Dos and Don’ts In Singapore
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Dos And Don’ts In Singapore (Helpful Tips From A Local!)

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Are you researching the dos and don’ts in Singapore? 

If that is a yes, you have come to the right site!

Being one of the most visited countries in Southeast Asia, there are plenty of stunning sights, colourful heritage, interesting things to do, and so much more awaiting you in Singapore. 

Despite being modern, Singapore has some oddly strict rules or even local customs that not every foreign traveller is aware of. 

Because let’s face it; no one in their right mind likes to pay any fine for the unique-to-one-country offence or to accidentally offend the residents over some lesser-known local customs.   

Therefore, I have compiled a list of dos and don’ts in Singapore that you can rely on so that you can take note and have a remarkable travel experience on this sunny island!  

Let’s dive in. 

What Do I Need To Know Before Going To Singapore

Dos In Singapore

  1. Walk and stand on the left side of the escalator
  2. Wait in the queues patiently
  3. Call “Aunty Uncle” when addressing the elderly
  4. Bring cash 
  5. Check the weather before arriving in Singapore
  6. Dress accordingly
  7. Drink the tap water confidently
  8. Visit the l hawker centres
  9. Understand the local custom of reserving seats
  10. Utilise the local free WIFI
  11. Leave your footwear at the temple’s entrance 
  12. Adhere to the local law and regulations
  13. Double-check the food price before placing an order
  14. Keep your shopping receipts

Don’ts In Singapore

  1. Skip religion and politics discussion 
  2. No littering
  3. Do not chew gum
  4. No eating and drinking on public transportation 
  5. No jaywalking
  6. Do not simply smoke anywhere
  7. No drinking in public places
  8. Do not bring in cigarettes
  9. Refrain from using public transport during peak times
  10. Do not vandalise

Singapore Essentials

Here are the quick links to useful resources and must-have essentials for your upcoming trip to Singapore

What Are The Dos and Don’ts In Singapore

Dos in Singapore

1. Walk And Stand On The Left Side Of The Escalator 

Like any other major modern city in the world, Singapore is a fast-moving city with everything done at a quick pace

And that includes the morning traffic in the MRT stations where thousands of employees utilise the train system to get to work. 

It can get pretty hectic at times. 

So to save yourself from any unwanted glare, make sure to walk and stand on the left side of the escalator wherever you go—be it the MRT stations, malls, parks, and others.  

dos and donts in singapore escalator
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2. Wait In The Queues Patiently

Singaporeans are famous for forming long queues when new promotional products are launched or getting that bowl of Singapore Laksa from a famous hawker. 

In fact, queuing is a daily routine for the locals here being among the world’s top densely populated cities

So make sure you follow the queue and wait for your turn patiently. 

Do not ever skip any queue or risk getting called out by bystanders. 

3. Call “Aunty Uncle” When Addressing The Elderly

You can see that many elderly in Singapore are still working and contributing their parts to the local workforce. 

And if you need to talk to them, say ordering food at the food stall, feel free to address them as “Aunty” or “Uncle”.

Also, remember to treat the elderly with respect as it is part of the local culture in Singapore. 

Dos and Don’ts In Singapore elderly
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4. Bring Cash

Most of the outlets in local malls and restaurants accept both cash and card payments for transactions. 

You can even scan the QR codes using your smartphone to make the transfer directly without the need of taking out your wallet in Singapore. 

These local cardless payment services include Paynow, Paylah, GrabPay, and several others. 

Nevertheless, it is best to bring cash along with you too when you are visiting Singapore. 

This is particularly important if you plan to make your way to the local hawker centres, where some old-school hawker stores only accept cash for payment. 

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If you need something sturdy to stash your cash and cards together, this RFID blocking travel wallet might be a good fit.

5. Check The Weather Before Arrive In Singapore

Though humid all year long, Singapore has a monsoon season where it typically lasts from December to February. 

Even in the driest months from June to August, rain showers are prevalent too. 

So make sure to check on the weather and pack accordingly with the essential travel items to have a memorable travel experience on this sunny island. 

6. Dress Accordingly

Singaporeans dress up depending on the occasion. And you should do that too. 

