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Unflushed Toilets and Vaping: 9 Things That Will Cost You in Singapore

Before you travel to Singapore, make sure you're aware of these laws. Breaking them could cost you thousands, or land you in jail.

Singapore is often (somewhat unfairly) thought of as a place where Draconian laws are regularly used to punish citizens for relatively minor offenses. However, we believe the world needs to cut Singapore some slack because it’s worth bearing in mind that plenty of other countries have a wide range of much stranger laws.

In the U.K., for example, a law introduced in 1898 made it illegal to gamble in libraries, while in Thailand, it’s illegal to brew your own beer.  While some of Singapore’s laws are slightly unusual, they’re also designed to improve the quality of life for locals and visitors.

And, as firm believers that it’s always worth brushing up on different countries’ laws and banned activities before jetting off on holiday, we’ve come to the rescue with a guide to the laws that are easiest to fall foul of in Singapore. It’s also worth bearing in mind many of these laws are precisely what makes this Southeast Asian gem such as fantastic holiday destination, cementing its reputation as a place where streets are free from litter, noise pollution is kept to a minimum, and (okay, we warned you some of Singapore’s laws are somewhat unusual) public toilets will always be freshly flushed.

Here are the laws to bear in mind in Singapore.

1 OF 9

Not Flushing the Loo Can Incur a Fine

This is one of those things we’d like to think come as standard, but if you’re prone to being a forgetful flusher, it’s time to change your ways, because forgetting to do so in Singapore could land you with a fine of up to S$1,000 fine (USD $742). This particular rule comes under Singapore’s Environmental Public Health Regulations, and it’s worth noting officials have the right to conduct random checks on public toilets to ensure these rules are adhered to.

2 OF 9

The Price of Littering

There’s a large number of countries where littering will result in a hefty fine, but the penalties for doing so in Singapore are especially high. First time offenders face being landed with a fine of up to S$2,000 (U.S.D. $1,487). Get caught littering multiple times, and the fine could rocket to an eye-watering S$10,000 (U.S.D. $7,437) for each subsequent offense.

3 OF 9

Don’t Feed the Wildlife

In Singapore, feeding the pigeons–or any wildlife, for that matter–can quickly land you in serious trouble. Get caught feeding stray pigeons, and you risk a S$500 (U.S.D. $371) fine, while the Wildlife Act 1965 also states that the feeding of any species in Singapore’s public gardens, parks, and reserves (of which there are many) comes with a penalty of S$5,000 (U.S.D. $3,718). If the offense is repeated, the penalty could rise to S$10,000 (U.S.D. $7,437).

4 OF 9

Yes, the Chewing Gum Ban Is Real

The country’s chewing gum ban is often assumed to be a myth, but we can confirm that gum is definitely illegal in Singapore. The law has been in effect since 1992 and was introduced as part of the Regulation of Imports and Exports Act. Importing chewing gum is an offense that comes with a fine of up to S$10,000 (U.S.D. $7,437) or imprisonment for up to two years. If you fall foul of this particular law a second time, you risk a S$200,000 (U.S.D. $148,780) fine or imprisonment for up to 10 years. Another law relating to chewing gum (although one which doesn’t really apply to tourists) relates to the sale and advertisement of the product. Promoting it could incur a fine of S$2,000 (U.S.D. $1,487) under laws relating to the Sale of Food, although certain types of gum regarded as medical products–for example, dental gum–are exempt.

5 OF 9

Connecting to Someone Else’s Wi-Fi Will Cost You

We’ve all been there–you’re on holiday, and the e-sim you’ve purchased isn’t working, or you’re struggling to enable your data roaming. When checking if there are publicly accessible networks available, be very careful – connecting to a private network is illegal. This law is outlined in section six of the Computer Misuse Act 1993, and it was introduced to help keep citizens’ data secure. But you don’t have to be a cybercriminal to fall foul of this law. Authorities won’t waive the penalty simply because your only goal was uploading your Singapore selfie to Insta–connect to any private wi-fi network without authorization, and you risk a fine of up to S$10,000 (U.S.D. $7,437) or imprisonment for up to three years. Do so a second time, and this rockets to S$20,000 (U.S.D. $14,878) and possible imprisonment for up to five years.

6 OF 9

Avoid Eating or Drinking on the MRT

Singaporean street food is legendary, but a word of warning if you’ve grabbed a curry puff or durian ice cream to go–consume food or drink on its MRT (mass rapid transport trains) and you risk a fine of S$500 (U.S.D. $371). This law, part of the 1997 Rapid Transit Systems Act, bans eating and drinking on MRTs and stations. Don’t think there are exceptions, either–the rule even applies to water.

7 OF 9

The Toughest Smoking Laws

Singapore has some of the world’s toughest laws relating to smoking. There are very few areas where smoking outdoors is permitted, and almost no areas where smoking indoors is allowed. Fall foul of this law, and you risk being hit with a S$200 fine (U.S.D. $148). if you get caught, we suggest thinking twice before you contest this particular charge–if it goes to court, the fine could be increased to S$1,000 (U.S.D. $743).

8 OF 9

E-Cigarettes Are Banned

E-cigarettes are banned in Singapore, but the laws relating to them don’t just apply to possession. Under the Tobacco Control of Advertisements and Sale Act, the sale, importation, distribution, and possession of e-cigarettes are banned. Breaching these regulations comes with a S$10,000 (U.S.D. $7,438) fine and possible imprisonment of up to six months. Do it again, and this increases to a S$20,000 (U.S.D. $14,877) fine and possible imprisonment for up to 12 months.

9 OF 9

Don’t Play Instruments in Public

Under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisances) Act, playing musical instruments in public without a license is forbidden. Buskers (which are few and far between in Singapore) must have a permit, and if an allegation is made that you were playing an instrument in public without permission, authorities have the right to enter your property and remove the offending instrument. You risk a S$1,000 (U.S.D. $743) fine if found guilty.

bombayteddy March 20, 2024

I wish our government would apply at least some of these rules in Bombay (now called Mumbai). This once-beautiful city has been systematically ruined by apathy and carelessness.

Alicenow641 March 20, 2024

And you think this is comparable to an ancient law in the UK about not gambling in libraries?? I will never ever travel to Singapore. Their laws are insane!