Things Not To Do In Singapore: Avoiding Common Mistakes And Cultural Faux Pas

Things Not To Do In Singapore Avoiding Common Mistakes And Cultural Faux Pas 129649623

Venturing to Singapore soon and nervous about committing a social faux pas? This dynamic city-state has its unique blend of customs, traditions, and rules that can be unfamiliar to foreign visitors.

Our blog post will guide you through the essential dos and don’ts in intriguing Singaporean culture, helping you avoid common mistakes and fully embrace the local lifestyle. Are you ready to travel smarter in this island gem?.

Cultural Expectations to Keep in Mind

Cultural Expectations to Keep in Mind 129649432

When in Singapore, remember to avoid littering, chewing gum, using public transport during peak hours, showing the bottom of your feet, discussing extreme views, tipping customs, and eating and drinking on public transport.

Don't Make These 13 Common Mistakes in Singapore


Littering 129649789Littering is a big no-no in Singapore. It shows you don’t care about keeping this city clean. If you smoke, find a trash bin with an ashtray to get rid of your cigarette butts the right way.

Can’t find one? Hold onto your litter until you do! Some people started a Facebook page called “A Litter at a Time”. They pick up trash and remind us all to be good citizens. We all have to help make sure Singapore stays clean and green!

Chewing gum

Chewing gum 129649278Chewing gum is not allowed in Singapore. This rule started in 1992. People who leave chewing gum around can get into trouble. They may have to pay money, do work for the community, or even receive hits with bamboo sticks.

You are also not allowed to bring chewing gum into Singapore from other places. Sugarfree gum and mint flavor gums are also banned by the same rules. This ban keeps Singapore clean and gives it a good name as a tidy city.

Avoiding public transport during peak hours

Avoiding public transport during peak hours 129649196Peak hours in Singapore get busy. Buses, taxis and the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) network tend to be crowded. To avoid this, try commuting during off-peak times. This cultural rule is part of ensuring smooth travel for all.

It’s not just about overcrowding but also about giving everyone a good ride experience. If you want to move around easily, plan your trip when it’s less busy on public transport.

Showing the bottom of your feet

Showing the bottom of your feet 129649646

In Singapore, it is important to be aware of cultural expectations and customs. One such expectation is not showing the bottom of your feet. This is considered disrespectful in Singaporean culture.

To avoid any misunderstandings or cultural faux pas, it’s best to refrain from pointing at someone with your foot or showing the sole of your foot towards others. Even when sitting on the floor, make sure your feet are not pointing towards priests and statues in shrines as a sign of respect.

By understanding and respecting this cultural norm, you can navigate social interactions smoothly during your time in Singapore.

Restraining from discussing extreme views

Restraining from discussing extreme views 129649694

In Singapore, it is important to avoid discussing extreme political or religious views in public. This is because the country values social harmony and wants to maintain a peaceful environment for everyone.

Engaging in heated debates or controversial discussions can be seen as disrespectful and may cause tension with locals. So, it’s best to focus on neutral topics and respect different perspectives.

By doing so, you’ll show cultural sensitivity and contribute to a positive atmosphere during your stay in Singapore.

Tipping customs

Tipping customs 129649378

Tipping customs in Singapore are different compared to many other countries. In Singapore, it is not common or expected to leave a tip at restaurants, cafes, or hotels. This is because service charges are usually already included in the bill.

Even at the airport, tipping is prohibited. When taking a taxi in Singapore, there is no expectation of extra gratuity either. Instead, what people often do is round off the fare to the nearest dollar as a form of convenience.

So if your fare is $9.50, you can simply give $10 and consider that as sufficient payment for the ride. It’s important to be aware of these cultural norms and not feel obligated to leave tips during your time in Singapore.

Eating and drinking on public transport

Eating and drinking on public transport 129649773

In Singapore, it is important to remember that eating and drinking on public transport is not allowed and considered impolite. This is because Singaporeans value cleanliness and respect for others in shared spaces.

So, it’s best to avoid snacking or sipping on drinks while riding buses, trains, or taxis. Instead, wait until you reach your destination or find a designated eating area like a food court or hawker center where you can enjoy your meal comfortably.

By following this cultural norm, you will show your understanding of local customs and contribute to the overall harmony of public transportation in Singapore.

