Indonesia Travel Guide – Indonesia, a country located between two continents—Asia and Australia—is famous for its diversity. Thanks to its strategic location that makes Indonesia have a sizeable number of cultures and traditions. The archipelago country that stretches from Sabang to Merauke is home to hundreds of ethnic groups. Each of which has distinctive characteristics reflected in food, ceremonies, even Indonesian traditional house.
To Indonesians, the house is a symbol of life. It is a place to build a family, raise kids, and do other activities. Thus most traditional houses in Indonesia have a philosophy, meaning, and symbolization. Traditional house in Indonesia varies according to its provinces. Indonesia that consists of 34 provinces also has 34 distinctive traditional houses with different purposes, architectures, and philosophies.
- 1 Traditional House of Aceh – Krong Bade
- 2 Traditional House of North Sumatera – Bolon
- 3 Traditional House of West Sumatera – Gadang
- 4 Traditional House of Riau – Selaso Jatuh Kembar
- 5 Traditional House of Riau Islands – Belah Bubung
- 6 Traditional House of South Sumatera – Limas
- 7 Traditional House of Jambi – Kajang Leko
- 8 Traditional House of Bengkulu – Bubungan Lima
- 9 Traditional House of Bangka Belitung – Rakit House
- 10 Traditional House of Lampung – Nowou Sesat
- 11 Traditional House of Banten – Badui
- 12 Traditional House of Jakarta – Kebaya House
- 13 Traditional House of West Java – Sunda House
- 14 Traditional House of Central Java – Joglo
- 15 Traditional House of Yogyakarta – Bangsal Kencono
- 16 Traditional House of East Java – Joglo Situbondo
- 17 Traditional House of Bali – Gapura Candi Bentar
- 18 Traditional House of West Nusa Tenggara – Loka
- 19 Traditional House of East Nusa Tenggara – Musalaki
- 20 Traditional House of West Kalimantan – Panjang
- 21 Traditional House of Central Kalimantan – Betang
- 22 Traditional House of South Kalimantan – Bubungan Tinggi
- 23 Traditional House of East Kalimantan – Lamin
- 24 Traditional House of North Kalimantan – Baloy
- 25 Traditional House of North Sulawesi – Pewaris
- 26 Traditional House of Central Sulawesi – Tambi
- 27 Traditional House of Southeast Sulawesi – Buton
- 28 Traditional House of South Sulawesi – Tongkonan
- 29 Traditional House of Gorontalo – Doholupa
- 30 Traditional House of Maluku – Baileo
- 31 Traditional House of North Maluku – Sasadu
- 32 Traditional House of Papua – Honai
- 33 Traditional House of West Papua – Mod Aki Aksa
- 34 Traditional House of Teluk Cenderawasih – Lgkojei
Traditional House of Aceh – Krong Bade
Aceh is the westernmost province of Indonesia. Inhabited by Acehnese people, the province has Krong Bade traditional house as a symbolization of its culture. Krong Bade is made of wood with raised platform design. The building comes with many pillars to support the main house. Classic and traditional nuance is strongly reflected from woven palm leaves.
Krong Bade has unique and distinctive architecture. Apart from its fascinating design, there are some interesting facts about Krong Bade. The rectangular-shaped house should be extended from east to west. According to Acehnese people, the front stairs should be in odd numbers. It is unclear why it should be made this way.
Traditional House of North Sumatera – Bolon
North Sumatera, a province inhabited by Batak ethnic group has a traditional house called Bolon. There are several types of Bolon house, such as Bolon Simalungun, Bolon Toba, Bolon Karo, Bolon Mandailing, Bolon Pakpak, and Bolon Angkola.
Each type of Bolon house comes with distinctive design and architecture. But all of them are made to be raised platform with ornamented walls. White, red, and black are chosen to decorate the walls of Bolon house.
Traditional House of West Sumatera – Gadang
West Sumatera is another province in Sumatera Island. This province has a traditional house with stunning architecture known as Gadang house or Begonjong. Gadang house is characterized by its symmetric, pointed rooftop. Local people say that the roof resembles the horns of a buffalo.
Apart from its unique design, these Indonesian traditional houses look simple and elegant at the same time. Wood is the main material to build the house, combined with woven palm fibers for its roof. Thanks to the structure that makes Gadang one of the best traditional house in Indonesia.
Traditional House of Riau – Selaso Jatuh Kembar
Melayu Selaso is a traditional house that combines luxury and modesty. The raised platform house is designed with traditional carving that resembles clinging bees. For local people, the ornament has a certain meaning and philosophy that should be attached to the house.
