Rules in Indonesia

Cultural Norms and Rules in Indonesia


Traveling to a new country can be an exciting adventure, but it’s important to understand and respect the rules and cultural norms of the place you’re visiting. Not only does following these guidelines show respect for the local culture, but it also ensures a more enjoyable and trouble-free trip. In this article, we will explore the key elements of rules and cultural norms in Indonesia, providing practical advice for travelers to this diverse and vibrant country.

Key Elements

Element 1: Respect for Religion

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, and religion plays a significant role in the daily lives of its people. As such, it’s essential to respect religious customs and practices. For example, when entering a mosque, visitors should remove their shoes and dress modestly. During the month of Ramadan, non-Muslims should be mindful of fasting hours and avoid eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight.

Element 2: Social Etiquette

Indonesian society places great importance on respect and harmony. When interacting with locals, it is customary to greet with a smile and a handshake. Avoid public displays of affection, as they are considered inappropriate. Pointing with the index finger is also considered impolite, so it’s better to use your thumb or open hand to indicate directions or objects.

Element 3: Cultural Sensitivity

Indonesia is home to diverse ethnic groups and cultures, each with its own unique customs and traditions. It’s important to be sensitive to these differences and avoid behaviors that may cause offense. For instance, touching someone’s head is considered disrespectful, as the head is considered sacred. Additionally, showing the soles of your feet or shoes is considered impolite, so it’s best to keep your feet flat on the ground when sitting.

Element 4: Drug Laws

Travelers should be aware that Indonesia has strict drug laws, and anyone found in possession of illegal drugs could face severe penalties, including long imprisonment or even the death penalty. It is crucial to avoid any involvement with illegal drugs and to respect and comply with local laws at all times.

Element 5: Environmental Responsibility

Indonesia is blessed with stunning natural landscapes, including rainforests, mountains, and beautiful beaches. To protect these fragile ecosystems, it is essential to practice environmental responsibility while traveling. Avoid littering, especially in natural areas, and follow any regulations or guidelines set by national parks or protected areas.

Element 6: Traffic Rules

Indonesia’s traffic can be chaotic, especially in urban areas. It is important to exercise caution while crossing the street and be aware of your surroundings. It is also crucial to obey traffic rules, such as wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle and not driving under the influence of alcohol.

Tips for Traveling

Now that we’ve covered some key elements of rules and cultural norms in Indonesia, here are a few practical tips for traveling to this fascinating country:

  1. Research and Plan Ahead: Familiarize yourself with Indonesia’s rules, customs, and local laws before your trip. This will help you navigate the country more confidently and avoid any unintentional breaches of etiquette or laws.

  2. Dress Appropriately: Respect the local dress code, especially in religious sites and conservative areas. It’s best to dress modestly, covering your shoulders and knees when visiting temples, mosques, or other places of worship.

  3. Learn Basic Phrases: While many Indonesians speak English, it’s always appreciated when visitors make an effort to learn and use basic greetings and phrases in Bahasa Indonesia. This can help you connect with locals and show respect for their culture.

  4. Be Mindful of Cultural Sensitivities: Remember to be mindful of local customs and traditions. For example, avoid stepping over or sitting on offerings found on the ground, as these are sacred objects in Bali.

  5. Keep Your Passport Secure: Theft can happen anywhere, so it’s important to keep your passport and other valuables secure. Consider using a money belt or a hotel safe to store your important documents and belongings.

  6. Stay Hydrated and Practice Good Hygiene: Indonesia’s tropical climate can be hot and humid, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink bottled water, avoid tap water, and carry hand sanitizer or wet wipes to maintain good hygiene while on the go.


The information provided in this article aims to give travelers a general understanding of rules and cultural norms in Indonesia. However, it is important to note that rules and customs may vary within different regions of the country, and it is always recommended to seek professional advice and refer to official sources, such as travel advisories and embassy websites, for the most up-to-date and accurate information before traveling.

By being mindful of and respecting the rules and cultural norms of Indonesia, travelers can experience a more immersive and meaningful journey in this beautiful and diverse country. So, pack your bags, do your homework, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in Indonesia!