Etiquette for Technology Use

Etiquette for Technology Use 129649191

Be cautious when connecting to unsecured networks and always think twice before gifting. Intrigued? Find out more about technology dos and don’ts in Singapore!

Singapore: 6 easily avoidable MISTAKES tourists make

Avoid connecting to unsecured networks

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Connecting to unsecured networks can put your data at risk. When you use public WiFi networks without proper security measures, like network encryption or a virtual private network (VPN), your personal information could be intercepted by eavesdroppers.

Cybersecurity risks, such as identity theft and unauthorized access to your accounts, are prevalent on unsecured networks. To protect yourself, it is recommended to avoid connecting to unsecured networks and instead use secure networks or enable VPN usage when accessing the internet outside of protected environments.

By taking these precautions, you can safeguard your data and ensure online safety while using WiFi in public places.

Be cautious with gifting

Be cautious with gifting 129649798

When it comes to gift-giving in Singapore, it’s important to be cautious and follow proper etiquette. Bringing a gift when invited to someone’s home is a common practice in Singapore, so make sure you don’t show up empty-handed.

However, it’s crucial to be aware of the rules and regulations surrounding gift-giving in the country.

Singapore has strict regulations regarding gift-giving. Violating these regulations can have serious consequences, including fines and even jail sentences. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the local customs and traditions for gift-giving to avoid any legal issues or social faux pas.

To ensure you follow proper gift-giving protocol in Singapore, remember that extravagant or overly expensive gifts are generally not expected or encouraged. Instead, opt for modest yet thoughtful presents that reflect the recipient’s interests or culture.

Additionally, it is customary to present gifts with both hands as a sign of respect.

Laws and Regulations to be Aware of

Laws and Regulations to be Aware of 129649328

No smoking in public. Pointing fingers at others can lead to a lawsuit. Avoiding drugs. Remembering to flush. Find out more about the laws and regulations you need to be aware of when visiting Singapore.

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No smoking in public

No smoking in public 129649206Smoking in public places is strictly prohibited in Singapore due to the government’s efforts to maintain a clean and healthy environment. This ban includes public parks, beaches, shops, universities, cultural facilities, and healthcare facilities.

The aim is to protect non-smokers from second-hand smoke and reduce littering caused by cigarette butts. If caught smoking in these areas, individuals can face fines or penalties. It’s important to be mindful of the designated smoking zones or smoke-free areas to avoid breaking the law and showing respect for local regulations.

Pointing fingers at others can lead to a lawsuit

In Singapore, you need to be careful about accusing or blaming others by pointing fingers. It’s because there are laws and regulations that can lead to a lawsuit if someone accuses another person, especially women, in this way.

Even if there is an eyewitness, pointing fingers can result in serious consequences. So it’s important to avoid implicating or holding others responsible without proper evidence and follow the rules to stay out of legal trouble.

Avoiding drugs

Drug abuse is a serious issue in Singapore, and it’s important to be aware of the laws and consequences. The most commonly abused drugs in the country are cannabis, heroin, and methamphetamine.

Singapore has strict drug laws, including criminal penalties for possession, trafficking, or consumption of illegal substances. In fact, certain drug offenses can even result in the death penalty.

It’s crucial to remember that consuming drugs overseas can still have legal consequences in Singapore. The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is actively working to address online drug peddling.

Remembering to flush

Flushing the toilet is extremely important in Singapore. It is not just a matter of cleanliness, but also a legal requirement. Not flushing the toilet can lead to fines and punishments.

This rule is in place to maintain proper sanitation and hygiene standards, as well as to protect public health. To ensure that you are following the regulations, always remember to flush after using the restroom.

By doing so, you contribute to maintaining a clean environment and respecting the laws of Singapore regarding waste disposal and sewage systems.

Respect for Local Customs

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Respect local customs by avoiding public nudity or watching adult films, as this is considered highly inappropriate in Singaporean culture.

Avoiding public nudity or watching adult films

Singapore has strict laws against public nudity and watching adult films. It’s important to respect these cultural norms and avoid engaging in such activities while you’re in the country.

Violating these laws can have serious consequences, including embarrassment and costly fines. To ensure a smooth and respectful experience in Singapore, it’s crucial to research local customs and understand the legal restrictions on adult content before your visit.

By doing so, you can avoid any potential legal trouble and show respect for Singaporean society.

