Select Country
First Meeting / Indonesia / Travel Customs

4 General Indonesian Etiquette for Travelers

Never get confused again! We offer only tips that work in most places in Indonesia.

From eastern to western ground zeroes of Indonesia, there lies archipelago of more than 17.000 islands with a massive assimilation that differs from place to place. They have six constitutionalized religions with hundreds more of local animism-dynamism wisdoms that represent their conservative ethinicity. So in terms of cultural, customs and etiquettes, there are huge differences that comprehensively pretty difficult to get our heads around. So we wrap for you 4 general Indonesia etiquette for travelers that work in most places. Just remember, it might only suit you enough for days or a few weeks of casual visit on the country, and obviously don’t want to be bothered with the complexity of the locals. If you want to enjoy the rich history and cultures, live somehow nomadicly blogger-like, or want to engage deeply with the natives, that’s a whole another story which needs to be very specific and pretty time consuming.

So for you casual visitors of Indonesia, you can follow this 4 general Indonesian etiquette for travelers:

chinese tea

1.Always do almost everything with the right hand (or at least prioritize it)

Indonesian always wipe with their left hand after their business in the toilet. That’s basically their top of mind considering the usage of left hand. So you must use the right hand for any activity, including shake hands, pointing objects, taking and giving, paying, etc. Especially if the activities are involving other people. You still may work or lift things with the left hand, they’ll give you some slacks if they’re not involved.

Except for eating, while considered as a private activity and even if you’re using spoon or fork without actually touching the food, most of them will find it at the least displeasing. Try to imagine what you wrap and comes to mouth, that’s how they preserve.

2.Acceptable Handshakes

Handshakes has its own categories based on “class” and gender. Not every handshakes is your everyday casual handshake with one hand shaking the other’s one hand. This can be applied only if you have a business meeting or as a casual handshake for coevals.

If you meet an older or respectable person, you should offers two hands simultaneously and remember to bend slightly. And don’t offer a handshake to women, except they offer it first. Instead, offer your no-touch handshake with a closed clap gesture.

3.Learn Basic Bahasa Indonesia

You don’t want yourself stuck in pantomime interactions with the natives which not english-able. Especially if you’re going to some villages or remote objects, yet even then some urbanized people still can’t even understand basic english. Hire a guide can come in handy if you have a little budget to spare and not planning on solo traveling.

4.Always Smile!

It’s obvious, smiling is a universal language for hospitality. Especially when you stare at someone first, they’ll consider your stare as a challenge when not neutralized by a smile.

Remember these 4 general Indonesia etiquette for travelers and you’ll enjoy your stay much more!

About Author

Active traveller with a love for Asian food and Japanese anime.