Every Indonesian gets a kick from a tourist that can speak some words in their language. “Selamat pagi!” for good morning, “selamat malam” for good night, and “terima kasih” for thank you can get you a long way with the locals. But a simple ‘halo’ (not hello) will bring a smile.
It is said that Indonesia consist of about 300 ethnicities, which isn’t entirely true. The same ethnicity for an area, say West Java is Sundanese, might consist of many sub-ethnicities, depending on the city. While some ethnicities havr a default of behavior, it might not apply once you move to another city. Keep an open mind that culture can differ drastically between places, but the underline is still the same: happy friendly Indonesians.
There’s no particular odd behavior to Indonesians aside to most of them can sleep anywhere and many still use their hands to eat. In some occasions, you might be tempted to try, as it is believed food tastes better when eaten with hands. Outside of hotels and the tourism industry, the pace might not be as fast as expected but you are on holiday, so enjoy the laid back vibe. Locals might sometimes also litter and cut in line, but like everywhere in the world it’s okay to say something about it.
Should the locals use swear words, don’t take it to heart. Some of them might not know the meaning, let alone mean what they say.
Although the majority of the population is Islamic, it is fairly accepted in Java and Bali to wear sleeveless tops and shorts. Walking in bikini-top is not done, except perhaps in beach areas on Bali. However, always have a scarf or a cover up for modesty, should you end up in visiting a temple or a holy place. At some places, modesty is also advisable to reduce unwanted attention.
It's quite common for tourists to tip, because the tourism workers are partly dependent on it, having a low base income. Tipping is usually an even amount with a piece of IDR 20k, 50k, or 100k.
Begging is commonly found in many touristy areas. A persistent but polite ‘no’ or wave of hand should be enough to decline them. Giving food would be an option.
Indonesians understand that bargaining isn’t common in some countries. As long as you are not buying something in a department store, mini market, or in relation to buying a SIM card, you can haggle your way through anything. From clothes, produce, and transportation fees, it’s possible to negatiate. However, do it in a good spirit, not to squeeze every dime from the merchants.
Authenticity of items
You will encounter counterfeit items all over Indonesia, whether it be in malls or on the side of the streets, Indonesians are very ‘creative’. However, the authentic branded items are those found in its official stores, which also include skin care products and health care items. Be aware that it's forbidden to bring counterfeit items into Western countries and huge fines may apply.
SIM Cards are available at the airport or any transportation hub when entering Indonesia. It’s pretty simple to register as most counters will register for you. However, do note that you should only leave the counter if your internet is guaranteed to work. Once you have tried it and they counter officer shows how many credits you have on your phone, you are good to go. If you don’t plan to travel far into remote Indonesia, any telecom company would do, but if planning to venture off more, Telkomsel has the widest reach of all telecom companies.
Plugs and voltage
Standard current is 220 volts. Plugs and sockets in Indonesia are the round 2-plug North European. Additional sockets in forms of cable extensions or junctions might do good as hotel rooms sometimes provide limited amount of sockets.
Transportation in Indonesia is getting better. Most of the major transportation options have operations online hence tickets can be purchased online. Airplanes, trains, and several bus tickets can be purchased on the official site or on travel ecommerce such as Traveloka, Tiket, Wego, Skyscanner, etc.
For local transportation, hotels usually have their own network of drivers and cars. Taxis are very much available in big cities. Blue Bird is known to have drivers that understand English, but other operators sometimes also do.
Although Uber no longer operates in Indonesia, applications such as Gojek and Grab are spreading throughout the country. You can take a motorcycle or a car possibly with the slight challenge in language. If you’re patient enough, it’s worth it as they can take you almost anywhere, as long it’s on the map.