INDONESIA – It’s important not to feel uncomfortable if an Indonesian person asks personal questions or holds your hand in public, as they are simply showing their friendliness.
Here are some insights into the customs and traditions of Indonesians from local travel companies, with the aim of helping visitors better understand what to do or not to do when visiting. Most of these rules can be easily observed by watching how the locals behave. And all you have to do is simply follow their lead.
Things to do.
When greeting someone, it is customary to use both hands to catch and not tightly grip the other person’s hand. However, it should be noted that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country, according to Reuters. Therefore, Indonesian women tend to keep a distance from strangers when greeting them. They may nod or smile, fold their hands. You just need to do the same.
People on the island of Java appreciate the smiles of international guests. Friendliness is the nature of the people here, so if you smile, they will surely smile back, revealed Nusantara travel agent.
When meeting older people, it is considered polite and proper to bow slightly when greeting them. Tourists are not required to do this, but it shows your respect and is highly appreciated by older people.
When visiting someone’s home or a temple, it is customary to take off your shoes before entering. Always use your right hand when eating, giving or receiving gifts as Indonesians consider the right hand to be sacred, while the left hand is considered unclean.
It is best to use your right thumb to point at someone or something, while folding the rest of your fingers into a fist to appear more polite. Avoid using your index finger to point as it is seen as rude.
If approached by street vendors trying to sell you something, tourists can politely decline by saying “tidak” which means no.
Local people feel offended if they see tourists wearing revealing clothes or not wearing a bra. Therefore, visitors should dress modestly when in public places, especially at sacred sites such as temples.
Indonesia is known as a beach paradise because it is a land of thousands of islands. However, tourists should only wear swimsuits on the beaches, instead of wearing them everywhere else.
Things to avoid.
Be cautious when walking or driving late at night. Girls should not be alone with men after 10pm as they may become victims of robbery or harassment. It is best to travel in a group and have a male companion with you. Indonesian people are known for their kindness and willingness to help, but just like anywhere else in the world, there are also bad people.
Do not be surprised or uncomfortable if someone of the same gender tries to hold your hand in public. This is their way of showing friendliness and hospitality. However, it should only stop at holding hands. Indonesia does not encourage public displays of affection between men and women.
Avoid standing and talking to others with your hands on your hips. This is considered rude and disrespectful. Touching or patting someone’s head is also considered taboo. When writing a thank-you note to people you have met during your trip, avoid using red ink. This is seen as a symbol of anger and wanting to end a good relationship.
Do not get upset or angry when locals ask personal questions. They do not mean to pry, but are simply trying to be friendly. You are not obligated to answer any of these questions if you do not feel comfortable.
Do not refuse food or drinks if offered. Indonesians are predominantly Muslim, so they do not consume alcohol or eat pork. Keep this in mind and do not offer them a drink or dish that goes against their beliefs.
Do not put your feet up on tables or chairs.