Tourists Behaving Badly Around the World

Arc de Triomphe from the sky, Paris


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Arc de Triomphe from the sky, Paris

No Boundaries

What is it about a vacation state of mind that leads some travelers to grossly misbehave while on foreign soil? Judging by these tourism-linked incidents — like waking up drunk on one of France's most famous and treasured landmarks — it’s clear that some travelers should just stay home. For those looking for a refresher on how to handle themselves abroad and stateside too, these outrageous and overly entitled behaviors are the perfect guide of what not to do while on vacation. 

Related: Amazing Tourist Attractions That No Longer Exist

Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Sleeping One Off in the Eiffel Tower

This example might seem mild compared to some of the other stupid tourist stunts in this collection, but waking up drunk on the Eiffel Tower is just not a good look. The "Ugly American" trope springs to mind after two drunk U.S. tourists were roused by security guards earlier this week. The thoroughly inebriated pair apparently hopped barriers and spent the night in a restricted part of the tower. Special rescue firefighters retrieved the duo, and the tower opened an hour later than usual. The company that operates the tower plans to file a criminal complaint. 

Graffiti in the Colosseum

Carving One’s Initials Into the Colosseum

Recently, a British tourist couldn't resist the urge to carve his name and his girlfriend's name into the Colosseum. In a letter to the mayor of Rome apologizing for his stunt, fitness instructor Ivan Dimitrov said "only after what regrettably happened did I learn of the antiquity of the monument." So, basically Ivan says he didn't realize that the Colosseum was really, really old, like some 2,000 years old. If convicted, he faces a fine and a possible prison sentence.

In another incident involving the Colosseum, a pair of U.S. tourists were caught carving their initials (J and N) on a brick wall at the historic structure in 2015. The pair were arrested and faced a fine for aggravated damage. A previous similar incident saw a $21,685 fine slapped on a Russian tourist who was caught carving the letter k in a section of the Colosseum.

Cathedral of Amalfi
Kaveh Kazemi / Getty

Unholy Nude Photoshoot

Three English tourists who visited the Amalfi Coast faced obscene acts charges after they were spotted staging a nude photoshoot on the cathedral of Amalfi's front steps. The female "model" held only a strip of sprawling red cloth in front of her naked body as she posed for pictures taken by two male companions with what has since been determined "unprofessional equipment." Shocked local onlookers were appalled at the display, noting that the woman was standing just beneath a mosaic of St. Andrew, whose relics are said to have been in the cathedral since 1206. The woman told police that the trio were merely "making a memory" and were not seeking publicity. 

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Ponte Vecchio and Arno River, Florence Tuscany Italy

Driving Across a Pedestrian-Only Bridge

The Ponte Vecchio bridge has been a lasting symbol of Florence, Italy, since being rebuilt in 1345. The bridge, which connects the two sides of the Arno River, is a pedestrian-only structure lined with jewelry stores and other shops along with lookout points. Though tourists often visit the bridge to take in the views of Florence, a U.S. tourist recently took a different approach to visiting the Ponte Vecchio — by driving his rental car across the bridge. The California man was slapped with a $534 fine for his jaunt, which was done without a valid international driver's license, no less. The driver told local police that he was looking for a parking space and didn't realize he was on the bridge.

RelatedFascinating Places Where Tourists Aren't Welcome

Vatican Sculptures
Vatican Pool - Corbis / Getty

Smashing Sculptures and Demanding to See the Pope

Two ancient Roman sculptures were knocked to the ground by an angry U.S. tourist after he wasn't permitted to see the Pope at the Vatican. The incident took place inside the Museo Chiaramonti of the Vatican Museums where more than 1,000 ancient statues are on display, along with some of the "finest collections of Roman portraits," according to its website. The man was quickly apprehended by Vatican police and handed over to Italian authorities. A museum spokesman told CNN that the busts are thought to be about 2,000 years old and "have been damaged, but not particularly badly." The items, he said, "will soon be restored and back at the museum." 

