7 laws all travelers should know before visiting these Asian nations


Getting arrested on vacation is a sure fire way to ruin a trip. Source: Shutterstock

TRAVEL INSURANCE is essential whenever you leave home and embark on a journey.

Insurance covers you for accidental loss and damage, flight delays, and medical expenses. But no travel insurance policy covers the cost of bailing you out of jail.

Which is why it is essential to know about the laws in the country you’re visiting.

While some crimes are universal such as stealing, assault, and vandalism, there are plenty of everyday actions you may take for granted.

Everything from an “innocent” game of blackjack in India to a peck on the lips in Dubai have consequences ranging from an on-the-spot fine to imprisonment.

Here are a few laws to acquaint yourself with before you travel to avoid, at worst, going to jail and at best, being ridiculed and ousted by locals.

Sri Lanka

Tattoos of Buddha and selfies with statues of Buddha are banned in Sri Lanka.

The Indian Ocean island off the southeast coast of India has a majority ethnic Sinhalese population who devoutly practice Buddhism.

In 2014, a British woman was deported for having a tattoo depicting Buddha on her arm and in 2012, two French tourists were given suspended prison sentences for kissing a Buddha statue.


The easiest way to offend Thai authorities is by disrespecting the royal family, namely King Vajiralongkorn.

It is illegal to verbally insult the royal family. It is also against the law to stand on Thai Baht which has the king’s face printed on it.

The lese-majeste law was created in 2014 after the Thai military took power. The law aims to punish those who defame the royal family.

The penalty for doing so ranges from three to 15 years in jail.


Dubai is well known for its strict laws affecting alcohol consumption and public displays of affection, as a British couple discovered in 2010 when they were reported, fined and imprisoned for kissing on a beach.

However, a lesser known rule is the prohibition of dancing in public.

The act of grooving to a beat outside your home is seen as “indecent and provocative” and can land you in jail.

There are however licensed bars in Dubai where you are free to dance until the sun comes up.


If you are heading to Japan and have a cold, you will need to think twice about what medication you plan on taking as codeine is banned.

Medications such as Vicks and Benylin contain codeine. If you are found to be traveling with this drug you could be put in detention and deported.


Chewing gum loudly or spitting it out in public is considered rude in many nations. However, in Singapore it is illegal.

The import of chewing gum has been illegal in Singapore since 1992 because of the mess it caused on the country’s transport system.

If you’re found importing chewing gum, you can face jail time and chewing bubblegum is still a no go.

However, therapeutic gums such as those containing nicotine or no sugar are allowed.


A quick game of snap will not land you in jail in India, but if you start putting money on the table, you could find yourself in big trouble.

Gambling is widely restricted in India apart from lotteries and horse racing, which means poker and the plethora of other casino games are banned outside of registered venues.

Penalties for illicit gambling include hefty fines and up to five years imprisonment.


Being a primarily Muslim nation, the selling of alcohol is widely restricted throughout the archipelago.

However, the import of alcohol by foreigners is wholly forbidden.

Customs workers have the right to take any alcohol off you and not return it.

So before you relax into your vacation and begin dancing to a funky beat in a Dubai bazaar or get a commemorative stick and tattoo Buddha on yourself, spare a thought for the consequences of your actions.