Until today, I had never dared writing an article about ethnicity in Indonesia. I didn't want to appear racist and also because my knowledge on the subject is limited. As I'm growing older I start to care less, so here I am giving you advice on whether it is best to date/marry a Javanese or a Sundanese girl.

Be aware that I am basing this whole piece on personal experience only. This is not a scientific paper, it's just entertainment. You may have a completely different opinion and I would love to hear it (especially if you are an Indonesian reader). Please just write a comment below.

The two main ethnic groups in Indonesia are the Javanese (90 million people, 40% of the population) and the Sundanese (36 million people, 15.5% of the population). Both have distinct traditions, languages, cultures and cuisines. Javanese live mostly in East Java (Yogyakarta, Surabaya) while Sundanese are from the Bandung region.

In Jakarta, most of the girls you meet will be either Javanese or Sundanese. It is also common to come across Bataknese (Medan), Betawi (pure Jakarta), Indonesian-Chinese, Manadonese (Manado) and Makassarese (Makassar). In Bali, apart from Balinese, you will see more Madurese (Madura) and ethnicities from Eastern Indonesia (Flores, Timur, Maluku).

Most expats don't really care about that and they consider it's pretty much all the same. On the contrary, Indonesians like to point at the differences between the people of each provinces. They will give specific traits to some ethnicities, negative or positive, and based on these stereotypes they might deem that some mixed "race" couples are not desirable. For instance, a persistent myth among Indonesians is that a couple between a Javanese men and a Sundanese women cannot work well.

For better understanding, let's review what are the stereotypes about the three main Indonesian ethnical groups:

The Sundanese Character:
Sundanese Model Melli Voo
What Indonesians say:
Sundanese are considered soft and easy-going. It is said that due to their welcoming nature, the penetration of Islam among them was faster and easier compared to the Javanese. For this reason, they are overall more religious compared to the Javanese.

Some will say that they lack ambition and they are not willing to live far from their home. One of the consequences is that there are less of them in top jobs and positions. Among ministers or ex-presidents of Indonesia, very few were Sundanese.

Sundanese girls are often called the most beautiful women in Indonesia, mainly because of their lighter skin color.

If you date a Sundanese, you might experience a surge in your monthly expenses. Sundanese girls love to spend on clothes, cellphones, laptops, shoes, beauty products and entertainment. Such gifts are expected as a part of the relationship and it is sometimes hard to know how sincere the love is.

Sundanese girls are sometimes criticized for behaving like divas: High maintenance, spoiled, overly dramatic and proud of their appearance. It seems they are aware of their value and they know how to get the best from it.

My personal experience:
Regarding the beauty of Sundanese girl: They are indeed pretty but I prefer Manadonese (because they look a bit like Filipinas). Girls in Malang are also just as attractive.

About their open mindset, Sundanese are hospitable like anywhere in Indonesia. I didn't notice any differences staying in Bandung or Surabaya. I also don't feel they are less ambitious than other Indonesians.

Regarding the materialistic mindset of Sundanese girls: I found it to be generally true, with several exceptions though. You must differentiate educated girls from Bandung's middle and upper class with countryside girls from Indramayu. Girls from poorer background may be expected by their families to marry with someone who will take care of them. Those girls are usually popular among Indonesian men and expats so they have a wide range of option. Naturally, they will not choose the stingy ones. Beauty in Indonesia often comes with at a price and I've learned to be careful with gorgeous Sundanese. I normally avoid them.

The Javanese Character:
Miss Indonesia 2015 - Maria Harfanti - is Javanese
What Indonesians say:
Javanese are often characterized with the "nrimo" concept of life, which means accepting your fate by seeing the bright side of it. For instance, if you cannot afford a car, you will think that walking keeps you healthy. As a result, Javanese are said to be obedient and submissive. They are also avoiding conflicting situations, preferring to keep their feelings to themselves rather than expressing them.

My personal experience:
My relationships/dates with Javanese girls have been more successful than those with Sundanese girls. I've never really noticed that they were more submissive, but they were less money-oriented and less childish.

Expats with passive-aggressive and shy personalities may feel more comfortable with a Javanese girlfriend.

The Batak Character:
Zivanna Letisha Siregar is half Batak
What Indonesians say:
Bataknese have quite a unique reputation in Indonesia. Because Dutch set up missionary schools early in the 20th century around the Lake Toba area, many Batak were able to get a good education, sometimes in Holland, and then high positions in the government. Until today, they occupy many prestigious jobs (lawyers, engineers, doctors, etc) and they are seen as a smart ethnic group.

For centuries, they were living isolated in the mountains, and therefore they developed a strong character. They are tough to negotiate with, feisty and they like to stay between themselves.

My personal experience:
I've met quite a lot of Batak, men and women, while I was in Indonesia. As far as I can tell, the stereotypes about them are rather true. The two Indonesian lawyers I ever dealt with were Batak, and they were tough and uncompromising. My first Indonesian girlfriend was also a Batak and our relationship was mostly fights and screams. Most of her friends were also Batak.

