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Cultural differences

There are many cultural differences between Indonesia and Europe. During your holiday in Indonesia, a behaviour you would think as normal might be offending for locals. Even though they are used to see foreigners and are very kind, it might be useful for you to know a few things about Indonesian culture before you leave.

First of the cultural differences, religion is a big part of Indonesians’ life. Actually, it is mandatory to have religious beliefs, atheism is prohibited. Careful then when talking about religion with locals. As a consequence, one may describe Indonesian society as conservative. Marriage is essential and if you are a couple try not to show public display of affection.

Another of the cultural differences is that in Indonesia, conflicts are settled peacefully and with a smile. No need to get angry, lose patience or complain such behaviours will be frowned upon by locals. Avoid making them lose face, if the person you’re talking to is wrong, don’t point it out. When meeting Indonesian people you can ask questions but don’t be to curious it would be intrusive and show a lack of education.

To do

  • Wear a sarung in Balinese temples
  • Wear a veil and cover up in Muslim places
  • Wear dark and covering clothes if you attend funerals in Toraja area
  • Take your shoes off before walking in a house or temples
  • Ask permission before taking a picture
  • Careful with monkeys
  • Tip staff in hotels and restaurants
  • Learn a few words of Indonesian
  • Be patient and smile!

To avoid

  • Use your index finder to point at someone or something (thumb would be ok)
  • Talk to someone with your hands on your hips
  • Wave at someone
  • Use your left hand to eat food or greet someone
  • Touch the head of a child
  • Stand above a priest officiating
  • Get angry or scream
  • Drink tap power (or from a non-sealed bottle)
  • Give candies or money to kids

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