Hiking trail on Vesuvius volcano, Italy

Falling Into an Active Volcano

A U.S. tourist took a forbidden path and fell into the crater of Italy's Mount Vesuvius. The 23-year-old was rescued by emergency services but only had minor injuries after losing his balance and falling several feet into the volcano that's best known for burying the city of Pompeii in 79 A.D. Safe paths for tourists are designated, but the man and his family were cited for following a path that was marked as dangerous and out of bounds. The name of the tourist hasn't been reported, but we'd like to think it was a situation of Joe versus the volcano.

Sistine Chapel
Sistine Chapel by Antoine Taveneaux (CC BY-SA)

Jason Momoa Takes Pictures at the Sistine Chapel

The Vatican's Sistine Chapel is almost as well known for its strict rules governing tourists — including those stating that visitors are not allowed to take pictures or videos inside — as it is its famed Michelangelo frescoes.  But apparently that rule doesn't apply to Aquaman. While in Rome for filming of the latest "Fast & Furious" installment, "Fast X," actor Jason Momoa posted pictures of himself and others posing beneath the chapel's famous ceiling. After the post erupted with outraged commenters, Momoa shared a (shirtless) workout apology video saying he meant no disrespect and explaining that he made a "nice donation to the church."

Spanish Steps on the Piazza di Spagna in Rome.

Driving on a Landmark

A man from Saudi Arabia recently drove his rented Maserati down the Spanish Steps in Rome, damaging the one of the city's most famous landmarks. The man is facing charges for aggravated damage to cultural heritage and monuments after being caught by surveillance cameras zooming into a pedestrian zone, leaving the famous steps scratched and chipped. To add insult to injury, the landmark, featured in movies including "Roman Holiday" starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, underwent a two-year, $1.6 million renovation not even a decade ago.

Airplane landing at Phuket Thailand airport mirrored in terminal
Arkadiusz Warguła/istockphoto

Throwing Feces at Airport Staff

An alleged overdose of "sex drugs" including Viagra triggered New Yorker Steven Cho to walk nude around Thailand's Phuket International Airport, scream at airport staff, and throw feces at them. To his credit, the Daily Mail reported Cho to be contrite about the incident and agreeing to pay damages. He was also sent to a nearby hospital for medical checks and a routine psychiatric assessment.

Bangkok City, Thailand : 03/12/2020 : Unidentified people, Crowd of Thai wearing face mask for health due to Coronavirus Disease or covid-19 and air pollution in mass transit in public. Rush hour.

Breaking Quarantine and Sparking a Country Wide Manhunt

No one wants to quarantine on holiday, but that’s the price of traveling during a pandemic. For Israeli tourist Ohad Baruch, the 29-year-old decided to break out of his Bangkok hotel on Dec. 18, 2021, after he was tested for COVID-19 and came up positive for the Delta variant. Instead of staying put, he “fled to Pattaya and then to a holiday island of Koh Samui before calling to turn himself in.” He faced charges for not abiding by Thailand's COVID-19 restrictions and a possible two-year prison sentence and a fine of 40,000 baht ($1,900).

Old Faithful Tourists, Yellowstone national park, USA

Urinating into the Old Faithful Geyser

When you gotta go, you gotta go — at least that’s what a tourist decided to do in 2018 at the site of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. According to USA Today, he ignored a park ranger and was filmed “appearing to unzip his pants and stand over the steaming geyser's mouth.” Thankfully he wasn’t hurt, rangers refused to release the man’s identity or the charges pressed.

Entrance building at Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Poland

Making a Nazi Salute

This is not okay anywhere, much less at Auschwitz-Birkenau. A Dutch woman was reportedly arrested and fined after giving a Nazi salute. While she claims it was made as “only an ill-considered joke,” the police in Krakow, Poland, still issued her a fine. The gate where she took the photo is known as "Gate of Death." Auschwitz-Birkenau was Nazi Germany's largest concentration camp, and at least 1.1 million mostly Jewish men, women, and children were killed there. 