The building is made to be symmetric with front stairs that lead to the main house. The combination of wood material and traditional carving make the house look elegant but royal. The house consists of several rooms, each of which has different functions.
Traditional House of Riau Islands – Belah Bubung
A traditional house of Riau Islands is characterized by a variety of roof forms. You can find a steep roof, folded flat roof, as well as a stacked roof that makes Belah Bubung looks uniquely different from any other house. The raised platform building also comes with stairs to reach the main house.
Belah Bubung consists of 4 sections; veranda, main hall, hallway, and kitchen. Each section has specific functions. To decorate the house, ornaments originated in Riau is also involved in the structure. Unfortunately, the traditional house is no longer used by local people as a modern house is simpler.
Traditional House of South Sumatera – Limas
Limas is a traditional house of South Sumatera. The building comes with distinctive architecture, giving an identity for itself. The house receives its name—Limas—as it has a pyramid-shaped roof. The house consists of several levels known as Bengkilas.
The traditional house is no longer used by local people as a living space. Instead, it is only used for a certain occasions such as community gathering or traditional ceremonies. Thanks to the large hall that can accommodate many people for a special occasion.
Traditional House of Jambi – Kajang Leko
Kajang Leko is a traditional house with a significantly large size. It consists of 8 main rooms with different functions. The building looks distinctive as it comes with ornamented façade that distinguishes the house from any others. Special ornaments also become the characteristics of this traditional dwelling.
Wood is chosen as the main material of this Indonesian traditional house. The raised platform design comes with pillars that support the main house as well as stairs. Apart from its attractive appearance, local people tend to build a modern house to live in.
Traditional House of Bengkulu – Bubungan Lima
Another unique traditional house can be found in Bengkulu. Known as Bubungan Lima, the house comes with unique façade that covers the front stairs. Just like the other traditional houses, it comes with a raised platform design.
There is something unique from Bubungan Lima. Using wood as its main material, local people choose to use only Medang Kemuning to build the house. It is unclear why local people only use this kind of wood to make the building.
Traditional House of Bangka Belitung – Rakit House
Surrounded by water makes local people think creatively to build a house. Unlike the other traditional houses that are built on land, Rakit house is built on the water. This explains the name ‘rakit’ that means raft. Despite its unusual location, Rakit dwelling is designed exclusively with carvings and ornaments.
Rakit house is commonly built on the river or slow-moving water. According to local people, the river provides food to sustain their life. However, time changes and this traditional house no longer dwells.
Traditional House of Lampung – Nowou Sesat
Nowou Sesat is another raised platform building that becomes a traditional house of Lampung. According to its name, Nowou Sesat means a place of worship. The building receives an iconic ornament that becomes its characteristics. Nowou Sesat has two front stairs in the left and right side to reach the main house.
Traditionally, the dwelling comes in a large size. But modern people tend to reduce the size and make some modifications in order to make it looks modern.
Traditional House of Banten – Badui
Badui is known as an isolated ethnic group in Banten. They conservatively preserve their old traditions and customs and avoid any modernity. Badui house reflects how they live harmoniously with nature. Bamboo walls, wood frame, and grass weed roofs are sufficient to be called a house.
Even until today, Badui people dwell in their traditional house. Interestingly, they are not interested to install electricity to light up the house. Traditional oil lamps are more than enough for Badui. Despite the humble house structure, Badui people are proud to uphold their culture and tradition.
Traditional House of Jakarta – Kebaya House
Being the capital city of Indonesia does not make Jakarta loaded by modernity. In some places, you can also find an Indonesian traditional house known as Kebaya. The building has a unique architecture with an iconic roof design that resembles kebaya (Indonesian traditional clothes).
Kebaya house is also characterized by its ornaments of Betawi ethnic group. Despite its interesting design, the traditional house is slowly forgotten by modern Betawi people. It can only be found in certain places in Jakarta.
Traditional House of West Java – Sunda House
Sunda house looks distinctive that makes it easily recognized. The traditional house of West Java is a raised platform building, but it does not rise too high from the ground. The house is also equipped with stairs called golodog.
There are several kinds of roof used in Sunda house. The most commonly used roofs are perahu kemurep, jolopong, badak heuay, nangkup, jubleg, and many others. Each roof comes with different characteristics.
