Important Things to Consider When Visiting Singapore for the First Time

Many Filipinos choose to visit Singapore because it is a country that’s relatively close and culturally similar to the Philippines. 

However, if it’s your first time visiting the country, there are certain things that you need to know so that you wouldn’t get into trouble with the law or be generally awkward in public places. In this post, we share some things to consider for first-time visitors in sunny Singapore.

Disclaimer: The information published is based on the experience shared by the vlogger/YouTuber. The information provided may change without prior notice and may differ in actual scenarios. Let this article serve as a guide only.

Here is the video guide shared by a Filipina domestic helper in Singapore, Yaya Jhin on YouTube. If you find her tips helpful, you may check out her channel to catch more interesting content about her work and life as an OFW in Singapore.

Consider These Things When Visiting Singapore for the First Time

If you’ve never been to Singapore, you’d be surprised to know that the country has been regarded by tourists and foreign nationals as a “fine” city. 

Aside from the fact that Singapore is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Asia, the residents in the country are also very disciplined because every violation against the law will cost them a fine. Hence, the ‘fine’ city moniker.

So to avoid getting into trouble, here are some things to consider if you’re visiting Singapore (especially for the first time):

1. Possession and use of illegal drugs are strictly prohibited in the country.

You’d think that this can’t be any worse than other countries like the Philippines, right? But whether you’re just curious or are considering getting involved in the act, you’ll soon learn that Singapore does not take this crime very lightly. Singapore is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the region, so they have their means of catching culprits no matter where they are in the world. This becomes much worse for foreign nationals who attempt to smuggle contraband such as drugs and other unlicensed commodities such as medicine and live animals. 

2. Tap-in/tap-out using your EZ link card when taking public transportation.

One of the basic things you need to get your hands on when you come to visit in Singapore is the EZ link card. This is basically what people use to pay for their fare when taking public transportation. You can get your card at the airport, the MRT station, or in convenience stores around the city. Be sure to check your funds on your card before taking the bus or the train. 

You’ll find this very important especially if you’re working here in Singapore as there aren’t many cars in the city.

3. You can only smoke in designated areas.

Smoking in Singapore is strictly not allowed for those under the age of 18. For everyone else, cigarette smoking can only be done in designated places in public areas and such. Be sure to look for the sign noting that it’s a designated smoking area or if you aren’t sure, you can always ask around. The fine for smoking is up to SGD 300

4. Do not litter.

When you look around the city, you can’t help but notice how clean Singapore is. That is because the government strictly enforces no littering anywhere. To make things more convenient for residents and tourists, there are lots of trashbin in the city for your garbage so be sure to use them accordingly.

5. Chewing gum is not allowed

Yes, though trivial as it seems, Singapore does not allow the sale and consumption of (chewing) gums for environmental reasons. However, you may bring chewing gum provided that you can present a prescription from your doctor and once you get clearance from the ICA to bring it into the country. 

6. Do not eat or drink inside the MRT

To maintain cleanliness and safety in public places including train stations, people are not allowed to eat or drink inside the MRT. 

7. Do not stay long inside the MRT premises.

Even if you’re just waiting for a friend to arrive at the station, you shouldn’t stay longer than five minutes within MRT premises. Just tap out to exit the platform and wait outside if you will meet up with other people.

8. Do not feed stray animals.

Singapore is very considerate when it comes to its wildlife resources. That said, you should not feed any stray or wild animals you find in public. This includes cats, dogs, monkeys, pigeons, and other birds. 

9. Do not take designated seats.

This refers to areas specifically designated for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and pregnant women. If you can manage try not to use these areas. You might not know if there’s someone in the area who’ll need it more than you do. 

10. No jaywalking.

Traffic laws are something Singapore is well known for. That said, always observe traffic lights, stay on the sidewalk, and take the pedestrian lane when crossing the street.

11. Wi-Fi tapping is not allowed.

Unless it is publicly accessible like those in the mall or some cafes, you should not connect to other people’s Wi-Fi networks. Not only will you inconvenience others but you are also putting yourself at risk for breach of data and privacy. 

12. Spitting is not allowed.

Although it’s hard for some people to outgrow bad habits such as spitting in public, we must remain conscious and aware of our actions and behaviors especially when travelling overseas. That way, we can avoid getting into trouble or having to pay large fines for these behaviors.

13. Observe escalator etiquette.

Although you won’t get fined for standing on the wrong side of the escalator, you will get weird looks and may get awkward discussions with people who need to rush using the escalator. So to be safe, always stay on the left side if you’re not in a hurry because the right side should be open for rushing passengers. 

14. No vandalism.

When you get to see how clean and organized the city of Singapore is, doing something silly such as vandalizing public areas such as toilets, walls and building facades will be the last thing on your mind.

15. Do not be loud in public places.

There’s nothing wrong with talking, but when you’re in public places such as the train or the park, try to tone it down so as not to bother or inconvenience others.

16. Respect the elderly (auntie/uncle).

It’s not strange to see elderly people working in diners and restaurants as well as in the market here in Singapore. That said, if you ever come across one, be sure to address them properly. Just call them auntie or uncle. They’ll appreciate it.  

17. Always bring cash with you.

You don’t need to bring a lot, but just enough to pay for the things that you might need when you go out. This is especially true when you visit markets and hawker centers in the city.

18. Always flush the toilet after use.

Need we say more? It’s a sign of courtesy to the next person who will use the toilet. 

19. Take note of reserved seats.

In case you find a lone tissue pack or umbrella on a table, especially in public areas, this means that the table is reserved so you need to look for another one. This is a practice known as ‘chope‘ among locals, and it’s one of those small things you need to get used to when visiting Singapore. 

Important Things to Consider When Visiting Singapore for the First Time

These are just some of the things you need to take note of when you come here in Singapore. Overall, it’s a great city so the people do their best to keep it this way and so should travelers, too. 

Did we miss anything? Are there other things you want to add to the list? Let us know by leaving a comment in the section below!

ALSO READ: 8 Things You Should NOT do When in Singapore