Year-round showers; a surprising amount of lightning strikes; and heavy humidity: the first-time visitor to Singapore should prepare for all these things. Being tiny, and only 1.5 degrees from the Equator, Singapore enjoys a tropical climate that is almost unceasingly warm and humid, all year long.
Singapore experiences no distinct seasons, the way visitors from temperate regions understand them. Locals observe a nominal dry season from March to August (with temperatures reaching a peak in April), and a wet season from September to February (with temperatures falling to an all-year-low in January). The difference, though, is hardly noticeable: even the “dry” season sees almost daily rainfall.
Singapore's high temperature, humidity and lack of wind can come as a shock to visitors used to cooler climates. Unsurprisingly, air conditioners are commonplace throughout the island; Singapore's founder Lee Kuan Yew himself famously declared the air conditioner as one of mankind's greatest inventions. Do as the locals do, and avoid walking too long in the outdoors if you can—the air conditioners are there for a reason!
Fast climate facts
- Hottest Month: May (83 degrees F / 28 degrees C)
- Coldest Month: January (76 degrees F / 24 degrees C)
- Wettest Month: December (12.5 inches / 317.5 mm)
- Driest Month: February (4.4 inches / 102 mm)
- Windiest Month: February (7.4 mph)
Torrential rain is a daily reality for Singapore’s wettest months. Average rainfall in November, December and January can amount to 10.1, 12.5 and 9.23 inches respectively.
Heavy rains in the monsoon season, when they coincide with high tides, can overwhelm Singapore’s usually efficient drainage system, causing floods in low-lying places like Orchard Road. However, these floods are usually temporary, as the drainage shunts the majority of floods to the sea in under an hour.
Lightning in Singapore
The heat and humidity in Singapore help make it a world-class lightning hotspot. Most frequently observed in the months of April, May, October, and November (when the monsoon winds shift direction), lightning strikes can pose a hazard for individuals in open spaces.
To avoid being struck by lightning in Singapore, avoid open spaces in the afternoon, the peak hours for lightning strikes. Take shelter when you hear thunder, and stay under cover for at least 30 minutes after you hear it. Monitor Singapore’s Lightning Information Service for news.
Haze in Singapore
During the dry season in neighboring Sumatra, Indonesia from May to September, slash-and-burn farmers use fire to clear land of plants and peat. This generates a smokey haze that rides on the monsoon winds to reach Singapore and Malaysia.
While international pressure on Indonesia has helped to lower haze levels from their toxic high point in 2013, persistent (and illegal) fires still generate enough haze in the dry months to cause concern.
Stakeholders in Singapore constantly monitor the air for signs of haze, and report the results on sites like haze.gov.sg and hazetracker.org. Watch the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) numbers on these sites, and limit your outdoors exposure if the PSI exceeds 100.
What to Pack
Visitors to Singapore at any time of the year should pack for the monsoon seasons, bringing quick-drying, lightweight clothes, a waterproof jacket or windbreaker, and umbrella. Don’t bring a raincoat; the humidity makes them miserable to wear. It’s better to trust your umbrella to protect against rain. Do bring a light jacket for extended periods spent in air-conditioned interiors.
Dry Season in Singapore
The months of March to August experience a little less rain than the rest of the year, with the driest months taking place from March to early May. Temperatures are generally the same throughout dry season hovering in the high 80s Fahrenheit during the day.
But rain still falls during dry season, albeit in brief showers that dissipate after less than an hour. The latter half of the dry season, from May to August, may be affected by haze blowing in from burning forests in Indonesia, negatively impacting views and air quality.
Average Temperatures by Month
- March: 90 degrees F / 76 degrees F (32 degrees C / 24 degrees C)
- April: 90 degrees F / 77 degrees F (32 degrees C / 25 degrees C)
- May: 90 degrees F / 79 degrees F (32 degrees C / 26 degrees C)
- June: 90 degrees F / 79 degrees F (32 degrees C / 26 degrees C)
- July: 88 degrees F / 77 degrees F (31 degrees C / 25 degrees C)
- August: 88 degrees F / 77 degrees F (31 degrees C / 25 degrees C)
Wet Season in Singapore
From September to February, Singapore experiences significantly heavier rains; this is a great time to just explore the city’s indoors attractions, like the shopping centers or museums. Come out to enjoy the occasional sunny hours, but be sure to have an umbrella handy when the rain clouds start coming in.
Average Temperatures by Month
- September: 88 degrees F / 76 degrees F (31 degrees C / 25 degrees C)
- October: 89 degrees F / 76 degrees F (32 degrees C / 25 degrees C)
- November: 88 degrees F / 76 degrees F (31 degrees C / 25 degrees C)
- December: 86 degrees F / 75 degrees F (30 degrees C / 24 degrees C)
- January: 87 degrees F / 75 degrees F (30 degrees C / 24 degrees C)
- February: 89 degrees F / 76 degrees F (32 degrees C / 25 degrees C)