Overall: Is It Better to Date/Marry a Javanese, Sundanese or Batak Girl?
As I mentioned, I've had better experiences with Javanese girls, but there are more factors at play than just the ethnicity. My feeling is that the socioeconomic and the education background is what matters the most. You may also feel more attracted to certain personality traits as well. Among expats, I noticed that many are dating or marrying Batak girls. They may enjoy their outspoken and confident personality which is more similar to that of a Western girl. In my case however, I tend to avoid them because I prefer someone quiet and easy-going.

35 comments to '' Is It Better to Date a Javanese or a Sundanese Girl? "

  1. Hahaha interesting article thibaud... You sound like to become more and more Indonesian...

  2. The Javanese are like the English of the UK, the administrators if you like, with a strictly delineated class system with those born to rule at the top living a refined life of culture and gentle harmony, an aspiring middle class who want a nice civil service job and and the forelocking-tugging peasants at the bottom.

    The Sundanese on the other hand are like the Irish, religiously devout certainly but more relaxed and easygoing, cheerful good-natured people but lazy as sin, enjoying life in their happy contented kampungs, making music and babies as the notion suits them.

    The Bataks don't relate particularly to any UK region but could be compared, without offence, to the Jews. Hard-working, clever people from a religious minority who know they can only succeed through education and getting on in business or the law, spending days spent bent over in a rice field up to their armpits in mud doesn't appeal to them so much.

    As regards female beauty I agree that the Madonese take the cup, but they are high-maintenance show ponies and their appeal wears off quickly enough.

    The Sundanese girls on the other hand tick all the boxes, pretty, intelligent, vivacious with a great sense of humour they also know how to deal with lazy men with wandering eyes (they run the household and can turn a blind eye when they have to) so they suit me down to the ground.

  3. Manado chicks make great mistresses or hookers (many more Sundanese working in brothel and karaoke) but it would be a mistake to marry one, they are almost like Sundanese but the Manado girls are more presentable in front of a foreign crowd. Either one is only good for having fun not marriage material.

  4. True in my experience that javanese are not that materialistic. But they are always running away from (small)problems which are easy to solve by just talking about them. They ignore them and it doesnt matter how big it becomes. Very stupid and the picture from outside if more important then solving isuues. Even if they dont have any money and have children that depends on the expats father support. Better a sundanese, eventhough more money orientated, but they express themselves and u know what you are dealing with. Javanese can hide every problem inside and act in front of you that all things are fine, while at your back will gosiip to her friends about you. Well, it is hypocritical, fake, selfish and stupid.

  5. I am a Chinese Indonesian. I am from Bandung, so I know the Sundanese very well.
    I think it is true that the Sundanese are materialistic. It is hard to approach a Sundanese if you are not rich. A pretty Sundanese girl (or a Chinese Indonesian girl that lives in Bandung), will seek to have a relationship with a rich man.
    They don't care about age difference. They are proud if they can have a rich man as a boyfriend, although the rich man is much older than them.

    But as we have read above, it depends on the education background of the girl. More educated girl will think more clearly, and not just thinking about money (they will be more rational if it is about money).

    Sundanese girl are lazy. My friends in Bandung (Chinese Indonesian) were told by their moms,"Look for a wealthy man as your husband, so you don't have to work in your whole life."
    Bandung-girl are lazy, they don't want to work. They just want to become a wealthy-man's wife, so they don't have to work.

    Javanese girl are more dilligent. I marry a Cirebon-ChineseIndonesian-girl, half Javanese, half Sundanese, but she is a Chinese Indonesian. She is quite dilligent and have a good career, but very lazy at home (don't want to do house-works). But at least, she can make money. She also dilligent in academic matters. So I give her a chance to study Master Degree (I pay her tuition fee).

    1. I thought cirebon is still in west java , which is she's sundanese.. Javanese is more like center java or east java for your information..

    2. well, cirebon is different than any place in west java. there are many sundanese and javanese in cirebon. maybe he married with javanese one.

    3. How she lazy at home? You guys expect women to work and some work and go to school, and you want them to come home and cook and clean too, women get tired and they are not robots

  6. i think your article are right i javaness girl and as i remeber i have experiences with some bule mans most of them like atractif or agressif women than submisive like me, we like hide our problem and think all be fine cos we dont like have a fight and noice.
    we are like positif thinking and we really have respact to man we love , but i also think that those mans never say grateful about what they have. javaness women girl are hard worker they dont like give a burden to some one they love the most . after this i dont like to have foreigner bf cos they never say enough have a gf who can stand beside them and work hardly for make it better . western man only like sexy body

  7. We batak woman naturally born independent, strong cause our culture and natur thought me, since we born we must strong, even we give birth, we must strong in physical and other way

  8. I was 'iseng' lol. Sorry idk how to say it in english. When i search keyword javanese girl. Your article was on the top. So i was reading it.
    Its interesting to read your opinion about the javanese girl and others. I'm happy to hear you said malang because i'm from malang lol. I knew javanese girl best. Because i'm a javanese. Not all of javanese is quiet. Some can be very noisy. Basically we like talking and socialization
    Though.. I think its not just javanese. All the girls around the world like talking lol
    Javanese girl is 'nrimo' but they usually stingy. Not all of them.
    After all its depend on person. Doesn't matter about ethnic or ras

