10 Ways to Get in Trouble in Asia

You might have heard of how Singapore outlaws chewing gum. But do you know it’s against the law to celebrate Christmas in Brunei? Or drive topless in Thailand? We list some of the craziest laws that exist.

  1. Sell gum, Singapore

chewing gum

Introduced in 1992, the chewing gum ban is probably the most infamous law the little red dot is known for. Then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew outlawed the popular activity because of its mischief-making tendencies, such as improper disposal. But today, “therapeutic gum”, or chewing gum with medicinal benefits can bought at pharmacists, if you have a medical prescription. Otherwise, if caught selling gum, you can be fined up to SGD 100, 000 or jailed up to two years.

  1. Fly a kite, India


In India, kite-flying is not for the faint-hearted. In 2016, at least three people were killed as glass-coated kite strings slit their throats. Glass is used to coat the strings, to cut kite strings of opponents in fiercely-fought flying contests. Then, others used a crushed metal to lace the strings, which caused electrocution when it grazed power lines. Since then, authorities banned glass and metal-coated kite strings, or strings made from any kind of synthetic material such as nylon and plastic.

  1. Own annoying dogs, Hong Kong

dog hk

In the densely-populated city, it’s an offence to let your dog “annoy neighbours or passers-by by barking or otherwise”. The laws state that all dogs must be kept on a leash or under proper control in public places, or face a hefty fine.

  1. Drive topless, Thailand

bkk traffic

It’s illegal to drive without a shirt on, in the land of smiles. Traffic police will issue you a ticket of up to USD 10 if they spot you driving topless. So put your shirt on!

  1. Shoot arrows, Philippines

arrow philippines

Don’t shoot! In the Philippines, anyone who owns a deadly arrow without a license could be jailed for up to six months. The term “deadly arrow” refers to any arrow or dart that when shot from a bow or slingshot. So watch out when playing around!

  1. Stay in your friend’s home, Myanmar


Think twice before inviting a friend home for the night if you’re in Myanmar. The law is not strictly enforced in Yangon, that’s because of the many expats working there. But outside of the city, foreigners should stay in hotels or hostels. However, rural areas are exempted from this law, so tourists may stay wherever they please in those areas. If caught, it’s your host who will get in trouble.

  1. Get fat, Japan

fat japan

Ever heard of Japan’s “Metabo Law”? Well, since 2007, being fat is discouraged by authorities. Specifically, the law mandates that men and women between age 45 and 74 must measure their waistlines once a year – and it cannot exceed a circumference of 85 cm and 90 cm respectively.

But fret not even if you’ve put on a few extra pounds, because instead of getting jail, you’ll given a strict diet to follow for several months. The state-controlled method of keeping trim has been effective so far –  just 3% of the country is obese.

  1. Study till late, South Korea

south korea study

Remember how you burned midnight oil for that exam? Well, in South Korea, intense academic pressure has led to its government forcing tuition centres to close by 10pm. The move comes after a spate of reports revealed some even considered taking their own life because they could not cope with all the studying.

  1. Cross-dress, Malaysia

malaysia cross dress

No cross-dressing allowed. Under its anti-trans law, it is illegal to impersonate a woman. In 2015, the country’s highest court dismissed a challenge to a ban on cross-dressing. The move sparked huge protests from transgender communities and human rights activists.

  1. Celebrate Christmas, Brunei

santa claus

“Bah Humbug!” If there was ever a place the Grinch’s greeting would be welcome, it would probably be in Brunei. Although Christians can attend church and have private celebrations, no “excessive and open” celebration is allowed. That means no carolling, no putting up of Santa’s hats and other decorations. In 2015, the Brunei Sultan declared the “Christmas Punishment” to prevent the undermining of Islam in the country. Anyone caught celebrating the Christmas could face up to five years jail, a fine of up to USD 30, 000 or both.






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