40 Things You Shouldn’t Do in Indonesia

When living inside a particular country, there is always a certain set of rules and laws that you must obey. Indonesia is no exception to this. There are some basic etiquettes and behaviour that everyone have to follow through. Read these 40 Things You Shouldn’t Do in Indonesia to ensure blending in with the public and to avoid problems.

1. Smoke in Particular Places

In Indonesia, people are allowed to smoke. In fact many Indonesians are heavy smokers. But that does not mean that there are no rules to smoking. For instance, you are not allowed to smoke in hospitals, indoor restaurant and school. The smoking rules in the country can sometimes be very strict. Read more about Smoking Rules in Indonesia You Must Obey

2. Forget Sunscreen

Indonesia is a tropical country. There are some rain here and there but the rays from the sun can be very strong. You should never forget to wear your sunscreen or sunblock while you are going outside. The strong sun rays may speed up aging and cause discolouration. In the worst scenario, it may cause skin cancer.

3. Cut Off Conversation

Conversing with someone can become very interesting and fun. But when you are speaking to Indonesians, never cut off any of their words while they speak. It is extremely rude to cause such interruption. The person you are talking to may feel offended with this behaviour.

4. Using the Left Hand

Never use your left hand to take or to give things. The left hand is seen as impure because Indonesians consider it as the hand for bathroom purposes. Using the left hand is not a good habit and even if you must use it, you have to apologise. You may want to read about Bad Manners in Indonesia You Must Avoid

5. Touch People’s Heads

For many Indonesians, the head is considered as the most sacred part of the body especially in Bali. Therefore, touching people’s heads without a good reason is a big no in Indonesia. Never place your hand above or near their heads either especially if you are not close to the person. You may want to read about  Social Norms in Indonesia You Must Know

6. Disrespect Parents

Parents are seen as a respectful figures in many types of family in Indonesia. They uphold a strong role since they sacrifice so much for their children. As a result, it is not allowed to disrespect parents in any way. Anybody who treats their parents without respect is considered immoral.

7. Wear Revealing Clothes

You should not wear clothes that are too revealing in Indonesia. This applies to both men and women. Most Indonesians are still conservatives and they prefer the body parts to be covered up. Clothes that are too open are not very pleasing to them.

8. Throw Garbage into Rivers

You should not throw any form of trash and garbage into rivers. Indonesia is a country that is riddled with natural disasters such as flooding. The flooding is often caused by people accumulating garbage in the river. When you do not see a garbage can, keep your trash until you find a place to throw it away properly.

9. Ride Motorcycles without Helmets

A convenient way to get around the areas in Indonesia is by riding the motorcycle. However, never ride the motorcycle without a helmet. The helmet is a very crucial part of your safety. Moreover, it is the law to wear one. If you don’t wear it then your risk being fined by the police.

10. Forget Tipping

When you receive or request a specific service that you should not forget to tip. In Indonesia, you can tip the people in restaurants, salons or taxi drivers. Tipping etiquette in Indonesia will immensely help them to earn extra income.

11. Give Money to Beggars

You should not give money to most beggars in Indonesia. Some regions in Indonesia even have a law to ban this. There have been increasing cases where people only pretend to be beggars so that they can earn money without working. Read more about Unique Laws in Indonesia

12. Drink Tap Water

Another thing that you should not do in Indonesia at all is drink tap water. All the tap water in Indonesia is undrinkable. They are not treated for instant drinking and they also taste awful. Drinking the tap water may cause stomach ace and other illnesses.

13. Call People without Titles

In Indonesia, people use titles when calling other people. The title depends on the gender or the age. When you call someone without title, you are seen as rude and disrespectful. Giving title is a sign of respect and also status.

14. Drink in Public Places

There are some rules for drinking in Indonesia. However, you should not drink in public places. Drinking is not widely acceptable by some people in the country. Moreover, there are under-aged people in public places and you might be perceived as giving a bad example to them.

15. Wear Footwear inside Homes

You should not wear your shoes or sandals inside homes. This applies to your home and especially other people’s homes. Indonesians like to keep their houses clean. Wearing your footwear inside the house may cause the house to become dirty for them.

Also read:

More Behaviours You Should Avoid (16-40)

Here are some additional things that you should not do in Indonesia:

  • Ignore People: Always give people a short nod as acknowledgement.
  • Cut Queues: It is rude for others who are already waiting.
  • Litter: Causes garbage to accumulate.
  • Smoke while Riding Vehicles: Cigarette ash may burn people.
  • Throw Trash from Moving Car: Might hit motorcycle riders behind.
  • Spit Randomly on Streets: Cause street to be dirty.
  • Smoke around Children: Give bad health effect to children.
  • Cause Fights: Commotion is looked down by Indonesians.
  • Place Hands on Hips: Perceived as irritation and arrogance.
  • Reject Offers: Seen as ungrateful.
  • Put Feet on Tables: Disrespectful and rude.
  • Possess Harmful Drugs: It is against the law to do drugs.
  • Point with Index Finger: Rude and offensive.
  • Bargain Too Hard: Reduce people’s income.
  • Consume Prohibited Medicines: Some medicines are banned in the country.
  • Call with Nicknames: Unless the person has given permission.
  • Beeping Too Long: Irritating and may cause road rage.
  • Talk Loudly: Perceived as arrogant.
  • Cause Offence: Disrespectful to Indonesians.
  • Put Wallet in Back Pocket: Pick pocket may take it.
  • Wear Flashy Jewellery: Risk of robbery.
  • Forget to Greet: Basic communication etiquette in Indonesia.
  • Public Display of Affection: Looked down by the conservatives.
  • Curse in Public: Rude and immoral.

Indonesians are friendly and forgivable. If you accidentally do one of these things, the social punishment might not be so cruel. However, one should always try to avoid doing these things as much as possible.