Main gestures and poses in Indonesia

There are the gestures and poses that Indonesian people do almost unconsciously. After some time living in Indonesia the foreigners starts do the same :). Some of them just because to show respect for local cultural manners, others – see so many examples around, that just assimilate (for example like me ;)). To make these gestures it’s not obligatory for foreigners but if you will do that, I think, Indonesians will appreciate it ;).


Shake hands softly and then slightly touch your chest afterwards.

Men usually give a stronger grip than women when they are shaking hands.
Touching your chest after shaking hands demonstrates respect to other person (you’re taking their greeting into your heart).

Giving and receiving things

Always use your right hand when passing and receiving things. Using the left hand is considered very impolite. Slightly bow your head as you say “thank you”.

Giving and receiving







Walking past people

Slightly bow your body and put right hand in front of body as walk in front of someone and say “permisi” (“excuse me”).

Pass people






Calling someone over

Just waving fingers downwards if you want to call someone over.









Indonesians like to sit just on the floor when they visiting people, eating, doing things at home and etc. Some of the local eating places “angkringan” mostly provides you only sitting places on the floor on carpets “tikar”. So even if you are not used to sit like this, soon (if you will stay longer in Indonesia) you will just adapt to this habit :).

Travel insurance including COVID coverage

Males: Sit with feet crossed at the ankles (it’s called “bersila“).

Females: Sit with feet tucked under them, turned down on the floor. The same like yoga “Diamond” pose. Most probably you will see more often women sitting like males, but more polite to sit like this.

Women sitting style








Illustrations made by Hendra Arkan.

Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

Indonesian people lifestyle
Good manners in Indonesia
How to use squat toilet



I visited Bukittinggi city for the Darmasiswa scholarship program closing ceremony in May 2015. So all the things were arranged and paid for, that’s why I don’t know some of the prices or didn’t visit some places. But still, I have what to share :).

Minangkabau styleBukittinggi (in Indonesian known as “High hill”) is the 2nd biggest city in West Sumatra island. From Padang airport, it ~ 2,3 hours by bus. The road through hills so a bit tortuous.  The town has a hilly contour with small hills and valleys where possible to find ascending and descending roads and stairs for pedestrians.

Bukittinggi citizens call their town “a town with thousand stairs” – but I hardly could call it like this :). Bukittinggi is well known for its beautiful scenery and is surrounded by 3 mountains: Marapi (still active), Singgalang (inactive), and Sago (these 3 mountains more popular in the term “Tri Arga”).

Even if possible to find information that there are many touristic places to see but in my personal opinion – not so much, of course, depends on what you are interested in. I think 1 day, maximum 2 it’s enough for this city.

So the main touristic objects to visit in Bukittinggi:

“Panorama park”
Located on side of The Silent Canyon (“Sianok Canyon”) where possible to see a beautiful view of the canyon with mountain Singgalang as background. You can see here a lot of wild monkeys. It’s a place to have a nice walk or have a picnic. As well you can find here a Japanese tunnel  (“Lobang Jepang”). It was made by the Indonesian people during World War II as a bunker for the Japanese military in 1942.

The Silent Canyon – “Sianok Canyon”
It’s ~ 2 km from the city center. It’s suited on the edge of Bukittinggi which separates the town from mountain Singgalang. The cliffs are 100-120 meters in height. Sianok Canyon is a beautiful green valley with winding rivers on the bottom flowing as far as ~15 km from the back of cliffs.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky to visit “Panorama park” and “Sianok Canyon”. But I think that these places the only ones that really worth seeing.

