Visiting Indonesia is a ton of fun; it has lots of sights to see, things to do and souvenirs to collect. Indonesia also has many customs and local traditions that are valued by its people. If you are planning a visit there, keep in mind this list of do and do not for interacting with the people.

Do Not Moan and Groan

Moaning and groaning is acceptable and even encouraged in many Western countries. It is highly discouraged in Indonesia. You should learn to understand the concept of saving face and maintaining a level of loyalty and respect those around you. In Indonesia, if you whine, moan or groan about something, the locals will take offense and judge you as being impolite. To save face, they may tell you what they think you want to hear. Be aware that they may instead choose to avoid you or give you the cold shoulder.

Do Not Take Every Yes As An Absolute.

Indonesians try to be polite and gracious, and consider it impolite to tell anyone no. In the native language, Bahasa, there are 12 words that say yes but mean no. So if someone says to you "Yes, but …" you need to understand that it is a clear no. It is helpful to understand body language and between the lines.

Do Not Make a Hasty Hello

Indonesian culture carries an importance on formality. Never rush a greeting. The standard greeting between Muslims in Indonesia is salam. When two men exchange the greeting, they offer their hands to touch each other's heads with outstretched arms. Then they make a gesture by bringing their hands to their chest to mean "I greet you from the heart." The correct response is for a visitor to reciprocate with the same greeting. To greet someone in a formal manner, use selamat, which means "peace." Individuals should be addressed by their title and rank, as status is important in Indonesia. Mister, Madam, Mistress or Miss are acceptable for those who do not have a title. For example, a man is called Mister or Pak; Sir or Bapak are also used.  A woman can be Ibu. The person's first name usually follows the title, such as Mr. Garret or Miss Mary.

Do Not Yell Or Shout

Indonesians frown upon yelling or shouting. You do not want to speak with a loud tone even for something joyful.  This is especially true for things that are angering. Those from Indonesia speak in a quiet and subdued tone. Indonesians express anger using their words. They do not raise their voices or use threatening body language. Acting in such a way is inappropriate no matter what the surrounding circumstances are.

Do Not Use Your Left Hand

In Hindu and Muslim belief systems, it is unclean to use your left hand. This is especially true when shaking hands, offering a gift or eating. It is proper to use your right hand and try not to point in public. Especially with the left hand or right index finger since this is rude. If you do need to point, use the right thumb and fold your fingers underneath it.

Do Not Use Touch Inappropriately

It is common belief that your soul resides in your head. Never touch another's head in Indonesia. Showing the soles of your feet is likewise rude here, with or without shoes. When seated, keep your feet flat on the floor.

Do Restrain From the Opposite Sex

The Indonesian culture is conservative in how men and women should act in public. Men should never make physical contact with a female. They should shake hands only if the woman is the one who initiates the gesture.

Do Forget Your Shorts At Home

When visiting Indonesia, it is important to adopt a modest dress code. Skirts need to fall below the knees and the shoulders must be covered. Neither men nor women should wear shorts in Indonesia, no matter how hot it is. Also, when visiting a mosque or temple, remember to take off your shoes. In Hindu temples, remember to point the toes of your shoes away from the shoe from pointing toward the entrance or lobby area. When visiting a temple a woman needs to cover her head with a scarf.

Do Be Personal With Business

Face-to- face interaction is the most effective method of business in Indonesia. Strong relationships are built over time, and those first meetings with clients are more about letting them get to know you. Sometimes business is not even discussed, so take your time when broaching the subject. In Indonesia, they like to give matters great consideration and do not make hasty negotiations. You should rethink your use of pressure tactics, as they are likely to backfire.

Do Always Be On Time

Meetings usually start late and your associates will come late, yet there is an expectation that you will be on time. However, do not comment on lateness, as that is rude in Indonesian culture.

Do Be Mindful Of Dinner Cues

It is rude to speak while eating in Indonesia. Any dinner conversation occurs after the meal. If you are a dinner guest, wait for your plate and place; the host will have allocated a specific seat for you. In formal situations, men get their plate before women. You also wait for an invitation to eat. Do not be the first to dig in.

Do Put Thought into Gifts

Although sometimes small, gifts are often handed out. Keep in mind that the etiquette surrounding gifts is dependent on the recipient. You do not want to give pork, alcohol, leather or pigskin to a Muslim. Likewise, you do not give gifts that contain cowhide to Hindus. Also, giving an umbrella indicates to a Chinese-Indonesian that you do not want to see them again.

Many people find Indonesia to be the best travel destination in the world. However, there are many customs and traditions which are important to know before you arrive. The Indonesian people have a lot of respect for their way of life, so you are strongly encouraged to become familiar with those ways and learn what to do and what not to do when visiting their country.


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