Singapore, a cultural melting pot just south of Malaysia, is a beautiful island worth visiting. Multiculturalism plays a big part in the nation’s identity, which is why many policies have been shaped with it in mind. To navigate around a new country with different cultures may be overwhelming, but here are some simple dos and don’ts to follow when visiting!
1. Look out for tissue packs and/or umbrellas on tables when going out to eat. Singaporeans often leave tissue packets or umbrellas on a table while queuing for food, so watch out for these!
2. Address people by their titles. Singapore is a very reserved country and it is considered polite to address people by their titles; such as Mr. and Mrs. Use first names only when invited to do so.
3. Stand on the correct side. Be sure to stand on the left side and walk on the right side in an escalator.
4. Always bring water! Singapore is very serious about water conservation, so many food establishments won’t be giving out free water. Make sure to bring your own water to save money.
5. Give gifts after researching. Singapore is a cultural melting-pot, and giving gifts can be quite tricky since you have to be sensitive about cultural taboos. Don’t wrap gifts in white as it symbolizes mourning. Don’t give clocks and handkerchiefs as it is associated with Chinese funerals. Don’t give pig-related products to Singaporean Muslims.
6. Eat your Durian in designated areas. Durian is a popular Southeast Asian fruit notorious for its powerful odor. Don’t bring Durians in your hotel, even though it might be tempting. Don’t eat it in public areas like on buses and trains.
7. Take your shoes off when entering a home; this is a standard procedure in most Asian households. Take off your shoes to preserve cleanliness.
8. Dress appropriately. In some religious establishments, you will not be allowed to enter if you reveal skin.
9. Elders are like family, therefore addressing elders as auntie or uncle is considered respectful, and you might even put a smile on their faces.
10. Use public transportation. Singapore has one of the fastest and most efficient public transportation, so take advantage of it!
1. Don’t chew gum. It is illegal to chew and be in possession of chewing gum in Singapore. Singaporeans take public cleanliness very seriously, so make sure not to make a mistake!
2. Don’t jaywalk. Jaywalking can lead to a hefty fine and Singapore is very particular with traffic rules. So always walk on pedestrian lanes.
3. Don’t drink, eat or smoke in public transportation. It is considered improper to do so, so save your food for other places!
4. Don’t tip; don’t even think about tipping. It is not customary to leave tips and some establishments have service charge as part of the bill.
5. Don’t ask about racial makeups. Singaporeans are a mix of different cultures, so be sensitive and do not ask for racial makeups.
6. Don’t try to “fill in” the silence. Although in some cultures, it is polite to try to fill awkward silences, in Singapore it is frowned upon.
7. Don’t display anger publicly. Singaporeans disapprove of public outbursts so keep your anger in check.
8. Don’t pat someone’s head. The head is considered sacred, so don’t try to pat someone on the head!
9. Don’t bring up religion or politics. Divisive topics can sometimes lead to nasty situations. To make sure you have good experience, don’t try to bring it up and instead talk about other things!
10. Don’t use your finger to point at things; it’s considered rude, especially when aimed at someone. Avoid doing it altogether.