Singapore has long been known to be a country with rather draconian laws and very unfortunately this has in a way resulted in it becoming an advanced surveillance state. Coupled with its close relationship to the United States in reference to the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, residents in the city-state have good reason to be edgy about their online privacy and anonymity.
Among all the countries in the world, perhaps Singapore is one of those near the top of the list when it comes to the necessity of using a VPN service. At least for now, while it is still legal there to use one.
Singapore Government Legally Uses Spyware
While Singapore seems to many a bastion of democratic process and judicial independence, few know that details in the constitution of the country grant its government extraordinary rights over its citizens and residents. This is markedly so when it comes to digital activities especially when it comes to privacy.
For example, the Singapore constitution does not specifically include any right to privacy and other bylaws leverage on that fact to empower certain government bodies the right to intrude on the activities of private citizens online. These include the Criminal Procedure Code (amended in 2012) and the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act (amended in 1997).
In a more casual manner of speaking, Singaporeans and residents of the country are not officially entitled to privacy and some government agencies may, without need of warrant or court order carry out surveillance and transmission interception.
The country has been named as one of 25 which host command and control servers for FinSpy (a type of Malware used for observation and control) backdoors. This means the government can access almost all data in the country without anyone having the right to legal recourse.
Copyright Act (Singapore 2014) is Vigorously Enforced
You may have heard that in the US, P2P file sharers are often slapped with lawsuits and that many companies have pursued files sharing activities. Because of the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, Singapore is obligated to do the same in many cases.
This has been in the past done by the Recording Industry Association of Singapore for instance and I know of individuals who have received cease and desist letters from their Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
This means that not only are there companies looking to charge them, but that ISPs in Singapore are in collaboration with them to go after their own customers.
VPNs are Still legal in Singapore
In 2016 a public consultation was held in Singapore by the Ministry of Law to review the legality of using VPN services in the country. This was done with a view to update the Copyright Act to enable stricter enforcement.
Currently there are only a handful of countries around the world which have banned VPN usage outright and a slightly larger number which only permit state-controlled VPN service providers. To give you an idea of the type of countries which ban VPNs, North Korea and Iraq are among them, while China and Russia only allow government-controlled services to operate.
Yet given the fact that the Singapore government is debating the issue means that it is very much on their minds.
What We Look for in a VPN for Singapore
1. Privacy and anonymity
While Privacy is normally high on the list of needs for a VPN service provider to cater for, nowhere do I feel in the region has a higher need for it than users in Singapore. From government surveillance to ISP monitoring and the threat of rapid legal action, Internet users in Singapore are perhaps some of the most pressured groups in the entire Asia Pacific Region.
As such it is vital that any VPN service provider used in Singapore have a solid track record of user privacy such as a strictly no-logging policy and perhaps even to the extent of accepting anonymous payment types. This could include Gift Certificates, Cash or even Cryptocurrency.
Whereas some users have the option to toggle encryption options to lower rates to enable faster VPN speeds, given the advanced surveillance capabilities of the Singapore government, it might be wise to seek out a VPN provider which has a focus on security in addition to privacy.
Security in a VPN comes from two main sources – communication establishment protocols and encryption for data flow. There are various of these available and thankfully, many VPNs do have the full range open for use.
3. Speed and stability
Speed, thankfully, is not so much a major issue in Singapore, thanks to its great location in respect to global communication lines and of course the fantastic infrastructure that the country has. As such, almost any provider in the country would be able to cater for high speeds.
This is the ideal situation in Singapore for VPN users as they can choose a server with the closes possible physical location that natively supports high speed data transmission.
4. Geolocation spoofing
While server location may not be so much as an issue with VPN users in Singapore, care should still be taken to avoid depending on VPNs which have too much of a focus outside Asia. Sure, it would be great if geolocation spoofing is the intended result, but that may result in lower availability rates in the Asia region.
5. P2P Support
Perhaps the second most critical criteria for Singapore VPN service providers is the ability to cater to and manage P2P traffic well. P2P file sharing often places heavy bandwidth demands on VPNs and some do frown on it.
A good idea would be to select one which clearly states its policies on P2P usage, such as TorGuard. At the very least, the VPN should have a selection of dedicated servers set aside for P2P file sharing usage.
Ranked: The Best VPN for Singaporean
Before going through my test results, here I’d like to establish a baseline speed for my Internet. The following is my actual broadband speed based on a service line of 500Mbps, without a VPN connection active:
As you can see, I am able to get a relatively good connection to a Singapore-based speed test server without a VPN, although my upstream seems a little limited.
