Indonesia Do’s and Don’ts: Navigating Cultural Norms

Indonesia, with its diverse cultures and stunning landscapes, offers a warm welcome to visitors. To fully appreciate this enchanting archipelago, understanding and respecting its customs and traditions is essential. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the do’s and don’ts of Indonesian cultural etiquette.


Greetings and Politeness:

Greet with a Smile and a Nod: A genuine smile and a nod of acknowledgment are universally appreciated.
Respectful Address: Use respectful language, especially when addressing elders or those in positions of authority.
Two-Handed Gestures: Use both hands when giving or receiving something, a sign of respect.

Modesty in Dress:

Appropriate Attire: Dress modestly, particularly in rural areas and when visiting religious sites.
Cover Up: Avoid revealing clothing, particularly for women, to show respect for local customs.

Remove Shoes:

Shoe Etiquette: Take off your shoes before entering someone’s home, a mosque, or a temple.

Respect for Religion:

Modesty in Places of Worship: Dress modestly, covering your shoulders and legs, when visiting religious sites.
No Pointing: Refrain from pointing your feet at religious altars or people; it’s considered disrespectful.

Food Etiquette:

Hand Hygiene: Wash your hands before and after a meal, a sign of cleanliness.
Right-Hand Dining: Use your right hand for eating, as the left hand is traditionally associated with bathroom hygiene.

Use of Right Hand:

Clean Hand Usage: The right hand is considered clean; use it for gestures, giving, or receiving.

Giving and Receiving:

Respectful Exchanges: Give and receive items, including money, with your right hand or both hands as a sign of respect.
Gracious Acceptance: Accept gifts graciously, expressing appreciation regardless of the gift’s size.



No Pointing Finger: Avoid pointing with your finger; instead, gesture with your thumb or use an open hand.

Left Hand:

Left Hand Usage: Refrain from using your left hand for giving, receiving, or eating as it is considered impolite.


Respect Feet: Avoid pointing the soles of your feet at people, especially elders or religious symbols.
Stepping Over Offerings: Do not step over offerings in temples or on the street; it’s a sign of disrespect.

Public Affection:

Private Displays: Public displays of affection, including kissing and hugging, are best kept private.

Disrespecting Customs:

Cultural Sensitivity: Show respect for local customs and traditions, refraining from any disrespectful comments or actions.

Raising Voice:

Maintain Calm: Avoid raising your voice or displaying anger in public; maintaining composure is valued.

Touching the Head:

Respect for the Head: Refrain from touching someone’s head, as it is considered the most sacred part of the body.

By adhering to these Do’s and Don’ts, you demonstrate a genuine respect for Indonesia’s diverse cultural tapestry, ensuring a more fulfilling and harmonious travel experience.