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While staying at a fancy resort or boutique hotel can be a lot of fun, it may take a humble homestay to immerse you fully into the local culture and quirky customs. For a fascinating, insightful and convenient traveling experience, discover our guide to homestay etiquette in Indonesia.
Taking off shoes before entering someone’s home is a common practice in many Asian countries. The custom has historical and cultural roots, but it’s also practical. Wearing your shoes inside the house after a long day of adventure outside will soil the floor. So, unless your host tells you it’s okay to leave them on, take your footwear off before entering the front door. Also, it may feel nice to be barefoot and let your feet breathe for a while.
This may sound like general courtesy, but most Indonesians are especially communal beings. Join their dining table for meals whenever you’re home. Hang out in the living room. Talk to your host, even if it’s just about the weather. In short, interact whenever you have the chance — you may learn more about the local culture at home than you will at museums and attractions.
Many Indonesians are strict and traditional about the dynamics and interactions between each gender. Some hosts frown upon or even forbid non-married couples to stay in the same room. If you’re traveling with your partner, communicate and check with the host first. Even if they allow you to stay in the same room, mind your interactions and restrain yourselves from too much public display of affection.
Be it religious or cultural, many Indonesians take their traditions and rituals seriously. Prayer time, cultural festivals or religious items are not to be messed with. Be thoughtful enough to not bother your host during spiritual time. Some homes may even have sacred items around, like statues, prayer beads or prayer rugs; do not touch something unless you’re absolutely sure it’s OK.
Chances are, some Indonesians may feel uncomfortable having alcohol in their home, especially if they are Muslims. To be safe, just have your drinks at the bar, and do not come home drunk.
You don’t want to keep your hosts waiting up for you to come home from a late-night culinary quest, or whatever adventure you go on. You also don’t want to wake them up when you embark on your sunrise-hunting trip at 2 a.m. Let them know your plans, and tell them there’s no need to wait up or wake up. Indonesians can be very hospitable and attentive, so letting them know all of your plans and needs will save them from unnecessary trouble.
Avoid pointing out a shortcoming or making a demand that may cause your hosts to lose face. Do not talk about the place’s flaws in front of other guests or other people. Also, find a way to communicate your aspirations in a constructive and assertive way without blaming your hosts or making them feel bad.