Do’s and Dont's in Indonesia

Indonesia like many other far eastern countries has traditions and customs that are very sacred to its people. Therefore, it is very important to be aware of these customs before you travel to the country. Many of these traditions are based on the Muslim religion, such as not shaking hands with women instead exchanging a polite nod, while others are customary such as the fact that when you do shake hands both hands are used although they are not grasped.

One do is to make sure that you always phone ahead before calling upon a house for a visit even if previously you were invited as this is considered the polite way to enter a home as a guest. While a guest in a home it is customary to always take off your shoes (the same is true of any place of worship such as a temple or mosque). In addition, it is considered impolite to turn down the offer of a drink so unless you have a strong reason to say no always accept what is offered to you. Plus, given the high temperatures it is easy to get dehydrated so drinking more than usual is recommended.

Along the lines of safety, you should always wear plenty of sunscreen while out and about in Indonesia and especially if you choose to go swimming. While swimming be sure to stay in areas that are marked and designated so that you do not find yourself in dangerous currents or in trouble with the law. Also theft can be a problem so make sure that you always keep your belongings close to your side and always leave your passport and all valuable belongings at the hotel in a safe. If you can manage, the hotel is always the best place to exchange money although if forced to exchange currency outside make sure it is in a reputable area of town.

The right hand is considered the cleaner hand of the two and you should almost always make a point to use it first outside of pointing at people or things which is not permissible. The right hand should also be used to eat or drink and when reaching into a purse, handing out money, or placing an item in a sack the right hand should always be used. Basically, when in doubt always use the right hand as it is the surefire way not to offend anyone.

Females need to be especially concerned about traditions as overtly friendly gestures and any signs of PDA are generally not acceptable and may bring unwanted attention their way. Women should be dressed respectfully and outside of beaches tank tops and short skirts or short shorts will not be met with approval. In addition, when entering a mosque a female should place a sarong over their head and it is generally forbidden and disrespectful for a menstruating woman to enter the mosque or temple at any time.