Hassling is happening quite often in Indonesia. Although not as tough as in other countries (i.e. Morocco) it can get on your nerves after a while.

Does anybody have tips on avoiding getting hassled or quickly get rid of a hassler?

Many times, a "no thank you" is not enough, especially in the highly touristy areas (i.e. Yogyakarta).

2 Answers 2


If your profile picture is to be believed, you're an orang putih, so the simple answer is: You can't avoid getting hassled in Indonesia. You're white and you're a tourist, so you must be wealthy (and remember, by local standards, you are wealthy), so every tout in town wants some of that money!

But to cut short the inevitable hassle, here's what I do:

  • Say "terima kasih". Your Indonesian phrase book says that means "Thank you", but it's actually also a very Indonesian way of saying "No, thank you".
  • While you're saying this, and after you've said it, ignore them completely. Keep walking, no hesitation, no eye contact. Project the attitude that, whatever it is they're selling, you have absolutely zero interest in it and they're better off finding somebody else to bother.
  • 1
    Yes, especially the second part about ignoring is true. As soon as you show only the slightest interest in what they are offering, they will see a chance for a sale and insist more. Also for transport related touting I found that it helps to know where you are going (or at least to pretend to do so) and not to look too lost, as this will make you look like easy prey.
    – drat
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 1:32
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    haha. Yes I am an orang putih. The "ignoring them completely" part is a bit tough, but I ended up doing that a quite a few times although I find it very rude.
    – Adriano
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 1:47
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    What about pretending I don't speak English? I have tried that a couple of times (saying "no hablo Ingles") & seems to work "ok", it can be a bit difficult to keep pretending that when you're with a travel companion though.. a couple of words in English can easily slip out one's mouth ^^
    – Adriano
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 1:49
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    @AdrienBe Doesn't work, you'd be amazed how many languages some of these guys speak and how good they are at communicating without one... Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 11:56
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    @jpatokal yes that's what I'd expect, but a lot actually give up if I only speak in Spanish. They usually just stare at me like "wtf..?" Haha. Gotta say, it's a bit mean but that's giving me a good break every now and then
    – Adriano
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 14:05

Selling something

I live in Indonesia so I get it a lot. When they come at me I banter with them. I tell them (the taxi drivers) to find the taxi "over there". I tell them "besok" (tomorrow). Until they get confused and give up in disgust because their friends are laughing at them. My wife hates it but I have fun with them (nicely, with a smile). It avoids anger.

Ignoring them completely is also good advice which I do a lot.

If your hotel is picking you up at the airport and waiting for you with your name on a sign, you can just go with them and nobody will bother you again since you're obviously spoken for.

Most of the time at the local airport I just look like I know where I'm going (because I do) and they leave me alone. Might also need an occasional firm "tidak perlu" (not needed). But that often doesn't work for actual tourists.

Picture with the foreigner

They see the white foreigner as a celebrity they would like to be friends with. And just like home-country celebrities, we get tired of it. We just want to be ignored and left alone.

When hiking or on the beach they always want to take a picture with us. My wife and sisters hate it. So I tell them "besok" (tomorrow) and keep on walking. Or I tell them to take a picture of the nice scenery. Or I offer to take a picture of them (without us). Or if my wife isn't there I tell them my wife won't allow it (if she was there they would just ask her directly).

If the above fails: We were on a beach and my wife and sisters got surrounded. I quickly approached and told them firmly "cukup" (enough) while shaking my head at them and ushering them away. They got the message. Usually they just want to be friendly but enough is enough.

  • 3
    Welcome to TSE. Thanks for your extended answer with lots of personal experience.
    – Willeke
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 12:07

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