Traditional House of Central Java – Joglo
Java ethnic group or called Javanese has a traditional house with unique architecture. Joglo, as local people name it, is mainly divided into several main sections. Pendopo is the front section in the form of a large hall for the meeting. Going inside, there are 4 rooms with different purposes such as a bedroom and kitchen.
This Indonesian traditional house is made with philosophy. For instance, pendopo that is designed without walls reflects Javanese people’s friendliness and hospitality to accept any guests. It does not have a chair, symbolizing the host and the guest are equal.
Traditional House of Yogyakarta – Bangsal Kencono
Bangsal Kencono is a traditional house usually dwelled by the kings and the noble family. Regarding to this purpose, Bangsal Kencono cannot be owned by ordinary people in Yogyakarta. The house is specially designed to symbolize the royalty of a noble family. It also comes with special ornaments reflecting the value of life.
Traditional House of East Java – Joglo Situbondo
Being known as Joglo Situbondo, the traditional house of East Java is similar to Joglo from Central Java. Joglo Situbondo is characterized by its minimalist as well as artistic design. It is also full of carvings that describe the local wisdom of Javanese people. Each part of the house also has a philosophy that is followed by local people.
Traditional House of Bali – Gapura Candi Bentar
Among other provinces in Indonesia, Bali is famous for strong cultures and traditions inherited from their ancestors. The society preserves and upholds sets of customs, creating their own identity. When it comes to a traditional house, Balinese has Gapura Candi Bentar that has distinctive architecture and design.
Gapura Candi Bentar is designed with an iconic gate. It also comes with ornaments that reflect Balinese culture. Balinese traditional house is usually used for traditional ceremonies or celebrations. You can easily find this house whenever visiting Bali.
Traditional House of West Nusa Tenggara – Loka
The house is named Loka, a traditional dwelling of some ethnic groups such as Sumbawa ethnic group, Dompu ethnic group, and Sasak ethnic group. The humble house is made of wood combined with woven palm leaves roofs.
According to history, Loka was only dwelled by the kings or the noble family. As time goes by, ordinary people are allowed to build and reside in the house. Today, Loka can be found in some villages and localities in West Nusa Tenggara.
Traditional House of East Nusa Tenggara – Musalaki
In principle, Musalaki is similar to Loka, the traditional house of West Nusa Tenggara. A difference comes from the shape of its roof that resembles a pyramid. The roof is made of grass weeds, giving natural look to the house.
The same story as Loka, Musalaki was once dwelled by the chief and the family only. But today, the traditional house can be dwelled by ordinary people of East Nusa Tenggara.
Traditional House of West Kalimantan – Panjang
Panjang means long in Bahasa. As the name suggests, this house receives a long design, significantly longer than other traditional houses. The house stretches from one side to another, providing large indoor to hold a meeting or traditional ceremonies.
The raised platform house usually comes with wide stairs to reach the main building. Unfortunately, the house is on its way to extinction for modern people choose to build a modern house.
Traditional House of Central Kalimantan – Betang
Based on its design, Betang looks similar to Panjang house of West Kalimantan. Betang house is the second largest Indonesian traditional house according to its dimensions of 150 m x 30 m x 5 m. It is not a surprise that the building can accommodate up to 150 people.
Wood is the main material of the house, combined with grass weeds for its roofs. The house also receives special ornaments of the local people.
Traditional House of South Kalimantan – Bubungan Tinggi
Mostly inhabited by Dayak ethnic group, the traditional house of South Kalimantan has a unique design and architecture compared to the other houses of Kalimantan. Bubungan Tinggi is only dwelled by Dayak ethnic group and it symbolizes their pride.
The traditional house is characterized by its tall and strong architecture, with the roof that goes high to the sky. Considered from its size, Bubungan Tinggi is significantly smaller than Betang.
Traditional House of East Kalimantan – Lamin
Banjar and Dayak ethnic group that inhabit East Kalimantan express their local wisdom and culture in a traditional house named Lamin. The dwelling has strikingly attractive ornaments in each part, including the walls, veranda, pillars, even roofs. This is the largest traditional house in Indonesia.
The dimensions of Lamin house are 300 m x 15 m x 5 m, making it a large building to live in. The house can accommodate up to 250 people or equal to 45 families.
Traditional House of North Kalimantan – Baloy
Despite North Kalimantan is a new province, its traditional house does exist since many years ago. Indonesian traditional house named Baloy is a reflection of the cultures of Tidung ethnic group that inhabits the locality.
