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Photograph: Unsplash/Yuchen Sun

7 stereotypes about Singapore that are not true

We’re here to debunk the myths and smash the stereotypes about the Lion City

By Cam Khalid

If one more non-Singaporean says he learns everything he needs to know about Singapore from watching the hit Hollywood rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, we might just have to bring out the rotan. While the labels of Singapore being a super clean and efficient country do ring true, we also get pigeonholed into being a strictly ‘fine’ country that lacks freedom. And just because we’re small (and still a very young country at that), doesn’t mean we’re boring, so you can stop saying it.

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chewing gum
Photograph: Unsplash/Karina Miranda

Chewing gum is illegal

Not exactly. You’re not going to be handcuffed and jailed for working your chompers on some chewy Wrigley’s. While there’s a ban to import large quantities of chewing gum that’s not therapeutic like nicotine gum since 2004, it’s not illegal to chew some here.

credit card
Photograph: Unsplash/Clay Banks

Everything is expensive

Despite taking the top spot along with Osaka and Hong Kong for the world’s most expensive cities in 2020, Singapore could save you loads more money with its cheaper options. The city is peppered with a plethora of hawker centres that offer cheap but good food – think $2.50 for a plate of nasi lemak, $3 for Hainanese chicken rice, and $1 for a cuppa coffee (or rather, kopi) – as well as wallet-friendly boutiques for a wardrobe update. And tourists, you don’t need a second mortgage to enjoy a holiday here too.

Photograph: Unsplash/Dhiva Krishna

Everyone is rich

One can only dream. Not all of us can afford to roll in dollars and drive around in a fancy whip, we’ve learned to be more frugal and thrifty (read: highly-skilled cheapskates) when navigating through this costly city. From guzzling down cheap hawker grub and snapping up sweet deals to commuting via public transport and negotiating prices on Carousell, we’ve got it all down to a tee. Plus, all Singaporeans live by this mantra: cheap must buy, free must take.

Photograph: Unsplash/Matthew Brodeur

Everyone is rude

Yes, we like to complain. Yes, we like to kiss our teeth and give death stares when someone crosses us. But we’re generally a nice and friendly bunch (albeit sarcastic) – or so we’d like to think. However, don’t expect us to be a-okay if you decide to cut the queue. We will turn Hulk if the situation wakes the beast inside. Let’s face it: you’re always going to encounter a couple of rude folks anywhere you go, anyway.

Photograph: Unsplash/Peter Nguyen

Singapore is boring

Not. At. All. While it may be the Little Red Dot, the city is far from a snore fest. It has a myriad of major attractions to hit up, sights to see, grounds to explore, and under-the-radar spots to discover – just check out our 120 things to do in Singapore edit. We’re home to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, tallest dueling rollercoasters, and best airport. When it’s safe to go outside, we’d recommend you to take a couple days off to play tourist and check off our Do List.

Photograph: Flickr/British Council Singapore

Singlish is just poor English

You siao ah? Just because it’s not the Queen’s English, doesn’t mean it’s low SES. The English-based creole language Singlish is a melting pot of words originating from various languages such as English, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, Malay and Tamil, and is used universally in the country no matter one’s mother tongue – a true reflection of multiculturalism. Speak like a local with our Singlish guide.

singapore map
Photograph: Unsplash/chuttersnap

Singapore is in China

For the love of nasi lemak, Singapore is not – in any way – a part of China. Invest in an atlas and study it closely – there’s a significant distance between China and Singapore. Asia is the biggest continent on the planet with over 40 countries. We’re a country of our own, and never have been, never will be a part of China.

Why we love Singapore


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