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Top 10 Customs in Singapore

4 min read

As a multicultural, religious and ethnic country, Singapore is the melting pot of a sunny island that takes pride in the many traditions that many practices you can find here. In this list, we will be showing you some of the most popular traditions and customs you can find in Singapore.
 

1. Queuing for Everything

You may often find many Singaporeans queuing up for everything, from restaurants to toilets, it’s part of our culture to queue up. Since we were children, we were taught to line up in neat and orderly lines to buy food, going back to classes and many other activities.

So don’t be too surprised the next time you find a long line of people queuing up waiting to get into a club or to buy the latest iPhone!

 

2. Reserving Seats with Tissue Packets

You may often find many Singaporeans queuing up for everything, from restaurants to toilets, it’s part of our culture to queue up. Since we were children, we were taught to line up in neat and orderly lines to buy food, going back to classes and many other activities.

So don’t be too surprised the next time you find a long line of people queuing up waiting to get into a club or to buy the latest iPhone!
 

3. No Shoes in Homes or Religious Buildings!

Like many Asian households, this is a common custom that we don’t wear shoes indoors especially in our homes and religious sites. Other than for hygiene and cleanliness reasons, it’s also a form of respect to not wear shoes you wear outdoors into a place of religion or homes.

So the next time you visit a house, be sure to take note whether you need to take off  your shoes outside. Some Asian households do wear indoor slippers so don’t be worried about being barefoot if you’re not used to it.
 

4. No Tipping Needed

Unlike the Western countries, Singapore doesn’t depend on tips for its restaurant and bar employees to make an extra income. Singapore already uses the GST – Goods and Service Tax – system in place with everything you purchase plus the Service Charge part of the price in some restaurants.

So be sure to not leave any tip since it could come across as rude for some.

 

5. No Gum!

Ever since 1992, Singapore has banned the sale of chewing gum. As a result of maintenance problems in many public housings, public transports, public spaces and even pavements that cause damages to even cleaning equipment.

Thus, the ban was put in place in order to keep our clean city, well, clean, while cutting down the extra budget needed to clean or restore public spaces damaged by gum.

 

6. Don’t spit or litter – unless you’re ready for Fine

Known as the ‘Fine’ City, Singapore is known to fine for everything from no smoking in public areas, no flammable liquid to no littering or spitting. You can get fined with a minimum fee of $500 to $1000.
So if you’re ever in Singapore, be sure to carry around a designated bag for your own rubbish until you can find a bin – which is almost in every public space.

 

7. Cultural Celebration and Events under Void Decks

A common occurrence and sight in Singapore, walk down the residence neighbourhood and you’ll be sure to come across various events happening under void decks.

From weddings, festivities to even funeral wakes, it’s no surprise that Singapore is a cultural hub for all traditions where everyone is understanding and respectful of each other’s customs.

 

8. Be Respectful of Roadside Offerings

Especially during the 7th Lunar month – August in western calendar – you can find many roadside offerings for the spirits and ghosts coming up to the human world where many Chinese pray and offer them with meals, incense, and ghost money to pay respect.

There are many superstitions surrounding it as well that if you ever step on it or say something disrespectful, especially after sundown, a spirit might follow you home, regardless of your religious beliefs. So just be careful not to be rude and stay out of your way if you see any roadside offerings, even outside of the 7th Lunar month period.

 

9. We’re not all related – despite calling elders ‘Auntie’ and ‘Uncle’

In our Eastern culture, it’s common for us to call those older than us, most often those of our parents’ age to address them as ‘Auntie’ and ‘Uncle’. This is simply our way of being respectful since we don’t usually call those older than us by their names.

And most often, you wouldn’t know the names of your bus captain or hawker so it’s much more convenient to address them as such even if we’re not related.

 

10. Language of our own – Singlish!

Last but not least, Singapore is best known for our own slangs also known as Singlish – Singapore English. A mixture of English based words with colloquially spoken words combined with it.

Such as Hokkien, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil syntax. Thus are for more informal speech spoken among friends and in casual settings.

 

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