Using taxis wisely

When using taxis in Singapore, it is important to be cautious and use them wisely. There have been instances where tourists have been scammed or taken advantage of by unscrupulous taxi touts and drivers.

To avoid this, make sure to only take taxis from reputable companies or book through official taxi booking apps. It is also advisable to check that the meter is running correctly and ask for a receipt at the end of the journey.

By being aware of these precautions and respecting local customs, you can ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience when commuting around Singapore.

Common Faux Pas According to Locals

Common Faux Pas According to Locals 129649543

Leaving tissue packs on tables at hawker centers can be seen as rude and inconsiderate.

Leaving tissue packs on tables at hawker centers

Leaving tissue packs on tables at hawker centers is a common faux pas in Singapore. Locals strongly discourage this practice, as it is seen as inconsiderate and disrespectful. It is believed that leaving tissue packs on a table is a way of claiming ownership of the seat, which can lead to conflicts among customers.

This controversial aspect of Singapore’s culture has sparked debates and criticism among the locals. Therefore, it is important to refrain from using tissue packets to reserve seats at hawker centers in order to show respect for others and avoid any potential misunderstandings or disputes.

Trying to bargain at hawker stalls

When visiting hawker stalls in Singapore, it’s important to remember that trying to bargain or negotiate the price is considered a common faux pas. Hawker stall owners usually set fixed prices for their food, and attempting to haggle may be seen as disrespectful or cheap.

It’s essential to respect the hard work of these vendors who often work long hours for relatively low pay. Instead of bargaining, focus on enjoying the delicious food they have to offer and appreciate their dedication to providing affordable meals for locals and tourists alike.

Leaving a messy table behind

Leaving a messy table behind is a big no-no in Singapore. The country is known for its strict cleanliness standards, and not cleaning up after yourself is considered disrespectful.

When you leave a messy table, it shows a lack of consideration for the next person who wants to use it. Singaporeans take pride in their clean and orderly environment, and they expect visitors to do the same.

So, remember to clean up after yourself and leave the table as you found it to show respect for the local culture and adhere to their expectations of orderliness.

Standing on the right side of the escalator

In Singapore, it is important to remember not to stand on the right side of the escalator. Locals expect people to stand on the left side instead. This is because it allows others to walk up on the right side, helping to maintain a smooth flow of traffic and avoid congestion on escalators.

Standing on the right side is considered a breach of etiquette and can frustrate locals. Many tourists and travelers may not be aware of this unwritten rule and may accidentally commit this faux pas.

Avoiding smoking at public parks and beaches

Smoking is not allowed at public parks, beaches, and other outdoor areas in Singapore. This smoking ban was implemented on July 1, 2022, as part of the country’s efforts to create a smoke-free environment.

It is important to respect this no smoking policy and adhere to the smoking restrictions in order to avoid cultural faux pas and legal consequences. Locals consider smoking at public parks and beaches to be a common mistake that should be avoided.

Remembering not to smoke in these recreational areas shows respect for local customs and laws while contributing to a healthier and cleaner environment for everyone.

Essential Rules to Follow

Essential Rules to Follow 129649187

Remove your shoes before entering temples, join queues in an orderly manner, treat elders with respect, carry cash for small purchases, be aware of the hot and humid climate, try local food at hawker centers, maintain cleanliness in public spaces, and remember to properly reserve tables when dining out.

Removing shoes before entering temples

When entering temples in Singapore, it is important to remember to remove your shoes. This is a sign of respect for the cultural traditions and customs followed by the local people.

Removing shoes before entering a temple helps maintain cleanliness and preserve the sanctity of the space. In Vedic culture, it is considered disrespectful to enter a room without first removing one’s shoes.

Temples are regarded as homes of the Gods, so when you enter a temple, you are considered a guest in that sacred place. Therefore, taking off your shoes is seen as a way of showing reverence and honoring their beliefs.

Joining queues

Singaporeans take queuing very seriously. It is an essential rule to follow when you’re in Singapore. Queuing reflects the values of order, justice, and respect for others in their culture.

Joining a queue shows that you have patience and are willing to wait your turn. Cutting in line is considered rude and disrespectful in Singapore, so it’s important to follow the local behavior and join the queue like everyone else.

Remember, by joining queues, you show respect for others and their time.

Treating elders with respect

In Singapore, it is important to treat elders with respect. This means showing politeness, courtesy, and gratitude towards them. Eastern cultures like China have a strong emphasis on valuing elders and practicing filial piety, which is the duty of respecting and caring for one’s parents and grandparents.

