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Chinatown Singapore | © Reginaspics/Pixabay
Chinatown Singapore | © Reginaspics/Pixabay
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7 Things Tourists Should Avoid Doing in Singapore

Picture of Sadali Mawi
Updated: 19 July 2017
Often dubbed as the “fine city”, Singapore has built quite a notorious reputation with strict laws and regulations in place. However, don’t let the nation’s penchant for order scare you away, Singapore is a remarkable place to visit just as long as you follow these few simple tips that will make your trip much more pleasant.

Throw Your Litter Into The Bin

While this is common etiquette that should follow you through all your travels, it can become a costly habit if you drop litter in Singapore. The government considers littering and spitting as serious offences and will either slap on a fine, or commit you to hours of community work if you get caught.

Garbage
Garbage | © RtaE

Avoid Chewing Gum

Chewing gum is banned in Singapore unless if it is used for medical purposes (like nicotine gums, for example). So if you happen to arrive from neighboring countries like Malaysia or Thailand, be sure to clear your bags and avoid chewing any gum in Singapore. However, if you really need to, keep it to just two packs (which is the legal limit allowed).

Ask For Food Prices Before Ordering

Singapore’s vibrant food scene attracts tourists from all over the world who come to try local dishes at famous eateries like Chomp Chomp or Gluttons By The Bay. However, there have been cases where tourists get unknowingly charged exorbitant amounts for seasonal chilli crab or even durians. So, the next time you head to a hawker center, be sure to ask and agree to a price before ordering your dinner, or it is sure to leave a bitter aftertaste.

Avoid Vandalism at Any Cost

Vandalism has been the subject of various high-profile punishments by the government against tourists in Singapore and should be avoided as much as possible. In 2005, two German tourists were sentenced to caning for spray-painting on Singapore’s public train carriages. However, if you do enjoy street art and murals, there are plenty of trendy neighborhoods like Telok Ayer and Tiong Bahru that are littered with striking works of art for you to enjoy.

Smoke Only at Designated Smoking Areas

Singapore’s regulations on smoking have intensified recently, with the infamous ban on smoking at Orchard Road – the nation’s largest shopping district – taking effect by 2018, smokers are now only allowed to smoke at designated areas or be fined. How do you identify these smoking areas? They are usually outlined in yellow paint and situated in spots far from the public eye.

Be Sensitive to Singapore’s Multi-Cultural Society

With a multitude of temples, mosques and sacred sites of worship, visiting Singapore can be an enriching experience. If you do decide to pay a visit to places like the Sultan Mosque or Thian Hock Heng Temple, be sensitive and mindful of your actions. This means wearing covered clothes, lowering your speaking volumes and avoid taking offensive pictures for the sake of social media. Instead, be observant and surrender yourself to its tranquil and spiritual surroundings.

Singapore sights
Singapore sights | © Magalie L'Abbé/Flickr

Avoid Eating In Public Trains and Buses

It is relatively easy to travel across the country as Singapore has one of the most advanced transport systems in the world. However, if you are traveling by public trains, do avoid eating or drinking as a fine of $500 will be imposed if you get caught. If you are getting slightly claustrophobic, it is alright to pop a mint or take sip of water – just don’t take it too far and sip on a bottle of beer while you commute.

City Hall station of Singapore’s MRT metro system
City Hall station of Singapore’s MRT metro system | © bricoleurbanism/Flickr