Indonesian People and Culture

Indonesian people and culture has been shaped by numerous outside influences working together with the original indigenous customs. Because of its position on ancient trade routes between the Far East, South Asia, and the Middle East, Indonesia has been influenced by numerous religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity. Cities function as hubs of business; they are a mix of cultures that differ sharply from the original indigenous cultures of all the people, the majority embrace Islam. Meanwhile, in Bali the Hindu faith predominates as the last Hinduism in Indonesia. The Minahasa and the Toraja in Sulawesi, the East Nusa Tenggara islands, and large sections of Papua, as well as the Batak highlands of Sumatra, are predominantly either Catholic or Protestant. The Indonesians are religiously inclined in general.

Science, technology, and modern entertainment such as television, film, and music have all been influenced by Western culture in Indonesia. Indian culture has had a noticeable impact on Indonesian music and movies. Dangdut is a type of Indonesian folk music that has been blended with Indian and Arab music as well as some Malay and local folk music.

There are still some remote parts where indigenous Indonesian people and culture are still preserved. Ethnic groups such as the Betawis, the Esmats, the Danis, the Dayaks, the Torajans, and others are still practising ethnic rituals, customs, and wearing their traditional clothing. Ethnic groups include the 90 percent Malay and indigenous ones, the 5 percent Chinese ones, and the 5 percent minority ones.

Pancasila is a set of five principles that defines the Indonesian nation. Therefore, these are kept alive by Indonesian people and culture to respect for each other’s religions, customs, and traditions. In the end, Indonesia is defined as a united country that adheres to the Pancasila, which includes the concepts of One God, just and civilized humanity, national unity, democracy through unanimous decision making, and social justice for all.

Travel Do’s and Dont’s in Indonesia

Indonesia – a vast archipelago comprising more than 17,000 islands, contains a population numbering around 255 million people, a number that makes Indonesia the fourth most populous country in the world. We have six religion in Indonesia: Islam, Catholic, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Confucius. The largest religious group in Indonesia is Islam. Indonesia is also one of the largest Muslim country in the world. Indonesian cultures are very different from Western cultures as there exists a difference in experience, belief-systems, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, spatial relations, and much more. Moreover within Indonesian itself there exists a multitude of different cultures. This makes Indonesia a complex country, and therefore an interesting country.

Of course no one will expect you to immediately understand or behave like an Indonesian, but it will be wise to take some time in order to gain insight into the Indonesian culture(s) and start to think and become a little bit more ‘Indonesian’. Generally speaking, people from Indonesia, especially on the island of Java, appreciate the polite smile of foreign people they are introducing, and they will certainly give you a smile back. Friendliness is in their nature, so you should just be relaxed.

Below are the general travel do’s and dont’s in Indonesia. But, if you’re visiting Bali, these travel do’s and dont’s might not applied. Bali is quite different with other cities in Indonesia, because it’s full of foreigners.

Indonesia Travel Do’s:
– Eat like a local in small restaurant, which means eat with your right hand.
– Use right hand when eating, gifting, or receiving a gift.
– Do handshake with your right hand to greet someone. But if you greet Muslim men/women, it’s another story. Some Muslim men/women in most cases they will just nod, smile, and clasp their hands. They find it more acceptable to keep a distance from the person they are introduced to.
– Do respect when Indonesian are praying. Muslims pray 5 times a day (Dawn prayer, midday prayer, afternoon prayer, west prayer, evening prayer). When they are praying in a Mosque, they use a loudspeaker. You’ll find it so noisy, especially for those of you who stay nearby Mosque.
– Take your shoes off when entering places (house, worship place, etc).
– When crossing the road whether you’re using zebra cross or not, use your right hand to stop the cars if the cars are in your right, and use your left hand to stop the cars if the cars are in your left. Crossing the road in Indonesia can be quite challenging.
– Dress like a local, which means long pants and sleeve shirt/tops, especially for women.
– Bring toilet paper if you go to the toilet. Toilet paper is seldom supplied in public places. Many Indonesians instead use water to clean with their left hand, so they don’t need any toilet paper. In most of Indonesia, the bathroom features a large water tank and a plastic scoop.
– Drive a car/motorcycle, or rent a driver is a common way to explore the city. Most public transportation in Indonesia isn’t well maintained yet.
– SMILE! Do you know that Indonesian are the world’s friendliest people?

Indonesia Travel Dont’s:
– Don’t speak loudly to Indonesian people. They might think you’re rude. Indonesian people are soft and gentle.
– Don’t dress with Tank Top and Short Skirt when you’re in public places, especially for women. You don’t want to get a lot of looks by local people, right?
– Never use your left hand for anything, as it’s considered the hand you use to wipe yourself in the bathroom. If you’re left-handed and suddenly everyone looks at you with disgust, that’s what’s going through their minds.
– Don’t complaint/disturb when Indonesian are praying, especially when Muslims are praying in the Mosque. Religion is the most sensitive topic in Indonesia.
– Don’t force to drink beer/wine/alcohol with you. Most of Indonesian are not drink beer/wine/alcohol.

Toraja Girls in Traditional clothes
Source: Wikipedia

Indonesia Top Destinations

Hundreds of tours and holidays in Indonesia

Indonesia is a vast archipelago nation consisting of thousands of islands stretching across the Indian Ocean to the eastern edge of the Asian continental plate and the western edge of the Pacific Ocean. This archipelago geography dictates the ebb and flow of life in Indonesia and contributes to its astounding natural and cultural diversity.

Explore Indonesia cultures & natures with hundreds of our tours and holidays in Indonesia with it is uniqueness from Komodo islands, Borneo orangutans, Lombok Sasak tribe, Mentawai islands for surf, Toraja highland, Papua Asmat tribe and Bunaken island with it is coral reefs to Bali mystic cultures, Bali gorgeous beaches and Java active volcanoes, Indonesia’s sheer diversity of options for touring is simply mind-boggling.