10 Cultural Taboos in Singapore To Avoid | The Beat
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In Case You Need 'Em: 10 Cultural Taboos in Singapore That Every Tourist Should Avoid

Cultural taboos in Singapore

Any activity or behavior that deviates from social norms is considered taboo. Determining whether something is a taboo largely depends on morals, culture, and religion.

If you’re in a foreign country, knowing these taboos is important to save yourself from awkward glares and, in extreme cases, hefty punishments. In Singapore, there are certain social customs you need to adhere to, as well as practices you should avoid. In this article, we listed some cultural taboos in Singapore that you should be aware of before visiting the city.

Being Late is an Insult

Punctuality is important when you’re doing business in Singapore. Keeping someone waiting or coming in late for an appointment is considered an insult especially if it involves business executives.

Compliments on Appearance are Insincere

When you want to compliment a Singaporean, you should focus on commending their accomplishments because praising their appearance would sound like you’re being pretentious.

Correcting an Older Person

In Singapore’s business customs, it is believed that the oldest member is the most competent and should thereby take the higher position. Hence, it is taboo to disagree or correct an older person in public to avoid humiliation and loss of respect.

Criticize your Homeland or Country

Talking badly about the government and the city-island as a whole is a no-no in Singapore. The general public may find this person or critic as scandalous, rude, and unpatriotic.

Moving Things Using Your Feet

It is also a cultural taboo in Singapore to touch or move things using your feet because they believe that this body part is unclean.

Snacking on Public Transport

Eating and drinking while riding the Singapore mass transit systems would get you in trouble. Since 1987, Singapore views eating or drinking on all public transport as a cultural taboo. Those caught violating this rule will be charged S$500. And yes, even chewing gum is not allowed.


Even when you’re having a private conversation, it is a sign of respect to break eye contact or avoid staring at a person.

Too Quick to Response

As part of Singaporean’s listening etiquette, you should be very careful when responding to someone you’re talking to. Avoid interrupting the person you’re talking with. When you respond, try not to make it in a hurried manner.

Yelling or Speaking Loudly

As part of cultural taboos in Singapore, a person is expected to speak in a low and calm tone. Raising your voice may indicate intense and negative emotions like anger and disappointment.

Spitting in Public

Regardless of your location, spitting on roads or expelling nasal mucous is unhygienic and may transmit contagious diseases. In Singapore, this behavior is punishable with a fine of up to S$1,000. In some cases, people caught spitting in public could face lawsuits.

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