Travelled to 12 countries / regions

Written 18 briefs
Lived and worked in Singapore for 2 years



Asia > Singapore > Useful Info
Submitted on Sep 16, 2019 Useful Info

Complete list of things travellers should not do in Singapore

Singapore is quite infamous for its long list of strict laws against seemingly every thing you do in life. Having lived there for 2 years, I'd say this reputation is definitely deserved.

Singapore has a lot of laws and regulations. Some of them are common sense, others raise and eyebrow, still others are so sneaky that most visitors don't even know they broke a law.

But despite the list, the vast majority of visitors to Singapore won't ever run afoul of the law. Even if visitors accidentally break a rule and caught, most of the time they are given a warning or a look of disapproval from a local, nothing more. Fines are only levied on the most egregious cases and for serious offences (like drugs, or if you cause some actual damage to person or property).

That being said, it still helps you just quickly glance through a list of things you can't do. So without further ado, here's the list of laws tourists should be aware of in Singapore:

Do not do these things in Singapore:

  • Bring in non-medical chewing gum into Singapore: while the act of chewing gum itself is legal, the sale and importation of chewing gum for non-medical purposes is banned. Which means if you accidentally have a pack of Wrigleys in your bag when you enter Singapore, you've technically broken the law, and can be fined up to SGD$5,500 and up to 1 year in jail (more details)
  • Public nudity: obviously full body nudity is now allowed anywhere in public, including any beach in Singapore. Topless for men is fine on beaches, but do not attempt to do so anywhere else. Topless for women is a no no even on beaches. Also, it's technically illegal to be nude at home too if it's visible by anyone from outside. So if you plan to be nude in private, just make sure you close the curtains. Fine is SGD$2,000 or up to 3 months of jail time (more details)
  • Use some tobacco products:
  • E-Cigarettes: bringing it into Singapore or using it in Singapore is completely banned with SGD$2,000 of penalty
  • Shisha/Hookah: banned under the same law as E-Cigarette ban
  • Chewing tobacco: banned under the same law as E-Cigarette ban
  • More details
  • Smoking indoors and many outdoor places: smoking indoor is banned in many countries in the world, so it's easy to follow this law. But you also cannot smoke in many outdoor places, including pedestrian bridges, within 5 meters of a bus stop, etc. Honestly there are so many outdoor and public places that you can't smoke, it's much easier to say that you're only allowed to smoke at explicitly designated smoking spots (but again, even at these designated spots you're not allowed to use e-cigarettes, hookah, and chewing tobacco). More details
  • Eat or drink on public transportation: eating and drinking on MRT (the metro system) and in MRT stations is flat out illegal, with penalty of SGD$500 in fines (more details). However, doing so is technically legal on buses, but as a common courtesy do not eat or drink on buses either. Not even something as innocuous as taking a sip of water from a bottle is allowed
  • Spit and litter: this is common sense, but in Singapore this is actually prohibited by law that carries fines up to SGD$5,000 for repeat offences. Spitting is very common in Europe and North America, so for visitors from those regions make sure to avoid doing so
  • Drugs: this is very obvious. Don't do drugs in Singapore, including marijuana and other "party drugs". Penalty is very heavy: possession and trafficking of drugs (if you bring some into the country, even for personal use, is considered trafficking) carry death penalty in Singapore. If you're caught with drugs, you will need to ask your embassy for help but even they may be limited in what they can do for you (more details)
  • Vandalism: damaging or defacing (including graffiti) public or private property carries with it pretty severe punishment includes jail time and caning. An American and a Swiss were convicted and were jailed and caned (3 strokes each), so this law is actually enforced. In the case of the American, then-president Bill Clinton had to intervene but only managed to reduce the punishment from 4 strokes of caning to 3 strokes. (more details)
  • Jaywalking: this means crossing a street without using the proper pedestrian crossing lane and signal; it carries a penalty of SGD$50 for first time offenders and up to SGD$1,000 and 3 month of jail time for repeat offenders. It is mostly not enforced but if you do it blatantly in front of a police officer you will likely be prosecuted (more details)
  • Not flushing toilets: this is a common courtesy elsewhere, but in Singapore you can be fined up to SGD$150 by the law for not flushing your urinal or toilet
  • Urinating or defecating in public: this law actually makes a lot of sense! The consequence for urinating or defecating in public is SGD$150
  • Pick flowers, pluck leafs, or take any part of a plant from public: it's illegal to take any part of a plant from public place under Parks and Trees Act, so be sure to only watch and no touch when you go to a park. This law also covers not only plants in parks, but also roadside plants too. You can be fined up to SGD$5,000. Finally, a separate law also bans you from taking any naturally-fallen fruit (but it's probably not enforced). More details
  • Drinking in public between 10:30pm and 7am: this is self explanatory. Don't drink outside during these hours. More details
  • Annoy, intimidate, obstruct people: there are a series of laws in the penal code that make it a crime to purposefully behave badly towards others with negative intentions, like (takeaway is be nice to people):
  • "Word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman": saying anything or making any gestures that are offensive to women can potentially make you run afoul of this law which can be punished with up to 1 year in jail (penal code 509)
  • "sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words in or near any public place": this is penal code 294(b), basically if you're singing music in public and someone finds the lyrics objectionable, you can potentially run afoul of this law. Punishment is up to 3 month in jail
  • You cannot block someone from going somewhere. If you do, you're considered to be illegally restraining that person, which can get you SGD$1,500 in fines or up to 1 month in jail (penal code 341)
  • Misbehaving in public:
  • Drunk in public: being drunk in public can get you fined up to SGD$1,000 or jailed up to 1 month (more details)
  • Public nuisance: don't fight in public, don't be obnoxiously loud and uncontrollable in public, don't block public walkways, etc. There are a series of laws (like Penal Code 268, 290, 267A, and Miscellaneous Offences [Public Order and Nuisance] Act) that can fine you several thousands SGD or put you in jail for several months
  • Feeding pigeons: yep it's illegal to feed pigeons in Singapore, as these two men found out the hard way. The penalty for doing so is up to SGD$500 in fine
  • Connecting to someone's wifi without being authorized (piggybacking): if you find a wifi that's not password-protected and obviously not for public use, then it's illegal to connect to it under Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act. Penalty is up to SGD$10,000 in fines and 3 months in jail time (more details)
  • Possess porn (but streaming porn is ok): Singapore bans the possession of porn, whether physical or digital. So if you have files on your laptop, USB, or external hard drive with saved porn, then you can be fined up to SGD$40,000 or jailed up to 12 months. Streaming porn from websites is not considered possession, so is not illegal (more details)
  • Gay sex (not enforced though): it's technically illegal to have gay sex in Singapore, but this is something that's basically never enforced. Singapore does not have police busting people in their bedrooms and in fact it has an active LGBT scene