Business etiquette, language & culture

Business behaviour

The official language is Bahasa Indonesia. English is widely spoken by young people, but interpretation may be required for business meetings, particularly outside Jakarta and other major cities in Indonesia.

During meetings you should:

  • exchange business cards immediately after introductions presenting with both hands or with the right

  • not offer anything with your left hand, nor receive anything with your left hand

  • keep cards on the table, not put them away immediately

  • not start drinking when offered a drink until formally invited to do so by the host

  • not to cross your legs when sitting as showing the soles of your feet is considered highly discourteous in Indonesia

  • not stand with your hands on your hips or with your arms folded as this is regarded as aggressive and rude

Email is treated as an optional form of communication and rarely gets responses.

After a meeting send a formal letter setting out what you discussed. Company literature will be well received. Then follow this up with a phone call to confirm the letter has been received. Do not expect progress until your next face to face meeting.


Local culture

You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas.

In 2018, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on 15th May and finish on 14th June. See the UK Government’s “Travelling during Ramadan” guidance at:

During Balinese New Year, known as Nyepi, local custom requires that all people in Bali observe a day of silence by staying indoors, turning off lights, and making no noise. Ngurah Rai International Airport is closed for the entire day. However, emergency services and hospitals are allowed to operate.


Indonesian public holidays




Monday 1st January

New Year’s Day

Friday 16th February

Chinese New Year

Saturday 17th March

Balinese New Year

Friday 30th March

Good Friday

Friday 13th April

Ascension of the Prophet Mohammed

Tuesday 1st May

International Labour Day

Thursday 10th May

Ascension Day of Christ

Tuesday 15th May

Start of Ramadan

Tuesday 29th May

Birth of Buddha

Friday 1st June

Pancasila Day

Thursday 14th June

End of Ramadan

Saturday 16th June

Eid Al-Fitr

Friday 17th August

Independence Day

Wednesday 22nd August

Idul Adha

Tuesday 11th September

Islamic New Year

Tuesday 20th November

Birth of Mohammed

Tuesday 25th December

Christmas Day


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