Unlike the other traditional houses, Baloy emphasizes on its aesthetic. The house is beautifully designed with symmetric architecture and fascinating wall designs as well as ornaments. It is not a surprise that Baloy is chosen as a mascot of the locality.
Traditional House of North Sulawesi – Pewaris
A traditional house of Minahasa ethnic group is a jaw-dropping building with exclusive carvings. The raised platform house is designed with double stairs in its front, beautified with wood carvings as its ornaments. The house is exclusively made of wood.
The house consists of some sections with different purposes such as living room, bedroom, and storage room. Local people usually store their harvest crops in the storage room inside the house.
Traditional House of Central Sulawesi – Tambi
The rectangular traditional house of Central Sulawesi combines wood and natural stone as its materials. Tambi house has a distinctive appearance that makes it easily recognized. Like the other raised platform building, Tambi is also equipped with stairs.
Interestingly, the stairs indicate the social level of the house owner. The noble family uses stairs in even numbers while ordinary people use stairs in odd numbers.
Traditional House of Southeast Sulawesi – Buton
Also known as Malige, Buton house is interestingly unique for its design and architecture. The four-level house is built without any pivots or nails. It is unclear how local people can build such a strong house without using nails and pivots.
Buton is exclusively made from wood. The raised platform building also has stairs that are also covered with a roof. It distinguishes Buton traditional house to another Indonesian traditional house.
Traditional House of South Sulawesi – Tongkonan
Another traditional house with a distinctive design. Tongkonan, a house dwelled by Toraja ethnic group, is characterized by its roof that resembles an upside-down boat. Another interesting fact about Toraja is the presence of buffalo horns in front of the house.
Tongkonan traditional house is built with two functions: to dwell and to store a dead body. Don’t be surprised! Local people do not sleep with the dead body because they separate the house.
Traditional House of Gorontalo – Doholupa
A building with a fascinating structure can be found in Gorontalo. Doholupa, the traditional house of Gorontalo is basically a raised platform with an interesting structure. Wood is the only material of the building, providing natural and classic nuance to the house.
Local people choose the specific wood type, allowing the house to stay strong even for years. The strong structure also becomes the key to its sturdiness.
Traditional House of Maluku – Baileo
Baileo traditional house comes from Maluku. The house has a unique architecture that symbolizes the diversity of faith in Maluku. Baileo is characterized by its large size, considering the house is only used for community gathering or meeting.
That distinguishes Baileo to other houses in the presence of a special room to store heirloom and holy objects. The raised platform house is majorly made from bamboo and wood. Gras weed roofs evoke natural and humble impression to this Indonesian traditional house.
Traditional House of North Maluku – Sasadu
North Maluku has distinctive cultures and traditions reflected in a traditional house named Sasadu. The house is designed with unique decoration that gives its own identity. One of uniqueness to find in this house is the existence of 6 different doors with distinct functions.
Two doors are only used by male, while the other two are only used by female. The rest doors are used by guests. Sasadu is known as a traditional house with most numbers of the door.
Traditional House of Papua – Honai
The mushroom house is named Honai. The traditional house from Papua is characterized by its small, wooden structure with grass weeds roofs. The house does not have any windows, in a purpose to keep the temperature warm as local people choose to stay in highlands and hills.
Honai only has one room that the local people can do many activities in the same room. From above, Honai looks like a cluster of mushroom in a highland. Local people choose natural materials as a symbolization of living harmoniously with nature.
Traditional House of West Papua – Mod Aki Aksa
Being known as a centipede house, Mod Aki Aksa has an interestingly unique design with many pillars to support the main house. Basically, the traditional house looks similar to Honai, only with a raised platform. Mod Aki Aksa makes from natural materials such as wood, sago palm leaves, grass weeds, and barks. The combination creates a fascinating house that reflects local wisdom.
Traditional House of Teluk Cenderawasih – Lgkojei
Teluk Cenderawasih is another new province in Indonesia. Inhabited by Wamesa ethnic group, the locality has a distinctive traditional house named Lgkojei. The house looks similar to Mod Aki Aksa as both of them have many pillars to support the house.
However, Lgkojei has a modern roof that distinguishes the house from Mod Aki Aksa. It is also designed with more air ventilation. In short, Lgkojei looks more modern than Papua’s and West Papua’s traditional house.
It never comes to an end talking about the cultures of Indonesia. Indonesian traditional house as one of its reflection symbolizes local wisdom of the indigenous. The distinctive architecture, unique structure, and impressive design, as well as attractive ornaments, describe the greatness of Indonesian culture.