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Tourism Authority of Thailand

How tourists can be jailed – things to avoid

As tourism grows, more and more Europeans are being caught out by foreign laws and customs.

As more travellers from Europe explore exotic destinations in the Middle East, Asia and beyond, a growing number are ending up in foreign jail cells because of laws they were not aware of.

The situation has become so bad that the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office is publicising the issue by warning people to study lesser-known local laws and customs before they go.

The number of cases where the Foreign Office has had to rescue British nationals from foreign countries rose 7% last year to more than 23,000.

Over the last year, tourists have been detained and deported from Sri Lanka for having a tattoo of the Buddha, from Dubai for touching someone’s hip and from Thailand after posing naked in front of a Buddhist temple.

Tourists should be careful of swearing in public – in the UAE, this can lead to jail or deportation, including remarks made online.

No vaping
In Thailand, carrying vaping supplies, e-cigarettes and refills can result in punishments of up to 10 years in prison. In Japan, the cough, cold and flu medicine Vicks is illegal.

“Even closer to home, disrespecting local laws can have serious consequences,” consular director Julia Longbottom tells The Guardian. “In Greece, indecent behaviour, such as mooning, can be punishable with a fine or even a prison sentence.”

Related stories

Five incidents of tourists behaving badly

Tourist jailed in Dubai for brushing against man

UK, Australia travel advisories for Sri Lanka


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