Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world. Even in the light of this current global health crisis, the country has proven to the world that it has everything under control, putting stringent and state of the art measures to isolate, identify, and mitigate cases.
As a first-world country with a robust economy and a technologically-advanced society, Singapore is expected to be at the forefront in terms of safety and security. This article summarizes mainly what the government has done to make the country highly livable and attractive to foreign investors, tourists and immigrants.
Why Singapore is One of the Safest Countries in the World
Important Facts About Singapore
Here are some important and useful information you need to know before going to Singapore:
- Visa – it is easy to acquire a visa to go to Singapore. Before getting one, be sure that your passport is at least 6 months valid starting from your date of return.
- Currency – Singapore’s official currency is the SGD, or the Singaporean dollar. There is wide use of ATMs and credit cards in the country.
- Weather – Singapore’s climate is tropical, and its often sunny. It doesn’t have the four seasons that countries farther from the equator have. Speaking of equator, Singapore is just 1.5 degrees above it.
- Travel insurance – you should get a travel insurance before going to Singapore; that way you will get medical coverage as well as coverage for loss of valuables and for theft.
Local Customs and Laws
Singapore is known for being a fine city. It is indeed a fine city, in the common sense of the word fine, but this also means that you could get on-the-spot penalties in fines for doing things that may be normal in other places.
Here’s a list of offences you should try to avoid doing in Singapore and their corresponding fines:
- Feeding pigeons – as much as 500 SGD
- Importing and selling chewing gum – as much as 10,000 SGD or a maximum of one year in prison
- Drink driving – as much as 5,000 SGD or a maximum of 6 months in prison
- Drinking in public places where alcohol isn’t allowed – as much as 1,000 SGD or a maximum of 3 months in prison
- Smoking in places where cigarettes are not allowed – as much as 1,000 SGD or a maximum of 3 months in prison.
- Jaywalking – a minimum of 20 SGD and a maximum of 1,000 SGD or as much as 3 months in prison.
- Littering – as much as 2000 SGD or a maximum of 3 months in prison.
- Drinking or eating while riding the MRT – as much as 500 SGD … and so much more!
Getting Drunk and Unruly Behavior
In Singapore, getting drunk and behaving in an unruly manner is a serious criminal offense. It’s okay to drink, but you have to do so responsibly, and control yourself.
You are not allowed to drink in Singapore’s public places at all from 10.30 PM to 7.00 AM.
You can drink at these times if you are in cafes, bars, restaurants, chalet and condominium outdoor areas.
A drinking permit can also be given to organized outdoor events operating in these late night and early morning hours.
While supplying, selling, using and possessing cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco-related products is allowed, they are only allowed to those 20 years or older. By next year, the age limit is increased one year.
There are several smoking areas in Singapore where you are allowed to smoke. In the past, Orchard Road was a place where you can smoke freely, but now it is already a smoke free zone.
Normally, smoking is allowed in beaches, private houses, private vehicles, open spaces of rooftop car parks, vacant lands, sidewalks, smoking rooms in offices, entertainment areas and the Changi Airport, and more.
Having too much to drink in Singapore results in fines that can get as high as 5,000 SGD, or being caned, or getting imprisoned for as long as 15 years.
It is absolutely illegal to ship vaporizers into the country. They will be confiscated and you will be fined. Even if some people think that vaporizers are healthier than cigarettes (although this has been disputed by some studies).
When, for some reason, you become part of a police investigation, the authorities will confiscate your passport.
You will only get it back when the investigation ends, unless you’re the one convicted. If that’s the case, then your passport will only be returned to you once you’ve served your sentence.
Health in Singapore
So what vaccinations should you take before heading to Singapore?
You should get the following vaccines according to the World Health Organization (WHO):
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever
- Japanese encephalitis
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella
- Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis
For a more detailed information on the specific recommendations for each vaccine, please visit the following webpage of Passport Health.
Healthcare in Singapore
Two words can be used to define healthcare in Singapore: high-quality and expensive.
If you can bring medication with you prior to your trip in Singapore, do so. Try to bring enough that it covers your entire stay in the country.
It is also a good idea to have travel health insurance. It is best that you have enough money at your disposal in case of health emergencies.
For medical emergencies, you can contact 995 to have an ambulance pick you up. If you are transferred to a hospital or a nearby medical facility, try to notify your health insurance company.
While in Singapore, try your best to not get bitten by mosquitoes. This is because of the presence of risks such as dengue and the chikungunya virus.
Here are some steps you can do to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes in Singapore:
- Wear light colored clothing – this allows you to see the insects landing or crawling on you better.
- Deet as insect repellent – numerous studies over the past several decades have shown that deet based repellents are one of the most effective repellents in the world.