Ministry Zone, Naypyitaw, Myanmar
Ministry Zone, Naypyitaw, Myanmar by mohigan (CC BY-SA)

Flying a Drone Illegally

Drone owners take note: You can get arrested if you’re piloting a drone over restricted areas. Social media personality Logan Paul, who flew one over the Colosseum in Rome, will be able to attest to that, but not everyone gets off with a warning and their drone footage intact. For 27-year-old Arthur Desclaux, in 2019, he flew a drone over Myanmar’s parliament in the capital of Naypyidaw where, under Myanmar’s Aircraft Act, it is illegal to fly drones over government buildings in the capital and subject to a three-year prison sentence.

Climbers on the Brooklyn bridge cables, New York City, USA

Climbing the Brooklyn Bridge

French tourist Jonathon Souid was not the first person to scale the Brooklyn Bridge — but he did get arrested for his stunt in 2014. According to Pix11 (WPIX-TV), he “climbed over a 4-foot fence and managed to get 20 feet up the northern-most Brooklyn Bridge cable before an NYPD officer spotted him.” To his credit, he complied with orders to get down but was still charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass.

Preah Khan temple, Angkor - Cambodia

Getting Naked at a Religious Site

As a general rule of thumb, getting naked in public will probably land you in hot water unless you’re on a nudist beach. According to the Daily Mail, U.S. tourists and sisters, Lindsey Kate Adams and Leslie Jan Adams were charged with trafficking porn and exposing sexual organs when they were caught taking partially nude photos at Preah Khan temple inside Cambodia's Angkor Wat grounds. They were deported to Thailand, banned from entering Cambodia for four years, and had to pay a $250 fine.

Golden poppy reserve

Trampling Across Wildflower Fields

California's super-bloom of wildflowers in 2019 saw a slew of ugly tourist incidents with hordes descending on areas like Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. The delicate plants ended up being crushed when visitors ventured off-trail or requested for their helicopter to land in the middle of the field crushing the flowers they flew in to see. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve took to Twitter unimpressed: “Officers are watching for people illegally entering the park through barbed-wire fencing, trampling flowers. It only takes a few to wreck the habitat for years to come. There are areas in the Reserve that haven't recovered from trampling in 2017.” 

A Venetian Canal by the Trattoria Sempione, Venice Italy

Headbutting a Gondolier

Taking a selfie should be a fun thing, not an incident involving violence. According to the New York Post, a Venetian boatman stationed at Bareteri Bridge ended up literally butting heads with a group of tourists who wanted to take a selfie on his stationary gondola and got upset when they were told to disembark. The man ended up being headbutted four times and socked in the jaw. 

Flat lay top view image showing a passport, a boarding pass and a COVID-19 vaccination record card proving that the traveller is immune to COVID

Getting Arrested for Forging Vaccine Cards

Hawaii has had some of the strictest COVID-19 rules, requiring visitors to be vaccinated, hold a negative test, or face a quarantine of up to 10-14 days. The requirement didn't sit well with some visitors, many of whom broke quarantine or falsified documents with a number of them getting arrested. Officially, violating COVID-19 mandates (including falsifying a vaccination card) is considered a misdemeanor that can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and up to a year in prison.

Gondolas on canal in Venice

Skinny Dipping in a Venetian Canal

Venice may be a picturesque site, but its visitors can display some rather ugly behavior. In 2019, two “hardcore soccer fans” from the Czech Republic decided to strip down and go swimming in the canal near Piazza San Marco. They got off lightly with a fine of about $3,320 — but who knows what germs they picked up from Venice’s notoriously polluted waters. (The canal is reportedly cleaned regularly).

