The Simple Bathroom Mistake That Can Get Tourists Fined While Visiting Singapore

Visitors to Singapore are often aware of some of its more unusual laws. The fact that chewing gum is banned is widely known (though the ban is not absolute!). The penalties for littering or spitting in public are hefty, even for first-time offenders. But littering, spitting, and chewing gum are public offenses. Can Singapore govern what you do in the privacy of a bathroom? Apparently, yes. In Singapore, the streets are clean and the toilets are pristine. And it's all to do with what happens after you've used the restroom.

Forgetting to flush after using the bathroom can land you with a fine in Singapore. For first-time offenders, the penalty is up to $735. You would probably prefer to blow that massive chunk of change in Singapore's legendary hawker centers rather than basically flush it down the toilet by forgetting to — well — flush.

The law states that a "sanitary convenience" should be flushed "immediately after using it," which doesn't allow for much wiggle room. The heavy fines for this simple mistake illustrate why it's worth checking whether strict laws in other countries apply to tourists before you arrive.

What happens if you forget to flush in Singapore?

But we know what you're thinking: How can this law possibly be enforced? The answer is that it doesn't seem to be. Redditors in the r/todayilearned forum say that they "never heard of anyone getting caught for this," and others in the r/nostupidquestions forum write that it is unenforceable and not patrolled.

The law about flushing toilets in Singapore seems to be more of a deterrent. Knowing that you could be fined if you don't flush should make you think twice before leaving the bathroom. Many Singapore residents on the same Reddit forum believe this to be the case. They write that the law "prevents [not flushing] from happening as a cultural norm," and the point is to "make sure people keep the country clean."

Aside from having a law about flushing toilets, Singapore also has public campaigns to ensure public restrooms remain clean. In 2023, the campaign's theme was "Are you nice when no one's around? Do it right for everyone." The 2022 campaign used the humorous slogan "Public Toilets Shouldn't Be Scary." The idea behind the campaigns is to get people to do four things: Clean, Flush, Dry, Bin. Join socially conscious Singaporeans in their efforts to keep public bathrooms clean.

The best public toilets in Singapore

Public restrooms are plentiful in Singapore. You can find them in malls, most subway stations, and hawker centers. But some bathrooms in Singapore are pretty extraordinary and are worth seeking out when nature calls. One of the best public restrooms is at Mount Faber Peak, where the glass walls give you sweeping views of the lush jungle below (Don't worry, the cubicles are enclosed!). Another top pick is the bathrooms in ION Orchard, a sprawling, modern shopping mall. The toilets are large and well-lit, with huge mirrors and automatic air fresheners, making them smell divine.

Finally, Changi Airport, home to Anthony Bourdain's favorite airport food, also has stellar public restrooms. The bathrooms are different in each terminal, so depending on where you "go," you'll get a different experience. Some offer runway views, others have colorful, local Peranakan-style tiles, and others have leafy plants adorning the mirrors. The jewel in the crown of Singapore's public bathrooms may be at Jewel at Changi Airport. With cubicles big enough to take all your luggage and an Insta-worthy floral wall, you'll definitely want to pay them a visit before catching your flight.