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Strange laws to be aware of in the most popular countries for tourists

  • Strange laws to be aware of in the most popular countries for tourists

    It's never been easier to travel the world than it is today. The internet has made planning exotic overseas trips a total breeze. Intense competition between airlines means airfares stay low. Airbnb and VRBO have made lodging much more affordable. And the proliferation of travel media means wanderlusters are but a finger tap away from all the travel inspiration they can handle.

    While scoring that Instagram-ready Airbnb and finding the family-run, handmade-pasta restaurant certainly merit their respective research, travel planning should also include learning and understanding the laws of your destination because adventuring abroad can quickly turn sour if you run afoul of local customs and laws. Even the best-laid travel plans go awry. In his seminal travelogue, “The Innocents Abroad,” Mark Twain mused “The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become, until he goes abroad.”

    Before you hit the road, hit the guidebooks, CIA World Factbook, Google, and the U.S. Department of State’s website to research the dos and don'ts of your destination country. You might be surprised at what you learn. The explosion of international travel has spurred many countries to put tourist-centric laws and regulations on the books. Since ignorance is no excuse, it’s incumbent upon you, dear traveler, to stay updated on all the latest rules and laws governing your destination country. Luckily, Stacker is here to help.

    Using data released from the World Tourism Organization in 2019, Stacker compiled a list of the 50 most popular tourist destinations in terms of 2018 international tourist arrivals, ranked from least to most visited. Tourist arrivals for Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and the Czech Republic are as of 2017. Below is a list of one peculiar or arbitrary law in each country. If you're planning to travel abroad, read on to see if your destination made the list.

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  • #50. Norway

    - International tourist arrivals: 6.3 million

    Should you be challenged to fistfight to the death in Norway, you must either accept or pay four deer in exchange for refusing the challenge. If you're not a qualified pugilist but also aren't sure where to procure four deer, worry not: the law hasn't been enforced in many years.

  • #49. Dominican Republic

    - International tourist arrivals: 6.6 million

    The age of sexual consent in the Dominican Republic is 18. There is no close-in-age exemption, which means that an 18-year-old high school senior visiting on spring break could be arrested and prosecuted for a tryst with a 17-year-old high school senior there.

  • #48. Brazil

    - International tourist arrivals: 6.6 million

    Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world, known for its stunning natural beauty and bounty of exotic wildlife. If you're a hunter planning on pursuing wild game, however, think again. Commercial, recreational, and sport hunting have been outlawed since 1967. The ban, however, may not last as congress submitted a bill in 2019 to open the country to commercial hunting.

  • #47. Argentina

    - International tourist arrivals: 6.9 million

    Arguably the greatest soccer player of all time, football superstar Lionel Messi is the pride and joy of his hometown of Rosario, Argentina. When a Rosario resident named his child Messi, however, some residents protested. In 2014, Rosario made it illegal to name a child Messi.

  • #46. Sweden

    - International tourist arrivals: 7.1 million

    To discourage public disorder, Swedish authorities issue permits to bars and other hangouts that allow customers to dance. If customers dance spontaneously in an unlicensed venue, the consequences can be serious—not for the reveler, but for the bar owner. While politicians across parties have pledged to revoke the law, as of December 2019 it remains on the books.

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  • #45. Philippines

    - International tourist arrivals: 7.1 million

    If you visit the Philippines, be careful who you antagonize. The country's "unjust vexation" law makes it illegal for one person to annoy another.

  • #44. Iran

    - International tourist arrivals: 7.3 million

    While it may fall under the category “strange” to Westerners, Iran, like other strict Islamic countries, prohibits the sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol. All offers of alcohol should be turned down. Not only do travelers risk going to jail but the bootleg alcohol so prevalent in Iran can also be poisonous.

    [Pictured: A beer based on an old Persian recipe produced in UK.]

  • #43. Tunisia

    - International tourist arrivals: 8.3 million

    Tunisia has become a hotbed of artifact-smuggling. The government has subsequently made it illegal to take antiques out of the country without declaring them at customs. Before you buy something at a market or shop, make sure you have the proper documentation needed to bring these items home. Failure to do so can result in travel delays, fines, or confiscation.

  • #42. Belgium

    - International tourist arrivals: 9.2 million

    Belgians are still bound by an archaic set of rules known collectively as the GAS laws. One of the laws forbids street musicians from playing off-key or in any other manner that disturbs public order.

  • #41. Australia

    - International tourist arrivals: 9.2 million

    Australia has a laundry list of bizarre laws on the books. Among the weirdest: In Victoria, it's illegal to wear pink hot pants on Sunday afternoons. The takeaway here? Limit your pink hot pants to Saturdays.

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