Kauai, Hawaii

Assaulting Locals Over Face Masks

There was clearly no aloha spirit in the air when a New York visitor decided to assault a resident of Nanakuli in western Oahu when asked to wear a mask. “Your vacation is my home, I live here,” said the woman who was accosted. The incident occurred in 2021 while Hawaii’s mask mandate was still in force. 

Deceased Blue Whale

Defacing a Dead Blue Whale

Is nothing sacred anymore? According to the Mirror, a 66-foot-long whale that washed up on a beach in Chile ended up being defaced with graffiti carved into its carcass. Beachgoers were apparently oblivious and heartless enough to take cheerful selfies with it, some even trampling on, and kicking it.

garbage left by tourists on a sand beach

Family Dysfunction

What’s worse than individual tourists behaving badly? A family of them. It takes skills to get kicked out of a country, but that’s exactly what happened to an unruly Irish family visiting New Zealand. The offenses ran the gamut from stealing a Christmas tree, putting ants and strands of hair in their food to avoid paying the restaurant bill to leaving a mess at a beach and stealing clothes and Red Bull beverages from a gas station.

Entrance of Luxor
Wilfredo Nieves/istockphoto

Defacing an Ancient Egyptian Temple

A 13-year-old tourist from Nanjing, China, scrawled "Ding Jinhao was here” alongside an Egyptian carving at the 3,500-year-old Luxor Temple in 2013. Mortified, his parents offered no excuse for his behavior: "We want to apologize to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention to this case across China." The effects though were permanent and partially led to the Chinese government issuing a tourism law in October 2013 that says: “Tourists shall observe public order and respect social morality in tourism activities, respect local customs, cultural traditions, and religious beliefs, care for tourism resources, protect the ecological environment, and abide by the norms of civilized tourist behaviors.”

Art gallery

Damaging Precious Art

In yet another selfie-related incident, two pieces of art in the Glavny Prospekt International Arts Center in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg were knocked off their stand as a group of women tried to take self portraits. According to CNN, the frame and glass of a Francisco Goya piece were broken, while a work by Salvador Dalí sustained damage to the picture, frame, and protective glass. 

Beautiful Peacock Perched on Branch

Manhandling Precious Exotic Birds

Did anything really happen if you didn’t get a selfie? For two Chinese tourists, snagging a photo opp with peacocks at the Yunnan Wild Animal Park in Kunming was so important, they manhandled a pair of birds, plucking their vibrant feathers, stressing them, and causing them to die. Though the park has free-roaming blue and white male and female peacocks, there are explicit instructions not to touch them, a warning that went unheeded.

Swiss Airport Zürich Kloten on a sunny winter day.
Michael Derrer Fuchs/istockphoto

Throwing Coins Into an Airplane Engine

Who needs a bird strike when you have passengers who mistake the airplane engine for the Trevi Fountain. In 2019, 28-year-old Lu Chao onboard Lucky Air from Anqing Tianzhushan Airport in eastern China decided to throw a handful of coins into the airplane engine for good luck. Thankfully the flight did not take off as all passengers were ordered off the plane. Lu ended up being detained for 10 days and fined $17,200 to make up for the damage.

Indonesia  Tourist Visa on Passport

Slapping an Immigration Officer

Traveling is stressful, but missing a flight is no excuse to slap an immigration officer doing his job. In 2019, British tourist ​​Auj-e Taqaddas was filmed shouting at an Indonesian immigration officer and slapping him across the face. According to Insider, she was delayed when he discovered she had overstayed her visa for 160 days and asked to pay 300,000 Indonesian rupiah ($21.40) for each day overstayed. She was subsequently found guilty of violence against a government official and sentenced to six months in prison. 

Wild Common Dolphin Mother & Calf

Stressing a Baby Dolphin to Death

A beached baby dolphin in Mojácar, Spain, already stressed from becoming sick or separated from its mother, had a larger issue to deal with: tourists crowding around it for photos, some going so far as to pick it up and accidentally covering its blowhole. While the animal-protection group Equinac, a nonprofit organization, arrived within 15 minutes of being informed, the dolphin was found dead. For the record, the ​​NOAA Fisheries, advises a distance of at least 50 yards to be kept when viewing dolphins. 

