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Respecting Cultural Etiquette in Indonesia

Indonesia is considered to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With the seventh largest nominal GDP, this country boasts a number of employment and business opportunities to citizens and foreigners alike. In line with the majority of Asian countries, Indonesia has a unique culture and etiquette that must be followed and respected when living in this multicultural country.

The following is a brief overview of the Indonesian cultural etiquette:

Indonesian People

The people of Indonesia are strong believers in unity and respect, with particular focus on being loyal to friends and family whilst also honoring society’s rules.


On meeting an Indonesian individual, you are expected to shake their hand and nod your head slightly. After the initial meeting, handshakes are dismissed and a slight bow or nod of the head will suffice. Women tend to refrain from shaking hands, therefore it is advised to shake a women’s hand only if she initiates it.

Behavior in Corporate Environment

Since Indonesians consider respect to be a mutual understanding, it is important to honor all appointments by being on time. In the event that you are running late, it is acceptable to call and inform them of the delay. When you arrive at the meeting venue, present your business card to the receptionist in order to proceed with the business meeting and avoid further delays. Patience is deemed to be essential when negotiating business deals with Indonesians as such deals tend to be slow, long and frustrating. Business relationships are expected to take time to develop as the initial trust has to be established amongst the individuals involved.

Indonesian people favor personal visits and refrain from using telephone, email and faxes as their primary method of communication. It is advised to book a meeting to have a personal introduction as it is more beneficial for both parties.

Clothing Attire

Males are expected to wear a suit and jacket when in a corporate environment, whilst women are expected to wear skirts and blouses with sleeves. Due to the majority Muslim presence in Indonesia, extreme fashion should be avoided in order to comply with business regulations.



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