It is important to understand that Indonesia is a vast tropical country of sprawling archipelago with extremely diverse culture. Each of these Indonesian ethnic groups have their own culture, tradition and may speak their own language. Each of them may adhere different religions that have their own rules. These combinations made Indonesia a complex mixture of traditions that may differ from one place to another. Indonesia have a Muslim majority population, and some points of etiquette in the Middle East apply. Following are some key points of Indonesian etiquette:

  • It is impolite to express resentment, arrogance or hostility when speaking to people outside your immediate family or closest friends.
  • Smiling is considered polite. Avoid staring too much, as it can be considered intrusive.
  • Interacting with somebody you have barely met, especially older people, requires strict etiquette. However interacting with close friends, among peers with similar age, or significant others, might be more relaxed, affectionate and less subject to strict etiquette.
  • Public displays of affection with sposes or partners are regarded as sexual and thus are frowned upon. However public displays of affection towards one’s children, parents or family members are approved of.

  • Hierarchical relationships are respected, emphasised and maintained.
  • Respect is usually shown to those with status, power, position, and age
  • People older than you must be respected. Parents, grand parents and teachers are must be obeyed.
  • When shaking the hand of elders (such as parents, grandparents or teachers) the younger person is expected to touch the top of the elder’s palm with the tip of their nose or forehead to express respect. It is similar to kissing a hand, but only using the tip of the nose or forehead, not lips.
  • Most Indonesians value harmony, so direct confrontation is best avoided.
  • Ii is important to be considerate of other people’s dignity. Shaming or humiliating people in public is considered extremely rude.[5]
  • Saying terima kasih (thank you) after receiving services or favours is polite
  • Greet Muslims with the Islamic greeting assalamu ‘alaikum, and reply with walaikum salam.
  • When greeting or introducing oneself it is polite to smile, shake hands and nod slightly. Gently touch your counterpart’s extended hands, before finally bringing your hands back to your chest to demonstrate that you welcome them from your heart.[5] The greeted party should then reciprocate this gesture.
  • If it is not practical to shake hands, you can greet people them by putting your hands together in front of your chest while slightly bowing. It is similar to Añjali Mudr?.
  • Some conservative Indonesian muslims might avoid direct touch with the opposite sex including handshake, so performing non-touching salam (anjali) is recommended when greeting opposite sex that are conservative muslims.

  • Always use your right hand, when shaking hands, offering a gift, handing or receiving something, eating, pointing or generally touching another person.
  • Do not touch the head of an adult, as it is commonly believed that the soul inhabits the head, and the head is therefore sacred.
  • Avoid tilting your head back, putting your hands on your hips or pointing when talking to other people.
  • Pointing toward someone with an index finger is considered rude, pointing with a thumb is considered more polite.
  • Speaking softly but clearly is recommended, as speaking too loudly is considered rude.
  • Conservative and modest dress sense should be worn — especially by women.
  • When visiting a place of worship, the proper dress etiquette for such places is of utmost importance.
  • When entering a mosque, always remove your shoes.
  • Bathing suits and swimwear should only be worn in and around beaches and swimming pools.
  • When not swimming, women should cover their legs, for example with a sarong.
  • To announce your presence, ring a bell or knock at the door while saying assalamu ‘alaikum if the host is Muslim, or more commonly permisi.
  • Wait to be allowed to enter the house, and wait to be shown to a seat in a guest room.
  • Wait to be allowed to drink, finishing the whole cup indicates that you wish for more.
  • Do not overstay your welcome. The host will not indicate when the visit has been long enough, since it is considered extremely rude. It is up to the guest to estimate the length of their visit and initiate the farewell.
  • Food is often taken from a shared dish in the middle. In a seated dinner party, you will first be served and it would not be considered rude if you helped yourself after that. Wait to be invited to eat before you start.
  • It is better to sit down while eating, yet in some circumstances eating while standing is acceptable.
  • Depending on the situation some people may use their hands. Many Indonesians traditionally eat with their hands. Higher status people may also as well, to indicate solidarity. It is customary to follow host’s lead. In restaurants however, if one does not wish to eat with bare hands, it is acceptable to ask for spoon and fork instead.
  • Eat or pass food with your right hand only.
  • Making sounds while eating is considered impolite. This includes slurping or the sound of cutlery touching the dish.
  • Playing with food it is considered impolite and childish.
  • Offer gifts with the right hand only, or with both hands.
  • Gifts should not be opened when received.
  • Don’t point with your index finger- use an upward facing palm, to gesture the direction.
  • It is impolite to indicate a direction with your head. This is considered aggressive and implies the object or person in question has a very low status.
  • Avoid using first names. If in doubt use Mas, Pak, Ibu or Mbak.
  • It is considered very impolite to snap your fingers to get a waiters’ attention. Wave and raise your hand instead.
  • A Javanese custom is not to drink until all food is consumed, signifying self-control and the ability to endure a task to the end.
  • Tipping is customary in Indonesia, yet it is optional. Consult the locals as to the usual rate. Tips apply to anyone who offer a service: toilet attendants, drivers, grocery-store clerks, parking guard. Be generous, but do not exceed too far the usual local accepted rate. A tip of 10% of total bill at small eateries, where the bill does not specify a service charge is adequate. Most all restaurants will include a 10% service charge in the bill, if so you may not give any tip. Hotels and fine restaurants will usually include a service charge, and it is the discretion of the buyer to tip. Tipping at street hawker food stalls is not usual. The general rule among the Javanese is that the truly wealthy are inconspicuous; the wealthier one is or wishes to appear, the more generously one gives discreetly.

 

Learn about Japanese customs and etiquette

 


 

 

*This guide is mainly based on wikipedia’s texts & images. We thank the authors , for their great efforts