·31 October 2023

10 Indonesian Unique Habits, A Glimpse into a Vibrant Culture

6 minutes read
10 Indonesian Unique Habits, A Glimpse into a Vibrant Culture

The unique habits of Indonesian sometimes surprise foreigners!

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago in Southeast Asia, is not only known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse traditions but also for its unique and captivating habits that have been passed down through generations.

As we explore these traditions, it becomes evident that the people of Indonesia take immense pride in their heritage and are eager to share it with the world. These habits make Indonesia not only a land of stunning landscapes but also a place where the heartwarming embrace of culture can be experienced at every turn.

Things You Should Know About Indonesian Unique Habits

Source: Times India

These habits are deeply rooted in the rich tapestry of Indonesian culture, making it a truly fascinating subject to explore. In this article, we will delve into some of the distinctive Indonesian habits that shed light on the nation’s colorful and unique way of life.

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1. The warmth of greetings

One of the first things that strike visitors to Indonesia is the warmth of greetings. Indonesians are renowned for their hospitality and friendliness. When you meet someone for the first time, it’s common to greet them with a smile and a handshake.

However, what makes it truly unique is the ‘salam hormat’, a gesture of respect where a younger person offers their hand to an elder’s forehead as a sign of deep respect.

2. The art of ‘gotong royong’

‘Gotong Royong’ is a unique Indonesian habit that reflects the spirit of communal cooperation and mutual assistance.

It is often seen in rural villages, where the community comes together to help each other in various activities, such as planting rice, building houses, or even during natural disasters. This selfless cooperation embodies the sense of togetherness and the Indonesian way of life.

3. The Importance of eating together

In Indonesia, sharing a meal with family and friends is not just about nourishment but also a cherished tradition. ‘Makan Bersama’ (eating together) is a time to bond, share stories, and strengthen relationships.

It is considered impolite to start eating before everyone is served, and it is common to say ‘Selamat Makan’ (Enjoy your meal) before digging in. This habit promotes unity and a sense of belonging.

ALSO READ: Indonesian Culture: 12 Things to Know as an Expat

4. The art of giving and receiving

Indonesians have a unique way of giving and receiving objects. When offering or receiving something, especially with the elderly or in a formal setting, it is customary to use your right hand or both hands, while the left hand is placed on the right forearm as a sign of respect.

This gesture symbolizes that the object is being given or received with good intentions and respect.

5. Indonesian unique habits, the melodic sound of ‘aduan’ (complaints)

Complaints or ‘aduan’ are an interesting facet of Indonesian culture. Instead of being straightforward, many Indonesians tend to express their complaints in a subtle and indirect manner, often using metaphors or proverbs.

This habit helps maintain harmony and avoids confrontational situations. For example, instead of saying, “This food is too spicy,” one might say, “This dish is a real fire-breather.”

Things You Should Know About Indonesian Unique Habits

Source: Unsplash.com

6. The mystical belief in “kuntilanak”

Indonesia’s cultural landscape is rich with superstitions and folklore. “Kuntilanak” is a ghostly female figure that is deeply ingrained in Indonesian culture. Many Indonesians believe in its existence, and tales of encountering a “Kuntilanak” are commonly shared.

It’s not unusual for people to avoid certain places at night, fearing they may encounter this supernatural being.

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7. The art of ‘merantau’

‘Merantau’ is the tradition of young people leaving their hometown to seek education or work opportunities in other places. It is seen as a rite of passage and a way to gain life experiences.

This practice reflects the importance of learning and broadening one’s horizons, even if it means leaving the comfort of one’s home.

8. The love for ‘jamu’

‘Jamu’ is traditional Indonesian herbal medicine made from natural ingredients like roots, leaves, and fruits. Indonesians believe in its holistic health benefits.

The habit of consuming ‘jamu’ is deeply rooted in Indonesian culture and is often passed down from generation to generation. It is believed to not only maintain physical health but also balance one’s inner well-being.

9. The art of ‘salim’

‘Salim’ is a unique Indonesian gesture that serves as a sign of respect. It involves taking an elder’s hand, placing it to one’s forehead, and bowing slightly.

This practice symbolizes a deep sense of reverence and is often used when greeting or seeking blessings from elders. ‘Salim’ is a beautiful way to show respect for one’s elders.

10. Indonesian unique habits, the Rich Tapestry of Batik

Batik is a traditional Indonesian fabric that is more than just clothing; it is an art form. The process of creating batik involves using wax and dye to create intricate patterns.

Each design carries its own symbolism, and wearing batik is not only a fashion statement but also a way to connect with the country’s heritage.


Indonesia’s unique habits are a testament to the country’s rich cultural diversity and the values that have been preserved through generations. From the warmth of greetings to the art of giving and receiving, these habits reflect the Indonesian way of life.

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