Lifestyle in Indonesia


Would you like to have an insight of the Indonesian lifestyle and how to behave in the Indonesian society? Find out in this article.

Islam in Java

The Indonesian culture is very diverse and varies from one island to another. In Java, in particular, Islam shapes the local population's lifestyle while politics has the least influence on them. Every day, Java's streets are filled with the sounds of prayers. You will be delighted to know that Javanese are very tolerant people. Hence, you shall have no trouble in adapting there, whatever your religious convictions are.

Moreover, shops and local administrations are likely to close earlier on Friday afternoons. Javanese also celebrate the end of Ramadan. Note that 80% of the island's population consists of Muslims, but you will also find many Hindus, Buddhists and Catholics.

 Good to know:

Javanese have also adopted rituals associated with animism and ancient Indian kingdoms beliefs, which result in various celebrations such as Selamatan, ceremonial meals regarding rice harvest, etc.

Hinduism in Bali

The Balinese, on their side, have chosen the Agama Hindu Dharma which is a local form of Hinduism. Most of them have turned to Hinduism, mixing with indigenous beliefs and Buddhism. But Bali's population also consists of Buddhists, Muslims and Catholics.

The Agama Hindu Dharma lifestyle gives the opportunity to people to make simple ritual offerings. But there are also more complex ceremonies and rituals. For foreigners, the Balinese lifestyle should definitely make a memorable cultural experience.


Here are some tips on dos and don'ts which will give you an idea of how you should behave in the Indonesian society:

  • Do not give and take anything with your left hand, the latter being considered as unclean.
  • Do not touch a child's head as that part of his or her body is considered to be the seat of the soul.
  • Do not get excited! Stay calm in all situations in Indonesia and anywhere else in Asia.
  • Remove your shoes before entering your host's house.
  • Wear decent clothes. The locals may get offended by little bikini tops and shorts worn by ladies and shirtless boys or men.
  • Public displays of affection are contrary to Indonesian customs.
  • When you sit down, make sure your feet are not touching anyone around.
  • Hands on hips induce a challenge, especially when you are talking to someone.
  • You can greet an Indonesian national by shaking hands with him or her or by nodding.
  • If an Indonesian national asks to take a picture of you with his camera or phone, accept it. They consider it an honor to take pictures of foreigners.
  • Loudly laughs are considered to be a sign of anger or embarrassment. If you are laughing loudly with an Indonesian national on the phone, he or she might believe to have made a mistake or said something wrong.
  • If an Indonesian offers you a gift, accept it with enthusiasm. Saying the common “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” would make you seem to be an uneducated person.
  • When talking to Indonesian nationals, choose subjects such as tourism or family. Avoid topics such as politics or international aid.

 Useful links: - Indonesia Forum 
Indonesia Point

Recommend Your favourite team
Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
Write a comment

See also

It's your first holiday trip to Bali? You're confused or you need more information on Bali? Then read this! A MUST-READ guide to bali! Full of insights and tips for you that will definitely ensure you enjoy your stay in Bali.
If you are moving to Indonesia, finding accommodation will be one of your priorities. The country provides various options for expatriates.
If you have always dreamed of working in an idyllic setting, Bali, one of Indonesia's major islands, is definitely the perfect place for you.
You are advised to be aware of some useful and emergency numbers on your arrival in Indonesia. Here are some examples.

Questions and answers about Indonesia

Ask your question
CTC Meet up (CTC - Coffee, Tea & Chocolate)
By denirahman
Are you happy in Indonesia?
By Priscilla
Expat Meetup @ Jakarta
By ratram06
New in Jakarta
By RaidenLeo

Expatriate health insurance in Indonesia

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in Indonesia

Moving to Indonesia

Find tips from professionals about moving to Indonesia

Travel insurance in Indonesia

Enjoy a stress-free travel across Indonesia

Flights to Indonesia

Find the best prices for your flight tickets to Indonesia