With plenty of world-class attractions, colorful neighborhoods, and fun for the whole family, Singapore is a must-visit destination on any Asia itinerary.
However, as mindful travelers, it’s important to be aware of a country’s culture and etiquette. Although Singapore is fairly easy-going, there are some very important things to know before you fill out your Singapore arrival card application and book your ticket.
Let’s take a look at some of the most important rules:
What to do in Singapore
Use public transportation
Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system is the fastest and most efficient way to get around during your trip.
Most of Singapore’s main attractions are within walking distance of the metro station. Likewise, the bus network is also convenient, picturesque, and covers a wide variety of routes and neighborhoods.
However, a word of warning if you plan to take a taxi. Just like in neighboring Malaysia, make sure you get into a cab with a meter, as there are some drivers who may want to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists.
Address people by their Titles
To avoid embarrassing situations and to be polite, it is recommended that you use honorary titles like “Mister,” “Mrs.”, or ”Miss” when addressing anyone in Singapore.
Once you have become well acquainted with the person can you switch to using their name.
Take cash with you
Although Singapore might be known as a modern and innovative city, credit cards are not accepted everywhere.
When traveling, it is important to have both cash and paper money. You can easily withdraw money at any ATM around the city.
Paper money can also come in handy at one of the thousands of vending machines for snacks, food, drinks, and tickets that are scattered throughout Singapore.
Singaporeans are very organized people and, therefore, like to have order everywhere and with everything. You will often come across neat lines, whether it be for a trendy new cafe or the subway.
When in Rome… Just carefully stand in line!
What not to do in Singapore
Now that we’ve covered what to do in Singapore, let’s check out some don’ts:
Although gum is always nice to have on hand, you might want to be careful with it in Singapore — to the tune of a $1,000 fine!
Strict measures are enforced by the authorities to make the city cleaner. Chewing gum is the bane of Singaporean janitors as it sticks to the ground and is difficult to clean.
The only way to get rid of this once and for all? To impose a ban on its sale, import, and use.
Interestingly enough, the government made an exception for therapeutic, dental, and nicotine chewing gum, although you need to have a prescription before you can buy it.
Smoking in the wrong places
Another no-no in Singapore is smoking in prohibited areas. If you have the sudden urge to smoke, look for the green bins or a “designated smoking area” sign, as these are the only places where smoking is allowed.
The fine for smoking in a prohibited area is $200, and can go up to $1,000 if found guilty in court.
Singapore is so tough on smoking that all travelers who are entering the country must declare their cigarettes at the border or risk paying a hefty fee.
Although we are all used to tipping, you might need to rethink your strategy in Singapore.
That’s because in most restaurants, a typical service fee of 10% is already added to the total bill. If you plan to visit a hawker stall (one of Singapore’s most popular ‘attractions’!), keep in mind that you do not have to tip at all, since these are casual street food establishments.
Connect to unsecured Wi-Fi
Did you know that you could be charged with hacking if you connect to an unsecured WiFi network? Under Singapore’s Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, those who mooch off another person’s unsecured wireless network can be liable to pay a $10,000 fine or face jail time.
Thankfully, there’s no need. There is plenty of free Wi-Fi everywhere in the city, not to mention hotels and other public places — just look for the official network called “Free Wi-Fi.” You can also buy a SIM card or internet hotspot if you plan to be on the go.
Eat in public transport
If you suddenly want to have a snack on the bus, think twice!
Eating or drinking on Singapore’s public transportation is finable to the tune of $30. It’s a common stereotype around the world that Singapore is known for its pristine surroundings — which is all thanks to laws like this one, that keep the country sparkling clean.