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Unusual rules from around the world including no chewing gum in Singapore and a bikini ban in Sorrento, Italy



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One of Italy's most popular coastal spots has banned visitors from walking around in their swimwear.

Sorrento is reportedly threatening to fine those on the streets in skimpy costumes this summer because they are making residents feel uncomfortable.

But the tourist hotspot is not the only place to bring in an unusual rule that risks visitors either committing a cultural or social faux pas or breaking the law.

Sorrento is reportedly going to start fining those in bikinis on its streets. Picture: Stock photo.
Sorrento is reportedly going to start fining those in bikinis on its streets. Picture: Stock photo.

Chris Nye at firm Your Overseas Home says it is always advisable for travellers to spend a bit of time getting to grips with the culture and local rules of the places they're intending to visit because not only could some laws risk upsetting locals but breaching them may incur a hefty and unwanted fine or penalty.

The property expert explained: "European countries aren’t too dissimilar to the UK, but some do have strange laws or cultural ‘rules’ that you might not expect. Thailand and Singapore also have a couple of unique laws that could catch Brits out.

"Various things and practices are frowned upon in some places abroad, from loose swim shorts and chewing gum to high heels and even feeding pigeons in certain areas, so it’s worth figuring out before you risk making a cultural faux pas or even being on the receiving end of a hefty fine."

If you're heading off on holiday this summer, here are some unique rules from countries and cities around the world you may not know....

Tight fitting Speedo type swimming trunks might be worn in France in public pools. Image: iStock.
Tight fitting Speedo type swimming trunks might be worn in France in public pools. Image: iStock.

1. You must wear Speedos in France

While skimpy swimwear for men has become somewhat more of a joke these days, in France tight fitting swim wear remains compulsory in many places.

Public pools in France insist on Speedos or Speedo type trunks being worn as looser board shorts or baggy swimwear is deemed to be unhygienic and may dirty the water as it has most likely been worn out and about all day. While private complexes and holiday camps can set their own rules many follow the same or similar guidelines - often much to the surprise of UK holidaymakers arriving for the first time.

Chewing gum is banned in Singapore. Image: Thinkstock.
Chewing gum is banned in Singapore. Image: Thinkstock.

2. No chewing gum in Singapore

The ban on chewing gum in Singapore might be one of the most well-known aspects of life in the country and one of the most globally understood laws belonging to such a tiny nation. It goes hand in hand with stringent laws on litter, graffiti, spitting and urinating in anything other than a toilet.

The law, which came into force in 1992, means that anyone importing, selling or making gum in Singapore faces a fine or even jail time as authorities work hard to ensure that the cleanliness of the tiny island is continually maintained.

Visitors to Venice must not feed the pigeons. Image: iStock.
Visitors to Venice must not feed the pigeons. Image: iStock.

3. Don't feed pigeons in Venice

A ban on feeding pigeons was brought in by Italian authorities back in 2008 after it was felt the birds were causing havoc across historical monuments at the Unesco World Heritage site.

Authorities said the pigeons were damaging the marble statues and buildings by pecking at small gaps to reach scraps of food blown inside while cleaning up the city and repairing the damage caused by the birds poo was estimated to be costing 275 euros for each Venetian taxpayer according to a study conducted some 15 years ago prior to the ban.

The new rule did put a number of people out of a job as importers and sellers of grain for the birds no longer had any way of making money while fines for ignoring the ban began at 50 euros. When the ban was brought into force stewards patrolling the areas also pulled people up for laying out picnics on St Mark's Square and walking around bare-chested in the heat.

Men must put a shirt on to drive a car or ride a bike in Thailand. Image: iStock.
Men must put a shirt on to drive a car or ride a bike in Thailand. Image: iStock.

4. Wear a shirt when driving in Thailand

It might have a tropical climate but drivers in Thailand could find themselves in trouble if caught driving without a shirt.

The law from the 1956 Criminal Code stipulates that anyone who is caught undressing can be liable to a fine that is around £10 to £12. The rule applies to both car drivers, those with bikes and motorcycles.

All limbs must be inside the car and windows in Australia
All limbs must be inside the car and windows in Australia

5. Don't drive with your arm out in Australia

We might all be used to the motoring laws around driving and alcohol or speeding - but drivers in Australia can risk a fine for having their arms resting on the ledge of their car window.

The law, which is there to protect drivers or passengers inadvertently catching or knocking someone like a cyclist from their bike who is riding alongside, applies in all states and anyone caught flouting the rule by having their limb waving outside when not signalling risks a fine.

Greece is trying to protect its ancient monuments from the damage caused by shoes with hard heels. Picture: iStock.
Greece is trying to protect its ancient monuments from the damage caused by shoes with hard heels. Picture: iStock.

6. No heeled shoes at ancient sites in Greece

Since 2009, Greece has forbidden visitors to wear high heels at some of the country’s most famous ancient monuments, since sharp-soled shoes were adding to the wear and tear of national treasures. Food and drink was also included in the ban to try and protect their tourist attractions from further damage.

In 2008 maintenance crews reportedly removed nearly 60 pounds of chewing gum from under marble seats at the ancient theatre in Athens built in 161 AD, forcing officials to clamp down harder on the issues arising from so many visitors.

Running out of fuel on Germany's motorways and stopping could incur a fine. Photo: Stock image.
Running out of fuel on Germany's motorways and stopping could incur a fine. Photo: Stock image.

7. Don’t run out of fuel on the German autobahn

Despite the record petrol and diesel costs it doesn't pay for drivers in Germany to try and stretch their fuel supply for as far as they can. It is illegal for motorists on the world famous Autobahn network to run out of fuel because you are not allowed to stop on the motorway's roads and authorities don't think that running out of petrol is enough of an excuse to escape punishment.

The fine can be around £100 under an offence of careless or inconsiderate driving.

8. Don't share passwords in Tennessee

While Netflix says it is working to ban password sharing in the future, a version of the rule already exists in the American state of Tennessee which implemented a Login Law back in 2011. It made it a crime to share login information and passwords for sites such as Netflix or iTunes.

While there were warnings at the time, particularly for students not to share passwords among those in their college dormitories, there appear to have been few publicised cases of anyone having been penalised for sharing their private account details.

Barcelona, and now Sorrento, are among the European cities which ask people to keep swimwear for the beach or pool only. Image: iStock.
Barcelona, and now Sorrento, are among the European cities which ask people to keep swimwear for the beach or pool only. Image: iStock.

9. Don’t walk around in your swimsuit in Sorrento (or Barcelona!)

The Italian town loved by Instagrammers for its colourful buildings set against the picturesque cliffs of the Italian coastline has become the latest place to ban people from wandering around in bikinis.

Sorrento is a popular stop on the Amalfi Coast but those caught flouting the new law risk a fine of up to 500 euros or around £425 under the new rules introduced by the local mayor.

Holidaymakers choosing to walk around without a shirt on could also be targeted by the ban, reports some newspapers, with Massimo Coppola reportedly telling press that scantily clad tourists were causing 'discomfort and unease' to local people.

But Sorrento is not the first European city to slap a ban on tourists wearing their swimwear out and about on the streets.

In 2011 Barcelona brought in a very similar rule to stop those who were bare-chested or wearing skimpy costumes from walking through the city. People were ordered to cover up when not by the pool or beach, or face fines of more than £250 at the time.



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