Fishing with Birds! Cormorant Fishing in Yangshuo, China

Any time you travel to a foreign country, you need to read up on the local culture, customs and laws to ensure you have a smooth trip. No place is exactly like home, and the onus is on the visitor to be sensitive to any differences. More than most places in Asia, Singapore is considered a contemporary, commercial, cosmopolitan city-state. You might think you’ll have a relatively easy time adapting to the local ways in this former British colony. However, there are a few rules, taboos and quirks you should be aware of so as not to offend anyone – or worse, end up with legal issues. Being a multicultural nation of Chinese, Malaysian and Indian influences adds to its complexity. Don’t let Singapore’s strict, efficient, conservative reputation make you think it’s a dull town. It’s a fascinating and diverse nation, full of color, contrasts and flavors that are well worth exploring. Fear not, but keep a few dos and don’ts in mind while enjoying your visit. Here are 15 things NOT to do in Singapore.

1. Don’t Chew Gum – Unless you Have Prescription

Most people are aware that Singapore is fastidious when it comes to urban cleanliness. In fact, you may have heard that it’s actually illegal to chew gum there. To be accurate, the ban is actually against buying gum or importing it into the country, but it’s essentially the same thing. If you can’t have it, you can’t chew it and, more importantly to the Singaporean authorities, you can’t spit in out in the streets. You have to admit, stepping in a sticky wad of chewing gum is never pleasant. It’s just the only place to outlaw the offense. Don’t worry, you’re not going to get caned for inadvertently smuggling a stick of Wrigley’s in your suitcase, but you can be fined $500 if you dare to chew and drop it. Since 2004, an exception is made for those who need to chew gum for “therapeutic purposes” and have a medical prescription from a doctor or dentist. Yep, they take “gum control” seriously in Singapore. Best to quell that garlic breath with a mint.

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