Do and don't do in Indonesia

Hi all,

I'm a newbie here in expatblog and Jakarta, I need you share your experience of the local cultural. Could you please share with me something do and don't do in Indonesia?

Thank you in advance!

In what area of Jakarta do you live?

I'm living in Setia Budi area

Do wear skirts below the knee.
Don't wear tops with a V down to your waist.
Don't get smashed out of your brain.
If you don't want to waste cash, don't hang around Block M and such places.
Smile a lot and always reply to the question after the nine hundred and ninety ninth person has asked it.
Allow the kids to have their photo taken with you.
Make sure the taxi uses the meter.

-Do bargain when shopping in traditional markets or anywhere with no fix price tags
-Try to look as Indonesian as possible
-Don't be afraid to ask for directions if your Google Maps acting up. Chances are people will still show you which way to go through gesture or whatever tools if they don't speak English.
-Take TransJakarta or more commonly known as Busway during rush hour, they have special lanes that make us who drive/taking taxi jealous to the bone.
-Sign up for gym classes, you'll probably need to release the daily traffic stress soon.

Have fun living in Jakarta.

Do: try to pick up as muck Indonesian as you can, starting with "thank you".
Don't: use local, non AC trains.

Thanks all guys gave me a list of something do and don't do in Jakarta. In "don't do" list above, I made a mistake to do one thing of that.

If you don't want to waste cash, don't hang around Block M and such places.

=> I already hang around Blok M for a half of day there alone and luckily nothing happen with me!


Then I say you are lucky and brave enough. Usually these "don't" are just measures to keep yourself safe- that's all !!!!!!!!!


Wherever you live should can be to keep yourself in Indonesia not all there is evil, before you intent to go out you should find out in advance where you want pay a visit and if you are traveling by public transportation facility is looking for a good vehicle for your security is assured, and dressed a polite if you want to go out to crowded public places unless you go to big malls that can make you comfortable.

Hopefully pleasant stay in Jakarta :)

A few more
Don't give your number or email to strangers who ask for it
Don't sit in the front of taxis or take ojeks without a helmet
Don't try to pay a taxi driver with 100,000 notes
Do go to Kota Tua and Glodok and have a good wander, do take lots of photos graphs and smile at people
Don't give money to those with dancing monkeys or begging children as it is more likely a con
Do enjoy the street food and the strange random coloured ice drinks.
Don't watch Spongebob on Global TV but do enjoy the cheap price of going to the movies in the week

I wouldn't drink the 'street' ice drinks.
They're made with tap water and that's not even close to drinkable.

The kids begging at lights are usually forced to do so by adults and the cash is taken from them as soon as they get it.
Don't give them anything.

Do keep a small amount of money for basic expenses but keep any larger sum of money where it can't be seen when you get your purse out.

Just don't drink and drive :) ;)

Do only take blue birds taxi for safety

Blue Birds as only as good as the driver as are all the taxis, I often have to show them how to get somewhere. I dont rate them as any better just there is a lot more of them.
I use all taxis and have the same experience in most, sat in traffic watching the meter go fast and the taxi go slow.

Ann345 :

Do only take blue birds taxi for safety

I've had two attempted rip off by Blue bird drivers but complained to their office just the once.
The first was a tourist route that took me about 5km when it should only have been one or so.
He went all sheepish when I got the sat nav out.

The second was last week when a Blue bird driver did the same but not quite so badly.
He behaved on production of said sat nav.

If you have a smart phone with sat nav, do make sure the driver sees it.
Do make sure they use the meter. I tried a random cab that happened to be around on the way home from North Jakarta last week.
The bugger point blank refused to use the meter or stop when I told him there was bugger all chance of me negotiating a fare.
I ended up ditching from that one after a few hundred yards.

Don't use the small cab companies. Big problems await.

Express (White) and Takiku (Yellow) have always been fine but their drivers aren't always as well trained.

Do book a Blue bird for airport runs. If you miss your flight, they pay the fees if your cab is pre-booked.

Do tip the driver. They generally get 10% of the meter so it's not that much.

Hmm.. Good to know,  there are mixed reviews then.
Some experienced good, some bad. I guess... back to the individuals (drivers).

Tips? Only for honest and good ones....which might be rare. It's not about the money, but I think tipping culture can lead to more problems once Indonesians are used to expecting tips.
Some occasions, they'd say "no change" in order to keep the rest of the money (you can sense IF it's a lie)
Same like in certain restaurants or hair salons, regardless bad service, they are expecting big tips

I think tipping should be out of our generousity and appreciation to the service.

I use taxis quite a lot now and rarely get bad drivers.
I know they make very little on short runs so I always tip (Unless they were really crap)

My barber costs me Rp12,000 but I only go once a month so I don't bother asking for the change from the Rp15,000 I give him.

If you intend to use a place a lot, a tip the first time generally ensures good service the next and it costs you almost nothing if you're on a 'foreigner' salary.

You don't have to go wild but it won't hurt to remember your salary per week is probably several times greater than his per month.

Spreading a bit around doesn't hurt you.
I let some people rip me off a bit but not if they're cheeky about it.
The guy who wanted Rp10,000 for parking got 'One thousand' indicated back at him.
I did so by raising the middle finger of my right hand.
He got the message.

