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Too Hot Definitive Guide to Staying Cool in Singapore

Too Hot? Definitive Guide to Staying Cool in Singapore

For Singaporeans, keeping cool amid the tropical heat is a way of life. We go about our day-to-day tasks even when temperatures rise to a scorching 37°C, the highest in 40 years.

So how do we do it? Here are some fool-proof tips from locals who have experienced the city’s hottest days and survived. 

How can I stay cool in Singapore?

1. Wear breathable, light-colored clothes

1. Wear breathable, light-colored clothes
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Wear loose-fitting clothes made of natural, breathable fabric, such as cotton, bamboo, and linen, to allow air circulation through your garment. 

We love wearing shorts, skirts, and dresses, as they help cool the lower body and provide double comfort.

Also, we advise against wearing dark colors when it’s sweltering outside. Instead, pick light colors to deflect sun rays away from you.

2. Cover your head

2. Cover your head
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If there’s a body part you don’t want to overheat, it’s your head. Protect it with a sun hat, visor, or cap when you go out to brave the day’s heat.

Some head gears even feature built-in UV protectors. Look for caps and hats with a UPF50+ fabric rating for optimum head protection.

You should invest in these if you regularly expose yourself to direct sunlight. 

The items aren’t hard to find. I bought a couple of lovely UV-protecting visors from Lazada.  

Make sure the hat’s brim is wide enough to protect your head, though. A width of 6 cm to 7.5 cm will do.

3. Opt for open-toe footwear

3. Opt for open-toe footwear
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Wearing flip-flops and sandals is the norm in Singapore for good reasons. They’re affordable and comfortable and allow your feet to breathe. 

And in a city infamous for its irritating humidity, drenched soles due to wrong footwear choice is the last thing you need. 

That said, we still have closed shoes in our closets. We reserve them for formal occasions like business meetings, high-end parties, and dinners at a fine-dining restaurant.

As for rubber shoes, we choose pairs with moisture-wicking features. That way, we manage to remain active while avoiding sweaty (and smelly) feet.

4. Apply sunscreen regularly

4. Apply sunscreen regularly
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It’s a universal fact—sunscreen helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays and lowers the risks of skin cancer.

But studies show that it can also help you feel cooler. Specifically, applying sunscreen during a blazing hot day contributes to reduced skin temperature. 

Also, the applied lotion does not interfere with sweat production. We know sweat helps us cool down, so this is good news! 

However, just because you’re wearing sunscreen does not mean you are free to linger under the sun! 

Practice regular reapplication, avoid direct sunlight exposure as much as possible, and apply the lotion on all exposed parts (including the nape) to optimize sun protection.

5. Bring facial and body wipes

5. Bring facial and body wipes
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Wet wipes provide a quick respite from the scorching heat. It’s especially helpful after a walk or workout (like a preamble to a refreshing shower). 

We buy menthol-infused wipes for their boosted cooling effect. The scent helps to revive our dulling senses as well!

6. Drink plenty of water (and keep it cold)

6. Drink plenty of water (and keep it cold)
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Hydration is the simplest key to keeping yourself cool, and you only need around 2.2 to 3 liters (about 9 to 13 cups) of it a day. 

Note that this threshold includes all fluids you consume. It’s up to you whether you want to stick to water only or add other beverages.

During peak heat hours, lukewarm water won’t cut it, so keep yours cold by storing it in an insulated bottle. Also, don’t forget to refill until you clear the recommended liter intake!

Tip: You can determine whether you’ve had enough water for the day by looking at your urine color. Light yellow to clear is ideal.

7. Go indulge in ice cream (and other cold treats)

7. Go indulge in ice cream (and other cold treats)
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You can keep the heat at bay the yummy way. Buy that ice cream, popsicle, gelato, or whatever cold stuff you fancy from your nearby grocery store.

Another perfect treat is a salad with refreshing ingredients such as cucumber (one of the coolest), pineapples, lettuce, and tomatoes. 

As for beverages, grab a watermelon shake, young coconut milk, or basil seed drink.