The big clock tower – “Jam gadang”
Some of the people call it “Bukittinggi Big Ben” :). It’s possible to see it in the center of the downtown and this object became the symbol of the city (this tower possible to see from many places in the city). The tower surrounded by some space where people hang around, sells souvenirs, snacks. In front possible to see “The Hills” hotel (if somebody would like to stay in the center).
It’s 26 meters high clock tower, with a roof shape like Minangkabau traditional house. From the top possible to see the Bukittinggi surrounding. The unique thing that in numerical order 4 numbers written in Roman numeral.
The tower was built in 1926 by the local architect Yazid Abidin with his partner Sutan Gigi Ameh. The clock itself was a present from Queen of Netherlands to Rook Maker, a secretary of Bukittinggi Municipality during colonization time. There are 4 clocks which face to 4 directions. The top of the clock was restored a few times. In the beginning, it had a rounds shape roof with a statue of the rooster. Then it changed into a monastery shape like a roof during the Japanese colonization. In independence time the top was changed to the shape like it is now.
Across the square is traditional tourist markets, called “Pasar Atas” and “Pasar Bawah”. Many goods sold there, from souvenirs, handicrafts, textiles, traditional food, traditional snacks, to fresh fruits, vegetables, chicken, meat, and fish. Behind the market is the town’s old Chinatown with many old shophouses.

Limpapeh bridge – “Jembatan Limpapeh”
It’s a beautiful bridge with Minangkabau architecture. It connects Kinantan Zoo (“Kebun Kinantan”) to Fort de Kock (“Benteng fort de Kock”) passing right on Ahmad Yani street. You can see a really beautiful view from the bridge: on one side the town part surrounded by one mountain on another side – another part and a different mountain.

Other touristic objects that you might be interested to see:

Fort de Kock – “Benteng fort de Kock”
Lays on the hill “Bukik Jirek” that was designed as a fortress by Duch during Paderi War. Like all visiting places have they own story but for me wasn’t so interesting this place – just a nice place to walk surrounded by some cages of birds and through it possible to go to the Zoo by “Limpapeh” bridge.

Kinantan Zoo – “Kebun Kinantan”
Was established in 1929 and is the first zoo in Indonesia with various rare endangered animals. Truly to say the zoo looks quite poor (even if there is really some exotic kind of animals). I was felt sad looking at the animals; some of them were eating plastic bags, some people were riding the elephant. And I could feel like the animal there as well – when local people started to ask making pictures with me. In this zoo, there is a customary house of Minangkabau named “Rumah Gadang”. The museum display many kinds of ancient collections and all building looks impressive. Unfortunately at that time when we visited the zoo, it was closed. And also you can visit the zoological museum.
There are few toilets but they don’t work. Some souvenir and snacks shops.
There is an entrance fee (for fort and zoo the same ticket) – but I don’t remember the price.

Tri Daya Eka Dharma Museum – located in front of “Panorama park”. You can see the historical things when Indonesia opposes the Japanese and Dutch colonial.
Museum rumah kelahiran Bung Hatta – located in Soekarno Hatta street. It’s a place where Muhammad Hatta (Bung Hatta) was born. He was the first Vice President of Indonesia and a proclaimer of Indonesia’s independence along with Soekarno.

Bung Hatta Library – located in the hill Gulai Bancah. The library made by international standards, equipped with audio-visual facilities, conference rooms, auditoriums, and mosques. Meeting rooms are usually rented for various events, weddings and etc. So if you will be lucky enough maybe you can participate in a traditional event.

The ladder 40 – “Jenjang 40” – was built in 1908 and connects the “upmarket” (“Pasar Atas”) with “down market” (“Pasar Bawah”). The ladder was inspired by composer Minang Syahrul Tarun Joseph with the title track ”Andam Oi”.
Panorama Baru view – a touristic object which has still a natural view. On the bottom side, it’s possible to enjoy the Sianok Canyon view. Here you can have lunch or dinner, camping or a bit of hiking.

The ladder 100 – “Jenjang seribu” – it’s an object with green fertile soil and the rivers follow the steep riverbanks gaps. Passing the ladder possible to enjoy the view of Marapi and Singgalang mountains.

