How to visit a local village in Indonesia

If you are heading off to Indonesia anytime soon and thinking of exploring and visiting a local village while on your private yacht charter, fret not! Here are our tips on how to visit a local village to make it easier and more fun for you while showing respect to the locals during your visit.

The Indonesian archipelago offers a lot when it comes to culture and adventure. World-class scuba diving in Komodo, breathtaking landscapes in Raja Ampat, and pristine white sand beaches in South Lomboks’ Gilis – to just name a few. However, authentic experiences such as visiting a small local town and engaging with the local community make the trip even more special!

What to consider before visiting a local Village

Before visiting a local village in Indonesia, there are a few things you should consider to ensure a smooth and respectful experience:

  • Learn a few words in the local language: Learning a few words in the local language can go a long way in making a good impression and showing respect to the locals.
  • Learn about the culture: It is important to learn about the local culture to avoid any disrespectful or inappropriate behavior. Read about their customs, traditions, and taboos to avoid offending anyone.
  • Bring small gifts: Bringing small gifts such as candy or souvenirs can be a good way to show your appreciation and gratitude to the locals.
  • Dress appropriately: Indonesia is a conservative country, so it’s important to dress appropriately, especially if you’re visiting a local village. Avoid wearing revealing clothing and opt for modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
  • Ask for permission before taking photos: Always ask for permission before taking photos of people or places. Some people may not be comfortable with having their picture taken.
  • Be conscious of your surroundings: Always be aware of your surroundings and respect the local wildlife and environment. Don’t litter and avoid damaging any plants or wildlife.

Remote Fishing Village in Sulawesi

Learn a few useful phrases in Bahasa Indonesia

If you are exploring remote parts of Indonesia, you will realize that locals will only be able to speak in their local native tongue and some Bahasa Indonesia, Indonesia’s official language. In case you plan to visit a remote Indonesian village, it is best to learn a few useful and basic phrases in Bahasa.  Here are a few to get you started:

  • Good morning/afternoon/evening = Selamat pagi/siang/sore
  • Thank you = Terima kasih
  • Excuse me = Permisi
  • Please, can you help me = Tolong, bisakah Anda membantu saya
  • My name is = nama saya

Local Community engaging in a Football Match

Interact with the local community when visiting the village

Indonesians are friendly people, especially the children. Depending on how often tourists visit an area, the locals might be shy and timid at the beginning. However, they will open up quickly to friendly tourists. In some places, you will be awaited by enthusiastically arm-waving children on the local harbor jetty. Try to mingle with them, do “selfies” and make some funny faces. Show them that you are a fun-loving person and no different than they are. It is a surefire way to make them feel at ease and comfortable. In exchange, they will show you around their village and favorite places. You can pick up a few useful words to communicate while in town! 

Bring some gifts

Bringing small gifts is a great way to show your appreciation and respect for the locals in the village. It’s important to keep in mind that the gifts you bring should be appropriate and culturally sensitive. Consider the age and gender of the recipient. For example, children might appreciate small toys or candy. We experienced that hairbands for girls were warmly welcomed. Adults might prefer something more practical or useful. 

Please think about the local culture. Take the local culture and customs in consideration when choosing gifts. For example, in some areas of Indonesia, it’s customary to bring food or snacks as a gift. Also, money is never a good gift!

Explore Remote Regions on board Nataraja

Dress conservatively when walking around the village

Indonesia is a warm country, so it is only natural for visitors to dress lightly. However, as much as you crave comfort and fashion when traveling, it is also equally important to show respect. To avoid any unpleasant experiences, please learn about the dress code. Indonesia is a Muslim country. Many of the places are relatively  “laid back” when it comes to dress codes, but still, there are rules.  It is best to put on clothing that covers your legs and shoulders. Reserve your bikinis and super short shorts for your time on board a yacht, and dress conservatively while going around the village

Avoid cultural dont's in Indonesia

In Indonesia, as in many cultures, there are a few things to avoid, as they are considered rude, especially:

  • Pointing your bare feet at people
  • Touching peoples’ heads
  • Giving and receiving things (especially food) with your left hand
  • Don’t be too intimidated by cultural differences
  • On the other hand, you may experience behavior from the side of the locals which could be considered rude in your country.
  • Staring – In Indonesia, it is not considered impolite to stare. The fewer foreigners in the area, the more stares you will receive. Don’t take it personally rather enjoy being the center of attention.
  • It is not uncommon for people to yell out “Hey Bule” (Bule = pale/white) when they see you. The best response is just to smile and nod your head! Most foreigners are also familiar with the common variation of “Hey Bule”, which is “Hey Mister”. Yes, all foreigners are men.
  • Privacy – It is not uncommon to be followed by a crowd of locals wherever you go. Often, locals are proud to show you around the village and often enjoy the unexpected entertainment though foreign visitors.

Animals are an important part of the Communities

Keep the town clean

Plastic pollution is a real problem in Indonesia. Be a role model to the locals when visiting their town by taking your trash with you. Encourage fellow travelers to do the same. The good news is that mindsets are changing and various NGOs throughout the archipelago are educating for a cleaner Indonesian ocean. Follow and support Ocean Care and the Sea Venture Trust, 2 great initiatives for a better environmental future in Indonesia.

Are you ready to explore the local culture?

With so many remarkable destinations to choose from, it is important to find a charter and a boat that is right for you. We assist and guide you through the process of booking your dream charter in Indonesia. On top of that, we offer personal advice and we ensure that your cruise meets your exact needs.

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