If you plan to visit a rooftop bar for a fun night out, make sure to put on a classy dress or fancy suit. 

On the same note, be sure to dress conservatively before entering worshipping places like temples and mosques as a sign of respect. 

7. Drink The Tap Water Confidently

Singapore is one of the few Southeast Asian countries where tap water is safe for direct consumption. 

So feel free to bring along your collapsible water bottle before flying in and save money by refilling it with the tap water from your hotel. 

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And that means more budget for extra few plates of Hainanese chicken rice!

8. Visit The Hawker Centres

Your trip to Singapore is not complete without making your way to the local gems—the hawker centres!

Hawker centres are the typical to-go places to fix your cravings for affordable mouth-watering cuisines like Nasi Lemak, Singapore Laksa, Char Kuey Tiao, Roti Prata, and so much more. 

Even if you are not travelling on a budget, make sure to immerse into this UNESCO Heritage recognised culture and be part of the lively scene at the hawker centre for a unique travel experience. 

Travel tip: Try not to make a mess on the table and remember to return both the dishes and the tray to the assigned places within the hawker centre after you are done.  

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9. Understand The Local Custom Of Reserving Seats 

Hawker centres can be busy at times, particularly during lunch and dinner hours. 

To ensure the seat is readily available after spending time queuing to buy the food from the stall, the locals usually reserve the seat by placing either

Yep, you see it right. Tissue paper. 

So if you stumble upon an empty seat or table with any of these items on it, chances are someone has already claimed the spot. 

True story: When I first reached Singapore in 2015, I was not aware of this norm and I sat on the seat with an unassuming pack of tissues placed on the table.

Soon after that, a lady holding a food tray with an annoyed glare told me that that was her seat and requested me to look for another table instead. That was truly a max eye-opener experience. 

10. Utilise The Local Free WIFI

Unlike other Southeast Asian countries, Singapore is not on the “cheap country to travel to” list due to its dollar currency. 

So if you are travelling to Singapore on a budget, consider utilising the local public free WIFI, Wireless@SG, for internet connection. 

All you need to have is a smartphone and a local phone number.  

But if you prefer a stable WIFI connection for instant Instagrammable photo uploads to your social media account, you can rent a pocket WIFI or get SIM Card data

11. Leave Your Footwear At The Temple’s Entrance 

This sunny island is home to many interesting worshipping places of different religions such as temples and mosques. 

If you plan to step into the temple or mosque grounds to check out the stunning interiors, be sure to remove your footwear at the respective entrance

There are signs printed indicating visitors need to remove their shoes before entering, so you can just look for them. 

12. Adhere To The Local Law And Regulations

Singapore is not labelled as “The Fine City” for no reason. 

There are plenty of rules and regulations to follow, and as a tourist, it is advisable to follow them thoroughly for a memorable travel experience. 

Fun fact: Did you know that it is illegal to feed pigeons in Singapore? The fine for this offence can go up to a whopping $500!

13. Double-Check On The Food Price Before Placing An Order

Most of the food prices are printed or shown on the countertop panel or menu in Singapore. 

But if you are wary of the pricing, make sure to double-check with the staff before placing the order. 

Travel tip: While most stores only accept Singapore Dollar for the transaction, some restaurants in Changi Airport accept several foreign currencies for payment. 

If you have run out of Singapore Dollar currency and would like to use other currency to pay for the food, you can check with the server before stepping into the establishment.  

14. Keep Your Shopping Receipts

If you have a fantastic shopping spree while you are in Singapore, make sure to keep the participating outlets’ receipts for tax refund at Changi Airport.

To do this, travellers must bring along the goods, original receipts, and physical passports to the relevant kiosks under the Tourist Refund Scheme

This is one of the travel saving hacks that you can apply when you are exploring Singapore! 

Don’ts in Singapore

1. Skip Religion And Politics Discussion

Being a multiracial country, it is always advisable to refrain from making any religious and political discussions or statements in Singapore. 

Always be respectful of other country norms and stay open-minded while you are travelling so that all is well! 

