The staple diet for many Indonesians is rice
(nasi), which is replaced on some islands with
corn, cassava, sago and sweet potatoes. Rice dishes
include nasi uduk, nais campur
and rasirames. Indonesia’s varied spices
make its local cuisine unique. Specialities includerijstafel
(a Dutch concoction consisting of a variety of fish, meats, vegetables
and curries), sate or satay (chunks of beef, pork,
fish, chicken or lamb cooked on hot coals and dipped in peanut sauce).
Almost every kind of international cuisine is available
in Jakarta, the most well-liked being Chinese,
Italian, French, Japanese and
Korean sate ajam (broiled, skewered
marinated chicken), ikan acar kuning (Jakarta;
lightly marinated fried fish served in a pickled sauce with spices
and palm sugar), ajam ungkap (Central Java; deep-fried,
marinated chicken), sate lileh (Bali; broiled,
skewered fish sticks),soto (a soup dish with dumplings,
chicken and vegetables), gado-gado (Java; a salad
of raw and cooked vegetables with peanut and coconut milk sauce),
babi guling (Bali; roast suckling pig) and opor
ajam (boiled chicken in coconut milk and light spices).
Indonesians love their food highly
spiced and the visitor should always remember this. In
particular watch for the tiny, fiery hot, red and green peppers
often included in vegetable dishes and salads. Seafood
is brilliant and is on menus everywhere (with salt and fresh-water
fish, lobsters, prawns, shrimp, oysters, squid, shark and crab all
Coconuts are found everywhere
in Indonesia, and are often used for cooking. Vegetables
and fresh fruit, such as bananas,
pineapple, papaya, and oranges, are available throughout
the year Some tropical fruit such as mango, watermelon
and papaya are seasonal.
A feature of Jakarta are the many street stalls known as wa rungs. Each
specialises in its own dish or drink, but visitors are probably
best recommended not to try them without the advice of an local
resident. There are restaurants in the hotels which serve Chinese,
European and Indian food.
Indonesia is a main producer
and exporter of tea and coffee,
and is available on almost every street corner. Bali
produces a good rice wine named brem
while in Tana Toraja (southern Sulawesi), tourists
may wish to sample a Tuak, a famously potent local
brew. Locally produced pilsner beer is also available.
Jakarta nightclubs host international bands and
singers, and are open until 4.00 am during
the weekends. Jakarta has more than 40 cinemas
and some subtitled and / or English-language films are shown. There
are also theatres providing local cultural
performances, and casinos.
Dancing is regarded as an art, encouraged and practised
from early childhood. The repertoire derives from ancient
legends and stories from religious epics. Performances
are generally given in village halls and squares, and also in several
of the leading hotels by professional touring groups.
The dances vary, both in technique and number of performers. The
more famous dances include the Baris, a fast moving,
loud demonstration of male, warlike behaviour, the Legong,
a slow, graceful dance of divine nymphs and the Jauk,
a solo offering by a masked and richly costumed demon. Some consider
the most dramatic of all to be the famous Cecak
(Monkey Dance) which includes 100 or more very lively participants.
Several of the larger hotels, particularly in Bali, put on these
dance shows accompanied by the uniquely Indonesian Gamelan
Throughout the year, numerous local moonlight festivals
take place, tourists should check for times and events locally.
Indonesian puppets are world famous and shows for visitors take
place in various locations.
Favourite items are batik cloth, paintings, bamboo
articles, woodcarvings and sculpture, silver work, woven baskets
and hats, krises (small daggers), and woven cloth. At some of the
smaller shops, bartering might be necessary.
Shopping hours: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 9:00
pm. Many local markets open either very early in the morning or
There are many festivals which take place during
the year, the dates vary according to the Hindu or Buddhist calendars.
Bali stages some grand festivals all year round. Festival calendars
can be found on arrival. The Sultan’s birthday
in mid-December is celebrated with a fair and festival
in Yogyakarta, Java.
For a full list of special events and festivals, contact the Indonesia
Tourism Promotion Board or a representative ITPO
office (see Contact section).
||Lomban Festival (fishermen’s
||Nyepi (Day of Silence), Bali and Tenggara
||Bali Arts Festival, Denpasar
||Kerapan Sapi (bull races), Madura Island
||Dugderran (festival for the start of Ramadan),
||Idul Fitri (Eid al-Fitr), marking the end
of Ramadan, Kebumen
Indonesia counts at least 583 separate languages and dialects,
several of them as different from each other as Welsh is from English.
Since independence, many people have developed and maintained a
strong sense of national pride and traditions of dance, painting,
woodcarving and stone carvingremain alive today.
are often formal. When food or drink is served, it should not be
touched until the host invites the guest to do so.
or pass anything with the left hand.
affection in public between men and women are frowned upon and kissing
in public will attract a great deal of unnecessary attention.
Touching a stranger
of the same sex while in conversation is usual.
impolite and patting children on the head is discouraged.
are polite and present endless courtesies to visitors whom they
trust and like.
Smiling is a
cultural tradition and Indonesians smile frequently, even when in
an uncomfortable or complex situation.
prevent losing their temper.
invited to someone's home, a gift is appreciated (as long as it
is given with the right hand).
is normal, but a some smart establishments encourage guests to dress
suits are acceptable for business wear and on formal occasions.
particularly concerning female clothes, should be observed.
Tipping is a normal practise and 10 %
is customary, except where a service charge is included
in the bill. Taxi fees are rounded up to the nearest number.