 This is were located all the mentioned places:



The tourist office is at Jl. Syech Bantam 1 (near the clock tower). Working:  Mon-Thurs 8:00 am-2:00 pm, Fri 8:00-11:00 am, Sat 8:00 am-12:30 pm ( tel 0752/22403).

What food to try in Bukittinggi?
Locals say that here possible to try a lot of delicious food. I enjoy “rendang” – but not all “warungs” prepares it good.
As well this city is famous for: “nasi kapau”, “kerupuk sanja”, “kerupuk kulit”, “denting kering”, “belut kering”, “pisang kapit” and many others.
Where to buy in Bukittinggi?
There are some markets like:
  • “Pasar Atas” (east of Jl. Minangkabau) –  located in front of the clock tower.
    This market provides many kinds of souvenir and special food from Bukittinggi with reasonable price: “sate padang”, “nasi padang” and “kerupuk sanja”. There is another special culinary that you shouldn’t miss when you visit “Pasar Atas”, it’s “nasi kapau” made from special ingredients that have been passed from generation to generation, from area named Kapau.
    Besides the tourism market, Pasar Atas also become a center of trading. The other unique stuff that is selling here is “bordir kerancang” – special stripes. The people of Minangkabau is known for “border” making.  You can found in this market many clothes or material with “bordir kerancang”.
    “Hari pakan” market means special days that more sellers will come. And in each area or market, they have their own “Hari pakan”. In this market “hari pakan” is on every Wednesday and Saturday.
    Try to avoid visiting “hari pakan” because if you will shopping for your own need you will find a lot of signs “sorry not allowed to buy in pieces”.
  • “Pasar Bawah”. It’s a traditional market located under “Pasar Atas”.
    Here you can find vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and many fresh spices, ingredients for cooking. Just like many other traditional markets, when you entered the alleys of  “Pasar Bawah”, you will see the same condition, wet, very humid, smelly especially in the fish and meat section.
  • “Pasar Grosir Aur Kuning”. Jl Minangkabau 19 (located near to Aur Kuning terminal). Has a huge range of textiles from Sumba and Irian Jaya and king sticks from North Sumatra.
    This market lays on a 2.3 ha wide area with around 1470 shops and many more small shops.
    It was built in 1980 and used by people to trade earth resources (plants and spices), and now this market already became the biggest grocery trading on Sumatra island. The meaning of the market name “aur kuning” is “yellow small bamboo tree”. And it seems the development of the market was related to its name philosophy – “when it is small it used for one thing and when gets elder and elder the function changing as well”.
    The “hari pakan” (market day) is on Wednesday and Saturday.

As well you can find some shopping centers, malls, supermarkets.

Festivals in Bukittinggi
This city has many events like:
  • Muharram festival
    To celebrate the entry of Moslem New Year that is the date of 1 Muharam (first month in the Islamic calendar) hence by Office of Bukittinggi Tourism Bureau to performs various activities of like competition of Moslem cloth, singing and etc.
  • Traditional Dance in Medan Nan Balinduang
    Every night in Medan Nan Balinduang is performed by the traditional artistry of Minangkabau filled by galleries under the supervision of the Office of Bukittinggi Tourism Bureau.
  • Horse racing
    Executed 3 until 4 times in one year and performed in Lapangan Bukit Ambacang.
  • Birth commemoration of Bung Hatta
    This event executed every date of the 12th of  August and filled by a various events of artistries.
  • Khatam Al-Quran
    This event usually is executed every vacation of school, where pupils MDA (Islamic Informal Institution) has finalized the education in learning read Alquran, and all the MDA in Bukittinggi does cortege together.


Have you been to Bukittinggi city? What else you would recommend to see?

Visas for Indonesia

Before coming to Indonesia you need to know main things about vaccines and visas. Here I will try to share main information about visas for Indonesia.

After making some research I found out that in different countries, Indonesian embassies have a bit different rules for visas. Before starting making visa, first of all you need to contact Indonesian embassy in your country to get information concrete for your country citizens (or nearest country that is responsible to make visas for your country citizens. For example Indonesian embassy in Denmark responsible as well for visas issue for Lithuanians).