I seldom tip in chain or mall restaurants as the 21% tax may or may not include the tip. However for smaller places, a few thousand and coins is not really going to hurt the expats pocket. I used to know people who complained about being charged an extra 1000 rupiah for food as they were western. As I said I used to know them.
Often I give a little more as I cant stand the state of some of the money which is dirty and bad looking especially 1000 and 2000 notes.

Don't get me wrong, I do tip but not in every occasion.
I totally agree with you, If the haircut was 12,000 of course I'd do the same.....but this salon that I went for haircut was 350,000 and in the end the hairwasher, the stylist, the blowdryer will wait for the tips, and that could run up to extra 100,000 for the tips alone (because I have to give to 3 people), not to mention if there's extra treatment being done, another person will get the share too  >_<
I usually prefer to use the money to buy street snacks to help the sellers (not for me, I gave the snack to my driver).

Interesting. To each his own :)

There goes the difference.

I never use the expensive places as I see no advantage in doing so. My barber shaves my nut down to quite short but still spends 30 minutes making sure everything is perfect.
Why spend silly money at some fancy barber when that guys does a perfect job?
I can't say I much bother with tips in malls but I rarely bother with coins in the change except the thousand ones.
That brings me on to another "do and don't".

Do wander around small shops and don't spend in malls until you have.
You often find exactly the same thing but far cheaper in ITC or small shops than in the malls.

Hi Silent_life

if you want to know more about jakarta, maybe we can chat. I live in jakarta Utara (north jakarta).There are so many delicious "street food". it's like Jakarta's China town here.

let me know if you want to chat.

Don't listen to every person on an internet forum giving you their advice.

Do listen to some of the advice.

kingwilly :

Don't listen to every person on an internet forum giving you their advice.

Do listen to some of the advice.

True enough.
You'll always get different ideas from different people but experience tells you the truth.
So how is the large anthropoid these days?
Long time, no see.

Hi silent_life

I live near setiabudi
Want to meet up?
Am working in Sampoerna Strategic Square building
Live only 7 minuets walking distance

Will give you advice and we can hangout together, if you like
Interested, just send your private message
We can share any about live in Jakarta


do not eat too much fried stuffs esp along the streets, you dont know how long they have been recycling the cooking oil. And after eating them, you might experience sorethroat, so you have to buy Betadine gargle solution (Betadine kumur) its available in any pharmacy store.

Don't give your phone number to anyone and everyone who asks.

They pass it on to their mates and, soon as you know it, you're getting a million calls per day to help some bugger with their English.

Need to set up a school/whatever outing? DO use Big Bird coaches.
Very nice. Well trained (and very polite) driver, clean, tidy, AC, PA system with karaoke, radio microphones for the kids or announcements.
And - They make sure they turn up on time.
Basically - Great.

For taxis, learn the basics: left = kiri, right = kanan, go = tourouse, straight lourouse, stop = hop. thanks = makasih.

Do njoy, jakarta is awesome

street food is fine if you know what to look for.

Only eat what is cooked in front of you.

If there is a rancid smell, that's old cooking oil so the food will be terrible. (High PV caused by overheating or overuse)

See where the guy washed the dishes. Some do so in drains so your plate has very likely been washed in poo water.

Better to ask for it 'dibunkus' (Wrapped) but change your mind and eat at his table. I carry a travel knife and fork set to be sure but I'm a bit fussy.

I saw a guy washing wooden chopsticks the other day, I knew drinking straws were recycled but the chopsticks are a new one. They road side food sellers use the same water all day to clean their plates and use a couple of limes floating on top to make the water smell perhaps nicer.
If you want to buy fruit from the vendor, take a look at his hands, the knife and the rag he cleans his knife with then make a decision

sasanti :

Just don't drink and drive :) ;)

I agree with this :D

it's very interesting for every comment. Yes, Indonesia especially Jakarta is a unique city. And perhaps it can be "disaster" for foreigner. Usually local people think that foreigners are rich, therefore they charge you higher price. The seller also differentiate the customer by transportation, such as when u go by car, the price will be higher than u go by motorcycle. It's better for you to go to modern market where the price is fixed and for "street" food you'd better be careful. I myself as local people cannot trust "street" food.

Enjoy your stay here..

No matter how right you're never show your angry face to the officers. This is not for Jakarta for all south east asia.

yes they called foreigners "ATM" - "any time money"

faizee5252 :

yes they called foreigners "ATM" - "any time money"

I didn't mean that way. If you go Singapore there is no way you can buy a pass from any officer no matter how much you pay.

If you have a problem with an official, insist on your rights but "never" loose your temper.

One time a stupid immigration officer in another asian country asked me to leave my old immigration card over there. I said this is given by foreign ministry there is no way I can leave there unless they give me a written letter that they have taken my card. One immigration officer become two, three, four and than their officer also join, they were all shouting and trying provoke me to an argument. I keep calm, and keep repeating same thing, I said even if you put me in prison; you cannot get my card.

So they released me. ;-)

But if I had replied them same way they talking to me, oh my God, I can't imagine.

I studied one of these countries (not Indonesia), even lecturers in university, no matter how bad you're in that subject if you are good with lecturer (good means sometimes arse licking too), consider you pass. If you argue with lecturer, make sure you fail.

I do remember one time I failed with F, and same subject another lecturer A+...

You can see immigration officers carrying these "always smile" smiley pins on their tshirts. If you be the arrogant bule, hell yeah get ready for action...

Thanks for the tips guys. Just got here yesterday so the more info the better

Hey Hannah, welcome to Jkt! :)

Thanks Themel

Don't drive carelessly.

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