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Local Customs and Practices

When visiting Java as the other place in Indonesia, visitors should observe local customs and practices. Some common courtesies and customs are as follows:

- An umbrella is an essential wardrobe component in rainy season (September - February).
- High heat and humidity require packing enough clothing to always appear clean & fresh. You may have to change your clothes several times a day to maintain this look.
- Women should wear long-sleeve blouses and skirts should not come above the knee.
- Women meeting in a more formal office should wear a suit with hosiery.
- Men should wear a coat and tie until it is appropriate to dress more casually. Follow the lead of those you are meeting with.
- Men generally wear dark slacks, a long-sleeved light-colored shirt and tie (no jacket).
- "Lounge suit" requires men to wear a business suit. This term may be included on an invitation.
- Men may find in a very casual business office that a short sleeve shirt and no tie would be appropriate.
- Women must always cover their upper arms when wearing a casual blouse.
- Jeans may be worn however it is considered very casual, but never shorts for men or women. Even though the climate is warm and humid, proper attire even for a very casual appearance will always dictate your choice of clothing.
- Do not crook your index finger to call someone over. This gesture is offensive.
- Do not put your hands into your pockets when talking with someone.


- No physical contact between men and women is made in public, except a possible handshake.
- Be on time for any meetings. Sometimes the meetings start late. However, you are expected on time, and should never make any comment about the meeting starting late or any person arriving late.
- Never stand with your back to an elderly person or a high ranking official. As you enter a room be aware of the people who will be in that room with you.
- Always rise when your host/hostess enters the room.
- Leaving food on your plate signifies you are impolite, so eat all the food you are served.
- Only use your right hand for eating, when touching someone, or handling money/papers.
- Talking is impolite while eating dinner. Conversation is reserved for before or after the meal.
- Never show the soles of your feet/shoes or touch anything with your foot.
- Never touch another person's head, this includes a child's head (such as a pat on the head).
- Never eat while walking in public, or chew on a toothpick. Yawning in public is inappropriate (cover your mouth if you must yawn).
- Remove your hat and sunglasses when going indoors.
- Gifts, though small, are frequently given.
- Gifts are not opened when given. This practice shows the recipient is gracious, not greedy.
- Religion/Culture dictates specific rules for appropriate gifts. Muslim, Hindus, and the Chinese culture each have rules regarding food, alcohol, and other items. Make sure your gift is not offensive to the person you are giving it to.
- Indonesian Chinese may politely refuse a gift three times before accepting it. When the gift is accepted, tell the recipient how happy you are with his or her acceptance.
- Do not give gifts of alcohol or pork. This would also include perfume since it is made with alcohol, and any leather product made from pigskin (Muslim).
- Do not give gifts containing beef or items made of cowhide (Hindu).
- On Chinese New Year, give children and people you frequently deal with, who are not government employees, a gift of money. The money must be an even number of new bills, and presented in a red envelope (Chinese).
- Do not give a knife, scissors, clock, handkerchief, or straw sandals (Chinese).
- Do not give a gift that numbers four or shows a crane or stork. In selecting the gift and gift wrapping paper, stay away from the colors white, black, or blue (Chinese).
- A gift of an umbrella means you do not want to see that person again (Chinese).
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