Etiquette and Taboo in Singapore

Singapore has very strict laws, even though it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. If you're planning to visit Singapore soon, you'd better know something about etiquette and taboo in Singapore before you go so that you won't get in trouble during your trip. Don't worry about it, and this article will show you some social etiquettes, dining etiquettes, and taboos in Singapore.


Social Etiquettes in Singapore

For Singaporeans, being polite and courteous in interpersonal communication is not only the basic accomplishment that everyone should have, but it has also become a basic code of conduct that the country and society must follow for everyone. Singaporeans will always show respect for others everywhere.



Ways of greeting in Singapore may differ from each ethnic group, and the most common way is to shake hands. On social occasions, Singaporeans shake hands with others, and some people will bow slightly. It's more polite to shake hands with the Chinese and the elders, and the handshake may be light and held for a longer duration.


Men and women can shake hands, but for men, the more appropriate way is to wait for women to reach out before shaking hands. Malays first touch each other with their hands, and then retract their hands to their chests. And for older Singaporeans, they may use both hands to shake.


When greeting other people, Singaporeans like to ask, "Have you eaten yet", which is the same habit of saying, "How are you doing". If you participate in a social gathering, people will introduce you to everyone, but the introduction is quick, and you don't have to shake hands when you walk in front of them.



When sitting, you should be in a regular position and do not separate your feet. If you cross your feet, just fold the knee of one leg directly on the knee of the other leg. When you stand upright, don't put your hands on the hips, because that's a sign of anger.


In Singapore, you must take off your shoes when entering a mosque. In some people's homes, you have to take off your shoes when entering the house.


Gift Exchange

There is no habit of giving gifts among Singapore business people. But if you're invited to someone's home, it's better to bring a gift, such as a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers. Please use both hands when you give someone a gift. Singaporeans believe that it is impolite to open the gift in front of the giver. Therefore, don't be surprised if you see the gift left intact when you leave.


Dress Etiquettes in Singapore

Singapore's climate is affected by the ocean and latitude, with high temperatures and high humidity. As a result, it is most suitable to wear light-weight clothing in summer. People generally wear casual clothes when they get off work, T-shirts and fine twill trousers can be worn after work, suits and ties are only required for formal banquets.


In business and official contacts, men usually wear white long-sleeved shirts and dark trousers; women wear suits or long dark skirts. In public places, you can't dress too casually, especially in strapless, backless, and umbilical clothing.


Clothing in Singapore

Clothing in Singapore


Dining Etiquettes in Singapore

The staple food of Singaporeans is mostly rice and noodles, and sometimes they eat steamed buns. Drinking tea is a common hobby of the locals. When guests come, they often serve with tea first. All the dishes will be put on the table and shared together.


Malays usually grab food with their hands, and they must use their right hands when eating. When eating with Indians or Malays in Singapore, be careful not to use your left hand because they think the left hand is not clean. Of course, they will wash their hands before eating.


Chopsticks are widely used in Singapore, but you can also see some western-style utensils are used in the restaurants. Please do not put the chopsticks on the bowl, or the dish containing the dishes during the meal, and do not put them crosswise when not in use. Instead, place the chopsticks on the chopstick rest when you finish with your meal.


When talking with Singaporeans before or after meal, avoid talking about politics and religion. You can talk about travel experiences, the countries you have been to, and the economic achievements of Singapore. The most popular topics among Singaporeans are mainly sports, tourism, traditional culture, and related economic development achievements.


Local Dishes

Local Dishes


Taboos in Singapore

In social conversations, not only can't spit dirty words, but also remember to use modest and respectful words. It is best not to talk about Singapore's domestic politics, religion, ethnic issues, the guidelines and policies of the ruling party, and Singapore's relations with neighboring countries. Try to avoid jokes if you don't know someone well, because few jokes will be understood and appreciated in Singapore. Let's read on to know more about taboos in Singapore from different aspects.



  • Pointing a person with an index finger, hitting another open palm with a clenched fist, or clenching a fist and inserting the thumb between the index finger and the middle finger are all considered extremely rude actions.
  • Don't akimbo your hands casually, because that is a sign of anger.
  • Never point at people or things with foot because the foot is thought to be not clean.
  • Don't touch a person's head, especially a Malay girl. In Singapore, the head is regarded as the place of the soul, and touching someone's head can make people feel humiliated.
  • Do not hug or kiss anyone in public.
  • In Singapore, people are not allowed to chew gum in public.
  • Do not run red lights when crossing the road.
  • No spitting and littering of waste products in public.



In Singapore, smoking is strictly prohibited in elevators, on public transportation, in theaters, especially in government office buildings, and offenders are fined. It is best to get the consent of the other party to smoke.



Singaporeans regard black as the color of bad luck, and purple is unpopular either. White and yellow are also taboo colors. Generally, red, green, and blue are popular. They prefer red and regard red as a symbol of solemnity, enthusiasm, excitement, bravery, and generosity.



Singaporeans think 4, 6, 7, 13, 37 and 69 are negative numbers. They hate seven the most, and they usually try to avoid this number.



Singapore prohibits the use of images of Tathagata Buddha on the packaging of goods, nor the use of religious terms. And they taboo the pattern of pigs and tortoises.



The Singapore government has tried its best to prevent tipping, even if it is tipping for the additional services of the waiter, the other party may refuse it.

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