The Importance of Observing Local Customs in Other Countries

When we go on holiday, it is a chance to unwind and relax. Unfortunately, when letting their hair down, some people take that to an extreme and break the law. It can be bad enough to do this in your own country, but breaking laws in other nations is even worse. Often times, it occurs simply because of ignorance. It is important to remember when traveling that a behavior deemed acceptable at home may not be proper overseas.

This topic came to the fore again recently when a group of tourists from Canada, Britain, Norway, New Zealand, and the Netherlands was charged with “dancing pornographically” and taking pornographic photos while vacationing in Cambodia. Based on the admittedly incomplete evidence available to news outlets thus far, the dirty dancing in question hardly qualifies as such by the standards of their home territories. However, in a much more conservative land like Cambodia, this is a violation of local obscenity standards. Authorities were able to see the photos (also tame by Western standards) because the people in question posted them on social media. Police there say the ten people detained will face charges, but no other details were available as of this writing.

You may have heard the phrase “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” and it applies when you’re on holiday as well. It is your duty to learn about the land you are visiting, and what is or is not allowed, and adhere to those standards.There are many books and websites with such information. You can also ask your travel agent or contact the appropriate embassy before departure.

Think of the way you behave as a guest when visiting friends. They no doubt have things that they don’t consider acceptable in their home; foreign countries are the same way and have the absolute right to dictate such rules.

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