Notice: all information prepared according 12 2017 news.

Visa types, requirements and extension

Free Visa for short visit (BVKS)
Visa-free is 30 days permission to stay in Indonesia. The list of countries whose citizens can get such visa.
Visitors with the visa-free facility will be able to proceed directly to the immigration clearance counter after deplaning.


  • Passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months, from the date of arrival to Indonesia
  • Onward or return tickets must be shown on arrival

The visa free facility does not allow the change into other permits or extension.

Visa on arrival (VOA)
Visa on arrival can be obtained directly when you are landed at major Indonesian entry points.
Visa on arrival is given to a person who has come with holiday/leisure, business or social visit purposes in Indonesia. The maximum length of stay is 30 days.
The list of countries whose citizens can have Visa on arrival.

Arrival and departure card. Since April 1st 2015 it is not necessary anymore to fill the form and to hand it over to the immigration officer at the immigration desk.  But you should keep your boarding pass and show it to the immigration officer.


  • Passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months, from the date of arrival to Indonesia
  • Return ticket is compulsory
  • Need to pay visa fee (preferably in cash) – 35 USD

The immigration officer at the port of entry may ask the passenger to produce any necessary documents (such as hotel reservation and proof of finance).

Can be extended once for extra 30 days at the Immigration office in Indonesia.
But, to apply for this type of visa, it is better to inform the immigration officers of your intentions to renew at the time of getting your visa on arrival.
To extend visa costs an additional 35 USD.

Overstay visitors incur a penalty of 20 USD per day for under 60 days over-stay. More than 60 days over-stay may incur a 5 year prison sentence or a fine of 25 000 000 Rp (~1 879 USD).

Visa before arriving
Citizens of other countries not on the visa on arrival or visa free lists will be required to apply for a visa overseas – in their home country – before entering Indonesia. Citizens of any country wishing to stay more than 30 days must also apply for an appropriate visa (cultural visit or business visit) at their nearest Indonesian Embassy or Consulate before traveling to Indonesia.

Nationals of San Marino require visa at all times including for transit. Otherwise other nationalities can transit through Indonesian airports for up to 8 hours.

Nationals of Afghanistan, Cameroon, Guinea, Iraq, Israel, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, and Somalia require an approval from Immigration Office in Indonesia before travelling for Business, Tourist and Social Visits purposes. This policy is called “Indonesian Calling Visa”.

Temporary stay visa
This type of visa is issued to an applicant:
  • setting up or expanding an investment which involves a substantial amount of capital in Indonesia;
  • invited to work for his/her professional expertise by the Indonesian government, private company or Non-Governmental Organization;
  • joining Indonesian parents/ parents having the Indonesian Temporary or Permanent Resident Card;
  • joining Indonesian husband/ spouse having the Indonesian Temporary or Permanent Resident Card;
  • ex Indonesian citizens to repatriate to Indonesia.

To apply for this type of visa, an applicant has to have a bona fide Indonesian sponsor living in Indonesia. Indonesian sponsor will set up the administratively paper works to the Indonesian Labor Department and Immigration office.

If the application is approved, the Immigration office will send an approval to the Indonesian Mission located closely to the applicant country of residence.


  • Valid passport (18 months beyond the entry date)
  • Approval from the Immigration Director General
  • 2 visa application forms with 2 pictures
  • Curriculum Vitae form
  • A good of conduct letter from the nearby police office
  • A certified copy of university diploma/certificate of professional teacher
  • Copy of itinerary/tickets
  • Proof of visa payment

Temporary Stay Visa is issued for a single entry. After his/her arrival in Indonesia, the visa holder is required to contact the nearby Immigration office sooner to apply for a Temporary Stay Card. A Temporary Stay Card holder requires exit-reentry permit anytime he/she’ll leave and re-enter Indonesia.

