Entertainment in Indonesia

Many Indonesian cities – especially Jakarta, Yogyakarta, and Denpasar – offer the short- or long-term resident an abundance of culture. There is always something going on , be it a wedding ceremony, festival, or even impromptu music gigs along the sidewalk. You’re certain to come across all sorts of goings-on while riding your bicycle around the streets of your town and the neighboring area. Get out and explore. Don’t worry about getting lost. Being an orang bulan (a nickname for foreigners, translated as “moon person”), you’ll stand out and will have a group of inquisitive Indonesians surrounding you in no time at all.

Going to the movies in Indonesia is very popular and cheap. Local movie showings are available in papers (online and actual paper!) and are cheap. Don’t expect good sound quality or comfortable seats. Saturday night is the big “date night.” All the couples, or pacaran, cruise the main boulevards on their motor scooters and have dinner, see a movie or two, and get wild at the local discos. It’s considered very fashionable to have a Western pacar (boyfriend or girlfriend). The cinemas are jam-packed and often the shows are sold out. So be sure to get there at least one hour before the show.

Movies are a Popular Form of Entertainment in Indonesia

You’ll get to choose your seat in the theater – the ticket seller shows you a layout of the cinema and you just point to the seat of your choice.

Other popular activities include visiting a pameran (art exhibit), participating in a bicycle race (look for a sign announcing sepeda gembira), visiting the ballet (especially the renowned Ramayana Ballet, performed at Yogyakarta’s open-air theater on four consecutive full moon nights each month from May to October), or taking a batik cloth-dyeing (especially popular in the Sosro district of Yogyakarta), music, or dance class.

For alternative films, cultural, or art events, check the British Council in Wijojo center, The French Cultural Center, The Goethe Institut, or Erasmus Huls for a calendar of events. Most events are also advertised in the Jakarta Post or other tourist publications. And don’t miss “Wonderful Indonesia,” the country’s official tourism website.


There are a few huge Western-style supermarkets in Indonesia’s more modern cities. Hero and Sarinah are two of the better-known stores, and feature an excellent stock of goods at reasonable prices. This is the best place to look if you crave food from home or need certain skin or hair care products. Every town of any size has at least one market featuring fresh fruit and vegetables, live fish and chickens, arts and crafts shops, clothing stores, and food stalls, or warungs. A few of the largest markets are those in Bukittingi on Sumatra and Yogyakarta on Java.

New books in English are expensive and difficult to find. Better are those sold at used bookstores in travelers’ throughways such as Ubud and Bukittingi.

If you need to furnish your home try to go with an Indonesian friend. This way you can bargain down to the cheapest price. To get home, hire a becak to carry you and your purchases. Just hope it doesn’t start to rain while you’re shopping!

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