Exchange rate used: 1) 1 USD to 1.38 SGD; 2) 1 Euro to 1.56 SGD
- Offhshore Privacy Protection
- Full 256-bit Encryption
- 148 VPN locations
"ExpressVPN offers such good service on a very broad criteria – rare for a VPN!"
ExpressVPN was one of the first I have ever tested out and at first, I felt that it was… unimpressive. Much time later and many more VPN services under my belt, only then was I truly able to appreciate it for what it was – a jack of all trades and rated very highly at most of them!
For example, it might not always be the fastest, or offer the widest range of connection protocols or even maybe have the greatest number of servers in the most locations, but it was definitely no slouch in any particular area.
I have seen many VPNs excel in one or two areas only to fall flat in others and I was wondering, at the end of the day, why would I as a user want to tie myself in with a service that couldn’t perform as reasonably as could be in as many areas as I needed it to?
For that reason, as well as its stellar reputation in VPN circles (certainly well deserved), I have no hesitation to recommend them as a top contender.
As we see form the speed, it may not match my ‘naked’ line speed, but Singapore infrastructure certainly gives it a leg up. ExpressVPN is also known to be able to manage relatively stables speeds across many of their servers, so you are not likely to be stuck with a single location.
It might not be the cheapest, but it certainly isn’t the most expensive. As a fantastic balance of price-performance, this VPN service has come far. Read our full ExpressVPN Review for more information!
- Built for P2P
- TorGuard Stealth Proxy
- Supports 5 Connections
"One of the best VPNs for P2P file sharing."
I was first attracted to TorGuard due to its marketing as being a P2P-friendly VPN service provider but once I had installed the Windows client that soon turned to wonder if perhaps, I’d made a mistake. This was caused in a way by its rather dated looking interface.
This VPN doesn’t come with a lot of the modern marketing bling that grace its contemporaries, but I soon found out that in performance was where it excelled. This is highlighted by it having grown to provide over 3,000 IPs in more than 50 countries.
With P2P support as its foundation and a host of other outstanding qualities – stable speeds, deployable even on routers, enhanced security services and even the ability to bypass VPN blockers – I would say that TorGuard is at or near the Top, especially for Singapore-based users.
As you can see, even with a solid downstream speed, I was able to even boost my upload speed form my baseline. This, while not something everyone might want, or need could be useful for P2P users in some cases (maintain those ratios!).
I feel that the only major downside of this VPN service lies in its old-fashioned user interface and it’s lack of good (or should I say outstanding) prices for longer-term customers. Nevertheless, prices still fall in the low range of top-tier VPN providers.
- Over 4,000 Servers
- Fast Speed
- No Logs & Kill Switch
- Supports 6 Devices
"Sleek interface, stable speeds and fantastic longer-term price plans."
I think I can safely say that among all the VPN providers I’ve looked at, Nord easily comes out top in their sheer geographic scale and coverage. It has a spread of over 4,000 servers in 62 countries with even a good number of those being in the Asia Pacific region.
You can rest assured your privacy is in good hands as it has a strict no-logging policy, so your daa won’t be kept. NordVPN is based out of Panama, which doesn’t really have any data retention laws to speak of.
The connection can also be as secure as you want since NordVPN supports not only 256-bit encryption, but also has something called ‘double VPN’. The means that you connect to a VPN server and then bounce that connection off another before heading to your destination address.
Paranoia, perhaps, but if your government is KNOWN to be legally spying on you, wouldn’t you rather be paranoid than facing the law for unknown reasons?
Singapore server from NordVPN were extremely good as far as connections go and speeds were impressive, both upload and download. They also have specialty P2P servers that are optimized for this type of traffic.
Prices are around the norm but if you are looking for a VPN that you will be sticking to for a longer period, NordVPN is the one for you. With a three-year subscription their prices drop significantly and are some of the best I’ve seen in the market.
- Offers Data Compression
- Ad Blocking
- Supports 7 Devices
"Secure and private, but perhaps not on such an even footing with the likes of ExpressVPN."
CyberGhost is quite well known in the VPN industry but personally I feel that it is not such a close match for the cream of the crop. While it presents a nice, snazzy outlook, there are aspects of its performance which draw a little of the sceptic out in me.
On paper CyberGhost offers good features and in fact, also has specialized servers for P2P. It enforces this rather strictly and if you find yourself unable to download on your P2P client, it is likely you’ve connected to a non-P2P server since the speed will stay at a big fat zero.
