Private tailor-made journeys of a lifetime 1 888 263 2574
  • AUS
  • DEU
  • AUS
  • DEU
Enchanting Travels Indonesia Tours Sleeping Buddha, Mojokerto - culture of Indonesia

Culture of Indonesia

The culture of Indonesia is varied, with its melting pot of colonial and immigrant influences as well as its indigenous traditions, from the Portuguese traders to the Dutch colonialists to Chinese, Indian and Malay settlers. Most people in Indonesia define themselves by their local culture, rather than their national culture.

This island state has been a major hub for trading since ancient times, as it is centrally located among history’s superpowers, which is why you can expect to witness all the world’s major religions living harmoniously side by side. Indonesian culture is focused around the community, with a hierarchical structure. Indonesians believe in the concept of gotong royong (mutual assistance) and mufakat (consensus), and the national motto is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in diversity). Jam Karet (rubber time) highlights the cultural attitude: that life should not be rushed – everything has its time and place.

Most Indonesian people are indirect when they communicate, so as not to offend others. The same is expected when you communicate, as even loud voices can be misconstrued as shouting, which can be a real cause of malu (shame), so it is better to highlight any issues privately and softly during your tour of Indonesia. Much of the language is communicated non-verbally, so pay attention to body language. This is an important part of the culture.

If you are given a gift, it is expected that you verbally refuse it before taking it, as a means of politeness. If you wish to give gifts to new friends you meet during your private tour of Indonesia with us, try to wrap the present in gold and red paper, and always give from the right hand.

Avoid sharp items (which can indicate that you wish to sever the friendship), alcohol (as it is often prohibited in Islam), non-Halal foodstuffs, or leather (as it is often prohibited in Hinduism). Note that gifts are never opened in front of the gift bearer.

Excellent / 4.9 out of 5
Language in Indonesia - culture of Indonesia

Language in Indonesia

Indonesia has a standardised dialect of the Malay language, known as Bahasa Indonesian, which was declared as the official language of Indonesia during the nation’s independence in 1945. However, due to the numerous islands, most people tend to speak the regional dialects of their island or community, such as Javanese (from Java), Balinese (from Bali) and Minangkabau (from western Sumatra).

Did you know? In the nation’s official language of Bahasa Indonesia, there are 12 ways of saying No, and several ways of saying Yes (when the actual meaning is no)!

Aerial view of Borobudur temple Central Java Indonesia, Asia

Religion in Indonesia

Indonesia is the largest nation with people following the Islamic faith in the world, with 88% of the population being Muslim. In addition, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Christianity are all practised and prevalent within Indonesia.

Generally, all the religions get on and follow the mottos of ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’ and ‘Do unto others as you would do to yourself’. There are also still many ethnic peoples who practice their indigenous customs, wear traditional dress, and often believe in animism. Animists believe that the gods inhabit the mountains, especially Bali’s tallest mountain, the stratovolcano Mount Agung.

Due to the diversity, you can see religions that have been fused with different influences, and you can witness this during the many colorful religious festivals, which play a major part in the culture of Indonesia.


Art in Indonesia

Indonesia has always had a history of arts, with influence from as far back as the stone age. You can see some of the best examples in the many temples of its islands, and its architecture,including traditional timber structures that are built on stilts. You can find a presence of animist traditions and tribal art in most of the nation’s crafts, as well as styles with strong Hindu and Buddhist roots.

In Java, you can experience many types of craft – from canvas art to wood carving, handmade, intricate silverwork, clay and stone sculpture. The island also is a major center for batik, ikat and songket cloth, all of which originate from Indonesia.

In Sumatra, you can witness excellent examples of Islamic art and architecture. In Bali and Java, you can see the wayang kulit, the shadow puppets, made of buffalo hide and then painted.

Music Indonesia

Music in Indonesia

The music of Indonesia is also varied and it is well worth taking time out to enjoy a performance or two during your tour of Indonesia. When visiting Java in 1580, Sir Frances Drake was mesmerized by the exotic music with its metallic timbre.

Gamelan, used in East Java and Bali, is a popular traditional instrument ensemble, that includes bronze percussion instruments, such as metal pots, gongs and drums. Kroncong music dates back to the 16th century when Portuguese sailors brought their native instruments to Indonesia, and is a melodic ensemble of string instruments, (including the kroncong, which is similar to a ukulele), a flute and a female vocalist. Songs tend to be melancholic and of love and natural beauty. Sasando music from West Timor is a soft style of music, which uses a lead that provides a timbre similar to a harp. Native to West Java, angklung music has become known globally due to its traditional bamboo angklung instrument, receiving UNESCO status.