Rena Bianca Beach, Sardinia

Taking Sand Home Is Illegal

Did you know that taking sand from your beach holiday could land you in jail? In Sardinia, a 2017 law made the trade in sand, pebbles, and shells illegal and punishable with fines of up to $3,330. Clearly, two French tourists didn’t get the memo as they were found with 90 pounds of sand crammed in plastic bottles in the trunk of their car. For their efforts, they could face a jail term of “between one and six years for the crime of theft with the aggravating circumstance of having stolen an asset of public utility.”

Concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland.

Stealing 'Souvenirs'

This incident wasn’t your average grab a bunch of fridge magnets and do a runner type of theft, two Hungarian tourists decided to help themselves to some bricks as mementos from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. Charged with “theft of a cultural asset,” the pair were each fined $405 and handed a one-year prison sentence on probation. They really should have stuck to the fridge magnets.

exploring beautiful Postojna cave slovenia the most visited european cave
I love takeing photos and i think that is a really great opportunity for me to share them/istockphoto

Destroying a 3,000 Year-Old Limestone Stalagmite

Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed. In 2017, a Chinese tourist in southwest China deliberately destroyed a 20-inch stalagmite at a cave in the Guizhou province, according to the New Straits Times. It took him three kicks to knock off a 1-foot-long tip, a piece of the stalagmite that possibly took thousands of years to form from the ground up. ​​The man’s uncivilized behavior is not a one-off with numerous reports of other stalagmites being broken off and damaged. 

Man in holy spring water temple in bali. The temple compound consists of a petirtaan or bathing structure, famous for its holy spring water

Misusing Holy Water

We all know how Instagrammable temples have become, but when visiting one, keep in mind it’s a place of worship and a level of respect should be observed. Two Czech Instagram influencers, Sabina Dolezalova and Zdenek Slouka, decided their time at Beji Temple in Ubud’s Monkey Forest in Indonesia was perfect for shooting content. According to People, a video showed Dolezalova and Slouka smiling and laughing in front of the fountain. Then, Dolezalova is shown bending over for Slouka to splash the holy water on her bare butt. The duo faced intense backlash for their behavior, prompting an apology and a voluntary contribution to the local village. 

Monument Mao and Chinese People(Beijing,China)

Climbing Statues for a Photo Opp

Everyone has photos standing next to statues, so Li Wenchun decided to climb and sit atop a statue of a Red Army soldier in China and posted it on Weibo. Rather than upping his street clout, he was “blacklisted, condemned and forced to apologize to all who were angered by his stunt,” according to China Daily.

All Egypt Pyramids Camels Line Walking Wide Angle

Climbing a Pyramid for a Sexy Photo

Climbing 460 feet up the Great Pyramid of Giza and photographing oneself pretending to have sex at the top, that’s just bad taste and disrespectful. In 2018, Danish photographer Andreas Hvid decided the idea was totally his jam, and his antics prompted Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities to launch an investigation as access to the pyramids is closely monitored to preserve the ancient structures. In subsequent interviews, he sounded nonchalant about the incident but has said he’ll likely not travel back to Egypt, where performing indecent acts in public can lead to a year in prison and monetary fines.

Wat Arun Temple at sunset in Bangkok, Thailand

Baring Your Derriere

Seven years in jail. That’s what U.S. citizens Joseph Dasilva and Travis Dasilva of Instagram account Travelling Butts could have faced for posing with their naked butts at the famous Wat Arun Buddhist temple in Bangkok in 2017. Luckily for them, the charges for breaching Thailand's strict Computer Crimes Act were thrown out, and they spent a week in a Bangkok jail before being promptly deported back to the U.S. 

Related: Beautiful Destinations Threatened By Overtourism — and Where to Go Instead