Speed-wise, while I managed to get useable speeds from them you may be disappointed. For Singapore its not so bad, but I find that if you’re more in to getting around geo-blocking for video streaming then you might suffer a little. May of their servers are congregated around Europe.
Still, if you’re only hoping for a secure connection from within Singapore to places on the net, tis is a manageable service to sign on with. This is especially so when you take into consideration the numerous security add-ons that CyberGhost comes with.
Aside from your standard VPN encryption, this service can also block online tracking and does its best to force HTTPS to most websites. Combine that with some more extras like built-in virus protection and ad blocking and you’re perhaps getting what you pay for.
Like NordVPN, CyberGhost has excellent long-term pricing options which drops your monthly commitment down to as low as $3.50 a month. Your decision will have to be balancing its price versus performance and seeing if you can live with it for that cost.
- Forced 256-bit Encryption
- Unlimited P2P
- Supports 10 Devices
"Great for the paranoid but perhaps won’t be top of the list for Singapore-based users."
If it were based purely on history, I would never have let this VPN onto our list of Best VPNs for Singapore. IPVanish has in the past been accused of providing user logs to authorities, and that’s a major no-no as far as VPNs are concerned. While that is bad enough, the new owners of IPVanish tried to sweep the incident under the carpet by saying they had no knowledge of prior incidences that might or might not have occurred.
To sound what might be their final death knoll (I know Singaporeans love to complain!) is their customer support, which is absolute rubbish. I live in Malaysia and even I am disgusted by the level of support which IPVanish provides its customers.
However, IPVanish performs surprisingly well in Singapore-based speed tests AND combines that with forced 256-bit encryption. Though some of you may be thinking that you don’t need that level of encryption, we can say that it’s saving you from your own folly (perhaps).
Both uploads and downloads are remarkably fast on IPVanish servers, exceeding that of even NordVPN and ExpressVPN in this case. There was no complaint here but issues I had with their speed to Malaysia-based servers was where their customer service really got to me.
The difference in levels of increased performance combined with their terrible customer service makes IPVanish a real hit or miss. I would ask you if you are prepared to take the chance it will work fine out of the box for you. If you think so, that’s great. If not, you might have to end up demanding a refund.
- 256-bit Encryption
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Worldwide server locations
"Slightly more limited than top-tier VPN, SaferVPN nevertheless provides a decent offering for a reasonable price."
SaferVPN is a cybersecurity SaaS company founded by partners Amit Bareket and Sago Gidali, two tech guys who excel in cybersecurity themselves. They pride themselves on offering a good product that’s backed by their principles of an uncensored and safer Internet for all.
At SaferVPN, their objective was to create the simplest and fastest VPN possible and to an extent they have managed to do so. For a relatively smaller player they have done well to create a network of more than 700 servers in over 34 location across the globe.
The service has even received praise from the likes for Forbes and PCWorld as well as its own customers who have praised both the service itself as well as support staff who where there to assist them in times of need.
- Supports WireGuard Protocol
- Allows P2P Traffic
- Does not Monitor Traffic
"AzierVPN offers access to the WireGuard protocol which is rather rare still."
Speed demons should rejoice in knowing that AzireVPN has been tested to support line speeds of up to 500Mbps in some cases. This in extremely rare and we must take that with a pinch of salt. Even so, its combination of WireGuard plus support for 256-bit encryption makes it something to keep an eye on for now.
Unfortunately, AzireVPN is a bit limited in its service since it only has around 20 servers in five countries. Still at those prices and supporting this kind of technology, there is the potential for it to grow.
A good plus in its advantage is the ability for you to pay in some forms of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin and Litecoin.
Final Thoughts: Do You Need a VPN in Singapore?
The thought of suggesting a VPN service provider in Singapore at first concerned me. The country does indeed possess advanced technology and in the hands of the government, well, anything can happen there.
As such in my recommendations, the top three players had to be based on companies with solid offerings and a proven track record. My bias in part has been driven by personal experience and that of friends who are in the country, but honestly, it is better to be safe than sorry.
With solid infrastructure in the country, it should be easy to find almost any VPN provider you can use there and get at least decent speeds but do pay more focus on security there. 256-bit encryption may slow down your performance, but at least any intercepted data will remain safe.
To recap, here is the top 3 VPN Singapore:
SECURITY & PRIVACY
I believe that I have made my stance clear when it comes to VPN necessity for Singapore based users. Whether you are a P2P file sharer, video streamer or just want to be anonymous and safe in general – go for it.
There is too much at stake when a government starts debating whether to eliminate your last chance at Internet freedom in the name of national security.