Welcome to Singapore!
Singapore is one of the most popular and vibrant destination in Asia with its renowned clean and beautiful garden city and unique cultural diffusion of Chinese, Malay, Indian and European immigrants. Singapore is a very clean, safe and efficient city due to the strictly enforced laws. But diverse racial groups in Singapore retained its own cultural and religious identity including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Taoism, which can cause confusion and sometimes conflicts, for example, gift giving etiquette varies depending on the ethnic background of the individual. So bearing in mind of the following Singapore travel tips, dos and donts will help you enjoy the diverse and rich culture of Singapore and be a part of its enriching experience.
Laws relating to jaywalking, littering and chewing/selling gum, smoking in public are strictly enforced in urban areas. Never litter, chew gum, sell gum, jaywalk, or smoke in public, which are punishable by jail or even death.
Singapore Travel Donts
- Do not chew gums, which are banned in Singapore and may get you arrested. Leave it home before you travel.
- Do not litter while in Singapore. Laws are strictly enforced relating to littering.
- Do not smoke in public. Smoking is illegal in enclosed public places (including restaurants). Dropping a cigarette end in the street or smoking illegally can lead to an immediate fine.
- Do not get involved in any drugs. Singapore carries a mandatory death penalty for drug-trafficking and harsh penalties for possession and use within the country.
- Do not discuss religion or politics. Do not make jokes either.
- Do not touch someone’s head. The head is considered sacred.
- Do not show the bottoms of your feet or use your feet to point. Feet are considered dirty.
- Do not bring in food into MRT (Mass Rapid Transport). Offenders will be fined up to S$200.
- Do not point at someone with your index finger, which is considered very rude.
- Do not take cabs which are very expensive in Singapore. The Singapore transportation system is exceptionally well planned.
- Do not eat or offer anything with your left hand when with Muslims and do not use your left hand when shaking hands with a Muslim.
- Do not tip. Tipping is not customary in Singapore and it’s even frowned down upon by the government.
- Do not open a gift immediately in front of the giver. Do not wrap gifts in white, which is a mourning color.
- Do not, for a Chinese descent, give clocks, handkerchiefs or flowers to as they are associated with death and funerals. Do not accept a gift immediately; refuse a gift two to three times before accepting to show that you’re not greedy.
- Do not, for a Malay descent, give alcohol, or anything made of pigskin, as Malays are Muslim. Give the gift upon departing, not arriving, and use your right hand or both hands to give or receive presents. Never use only left hand.
- Do not, for an Indian descent, give alcohol or something made of leather. Use your right hand to give or receive presents and not your left. If it’s large, you may use both hands.
Singapore Travel Dos
- Do address someone using the title of Mr., Mrs. or Miss with the surname. Do not use first names unless you are invited to.
- Do shake hands for a warm greeting, but be aware that Malays will not always shake hands. Muslims will not shake hands with the opposite sex. Do give a slight bow for older Chinese people.
- Do remove your shoes while entering a private home, a temple or a mosque.
- Do leave a little on the plate when you have finished eating.
- Do be conservative in your behavior. Dress conservatively for business functions and dress casual in other situations.
- Do have coins with you when you need to use the public toilet.
- Do stay on the left side of the escalator. The right lane is for all those people in a rush. Do drive on the left hand side too.
- Do have some handy cash ready to use. Do not rely on your credit cards.
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