Banda Aceh dress-code
Replies: 19 - Last Post: Jul 7, 2012 6:19 PM Last Post By: merantau
Jul 1, 2012 8:26 AM
Banda Aceh dress-codeHey folks
As we're heading to northern sumatra and Banda Aceh in July and wondered about the dress-code in Banda Aceh.
We know it's under the sharia, but how strictly do people go with the dress-code?Is it enforced as strict as in Iran?
Is wearing shorts for (knee-length) men generally accepted or is it long trousers only? What about women?
What about t-shirts for women? Glad to hear any recommendations.
Jul 1, 2012 10:30 PM
1in banda aceh, it okay to wear shorts for (knee-length) for men , but women its not allowed... women must wear long tshirt/dress/trouser/skirt and if the women is a moslem she must wear veil.
but if u go to sabang / rubiah / iboih, its okay for men or women to wear short pants/t-shirt/etc.
Jul 2, 2012 12:05 AM
I think if you are a traveller it is ok to wear modest dress,
but not totally covered.
I travelled in Aceh by myself a lone female in Nov 2006
For 18 days and wore short sleeve tshirts ( to the elbow)
with a lowish V neck and jeans and had no problems.
And I travelled from Medan to Ketambe ( Gurah) and right up
the middle to Takengon, stayed a couple of days and then onto
Banda Aceh and Pulau Weh.
Even ate out in the main street of Takengon at 1 am with loads
of Indonesian men and felt completely comfortable. Even met a
local who could speak ok English and engaged him as my guide
the next day.
Loved Aceh - a special part of Indonesia.
Jul 2, 2012 8:26 AM
3Dear Tante Jeng a-jeng,
I dont know who is your source of information but what you wrote here is definitely incorrect:
There is no provincial or local law that prohibits foreign tourists (especially non muslims) from wearing shorts. Shariah law only applies to muslims and not non muslims. When non muslims women rent a mountainbike to go see around Banda Aceh in shorts, I can assure you there is not a single local that will complain because the persons are non muslim and are being considered guests. Locals do realize that tourists come from countries with different norms.
When entering a village in shorts for a coffee, I however do suggest the ladies bring along a sarung when they sit in a local warung.
The rules you mentioned is required for local Acehnese but definitely NOT for tourists. It has also been made very clear by the mayor of Banda Aceh in numerous publications in the local media.
I also want to point out that both in cities as well in the surrounding villages, there are still plenty of Acehnese women who do not wear head scarfs. Why you mention that muslim women visitors are obliged to wear veils when even not all locals wear one is beyond me.....
Jul 2, 2012 8:34 AM
4Its correct that in Aceh you are treated by the way you dress.
As for Western style swimsuits: Bikini's can not be worn on public beaches in Aceh but can on secluded beaches, far from villages. In places like Pulau Weh where locals are already familar with tourists, its being more accepted.
Jul 2, 2012 11:52 PM
5As outlined above non Indonesian visitors are not obliged to dress according to local Sharia law requirements. However it is courteous to dress conservatively.
Acehexplorer’s comments regarding Sharia dress regulations in Aceh are a little confusing. I have had several trips to Aceh as a volunteer. As a part of the background briefing I was given a copy of the local regulations for Sharia law and it included the following –
Failure to wear Muslim dress.
My observation was that in and around Bandah Aceh the dress code for women was strictly observed. I even saw young women swimming fully clothed including a headscarf. In rural areas such as Pulua Weh and Takengon it seemed to be a little more variable. It was explained to me that women didn’t need to wear a head scarf “at home” and this was sometimes interpreted as the whole village.
The distinction also needs to be made between a head scarf (where the face is still exposed) and a veil (where the face is also covered). I can’t recall seeing any veiled women in my couple of months in Aceh.
Jul 2, 2012 11:54 PM
6I'm not sure what happened with the italics/strike through so I'll try again -
Failure to wear Muslim dress.
Jul 3, 2012 12:04 AM
7The section quoted is a cut and paste so if this doesn't work I'll give up!!
Failure to wear Muslim dress. Elucidation of Qanun 11/2002 defines Islamic clothing as clothing which covers the aurat (which for men is the knee to navel, and for women all parts of the body with the exception of the hands, feet and face), that is not see-through and which does not define the shape of the body.
Jul 3, 2012 3:08 AM
8Veils are not required to be worn in Aceh.
In fact, there is no country in the world where veils are compulsory.
I saw plenty of veils while I was working in the Middle East, but it was voluntary not compulsory.
Jul 3, 2012 9:46 AM
9Muslim dresses and muslim dresscode only apply to local Acehnese. It does not apply to tourists, foreign expats or christian Acehnese.
Acehnese do not wear Western-style swimsuits at the beach. Local women swim fully clothed - a correct observation. Why ? Simple: Its not part of their culture and never has been. Western women who like to go to the public beaches of Lampu'uk/ Lhok Nga are advised to swim with a t-shirt and bermuda shorts. Another benefit of swimming with a t-shirt is that you will not burn alive under the hot sun and believe me, it can be quite hot in the afternoon.
Acehnese women in general take off their headscarfs at home because they are inside their own home and not in public anymore, with some exceptions. There is no other reason .
There is nothing confusing about my earlier post. I am a long-term resident here so I actually know what I am talking about and the kind of advice I give is based on my experiences here.
The reason why NGO relief volunteers were lectured by for example the BRR is to prevent that they do not violate local norms and customs. Unfortunately too many of them did just that during their stay here. its a complete different situation when you come here as a tourist.
Jul 3, 2012 6:30 PM
10Acehexplorer - my email was in response to your comment –
I also want to point out that both in cities as well in the surrounding villages, there are still plenty of Acehnese women who do not wear head scarfs.
As I pointed out in the earlier post my observation over a number of months was the vast majority of women in Banda Aceh and surrounding areas and large towns (such as Bireuen and Lhokseumawe) wear a headscarf. When I enquired why a few women weren’t wearing a headscarf the response was they were Chinese (Indonesians) or maybe Christians.
It’s also important for TT readers to understand the difference between a head covering (i.e. a head scarf or what is referred to in Indonesia as a jilbab) and a veil covering the head and face (often referred to as a Burqa).
In discussions I have with non Indonesians about Aceh their immediate response often is “oh that’s where they have Sharia law” implying it must be like Saudi Arabia. Questions on TT from time to time reflect this concern.
I point out to people that it is a modified form of Sharia law sanctioned by the Indonesian government and only covers the province of Aceh. I also point out it covers more than just dress codes including things such as alcohol consumption, gambling, attendance at prayers, apostasy, relationships between unmarried men and women etc. These regulations are also enforced by Sharia police in conjunction with civil authorities and there are penalties (that are enforced) for non observance.
Yes acehexplorer you are a local and know the place intimately. I have been a visitor to Aceh and I’m trying to address the perceptions of potential visitors to Aceh.
Jul 3, 2012 7:02 PM
Jul 3, 2012 7:04 PM
12My last visit to Banda Aceh was in Oct' 11. There were a few Indonesian women not wearing any head scarf, but the vast majority do. I've also seen female tourists wearing shorts (a few cm above the knees) and sleeveless t-shirts.
I'm with the explorer on this.
Jul 3, 2012 7:39 PM
Jul 3, 2012 7:45 PM
A veil and a Burqua are different things.
A veil in the Middle East is a piece of black cloth covering the face but worn below the eyes.
A Burqua is a large costume usually blue covering the entire body from head to toe with a net covering the aperture over the eyes. The Burqua is found in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
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