Singapore may be one of the smallest countries in the world, but it’s nothing short of captivating. It’s been ranked by The Heritage Foundation as the freest economy in the world because of its low unemployment rate and business-friendly regulations. It’s also a melting pot of culture, as it’s home to a wide variety of ethnicities. Of its estimated 3 million residents, about 78% are Chinese, 14% are Malay, and 7% are Indian. Plus, there are also overseas workers coming from all over the world.
You’ll always find something new to discover in this nation-state. It’s this diverse culture and economy that makes its values different from other countries, especially western ones. Planning a trip to Singapore for the first time? Here are important things you need to keep in mind.
Escalators: Where Left is Right
Everyone knows about the unspoken but golden rule of standing on one side of an escalator to make room for those in a rush. You may be used to standing on the right side. In Singapore, however, it’s best to stand on the left. This way, you won’t inconvenience people who want to get to their destination faster.
Tourists Get to Save on Specific Goods and Services
You may be eligible for a 7% refund if you spend more than 100 Singaporean dollars (SGD) on goods and services. However, the place must be a participant in the tourist refund scheme. One way to identify this is if the restaurant or boutique hotel has a “tax-free” shopping logo on it. You can collect your refund when you depart from the airport. This can be claimed in cash or credited to your card.
Strict Alcohol Laws
Singapore has great local beer, like the ever-popular Tiger brand. However, you may not be able to enjoy your brew in the open air while enjoying the Singapore view. The government prohibits buying and drinking alcohol in public beyond 10:30 PM. You’ll have to stick to the private pubs and restaurants with liquor licenses if you want to drink during the later hours.
Tight Littering Regulations
Singapore is known for being a clean and green country. Apart from having more than half of its land area in green cover, it also has strict rules against littering. Dropping or intentionally throwing dust, dirt paper, ash, boxes, or any other litter in a public space (apart from its designated dust bin) is prohibited. You can get fined up to 2,000 SGD if you break these rules. Law enforcement takes these regulations so seriously that they once fined a man 300 SGD for flinging two rubber bands in the air, which landed on a public road. If you have trash to throw, but there’s no bin in sight, keep it in your pocket or bag first!
Reserve Your Seats with Tissues
If you want to experience the best of Singapore’s local cuisine, visit its hawker centres. These are home to stalls that cook authentic Singaporean food. Once you get your order, however, you may notice some of the seats have neatly-placed tissue packets on them. This means that they’ve been reserved by other diners. It’s best to look for another place to sit. Don’t hesitate to use this tactic as well to call dibs on the perfect spot in the centre.
Singapore is an excellent choice for your first visit to Southeast Asia. It has a diverse culture, a great transportation system, and amazing food and accommodation. Follow the tips mentioned here, and you’ll surely enjoy your stay.
Bonnie is always on the road with some amazing adventures ahead. Her favorite continent is South America and she’s passionate about culture-focused traveling and ethical and sustainable tourism. During her time in university as a research assistant for a sociology professor, she realized she can’t fully understand cultures from a safe distance. She quit her job to become a full-time “voluntourist,” which brings her to places where she can immerse in local communities and support their causes. On top of writing, one of Bonnie’s priorities is offering women advice on how to stay safe while solo backpacking.