There are few places on Earth quite so multicultural as Singapore. There is a wonderful mix of ethnicities and faiths that make up a unique character for this island. If you are travelling to Singapore soon, you are in for a treat. There are plenty of sights to see and interesting people to meet. This independent, sovereign democratic nation has a rich history and huge Chinese influence, making it one of the best stops in the region.
Places of worship often appear near to each other in this friendly nation. Pagoda Street in Chinatown is where the oldest Hindu place of worship stands. The Sri Mariamman Temple is also situated next to Jamae Mosque. Several churches can be found too. Beautiful buildings adorn this area, and cultural respect is the norm.
If you are visiting friends or business associates in Singapore, there are many different ways to show your respect and kindness. The main cultural groups here are the Chinese, the Malays, the Indians and the Eurasians. The most common religions in Singapore are Buddhism, Muslim and Sikh. Hinduism and Christianity are well recognised with major events like Christmas being widely celebrated. With such a rich mix, you may find it necessary to adapt your greetings and gift-giving to best suit the people you meet.
English is very widely spoken, but it is considered a courtesy for you to write (or print) and speak a few words of your host’s native language. Mandarin, Malay and Tamil are the most commonly spoken languages here. Family is very important nationally, and the greatest respect is given to the elders. Whether you know the person or not, an elder is given the utmost respect, is introduced first, and given the very best of all that is on offer. Children are now expected to cover the costs of a parent in old age. Public reputation is highly prized.
While in the West we are accustomed to offering gifts to a host, for some in Singapore, it is a difficult concept. Malays are unlikely to shake the hand of a woman as it is unacceptable to touch a woman publicly. Women should offer their hand to be shaken if that is their preference but would seem peculiar between two women. While flowers that do not contain frangipani can be given in the right hand to ethnic Indians, it would not be deemed appropriate as a gift elsewhere. Flowers tend to be given at funerals only, but you can find a same day delivery Singapore florist locally to help you get it right.
When you visit Singapore, you can sample many delicious foods in restaurants and at street stalls. Shopping is a favorite past time here as well, so look out for some great malls and boutiques. Water is safe to drink from the tap, and tipping in excess of 10% is expected for good service. You are not generally permitted to smoke indoors in Singapore. If you do smoke, you will need to find one of the few designated smoking areas outside popular entertainment venues.