One of the best things about Singapore is the vibrant mix of people from different cultures and backgrounds. Of course, as with any other culture in the world, it is important to know the Singaporean way of life before you come to Singapore to make your stay as enjoyable and as stress-free as possible.
Uncles and Aunties
Singapore has a large elderly resident population and they are referred to as Uncles and Aunties. You can see a lot of them working in coffee shops, train stations, and other establishments. That is because the government encourages companies to re-employ retired workers so that those who still want to work beyond the retirement age of 65 still have the option to do so. If you eat in one of the coffee shops or fast food joints and you see uncles and aunties cleaning the tables, it would be a good idea to clean up after yourselves.
Singapore’s public transport system is one of the most efficient in the world. You can take the train (MRT) or bus to any destination within the city state with no problems at all. If you take public transport, notice that there are seats reserved for the elderly, pregnant women, adults with young children and those who are physically incapacitated. They are located by the doors of trains and buses. Keep out of these seats as much as possible – quite a few non-suspecting travelers have been shamed in public or online for not giving up their seats or for pretending to be sleeping. Nonetheless, Singaporeans are generally gracious people. Even if you are not on the reserved seat, it is a good practice to give up your seat to those who need it more. Another common train courtesy practiced in Singapore includes allowing passengers to get out of the train car first before boarding.
Everything in Singapore is systematic; even taking a ride up and down the escalators. Always stay on the left side when riding the escalators and travelators. The right side is for those who are in a hurry to pass.
People in Singapore queue for just about anything – food, drinks, services, etc. It’s common sense but if you see people falling in line for something, don’t cut in.
The laws in Singapore are strictly enforced. If you are driving, be sure to follow all the traffic rules even if you don’t see traffic police nearby. In fact, you will rarely see them, if at all. That doesn’t mean you can get away with traffic violations. All streets and highways in Singapore are equipped with traffic cameras. If you’re caught with no seatbelt on, beating the red light, speeding, or you didn’t have enough credit in your cash card to pay for the toll or ERP (Electronic Road Pricing), you can expect to receive a summons sent to your registered address within the next 24-48 hours by post.
Jaywalking is also taken seriously by the traffic authorities. They conduct random checks every now and then and if you’re caught, you will be asked to produce your passport, identity card, or work pass. They will ask for your address where they will send you the summons. First time offenders will be asked to pay the fine. Failure to do so will lead to a court hearing and possibly community service.
Smoking is highly discouraged in Singapore. Aside from cigarettes being expensive, the only areas where it’s generally acceptable to smoke are the approved smoking areas of private establishments, beaches, open public spaces, open spaces in residential estates and town centers, parks and park connectors, uncovered walkways, residential homes, surface car parks, and the uncovered areas of multi-storey car parks.
Singapore is a great country with lots of things to do and sights to see. The food is amazing and you will definitely love how everything is so efficient and clean. Don’t let all the rules intimidate you because as long as you don’t do anything illegal, you are guaranteed to have a great time in Singapore.