Cultural do's & don't



Understanding cultural differences

There are many cultural differences between Indonesia and the West.

First of all, religion, whatever it is, is an integral part of their lives. Atheism, which is punishable by law, may seem shocking to them. It is therefore out of the question to wave the banner of secularism or to start a debate on the place of religion in society if you do not want to offend them.

Very traditional, society remains very attached to sacraments such as marriage. As a couple, avoid kissing in public. And if someone asks you if you are married and you are not, just answer that it will happen soon.

In Indonesia, problems are solved with a smile and a calm discussion. Getting angry, losing patience and bitching are very bad behaviour. It is also not advisable to make them lose face. If the person you are talking to is wrong, there is no need to report it. Finally, if your hosts ask you questions, it is a good idea to do the same. However, don't be too indiscreet... It would be a lack of education.


Etiquette and codes of conduct in Indonesia:

·         - Wearing a "sarung" in a Balinese temple

·         - Wearing a veil and covering oneself in Muslim places of prayer

·         - Wearing long, dark clothing during funeral ceremonies in the land of Toraja

·         - Be patient and smile

·         - Take off your shoes before entering a house, a mosque, or certain temples...

·         - Ask permission before taking a picture

·         - Mind your monkey business.

·         - Leave a tip

Attitudes considered rude or offensive:

·         - Show someone or something the index finger. The thumb is preferable.

·         - Talk with hands on hips.

·         - Wave your hand in the air to call someone...

·         - Use your left hand, which is considered unclean, to touch food or someone else.

·         - Touch a child's head. In Bali, this is considered the purest part of the human body...

·         - Entering a temple during menstruation

·         - Standing over a priest when he officiates...

·         - Being angry or shouting, evidence of bad temper...

·         - Drinking tap water from an unopened bottle.

·         - Pointing out to an Indonesian that he's wrong

·         - Giving candy or money to children. This encourages begging.