Indonesia has several traditions and customs and it is best if you know them before hand. Some of them are:
- Even though hand shaking is deemed appropriate between men and women, bear in mind that a number of women moslem prefer to introduce themselves to men by nodding their head, smiling and clasping their hands without any physical contact.
- Traditionally, when you greet someone, both hands are used when shaking, without grasping
- Be sure to smile when you meet people you know. Javanese people appreciate a ‘polite smile’.
- Bending down a bit when passing a group of older people is considered polite.
- In Indonesia, when you address some one, it would considered more polite if you use these specific terms before mentioning the name : Bapak (Pak) for Mr, Ibu (Bu) for Mrs, Mas for young man, and Mbak for Miss/ young woman.
- It is considering polite to make a phone call first before visiting
- Shoes must be taken off before entering a house or place of worship like mosque
- Usually drink are offered to guests. It is polite to accept
- When eating, receiving or giving something, always use your right hand. Right index finger should not be used to point a place, items or people. Use the right hand thumb and fold the remaining fingers to be more polite.
- Most Indonesian moslem do not consume alcoholic drinks and pork is prohibited.
- Don’t wear non-sleeve shirts, T-shirts, short pants, and sandals in classrooms and offices.
- Don’t put your hands on your hips during conversation with Indonesians since this is considered impolite/insulting.
- Don’t demonstrate affection in public.
- Don’t do impolite things in sacred places.
- Don’t put your feet up on tables or chairs, or use them to point with.
- Don’t be angry when someone on the same sex holds your hands or walks arm to arm, it’s the Indonesian way of showing a friendly relationship.
- Don’t hesitate to reject the merchants trying to sell things to you. You might refuse by saying “saya tidak perlu.” (I don’t need it) or just said “tidak” (No).
- Don’t be offended when people ask you personal questions. It’s just the way they show friendliness and you don’t have to answer the question if you don’t want to.