Singing, selfies and being annoying: The weirdest things that are ILLEGAL around the world

Monday 11th Mar 2024 |

Owning more than 120 playing cards, wearing camouflage clothing, and simply being annoying are some of the strangest things that are illegal around the world, with punishments ranging from 7p fines to 10-year prison sentences. 

With UK tipping laws changing in 2024, meaning that employers must pay their staff 100% of the tips they receive, eShores decided to look further afield for some of the less orthodox laws around the world. 

Here are some of the strangest laws that travellers may not be aware of. 

1. Palawan Island, Philippines – It’s against the law to be annoying 

In the Philippines, annoying someone to the point of inciting anger (or “unjust vexation”, according to the Philippines Revised Penal Code) can lead to a fine of 5 to 200 pesos (7p to £2.80) or, in more severe cases, a prison sentence of 30 days, a justification if one was needed to always be polite and friendly when travelling there! 

2. Pattaya, Thailand – It’s illegal to possess more than 120 playing cards 

weirdest things that are ILLEGAL around the world

Because of Thailand’s strict anti-gambling laws, it’s illegal for individuals to possess more than 120 playing cards, unless they have been registered by the Excise Department. The “Playing Cards Act” has been in place since 1943 and flouting it is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 10 years. 

3. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Singing (obscene) songs in public is illegal 

Singing obscene songs in public in Malaysia is against the law and offenders could land themselves a hefty fine, up to three months in prison, or both. 

4. Barbados, Caribbean – It’s illegal to wear camouflage clothing 

Unless you’re a member of the armed forces, it’s illegal to wear any form of camouflage while holidaying in several Caribbean countries, including Barbados, Jamaica, Bahamas and St. Lucia. Anyone caught wearing camo can be subject to a $2,000 (£1,571) fine, up to a year in prison, or both. 

5. California, United States – You can be fined for traffic laws on an e-scooter 

In larger urban centres, such as California in the United States, fines have been introduced for tourists found to be violating e-scooter regulations and traffic laws. While hopping on a scooter might feel like a fun way for a tourist to get around town, exceeding the 15mph speed limit could lead to a ticket of up to $250 (£197). 

6. Kenya – Fines can be enforced for selfies 

Certain locations across Kenya are covered by the Protected Areas Act and the Official Secrets Act, which prohibits filming and photography unless you’ve been given express permission. In protected areas like State House, Nairobi, Kenya Defence Forces headquarters and The Central Bank of Kenya, snapping a picture could land you a Ksh200,000 (£1,100) fine, up to two years imprisonment, or both.  

weirdest things that are ILLEGAL around the world

Gavin Lapidus, Company Director at eShores, said, “It’s really important that travellers are aware of local laws and customs, as the rules in destination countries may be very different to their own.  

“While some of the stranger laws around the world may seem odd to us, it’s crucial to check each destination before travelling. Places often have restrictions on what medicine can be taken into the country, unique driving laws, different guidelines about gender and sexuality, as well as a myriad of other local rules. The two most important things are to do your research in advance and to respect local laws and customs.” 

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