In modern times, the Bollywood culture of India has also had an influence on the nation’s music.

Dance in Indonesia

Dance in Indonesia

Dance in Indonesia plays a major role in the culture, and many performers have usually been practicing under the guidance of an expert since childhood. The dance style is very expressive, precise, and often somewhat surprising.

There are over 3,000 Indonesian original dances, sometimes with tribal roots. Bali is the ideal location if you wish to witness cultural dances first-hand when you travel in Indonesia. The dance dramas of Bali are intertwined with Buddhist and Hindu mythology from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The Barong & Rangda’s dance of good over evil is probably the most famous of the Balinese Hindu dances, depicting demon queens and child eaters, while the Legong dance is considered the most graceful. A masked dance, known as Topeng, brings to life the Balinese language, while chronicling the island’s history or social issues in a comical way.

from the blog
popular trips to indonesia
Enchanting Travels Bali Tours Pura Ulun Danu temple panorama at sunrise on a lake Bratan, Bali, Indonesia

Best of Singapore and Bali

12 Days: $ 3,990 $ 3,290 / person
Take in the highlights of Singapore and Bali in Indonesia on this personalized tour. Beginning in the island nation of Singapore, discover a melting pot of cultural influences, modern architecture, and the beautiful Gardens by the Bay on a privately guided excursion.
Details Inquire
Orangutan in the wild, Sumatra, Indonesia

Classic Sumatra and Java

10 Days: $ 4,090 / person
This Indonesia vacation takes you deep into the enchanting worlds of Singapore, Sumatra and Sulawesi. Meet endangered orangutans in the Indonesian rainforest and take time to explore your jungle surrounds.
Details Inquire
Highlights of Java and Bali Travel

The Heart of Indonesia: Java and Bali

17 Days: $ 4,190 / person
This Indonesia trip artfully combines the impressive temples of Java with the twin volcanoes Bromo and Ijen, and the beautiful landscapes of Bali. The perfect introduction to incredible Indonesia, with the promise of unforgettable impressions including contrasting beach stays in Candidasa and Nusa Dua.
Details Inquire

Safe & Secure

Our global network of partners on the ground are able to share the most up-to-date advice and recommendations on COVID-19. We only offer hotels and vehicles with the highest health and safety standards.

Financial Protection & Flexibility

We believe in complete transparency. We are bonded members and license holders of all leading travel organizations. Your booking is flexible and completely secure with us.

Fully Supported Travel

Your dedicated and personal trip coordinator is available around-the-clock throughout your trip to accommodate requests, take care of the details, and handle any unforeseen situations.

Authentic & Unique

Go off the beaten track. Our award-winning, licensed local guides provide incredible insights and insider tips, passionately bringing alive unique and exclusive experiences for you.

Personalized & Private

Discover our enchanting world your way. Our experts completely customize your private tour to match your interests and preferences through their comprehensive knowledge of each destination.

High Quality Experiences

All our accommodations and services are personally tested by our team. Tell us your travel dream and we will create an itinerary packed with the best experiences your destination has to offer.


One of the very best travel experiences I have ever had. We even got updates once at 3 am! He also made one change in one day’s itinerary to accommodate our wishes which was very wonderful. For business, I have traveled to Europe, Russia, all over Asia and South Africa but was blown away by all the beautiful sites in Argentina and Chile.

Rating 5/5
Enchanting Travels- Chile Tours Fishing boat and old Dock, Puerto Natales, Antartica Mexico holiday

Joseph MatheyUSA

All the little touches made by our Enchanting Travel consultant, Amelia Edwards, were noticed and recognized by my wife and I. Thank you for making our milestone trip (25th wedding anniversary) such a memorable one! We look forward to engaging Enchanting Travels again for our next South American adventure!!

Rating 5/5
Buenos Aires Sehenswürdigkeiten: Kongressgebäude Mexico holiday

Raymond SuireUSA

This was my first adventure as a solo traveler. But while I may have traveled on my own, I was never alone. I was well taken care of by a superb team of planners, trip coordinators, guides and drivers.

Rating 5/5
Bolivia - Uyuni - People & Car standing in Salt flats

Lori McCarneyUSA

Do you have a vacation in mind? Let us help you create the trip of a lifetime.