What to Wear in Indonesia

by | May 7, 2017

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Last updated on November 19th, 2023

Pagodas, temples, etc. are other religion’s equivalents of church, synagogue, etc. Wear clothing that minimizes leg/arm exposure. No ‘loud’ clothing. Some temples require you remove your shoes; carry heavy socks to cover your shoes (if permitted) or feet (when demanded) but carry your shoes in a bag with you. Why leave them outside and give someone a footwear upgrade!

Jay, Buon Me Thuot, VietNam

Wear breathable clothes since it is always humid in this destination. Tailored or fitted style clothes are the best, especially in big cities like Jakarta (people generally treat you better if you dress up). I think it�s okay to wear shorter skirts (not too short), but I would recommend covering your chest. Some Indonesian men think that a cleavage is meant to be touched.

Katherine, San Francisco, USA

Even though it is not as strict here as in the Middle East, it’s best to cover your shoulders and upper arms as well as your legs to below the knees. In Jakarta they are quite used to foreigners. However, outside of Jakarta it is more important to be modest in dress.

Pierrette, Calgary, Canada

I traveled in Malaysia and Indonesia. The cities are very hot (and smoggy), so the best clothes both culturally and for comfort are big loose long sleeved light cotton or linen shirts and equally loose long trousers – nothing exposed for the locals to stare at (even though miniskirts are common – why attract unwanted attention?) and great for the hot sweaty days. Much cooler than a tight singlet or T-shirt and shorts which end up sweaty and sticky and attract too much attention, especially if you have a large bust!

Gillian, Sydney, Australia

You can really have fun dressing up in Indonesia. Silk wrap skirts and long, fitted or loose silk tunics with three-quarter sleeve plus a matching scarf will ensure you are comfortable in the heat. These outfits will take you from day to evening. They clean and dry quickly. During the day subtle makeup will be easiest, but in the evening you can go full on glamour, sparkle with pretend diamonds or other costume jewels from your own country. In Indonesia always think feminine, elegant and glamorous.

Robin, Wellington, New Zealand

When you’re in touristy beach areas (like Bali), bikinis, tank tops, boardshorts, sundresses all are comfortable and acceptable. However, the less touristy it is, the more conservative it gets and I would recommend wearing Ts and long sleeve tunics instead of tanks, and longer skirts or cargos instead of shorts. Tunics, scarves (for head and neck coverage) and long skirts are also the most acceptable for visiting temples and mosques.

Rina, Vancouver, Canada

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1 Comment

  1. Maria-Edna Bon

    I loved your page, appreciated the real ladies comments/suggestions rather than the dry rules books. At 80 y/o and first time traveling to Indonesia, though traveled elsewhere, I’m very interested in not being disrespectful yet not being frumpy and dowdy either, or color boring or rude.


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