We’re all keen to get travelling responsibly by train and by bus, just as soon as we can. But whilst you might know the top tips for travelling in your own country, it’s worth reading up on the info if you’re heading further afield. So, to help you plan your future adventures, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive guide to the public transport customs and laws right around the world.

So whether you’re wondering “Do I need to get my ticket stamped before travelling in Rome?” or even “How many rabbits can I take on a train through Bulgaria?”, we’ve got the answers for you. Having combed through various resources including TripAdvisor forums, local tourist boards, legal websites and more, we’ve collated rail travel tips and advice for 100 countries around the world that have extensive rail networks.

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A quick note: we’ve not included specific travel advice or laws linked to coronavirus in this feature as they can change often, so if you’re planning to visit any of these places soon, check our frequently updated travel guide too.

The weird and wonderful

Travelling the world and seeing new places can lead to the discovery of cultural quirks and surprising customs – and public transport is no different. Check out some of the strangest laws and customs that we’ve found from around the world, below.

Interesting Etiquette

  • Romantically greeting a partner at the airport or waving them off with a kiss is frowned upon in many countries around the globe, specifically Vietnam, where it is actively discouraged.
  • Queueing is a serious business almost everywhere, with different countries adopting different methods. Stations in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, for example, have separate queues for men and women. In Singapore, however, it’s specified that passengers waiting to board a train should queue to the left, and to the right, of the doors.
  • Most countries take a similar approach to seating etiquette: it’s commonplace to give up your seat for visibly pregnant women, passengers who have difficulty standing, and the elderly too. But this isn’t the case in Thailand - here adults will often give up their seats for children.
  • In parts of western Europe (Sweden, Belgium and the UK), the USA and South Korea, passengers should adopt the ‘stand on the right, move on the left’ practice. • If you step on someone’s foot on a busy train in Mongolia, be sure to shake their hand to avoid offence. And be quick about it.
  • Female travelers in Thailand should avoid physically touching any monks that might be on the train, even by accident.
  • Asking for information at a station kiosk in Ukraine is fine, but don't be surprised when you're charged for it. Expect an information fee of usually around 7 UAH (20p).

The Long Arm of the Law

  • In Australia, it's twice as expensive to be caught with your feet on the seats ($1,100) as it is to be caught without a ticket ($550).
  • In many countries, including Brazil, Azerbaijan, and Germany, passengers are required to carry a valid form of photo ID (like a passport) as well as their tickets when travelling.
  • Egypt has some of the cheapest fines of our study, with charges as low as 50p for those caught fare dodging.
  • If you miss your train in India, your seat is still reserved until it reaches the next stop. So, if you race across land in a taxi… you might still just make it.
  • Kissing on the platform in France is technically illegal. Additionally, being caught fare-dodging more than six times on French trains could net you a prison sentence.
  • Sitting in someone else’s train seat in Algeria is actually illegal, not just a bit rude.
  • Countries throughout Asia including Japan and Malaysia operate female-only carriages to provide a safe space for women to travel. It’s illegal (and frowned upon, of course) for men to travel in these carriages.
  • “Disturbing public order” i.e. by shouting loudly or offending passengers, can land you with a fine in China.
  • Travelers in Saudi Arabia will be expected to check-in luggage and clear a security gate before boarding, similar to air travel.
  • In France, even snails need a ticket to board a train – in fact, all domesticated animals under 5kg in weight need a valid ticket.
  • Passengers in Bulgaria can bring up to three small animals (i.e. rabbits), one cat or dog, only if placed in a waterproof container, and only in second class coaches.
  • Eating or drinking in one of Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations could net you a fine of $500.

Looking to get a head start on planning your next trip? Check out our guide to trains in Europe for more information on rail travel throughout the continent. Trainline brings together routes, fares, and journey times for train and coach companies across Europe and our handy journey planner can help you plot your next trip now.