Note that coffee, tea, alcohol, and carbonated drinks are dehydrating. They might cool you down initially, but once the effects kick in during a sweltering day, you’d probably reconsider your life choices. 

8. Avoid “heaty” food

8. Avoid “heaty” food
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In Singapore, “heaty” foods stimulate, warm, and keep cold away from the body. 

Think of spicy dishes (laksa, anyone?), durian, chocolate, red meat, and anything deep-fried. You’d do better to avoid them when the temperature reaches the 30s.

You can turn to “cooling” food instead. Ingredients with plenty of water content, such as watermelon, cucumber, lettuce, and sliced fruits, are perfect examples.

Also, it might be counterintuitive, but we consider refreshing Chinese soup a “cooling” food. The explanation is that it boosts sweating and eventually cools the body down.

Just ensure you’re eating the soup in a cool, shaded area. 

This age-old categorization of “heaty” and “cooling” food is based on traditional Chinese medicine.

Alternatively, you can use your body as a gauge to determine if the food is “heaty.” If it makes you want to go to the bathroom fast, it probably is.

9. Avoid going out during peak hours

9. Avoid going out during peak hours
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Avoid going outside during the hottest time of day, which falls between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. 

Alternatively, bring a bottle of cold water, stay under the shade as much as possible, and don’t walk too fast if you need to step outdoors.

Better yet, take advantage of Singapore’s efficient transportation system. Rather than walking, take the bus or the MRT and bask in the respite its air-conditioning offers.

10. Explore the shopping malls

10. Explore the shopping malls
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We Singaporeans love malls. We like spending time in these public spaces for their design, retail offerings, and (more importantly) their air-conditioning.

And malls in Singapore offer more than just a stellar shopping experience! 

For instance, the famous ION Orchard has an observatory offering views of the architectural wonder from above.

Meanwhile, VivoCity’s Sky Park provides benches, a boardwalk, and a pool for all-around family fun. Just ensure you’re not visiting the rooftop during the mid-day (late afternoons are ideal instead).

11. Keep the sunlight out

11. Keep the sunlight out
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We told you to stay indoors as much as possible during the hottest hours. But that doesn’t mean you’re 100% safe from the searing heat.

Sunlight can still penetrate your home through your windows, and the heat that comes with it can be unbearable during peak times.

Thankfully, you can block the sunlight by using black-out curtains or shutters.  

If you need natural light (probably for its benefits on mental well-being or you’re saving on electricity), invest in a reflective film for your windows. They help keep the UV rays and heat away while retaining the light source.

12. Dehumidify your home

12. Dehumidify your home
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Singapore’s humidity can get really uncomfortable; it’s sticky and seems stubborn to go away, even after multiple showers. 

One way to deal with the unbearable moisture content if you’re indoors is to let your house breathe once in a while. Opening your windows and doors allow the air to circulate freely.

Do this when it’s sunny or windy, though, not when outdoor humidity is high (e.g. when it’s raining). The latter can cause humidity to increase, to your further discomfort.

If you can’t air out your home, use a dehumidifier. Remember to place it away from walls and furniture so air can flow freely in and out of it.

13. Use your trusty fan wisely…

13. Use your trusty fan wisely…
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Do you refuse to use your aircon? You can rely on your stand or window fans instead, but use them smartly. 

Note that you can optimize your fan best when the outdoor air is colder than the indoor air. 

Point the fan outside, preferably at an open window, to push the heat away and absorb cold air inward (like an exhaust). To optimize circulation, use another fan and point it to the coldest area of your room.

14. …or bring a fan with you

14. …or bring a fan with you
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Those who need to venture outdoors under mid-day heat should bring a battery-powered, portable fan. 

Many people nowadays, especially the young ones, carry one in their bags. It helps that these mini-cooling devices don’t take up much space, too!

15. Opt for breathable bed sheets

15. Opt for breathable bed sheets
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After clocking out for the day, taking a refreshing shower, and drinking your last glass of water, you can continue the battle against Singapore heat by opting for breathable bed sheets.

Sheets made of cotton, linen, or bamboo are your best bet. They allow air circulation, and most of them come with moisture-wicking properties.

That means you won’t have to wake up drenched in sweat.

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