Single entry visa (official, business, social-cultural, vacation)
A single entry visa is issued for those traveling to Indonesia for official visit (diplomatic/service), business trip, social-cultural or vacation (holiday/tourist). In some places it can be named separately “Tourist visa”, “Social-cultural visa”, “Business visa”.
As well can be made “Collective visit visa” (for a group from 5 to 25 people) and “Multiple business visit visa” (this visa is issued to an applicant who frequently makes business trips to Indonesia within 1 year).

A single entry visa is valid for 2 months from the date of issuance


  • Need to fill in the visa application form
  • Copy of itinerary ticket
  • Support letter/letter from company in your country (for Business trip)
  • Invitation from family/company/counterpart in Indonesia (for Social-cultural visit) (here are 2 examples)
  • Proof of visa payment
  • Original Passport (should be valid 6 months from the date of arrival in Indonesia)
  • 2 recent photographs
  • Copy of identification card

Social-cultural visa and Tourist visa allow to extend 4 times (each time for 1 month).
Visa can be extended in Indonesia. Extension of Business and Social-Cultural visas can be obtained at the Directorate General of Immigration. While the extension of Diplomatic and Service visa will be done through Directorate for Consular Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Diplomatic visa
Diplomatic visa is granted to foreign nationals holding Diplomatic passport who visit Indonesia for diplomatic assignments. Particular assignment shall obtain approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.


  • Need to fill in the visa application form
  • Should have Diplomatic Note from Ministry of Foreign Affairs from your country
  • Original Diplomatic Passport (should be valid 6 months from the date of arrival in Indonesia)
  • 2 recent photographs

Service visa
Service visa is granted to foreign nationals holding Service or Official Passport who visit Indonesia for official assignments. Particular assignment shall obtain approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia.


  • Need to fill in the visa application form
  • Should have Diplomatic Note from Ministry of Foreign Affairs from your country
  • Invitation letter from counterpart in Indonesia
  • Original Service or Official Passport (should be valid 6 months from the date of arrival in Indonesia)
  • 2 recent photographs

Transit visa
Foreign nationals wishes to make stop over in Indonesian territory before continuing their trip to another country or to their home country, to join or work on a transport vehicle that will continue its trip to another country, will need Transit Visa, allowing to stay for 14 days during 30 days period.


  • Need to fill in the visa application form
  • Should have copy of itinerary ticket
  • For those joining a transport vehicle must provide copy of work contract
  • Invitation letter from counterpart in Indonesia
  • Proof of visa payment
  • Original Service or Official Passport (should be valid 6 months from the date of arrival in Indonesia)
  • 2 recent photographs

Non-ordinary passports
Holders of non-ordinary passports issued by the following countries are allowed to visit Indonesia without a visa:
(D — diplomatic passports; O — official passports; S — service passports; Sp — special passports)

Afghanistan D S
Argentina D O
Austria D S
Azerbaijan D S
Bangladesh D O
Belarus D O
Bosnia and Herzegovina D S
Brazil D O
Bulgaria D S
China D S
Colombia D O S
Croatia D S
Cuba D O
Ecuador D O Sp
France D S
Georgia D S
Hungary D S
India D O
Iran D S
Kazakhstan D S
Kyrgyzstan D S
Macedonia D O
Mexico D O
Moldova D O S
Mongolia D O
Nicaragua D O S
North Korea D O S
Pakistan D O
Paraguay D O
Poland D S
Portugal D S Sp
Russia D S
Slovakia D S
Slovenia D S
South Korea D O
Sri Lanka D O
Suriname D S
Switzerland D S
Timor-Leste D O S
Tunisia D Sp
Turkey D S Sp
United Arab Emirates D S
Uruguay D O
Venezuela D S

