Indonesian Culture: What You Need to Know

We talk a lot about Indonesian girls here at Life Around Asia, but today we’re going to dive a little deeper into Indonesian culture.

We want to give you a great understanding of the people in this great country and how they interact on a daily basis. While you won’t find this information too useful on a short trip, those looking to expat in Jakarta or Bali will find great benefit to the information below.

Understanding Indonesian Culture

Population and Demographics

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world. With around 250 million people, the country is also the fourth largest in the world behind China, India, and the United States.

What does this mean?

There’s a lot of women in Indonesia!

Not only that – the population of Indonesia is young. Really, really young. The average age in the country hovers around 28 years old. For traveling men, this means around a 125 million individuals in the country are under 28. That’s a lot of girls in Indonesia who are of eligible dating age.

There are over 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia, but around 95% of the people in the country are of native Indonesian ancestry. Nearly 100 million people in the country are of Javanese ancestry, including the majority of individuals who live in Jakarta.

Religion & Indonesian Culture

Being the largest Muslim country in the world, you can imagine that religion plays a large role in Indonesia. Nearly 87% of the country’s population consider themselves Muslim. While many would assume this can destroy the dating market for foreign men, that’s not exactly true.

Most Indonesian girls (if they are Muslim) practice a form of the religion that’s much less extreme than what’s common in the Middle East. As such, you’ll find many women unconcerned about saving themselves for marriage.

Pre-martial sex and partying are quite common in certain parts of the country, especially in Bali and Jakarta.


While some long-term expats invest in learning Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of the country, most foreigners do just fine with English. If you want to pick up a few words of Bahasa, that’s a great idea.

Learning the language is not necessary for living in Jakarta or Bali, especially with regards to dating and living in the nicer areas.


The official currency of Indonesia is the Rupiah. While currency valuations change daily, the current exchange rate is favorable for individuals earning in USD.  You’ll get $13,000 Indonesian Rupiah for $1 US Dollar.

While partying in Jakarta can be pricey, the exchange rate value allows most travelers to stretch their budget pretty far in the country.

The “Bule”

One important piece of Indonesian culture is understanding the “Bule” factor throughout the country. You’ll hear this word occasionally, and you need to know what it means. So…

Definition of “Bule” – A word commonly used to describe any foreigner of European descent, aka any white person. The literal translation of the word means Albino. While some expats take offensive to the word, I don’t think you should in most contexts. It’s like Gringo in Latin America. 

The word is commonly found when talking about dating. Many Indonesian women favor “Bule” and desire a white man in their lives. If you’re single and living in the country, you can use this to your advantage.

P.S: Interested in dating in Indonesia? Read this.

Collect, Conform, Cooperate

When talking about Indonesian culture, you have to understand a number of things.

First, this is an Asian country. As such, the culture lends a hand to collectivism.

This means people strive to put the group first over their individual desires. Family plays a large role in Indonesian people’s lives, even placing a large commitment to helping extended family in a time of need.

Indonesian Culture

Indirect Society

Like most Southeast Asian countries, the desire to save face is paramount. “Saving face” refers to avoiding any embarrassing situations or anything that would lower one’s value in society. As such, Indonesian people will be quite indirect.

If you ask someone a question and they don’t know the exact answer, they’ll still give you a vague answer. If you extend an invitation to someone and they don’t want to go, they’ll usually tell you “maybe” in one way or another.

This means he or she won’t be attending.

Javanese & Balinese

It’s important to note there are distinct cultural differences between the Javanese and the Balinese people. Jakarta and Bali can be completely different worlds. In Jakarta, you have a Muslim culture that has be liberalized. The big city lifestyle of partying and dating around is common here.

While Jakarta is the epicenter of such a phenomenon in Indonesian, you’ll find liberal Javanese people all over the island.

In Bali, the tourism infrastructure has influenced the Balinese people, but they still managed to keep their culture intact. The Balinese are not Muslims. They follow a Hindu-Buddist religion that’s been mixed with Balinese customs. Famous customs of the Balinese include their temples, dances, and drama.

If you’re looking to delve into a unique culture, the people of Bali will surely fit the bill.

Indonesian Culture: An Overview

The information above is not extensive. It’s just a primer on what you can expect from Indonesian culture when you visit the country.

Use the tips and understanding above to greater your enjoyment in the country and get more out of your visit than the typical tourist.

PS: If you’d like to meet some local Indonesian girls, start here.

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