Deciding the best time to visit Singapore depends upon whether you want to avoid busy periods during festivals or embrace the crowds and join in the fun!
Although a handful of months are rainier than others, Singapore pretty well enjoys the same warm climate throughout the year. Afternoon showers are common; you'll want to have an umbrella on hand or be ready to duck inside with little notice.
Singapore is a serious melting pot for different religions and ethnic groups, especially Chinese, Malay, and Indian. Plus, the tiny island nation has one of the largest percentages of foreign workers in the world. With so many nationalities in once place, there's always something to celebrate! You can unexpectedly find yourself in the midst of a large festival or street procession you didn't know was coming.
Some of the largest festivals can clog transportation and cause accommodation prices that are already pricey to get even worse.
Every summer, Singapore receives smoke and haze from agricultural fires burning in neighboring Sumatra. Despite plenty of effort to curb the slash-and-burn practices, they continue. The poor air quality chokes up locals and travelers every summer.
The Weather in Singapore
Singapore is located extremely close to the Equator. In fact, it's just 85 miles to the south of the city. You'll never be cold in Singapore, unless it's because the air conditioning is perpetually cranked to maximum inside of the many shopping malls. Museums and movie cinemas are even worse — take a jacket!
Many first-time travelers to Singapore are surprised to see so much green space and the abundance of walking trails. They were expecting a futuristic city where all greenery has been replaced by soulless concrete and moving sidewalks. But the island stays green for a reason: Singapore gets a lot of thundershowers.
Even February, often the driest month in Singapore, averages 8 days of rain. You'll see plenty of residents carrying umbrellas at all times — they're useful for both hot sun and unexpected rain.
Unlike the rest of Southeast Asia where there is little to no rain during peak dry season, unexpected showers pop up often in Singapore. Fortunately, they usually don't last long, and the sun returns to raise humidity. The average humidity in Singapore is always above 80 percent.
Rainfall is mostly consistent throughout the year with the exception of additional rain in November, December, and January. Singapore experiences the wettest months during the monsoon season between November and January.
The summer months of June, July, and August are typically the driest and best months to visit Singapore. But like most dry seasons, they're also the busiest time of the year.
The consistent heat and urban humidity in Singapore — particularly once you get away from the waterfront — can be oppressive on sunny days. Average humidity levels typically hover around 80 percent then climb after afternoon showers. Thankfully, you'll find plenty of relief inside air-conditioned cafes, shops, and businesses.
Weather Averages for Singapore
- Average high temperature: 87.8 degrees F (31 C)
- Average low temperature: 75.4 degrees F (24.1 C)
- Average relative humidity: 84.2 percent
- Average annual rainfall: 92.2 inches
Pack for warm weather, but consider taking a lightweight rain jacket that will serve double duty for time in chilly establishments that seem to have super-powered air conditioning.
Seasons in Singapore
Although residents joke that Singapore's two seasons are "hot" and "hot and wet," the country has two primary seasons per Singapore's National Environment Agency:
- Northeast Monsoon Season: From December to early March (although February often experiences a dip in rainfall)
- Southwest Monsoon Season: From June to September (isolated and scattered showers)
What to Do When It Rains in Singapore?
Singapore averages 178 rainy days per year — that's nearly one out of two days a year with a bit of rain! Along with an interconnected matrix of shopping malls, indoor food courts, and local markets, there are plenty of world-class museums in Singapore to enjoy during temporary showers.
Singaporeans don't like to get wet. You'll always be able to find shelter somewhere while checking out the many things to do in Singapore.
Smoke and Haze From Sumatra
Singapore receives predictable haze and smoke annually from slash-and-burn agricultural fires that rage out of control in nearby Sumatra, Indonesia, just to the west. The pollution created by these fires is just one more example of how unsustainable palm oil plantations have become an ecological disaster.
Despite outcry from the government, the fires typically begin around May and can continue throughout the dry summer months.
Changes in wind direction sometimes carry haze away as quickly as it came, so you shouldn't avoid visiting unless you already suffer from respiratory problems. On days when particulate levels rise too high, the air may irritate eyes and cause choking. Locals often opt to wear protective masks when the haze comes; you can get yours in any pharmacy.
On some years, particulate levels in the air rise above "safe" thresholds, forcing some business closures. Travelers with respiratory problems should check the haze in Singapore website created by the National Environment Agency to see if haze is a serious threat. On some very hazy days in the past, residents have been advised to minimize outdoor time and remain indoors!
Public Holidays in Singapore
Residents in Singapore enjoy 11 public holidays annually to accommodate the four major religious groups (Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, and Christian). Some secular holidays such as New Year's Day (January 1) not associated with specific groups are also observed.
Some festivals such as Lunar New Year span much longer than a single day, and locals request holiday time before or after to maximize time off. Businesses owned by specific ethnic groups may still be closed in observance, and travel may be affected.
If a public holiday falls on Sunday, businesses will close Monday instead. The dates of public holidays in Singapore are set each year by the Ministry of Manpower. Check their calendar if your time in Singapore is short.
Many festivals and holidays in Singapore are based on lunisolar calendars, so dates change from year to year.
Holidays differ between ethnic groups. The regular public holidays for Singapore include:
- New Year's Day: (Always on January 1)
- Chinese New Year: (Two days celebrated in either January or February)
- Good Friday: (March or April; dates vary)
- Labor Day: (Always on May 1)
- Vesak Day: (Dates vary; usually in May)
- Hari Raya Puasa: (Dates vary based on Ramadan)
- National Day: (Always on August 9)
- Hari Raya Haji: (Dates vary)
- Diwali (Deepavali): (Dates vary; usually October or November)
- Christmas Day: (Always on December 25)
- Polling Day: General election and presidential election days are public holidays.
As usual, traveling during big public holidays may be fun but expect higher prices for accommodation. Hotels often inflate rates for the increased demand — particularly during Lunar New Year.
Big Festivals in Singapore
The worst-case scenario for visiting Singapore is to turn up just a day or two after a major festival. With poor timing, you'll deal with the crowds and higher prices without getting to enjoy the festival itself. Don't do that — check schedules!
The largest festivals affecting transportation and accommodation in Singapore are Christmas (yes, the one on December 25), Lunar New Year in January or February, Ramadan, and National Day. You'll find many more smaller events, parades, and celebrations to enjoy for other Asian festivals.
Other Exciting Events in Singapore
There is always something exciting happening in Singapore! Some big events draw large crowds to the densely populated city. As with any happening city, the many major concerts and sporting events can also create congestion.
Check the official Singapore Tourism Board website for events and dates. A few big events include:
- Singapore Sun Festival: A 10-day festival of art, music, wine, film, and literature
- Singapore Food Festival: A month-long celebration of food
- Singapore Grand Prix: Formula One racing in Singapore
- The Chingay Parade: A massive street parade and procession
- Singapore Arts Festival: A month-long festival of art, dance, music, and performances
- ZoukOut: One of Asia's largest dance music festivals