Additional information:
  • There are restricted regions in Indonesia. The 4 regions are: Maluku, Poso, and Irian Jaya/West Papua. Applicants seeking to visit the restricted regions must obtain special authorization from Indonesian authorities.
  • To avoid the long wait at airports to apply for a visa on arrival, and if you want to stay for 60 days, you can apply for a Visit visa at the Indonesian consular office in your home country. The consular office at Indonesian embassies (outside of Indonesia) can issue a 60-day Visit visa.
  • Beware of the day counting trap! The way the immigration officials’ count stay period is: the day of arrival counts as day one. The day of departure also counts. For example you have 30-days visa, you arrive on the 1st day, you must leave on the 30th day (not the 31st or the first of the next month). Even if you leave 5 min. after midnight, it will be counted as a full new day. If you overstay you will have to pay a penalty of 200 000 Rp per day. Up to 3 days is usually no problem, you will simply pay the fee at the immigration counter.
  • Nothing to declare? You will still be given a tax card (if not, pick one in the arrival hall). Just tick everywhere “no” unless you need to declare something (it’s not allowed to bring in cash of more than 10 000 USD). Officers will collect the card when you exit through customs.
  • More information about KITAS and other permits cards in Indonesia, you can find here.

Visa extension in Yogyakarta

If you have visa on arrival and want to extend it, here you will find practical information how to do that in Yogyakarta city. About other visas extension procedure I don’t know yet. Like will make it later, so will share information later as well.

Note that, the immigration office asks that all visitors dress “properly” meaning covered shoulders and knees.

Where is Immigration office

Immigration officeImmigration office in Yogyakarta located beside Yogyakarta International Adisucipto airport
JL. Solo KM.10 PO BOX 19 YKAP

Opening hours:
Mon – Thur (8:00-12:00) – (13:00 -14:00), Friday (8:30-11:30) – (13:00 -14:00)
(also check that the days you want to go is not an Indonesian holiday. Then all extension process might take longer).

How to reach immigration office
Coming from the airport:
  • Exiting the airport, turn left and walk until you come to the parking are.
  • Turn right, walking through the parking are until you come the main street (Jl. Solo).
  • Turn left and the immigration office will be fairly immediately on your left.

Coming from downtown of Yogyakarta:

  • Take bus 1A on the TransYogya public bus system from Jl. Malioboro (3 000 Rp). It takes ~1 hour each way.
  • The bus will drop you off in front of the airport (the last stop).
  • To get from airport to office follow the instructions above.
  • You can also take a “becak” (~30-40,000 Rp, you’ll need to haggle!) or taxi (~50-60,000 Rp) which will get you there faster.

What you need to have with you
You need to have such documents:
  • Passport
  • Copy of passport
  • Copy of Indonesian Visa (make sure stamp date is visible)
  • Exit ticket (yeah, you will need to show it)
  • Copy of exit ticket
  • Application for Visa extension form (they’ll give you this at the office)
  • 350 000 Rp fee for extension

How the extension process looks like
  • If possible arrive with all documents as early as you can in the morning.
  • In the front desk at the immigration office will provide you a file folder with visa extension form.
  • Fill out the application form and put inside all your documents. The immigration officials should tell you to come back in 2 days.
  • If possible arrive after 2 days as early as you can (better before 10:00 am).
  • Pay the 355 000 Rp fee, get your picture and fingerprints taken.
  • Next day pick up your passport with new visa.

Try to understand the process :D

Visa extension in Bali

Visa making outside Indonesia

If you want to stay in Indonesia longer than your visa valid and you already made all possible extensions, you must leave the country and re-enter with a new visa.
People commonly fly to Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Singapore to make new visa. There is no stipulation on the time you must stay outside Indonesia, in fact, you can return the same day if you want and be issued a new visa upon your arrival in Indonesia.

I was making my “Tourist visa” for 60 days in Penang island, Malaysia. Here is practical information from my experience.

If you have new information, feel free to share it in comments. Thank you :)

Some information used from internet sources.

Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

What to do before going to Indonesia
What to take before coming to Indonesia