be spending more time behind bars then on the beach.

For example in Bolivia it’s illegal for a woman to order more than one glass of wine in bars and restaurants. Paris is known as the city of love. Everywhere you look couples are embracing. But if they’re locking lips on a train feel free to call the police. And if the law does show up, don’t snap their picture. It’s illegal to photograph police officers or police cars. And the unknown laws aren’t just across the ocean. If you’re planning to explore America there are a few things you should know. It’s illegal to tickle a woman in Virginia. And if you pass another car in Ohio don’t forget to honk.

For more laws to abide by keep reading. You don’t want to spend your vacation money making bail.

Be careful where you step. Because the king’s face is on the currency in Thailand, you could tangle with the law if you accidentally put your foot on a coin or bill. You won’t run the risk of stepping on gum though; throwing it on the street incurs a fine of several hundred dollars. A strict dress code is also written into the law. Not wearing underwear in public, or driving without a shirt on, are punishable offenses.

United Kingdom
If you’re planning to visit Parliament, remember the dress code, which makes it illegal to wear your suit of armor into the chamber. Beachcombers should be aware that whale remains are considered property of the crown; the head goes to the king and the tail goes to the queen so she can use the bones for her corsets. Gotta go? If you’re pregnant, by law you can relieve yourself anywhere in the United Kingdom, even in public. Finally, if you send a postcard home, be sure the stamp is right side up. Putting the monarch’s head upside down is considered an insult to the royal family.

Scotsmen take note: Wearing any form of skirt, if you’re not female, can get you arrested on “The Boot." So can feeding the birds in Lucca or in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, or building a sandcastle in the small, seaside town of Eraclea. And if you’re traveling in a group to Rome, watch your conduct in public: It’s against the law for people in groups of three or more to sing, drink, eat or dance in the streets.

Kissing is a national sport in France. It’s not uncommon to see young couples canoodling at street corners, in parks, in restaurants and in any other passably romantic spot. Call the cops, though, if you see someone kissing on a train, as that’s illegal. But don’t take photos of the gendarmes if they show up: In France, it’s against the law to snap photos of policemen or police cars. That applies even if the law officers are in the background.

How much wine is too much? The government in Bolivia has an answer — at least when it comes to women tippling. An old law, but one that’s apparently still on the books, forbids people with two X chromosomes from ordering more than one glass of wine in restaurants or bars.

United States
Each state has its own legal peculiarities. In Arkansas, it’s unlawful to mispronounce the name of the state. Cleanliness is key in Kentucky: Every resident is required by law to shower once a year. Those behind the wheel in Ohio should know that the state driver’s manual commands drivers to honk when passing another car. Be very careful before proposing in South Carolina; any male over 16 who seduces a woman with a promise of marriage, but doesn’t go through with the wedding, can be found guilty of a misdemeanor. And don’t giggle, but it’s illegal to tickle a woman in Virginia.

Ditch the small change. In Canada store owners, by law, have the right to refuse payment in pennies if the item costs more than 25 cents, in nickels if the item is more than $5 and in dimes for things priced at more than $10. Climbing trees is unlawful in Oshawa, Ontario. And get ready to learn some new tunes; by law, one in every five songs played on the radio is by a Canadian-born artist.

Only the "Queen’s English" is allowed in Queensland, Australia. People who use profanity can be hit with fines of between $100 and $300. If you’re visiting the Northern Territory, leave your oboe at home; it’s illegal to play a musical instrument on a bus there. And forget about souvenirs if you’re visiting one of the country’s national parks. Removing anything, even a seashell or a pebble, from these protected areas can result in a major fine.

Thirsty? Restaurants in Denmark can charge you for water, but only if it has ice or a slice of lemon in it. Before you rent a car, know that you’re required to check brakes and steering and honk the horn before turning the key in the ignition. As in many Scandinavian countries, the government requires drivers to have their headlights on whenever the car is in operation. (Actually this is a smart, rather than an odd, rule and has been cited as the reason why the number of car accidents has plunged in these countries.)

Rules, rules, rules. Littering of all kinds in Singapore is a huge no-no, incurring fines. After several offenses, public humiliation is the punishment; repeat offenders clean streets wearing “litterer” signs around their necks and can be caned. Also, anything smacking of pornography is strictly verboten, from bringing adult magazines into the country to mooning someone — even walking around one’s own home naked.