Although Singapore has a mix of modern Western influences, the cultural expectation to treat elders with respect remains strong. It is seen as a way to honor their wisdom and contributions to society.

So remember to show consideration, dignity, and regard towards elders in Singapore.

Carrying cash

It’s important to be mindful of how much cash you carry when you’re in Singapore. Exchanging currency at the airport isn’t recommended, so it’s better to do it elsewhere for a more favorable rate.

Carrying large amounts of cash can also make you a target for theft or pickpocketing. Thankfully, credit cards and mobile payment methods are widely accepted in Singapore, making it convenient and safe to rely on these options instead.

This reduces the need for carrying around lots of cash and provides added financial security during your trip. So, consider using digital payment methods or your credit card while exploring Singapore to avoid any unnecessary risks associated with carrying too much cash.

Being aware of the climate

Singapore has a tropical climate, which means it can get quite hot and humid throughout the year. It’s important to be prepared for this weather when you visit. Make sure to pack lightweight and breathable clothing, as well as sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the strong sun.

Additionally, staying hydrated is crucial, so remember to drink plenty of water while exploring the city. Don’t forget that sudden rain showers are common in Singapore, so it’s a good idea to carry an umbrella or raincoat with you.

By being aware of the climate and taking necessary precautions, you can ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable experience during your time in Singapore.

Trying local food at hawker centers

Hawker centers in Singapore are popular among locals and tourists alike, offering a wide variety of local cuisine. These open-air complexes house different food stalls where you can find delicious dishes to try.

It’s a great way to experience the flavors of Singapore while immersing yourself in the local culture. Remember to follow dining etiquette, such as not pointing with your chopsticks, and maintain cleanliness by cleaning up after yourself.

Enjoy the vibrant food scene at hawker centers, which are both a tourist attraction and an essential part of Singaporean culture.

Maintaining cleanliness

Singapore places a strong emphasis on cleanliness, and as a visitor, it’s important to respect this cultural value. Make sure to dispose of trash properly by using designated bins and avoiding littering in public spaces.

Singapore has strict laws against littering, so be mindful of keeping the streets clean. Additionally, personal hygiene is also essential. Singaporeans take pride in their appearance and expect others to do the same, so make sure to maintain good grooming habits while you’re here.

By staying conscious of cleanliness standards and practicing proper trash disposal, you can contribute to maintaining Singapore’s reputation as a clean city-state.

Reserving tables properly

One important rule to follow in Singapore is to not sit at a table at a hawker center if it already has a pack of tissues on it. Locals use tissue packs to reserve tables while they order their food, so it’s considered rude to take a table that isn’t yours.

If you see tissue packs on the table, it means someone has already claimed it and you should find an empty table instead. This practice ensures fairness and allows everyone to have a chance to enjoy their meal comfortably.

So, make sure to be mindful of this custom when dining at hawker centers in Singapore.


Conclusion 129649693

In conclusion, when visiting Singapore, it is crucial to be aware of and respect local customs and cultural expectations. Avoid actions such as littering, chewing gum, discussing extreme views, or showing the bottom of your feet.

Follow laws and regulations like no smoking in public and refraining from pointing fingers at others. Remember essential rules like removing shoes before entering templestreating elders with respect, carrying cash, and maintaining cleanliness.

By being mindful of these things not to do in Singapore, you can have a more enjoyable and respectful travel experience.


1. Is chewing gum allowed in Singapore?

No, chewing gum is not allowed in Singapore as it is considered littering and can result in fines.

2. Can I smoke anywhere in Singapore?

No, smoking is prohibited in most public places in Singapore, including indoor spaces, bus stops, and parks. Designated smoking areas are available.

3. Are there any cultural taboos I should be aware of when visiting Singapore?

Yes, some cultural taboos to be aware of include pointing with your index finger, touching someone’s head without permission, or showing the bottom of your feet towards others.

4. Can I eat or drink on public transportation in Singapore?

No, eating and drinking are generally not allowed on public transportation systems such as buses and trains in Singapore to maintain cleanliness.

5. Is it acceptable to haggle or negotiate prices at markets or shops in Singapore?

Haggling or negotiating prices is not common practice in most shops and markets in Singapore. Prices are typically fixed unless stated otherwise by the seller.

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