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Singapore Do’s and Don’ts

Singapore, while small as it may seem, cannot be underestimated due to the fact that it has been among one of the strongest economies not only in Asia, but all over the world today. And while some people find Singapore’s ways to be a bit too stringent in most aspects, it just shows the kind of society the government is trying to protect and nurture, where the residents’ welfare (expats included) are being considered and observed accordingly.

And with this, there are certain rules and regulations that citizens as well as tourists, expats, or foreigners must adhere to, not to mention the fact that there are also plenty of cultural and customary practices that we all should take note of when visiting or residing in the county.

Singapore Do’s and Don’ts

How to Behave in Singapore as an Expat/Tourist

Take note of the following actions that are considered important when it comes to the law in Singapore:

  1. Take note that Singapore is a well-maintained and orderly country. Aside from rules to protect citizen rights and public order, Singapore is also well-known for its cleanliness campaigns and policies. Here are a few basic reminders in regard to this:
    • Chewing gum is not allowed unless medically prescribed by a doctor.
    • Spitting in public is strictly prohibited. You may get a hefty fine when caught committing this violation in the city.
    • Smoking is banned in all public places. Before, this hasn’t been the case, but with the amendments made on the law governing smoking in public places, there are now very specific details and repercussions that apply when caught violating this law.
    • Do not eat inside public transportation. Failure to observe this rule will warrant heavy fines and repercussions.
  2. Use your right hand for most activities.

And while this can be considered a cultural thing, here in Singapore, the right hand is typically used to perform all types of activities whereas the left hand is strictly used for personal hygiene purposes.

  1. Be modest and gracious when accepting gifts.

Perhaps this can be considered an Asian thing, because just like in other areas such as in Hong Kong and China, it is considered polite to reject gifts several times before accepting them. But once you do, don’t be in a hurry to unwrap your gift. This is to avoid embarrassing the giver in case you were given something inappropriate or the like. Also, do not forget to say thank you.

  1. Remember to keep your workplace neat and organized.

Saying that women are generally more neat than men doesn’t really bear much weight here in Singapore, as culturally speaking, everyone should maintain a neat and organized image of themselves, especially at work. This speaks volumes of a person’s character and habits as an individual.

  1. Take the public transportation whenever you can.

One of the good things about Singapore is that you can get around the whole island by means of public transportation. Also, in a place such as Singapore, security is given a premium so there’s no need to be worried about stragglers or petty law offenders in public. Needless to say, only take the taxi or ride-hailing services when absolutely necessary.

  1. Mind your table manners especially when invited over dinner.

As a guest, it would be an honour to join new friends over dinner especially when they are hosting.  However, since there are differences in cultures to be expected, avoid finishing off everything on your plate as it would offend your host and bring over more food because they think you are still hungry.

  1. Take off your footwear when entering a household.

As a sign of respect for your host’s private space and/or their religion, be sure to take off your footwear before you enter any house, mosque, or temple.

There are far many things that we need to remember when we’re going out to visit another country, more so if we’re staying there for work. But just as how we adjust to new life elsewhere, everything will take time and some getting used to. But the big thing here is to keep an open mind and to be respectful at all times.