2. No Littering

One major difference that you might notice between Singapore and neighbouring Asian countries is its tip-top cleanliness

Singapore has high regard for this aspect and is lauded as one of the cleanest countries in the world. 

To maintain the overall cleanliness, the locals are educated not to litter and that is expected of their fellow tourists too.

Also, you can find dustbins readily available at every corner of the streets and buildings in Singapore—making that there is really no excuse to litter at all.

So keep your trash and just drop it into the bin whenever you pass by one!

dos and donts singapore clean street
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Travel tip: In Singapore, a littering fine can cost you anywhere from $300 to $1000. 

3. Do Not Chew Gum

Singapore has been banning the selling and consumption of chewing gum in the country since 2004. 

So if you are coming to this sunny island from the neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, make sure you leave all the chewing gums behind

With an exception: Unless it is dental and medicated gum. 

4. No Eating And Drink On Public Transportation

Also, no eating and drinking are allowed while using any of the public transportation systems in Singapore. 

This is to ensure a clean and hygienic environment for the thousands of daily commuters and passengers.

If you need to go for take-outs, be sure to hold them securely and only consume them once you leave the bus or train station.  

5. No Jaywalking

You will notice that Singapore has indeed lots of pedestrian crosswalks and bridges. 

This is to minimise the road accident rate or traffic slowdown rates as Singapore has more than 900K motor vehicles

As jaywalking is not allowed, be sure to utilise the traffic light or pedestrian bridges when you want to walk across the road. 

dos and don ts in singapore traffic light
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True story: An acquaintance of mine was fined $S20 on the spot by the local enforcement officer when she was caught red-handed jaywalking across a less busy road. 

So if you do not want to incur unnecessary costs while travelling in Singapore, always adhere to the local regulations and you will be fine. 

6. Do Not Simply Smoke Anywhere 

Over the years, the Singapore government continually refines its smoking control to curb smoking among its residents. 

And that includes a law where smoking is only permitted in certain designated areas within the country.

Among the latest smoking controls imposed by the government is to have a smoke-free public zone along Orchard Road

Any offenders that are caught smoking outside of the designated areas can be fined up to $1000. 

So make sure to adhere to the local smoking regulations whenever you need to have some nicotine puffs in Singapore. 

7. No Drinking In Public Places

If you are wondering what other unique Singapore laws that you need to take note of, keep reading. 

Back in 2015, a new alcohol law was created where the selling and consumption of alcohol in the public were banned from 10.30 pm to 7 am

Unless the store or the consumer has a valid selling or drinking permit approved by the authority. 

So if you need your alcohol craving fixed while staying in Singapore, make sure to do so at the licensed bars or pubs. 

8. Do Not Bring In Cigarettes 

Another don’t in Singapore that you need to know is not to bring in cigarettes

There will be a hefty fine for that offence, and you are better off buying the cigarettes once you reach Singapore. 

9. Refrain From Using Public Transport During Peak Periods

One of the ways to explore Singapore conveniently is to use its world’s best public transportation system

The locals rely heavily on these systems getting from one place to another, like work, school, running errands, and so much more. 

And it can get hectic at times, especially during peak periods

So refrain from using public transportation during these periods if you are not a fan of crowded places or have trouble standing for a long time. 

Dos and Don’ts In Singapore mrt
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10. Do Not Vandalise 

If you are inspired by the wonderful art scenes while exploring Singapore, that does not mean you should showcase your inner artistic value by vandalising the public spaces

There have been several cases of foreign travellers arrested for vandalism in Singapore and the punishment given was not pretty. 

The penalty for vandalism might include fines, jail, and even caning. 

Instead, channel your beaming artwork legally by signing up for a comfortable art jamming session while travelling to this modern metropolis. 

Dos And Don’ts In Singapore: Conclusion

So here you go—a comprehensive list of the dos and don’ts in Singapore that you can refer to before flying into the country.

Make sure to take note of the points listed above so that you will have a memorable time exploring the sunny island. 

Do you have other dos or don’ts in Singapore that are not mentioned here? Let me know—I would love to hear from you. 

And if you find this article useful, I would appreciate it if you share it with your friends and family members!

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