- Alternatives to deet – some alternatives to deet include: Icaridin and Lemon eucalyptus.
- Mosquito nets – try using these nets while sleeping in a non-air conditioned room or when sleeping outside. They are really effective at keeping mosquitoes away while still sleeping comfortably.
How Safe and Secure is Singapore?
Here are some important details regarding safety and security in Singapore:
- Crime – violence is quite rare in Singapore, making it one of the safest countries in the world. In fact, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore is the second safest city in the world, just behind Tokyo. Be wary of bag snatching though, among other street crimes.
- Traveling by air – The only thing you need to worry about is to not be in rage while in an airplane. Cases will be filed against you if you do.
- Traveling by sea – Vigilance is required as there have been a few incidents of attacks on boats on the seas around the country.
- Traveling by road – roads in Singapore are quite good. A Singaporean driver’s license is needed if you plan on becoming a resident, or if you have a long term pass. Never drunk drive, else you get penalized or put to jail.
- Terrorism – Singapore has done a great job in dealing with terrorism by combating it and arresting suspects. Just stay vigilant at all times.
Global Health Crisis
In response to the pandemic, the government of Singapore has declared that it is already in its second phase. These are some facts about Phase 2, also known as safe transition, of Singapore’s response:
- Small group gatherings that constitute 5 people or less are allowed.
- Full reopening of schools for face to face classes. Higher learning institutions slowly increase the number of students allowed to be inside the campus.
- Most businesses are now able to continue operating. These businesses include public facilities, sports, home-based service, personal health and wellness, and retail.
Here are a few more details regarding phase 2:
- You must wear face masks when going outside your home. Exemptions are when you’re eating, exercising or are under two years old.
- Restaurants, eateries and shops are now opened, as long as they follow and implement guidelines on social distancing.
- Every time you visit establishments, you are required to sign in or use the “Safe Entry” app.
- Note that you will be penalized with fines if you do not comply with the measures set up by the Singapore government.
Here’s a quick summary of the risk factors in Singapore.
- Scams – low risk. There are scammers but they can be easily avoided. One common scammer move is someone pretending to be a landlord and offering a property that you can rent, but after you pay, they disappear.
- Travelling for women – low risk. Women traveling to Singapore should feel safe even when they do so alone. Having said that, it pays to be vigilant at all times.
- Terrorism – so far, there haven’t been any terrorist attacks in Singapore in the past several years. The country has very robust counter-terrorism measures, which includes the formation of special operations forces, and the country has successfully arrested several terrorists that have plotted attacks in embassies in the country.
- Mugging – kidnapping and mugging are extremely rare in Singapore, and even more rare among tourists.
- Natural disasters – there are almost no natural disasters in Singapore, thanks to its geographical location. It can barely feel the earthquakes in Indonesia, though, but apart from that, the landmasses surrounding the country actually shield it from typhoons and tornadoes.
- Pickpockets – there are but a few pickpockets in Singapore. But of course, you need to be vigilant and take care of your belongings when you go outside.
- Transportation – Transportation is very safe in Singapore. Traffic is also good too. One risk though is when you’re riding a boat near the vicinity of the country. There have been incidents of pirates attacking boats.
Singapore is indeed incredibly safe. Tourists that love walking around the country, even at night, will feel safe. Even if there are no cops, you can still feel safe.
Just remember that there might be pickpockets especially in crowded locations, including tourist destinations. Just remember to stay alert and watchful.
One particular place that is known for having the most pickpocket incidents is Orchard Road.
Singapore is quite safe, but women still try to avoid walking alone in roads away from the main ones, including the lorongs in Geylang, also known as Singapore’s red light district.
Despite the reputation of Geylang, you still need to visit it at least once, for the incredible food served in this area especially at night.
Anecdotes About Singapore’s Safety
Here are some stories from people who are in Singapore and experienced first-hand how safe it is:
- It’s so safe and people are so honest that people can reserve seats using their laptops or smartphones.
- The new government of Singapore has done a good job of making Singapore a safer place. One thing they have done is made the punishment really high for small crimes.
- The four major groups of people living in Singapore are: Eurasians, Chinese, Indians and Malay, and the government has done a great job of making them live together in harmony.
- Singapore has one of the most excellent public transportation systems in the world, from buses, electric rails, and more.
- If you’re hungry, it is really easy to find a restaurant, fast food to fine dining and everything in between, plus the malls are really accessible. Also, if you’re looking for a cheap meal, then there are several hawker centers around the country, selling food at affordable prices.
- If you play it safe and take care of your belongings, then Singapore is a really safe nation.
In general, the overall risk of visiting Singapore is low. That is expected for a country that is prosperous and extremely developed. In fact, Singapore has the nicknamed “Switzerland of Asia,” because it is so clean, sterile and predictable; unlike most of its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.