As summer approaches, many will be looking forward to heading abroad to discover exotic beaches, sprawling cities or expansive countryside.
Most of these trips will be enjoyable, incident-free visits to foreign countries, where the majority of tourists are respectful of local cultures and traditions.
However, not every traveler knows how to act appropriately abroad. Increasingly, tourists hit headlines for all the wrong reasons, with behavior that’s scarcely believable.
Such incidents often happen at historic monuments or sacred religious sites – places where you don’t need an in-depth knowledge of local customs to know that, for example, you really shouldn’t be stripping off and posing naked.
Last week, a tourist was arrested in Indonesia for doing exactly thiswith a local telling them to “go back to your country if you can’t respect our tradition and culture”.
In light of this, The Independent has compiled a list of the most mindless things tourists have done while abroad in recent years.
Posing naked by a sacred tree
A woman was arrested in April 2023 after posing naked by the Bayan Ancient Tree, a sacred tree in Bali, Indonesia.
Having been detained by immigration officers, the woman reportedly faces being deported from Bali for the photo in front of the 700-year-old tree.
Calling out the woman’s behavior, Instagram user Ni Luh Djelantik posted the tourist’s picture, writing: “All foreigners who disrespect our land, Bali is our home, not yours!”
They added: “Do you think you’ll look cool taking naked picture on our holy trees? Go back to your country if you can’t respect our tradition and culture.”
Posing naked by a sacred tree… again
A story from 2022 makes the above event appear even more foolish; last year a Russian influencer was reported to the authorities for a similar naked pose in front of a similar sacred tree.
Alina Fazleeva posted the provocative images to her 27,000 followers, but the photos were found and reported by an angry local.
Facing a potential prison sentence of up to six years – as well as a fine up to £55,000 – Ms Fazleeva quickly deleted the photo and apologised on Instagram. She also posted a photo of her praying near a similar tree. At the time, local news outlets reported that she and her partner were going to be deported.
Posing naked on a sacred mountain
There seems to be a common theme emerging… In March 2023, a Russian man – known only by his first name, Yuri – apologized after posting a photo of him naked from the waist down atop Mount Agung in Bali.
An active volcano, the mountain is considered by locals to be a dwelling place for the gods. In addition to the photo, Yuri was said to have been part of a group who climbed the mountain without registering previously, which is also prohibited.
He subsequently apologized on Instagram and met with community leaders to apologize formally.
“The only thing that led to this video was my personal ignorance”, he said in the video. “I am very sorry that this happened”.
Smashing ancient Roman carvings
Late last year, year American citizen was arrested in Vatican City after smashing a Roman sculpture that stood in the Chiaramonti Museum.
The man became irate after being denied his request to see the Pope during his visit, and subsequently grabbed one of the busts and dropped it to the floor.
Luckily, the Director for the Press Office for Vatican Museums told the media that the statues were not damaged “particularly badly”, with one losing “part of a nose and an ear”, while the “head of the other came off the pedestal” .
The estimated repair costs were €15,000, with an estimated time of 300 hours. The man reportedly faced charges of aggravated damage.
Riding a scooter down the Spanish Steps
Year American tourist in Rome was banned from the city’s iconic Spanish Steps for life after she and a friend caused $26,000 worth of damage to them with an electric scooter.
The woman, a 28-year-old American tourist, reportedly hurled an electric scooter down the famous steps. The incident was caught on camera by a passerby who was filming at the time.
Just before the incident, the woman and another man were trying to bring their scooters down the stairs. The woman apparently got tired of trying to drag the scooter and decided to just throw it the rest of the way instead.
Breaking a Roman statue (and not telling)
Year Austrian tourist accidentally broke the toes off a 200-year-old statue in Italy after posing with it for a photo in 2020.
The unnamed man was caught on video reclining next to the 19th-century “Paolina Borghese as Venus Victrix” sculpture at the Museo Antonio Canova.
CCTV footage shows him pose for a picture, before he appears to realize the damage he’s caused, looking down and touching part of the sculpture.
However, he did not report the incident, according to the museum, which is based in Possagno in northeast Italy. The mayor of Possagno, Valerio Favero, called the tourist’s actions “criminal”.
Stealing sand in Sardinia
Dozens of tourists faced fines of up to €3,000 in 2021 after stealing sand from Sardinian beaches.
A Facebook group of activists, with a name translating to ‘Sardinia Robbed and Plundered’estimated the amount of sand taken during 2021 totaled around six tons.
Trading Sardinian sand, pebbles and shells was made illegal in 2017.
In June that year, local authorities reported that 41 individuals – in separate incidents – were being investigated for the theft of about 100kg (220lb) of sand in total.
Surfing the Venice canals
In 2022, two tourists filmed surfing along the canals of Venice were handed a significant fine, after the city’s mayor labeled them “overbearing idiots”.
Footage of the pair gliding along the iconic waterways on motorized foil surfboards was shared widely on social media, drawing anger from residents.
Accusing the surfers of making “a mockery of the city”, mayor Luigi Brugnaro effectively launched a hunt for the pair, offering dinner to anyone who could help locate them.
“I ask everyone to help us identify them to punish them even if our weapons are really blunt,” Mr Brugnaro said, adding that his office urgently required more powers to uphold public safety.
Several hours later, he announced that the surfers had been identified and their boards, reportedly worth some €25,000 (£21,000), confiscated.
Smuggling precious artifacts
In 2017, a British man was arrested at Bodrum airport on suspicion of “finding Turkish artefacts without notifying authorities”.
Toby Robyns, aged 52 at the time, had found 13 gold coins while snorkelling in Turgutreis. He tried to take them home as a souvenir but was reportedly detained at Milas prison.
At the time, a family friend called the actions “harmless fun on a holiday”, while a Foreign Office spokesman confirmed they were helping Robyns.
Going to the most dangerous places on Earth ‘for fun’
Sometimes the silly thing isn’t a single act, but rather the act of visiting the country in the first place.
Take so-called ‘danger tourist’ Miles Routledge, who was held along with two other men by the Taliban in April. While the other two men had legitimate reason to be in the country, Routledge simply “goes to the most dangerous places on Earth for fun”, having recently been to both South Sudan and Ukraine.
To make matters worse, Mr Routledge had previously been evacuated from the country by armed forces during the Taliban takeover in 2021.