indonesian cultural habits

Indonesian Cultural Habits (a.k.a. All You Need to Know to Avoid Causing Offence)

Indonesia is known for its wonderful nature, rich with various different flora and fauna you can’t find anywhere else. However, the diversity doesn’t just end there. Indonesian cultural habits, a product of the many ethnicities residing therein, are ones you ought to take notes of.

Before paying a visit, it’s best that you know how to navigate around this set of habits. Whether to avoid causing offence or just to make your experience much more authentic, here are some cultural habits you should know.

Read Also: Before You Visit: Do’s and Don’ts of Basic Indonesian Etiquette

Avoid Culture Shock by Knowing Indonesian Cultural Habits

1. Togetherness

Source: freepik via Freepik

Among all Indonesian cultural habits to master, togetherness is at the top.

Indonesians really value togetherness. They like to feel like they are a part of a group and will go to places with other people.

Their sense of togetherness is especially evident in the way they eat, where they share plates of food in the middle instead of putting them separately on individual plates. During meals, they like to talk and simply enjoy each other’s company.

Then, when you go out alone, Indonesians will somehow… question it (“Why are you on your own?”). If you meet someone you know while you’re out alone, most Indonesians would ask you to join them.

On the other hand, strangers would look at you with pity. Don’t take offence to this, you can always explain politely if anyone ever asks why you’re alone. This habit is overall harmless, but it’s definitely a unique one.

2. Eating Rice with Every Meal

Indonesia is known for its scenic landscape. One of the most eye-pleasing and notable ones you may know is a rice field. You can find it almost everywhere, but especially in villages near the mountain.

It’s only natural that rice then becomes the main staple food. You can find in almost every traditional dish of Indonesia.

There’s even a popular running joke about it: “You have not eaten unless you’ve eaten rice.” So, be prepared to taste rice in every way and even in the processed form!

3. Dining Manner

One of the Indonesian cultural habits to understand next is dining manners.

During meals, Indonesians usually prefer to eat with their hands. Knowing this habit, some restaurants even offer a small bowl of water and a slice of lime for washing hands.

But don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you can’t eat with cutleries as most restaurants do offer them. If not, you can always ask the staff to prepare them for you.

Another thing: If you’re being invited over to someone’s house, be sure not to turn down any food or drink.

The polite thing to do is to accept or at least just have a bite. Indonesians consider this as a token of appreciation for the host.

Read Also: 5 Skydiving Places in Indonesia That Take Your Breath Away

4. Wet Bathroom

To western foreigners, Indonesian bathrooms or toilets can seem overwhelmingly wet.

The water doesn’t come from a shower but from a tap. The water is then collected inside a bucket or an upright trough.

They would then scoop it up with a dipper (gayung). Once they use the dipper, the water could splash everywhere. This is common even in public toilets.

If you’re only planning to go to shopping centers, you don’t need to worry as much. Water is still easy to be found, each toilet usually comes with a bidet or a water gun.

5. Squatting

Still on the topic of bathrooms or toilets, there is another unique thing you should expect. From birth up until adulthood, Indonesians are great experts at squatting.

This is why you will most likely find squat toilets in most public toilets in Indonesia.

In some public toilets, you can choose between using a normal flush toilet or the squat toilet. While shopping centers usually have flush toilets for you to use.

Due to the squatting habit, many people consider it cleaner and avoid sitting on the toilet seat entirely. So be sure to wipe your seat clean, some people might have squatted on it with their shoes on.

Pro Tip: Considering how wet Indonesian toilets are, you should decide where to put your pants before using the squat toilet, so the pants won’t get wet.

6. Sense of Privacy

Indonesians are kind and friendly, but it can easily be mistaken as being overly nosy.

During an introduction, they would ask a lot of questions—no doubt out of curiosity, but also as an effort to be friendly and get to know you better.

Be sure to answer politely. If you don’t feel like answering, just smile and turn the questions back to them. They’ll take it as an initiative to carry the conversation.

7. Roundabout Communication Style

indonesian cultural habits

Source: Edmond Dantès via Pexels

Now we finally get to the last point of our list of Indonesian cultural habits.

To maintain an image of kindness, Indonesians are also very polite. That’s why whenever they’re facing a conflict, they will avoid being upfront about it.

When you’re in a disagreement with an Indonesian, the first thing you should do is calm yourself.

Don’t blow up by raising your voice or even putting your hands on your hips. They’ll see it as an intimidation tactic and get defensive right back.

Instead, listen until they’re done, and then explain yourself calmly.

If you’re in a public setting, reserve the “rebuttal” for another time when you both have cooled down. This way, you won’t cause any offence to them.

Read Also: 7 Amazingly Gorgeous Temples of Indonesia

Witness the True Beauty of Indonesia at Bobocabin!

There’s no better way to acclimate to Indonesian cultural habits than staying over in this place yourself.

Want to enjoy the sight of the green rice field? Or to simply breathe in the fresh air of the mountains?

At Bobocabin, you can enjoy the scenic beauty of Indonesia, all with a modern twist. A brand new glamping experience, with convenience and comfort as the top priority!

Bobocabin is powered by the Internet of Things to make your stay much more comfortable.

With features like the smart window to give you privacy, a mood lamp that adjusts your lighting, and a Bluetooth speaker to set the mood, you’re guaranteed to have great sleep.

For reservation and further information, you can download the app here.



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