  9. It depends on the background religion,education

  10. I should say, not all of them was like you've said. It all depends on the background (education, which area they live,religion, they own character, etc.) Sundanese could be also "nrimo".. javanese could be also materialistic.. depend on "luck" to find a right girl! 😋

  11. Hello, i agree about your opinion,, i am javanesse used to live in Bogor West Java, most of them are sundanese,, i saw many young girl dating old rich man there,, i just shocked n i asked to my sudanese friend,, she said some of her friend dating old rich man, n that girl proud of it, it seems they can attract wealthy guy..
    sundanese more fashionable anyway, they always make any efforts to looks atrractive ( style, makeup ).. and they more talk straightforwardly if we compare with javanese..
    different region different character bcz different enviroment factor,, but sometimes it depends on how their personality bcz i had sundanese girl, she really hardworker to helped her parents financial problem..

    1. hi You very interesting talking bout sunda girls. May you more tell me please bout sunda? in my wa

  12. Sundanese ethnic is more better or beautiful than another ethinc in Indonesia then Minahasan is the best , but for me javanese is good looking to all .. cheers !

  13. I think the most beautiful girl in indonesia is dayaknese they are base in kalimantan and they are humble too

  14. Very entertaining article...what about Balinese?

  15. Yeah I like this article.. I'm chinese born Indonesian and I've been studied abroad for at least 5 years. When I coming back to Indonesia. I find this article 80% correct. As an Indonesian I didn't realize it since I've grown up in such situation until I come back for other country. But for many foreigners, it will be easily noticeable.
    I have chinese born Indonesian as my girlfriend (she is from Borneo), she has a lot of different characters compare to my previous girlfriend (chinese born Indonesian who lived in west java, so I can consider her to have a solid sundanese culture). My borneo girlfriend has stronger will and independent compare to my sundanese girlfriend.
    Now, I have another co-worker from Sulawesi. She is not my girlfriend but we accidentally close due to some reason (work related), she is half chinese and half bataknese, and guess what? Our work-relationship is like a cat and a dog (although nowadays cat and dog can be friend), even for a small things she will mad. But beside that character, actually bataknese girl is care and loving (among sundanese, borneo, and bataknese), but maybe because their ancestors used to live in the mountain so they need to shout each other when they are talk. :)
    Finally, background education have a big part of their ability to tolerate other person.

    My conclusion:
    Sundanese: beauty in nature, acceptance, lazy (treat them like a princess an she will be yours)
    Borneo: beauty, slightly independent, need motivation but they can work (you must lead her in every situtation but she will follow you)
    Bataknese: wild beauty, strong will, very independent, hardwork (treat her as your partner, somehow she will follow you in her way)

    I don't know bout Balinese, but I have some Bali friends. They are very polite and good working habits. But I don't really have a close friendship/relationship yet with Balinese.

  16. the most beautiful handsome specially women / men are like sundanese,tionghoa and menadonese
    can if you want who have a calm nature with an exotic look maybe Javanese is the right choice
    if you want to have people who work hard maybe more to bataknese or balinese

  17. I am half black, half indonesian (my mom is Javanese). I married a Sundanese girl a few years ago.

    I was interested in her because She was beautiful with natural curly hair (like a black woman's), She has an Amazing body (she is thicker and curvier than most indonesian girls (but not fat), She is straightforward and honest, and she is very intelligent and outgoing. She's a go-getter, which I loved about her. The down side is, although she tries very hard not to be, she is very materialistic and a money vacuum. And she is very self-centered/selfish. She'll use you and anything to her advantage and it can sometimes feel like you're being used.

    Things didn't work out between us because she was a very lost soul (and suffered from depression as well). She is very sympathetic, but ultimately a very shallow person, due to her environment growing up, moving from place to place. She can never hold interest in one thing for a long time. Always pick up, appreciate, get bored, drop it, and move on to a new obsession. That's basically what happened with us. She lost interest in me, lost sexual attraction (partly due to her depression too though), and ultimately we separated. Haven't gone through with the divorce quite yet.

    1. Your story sounds like so many others that have chosen to get involved with Sundanese women. As someone who lived for almost five years in Bandung, allow me to say that Sunda women are beautiful, however, their character(s) is pretty bad. They have no boundaries when it comes to cheating on their men and they will not think twice to have you eat rice and some vegetable each day so they can wear gold around their necks. Sundanese women are great for sex and having fun, Manadonese women are great for sex and having fun--until they're not! Never marry with either of these ethnic groups in Indonesia and your marriage may have a better chance of survival. Follow this website and have fun, enjoy yourself, it is better to pay women to leave rather than give them a claim of half your assets in Indonesia--please do not doubt these words of advice.

  18. Hi im Javanese Girl but grow up in Bandung (Sundanese). Well just want to say: i aggrement about Javanese and Sundanese Character. But still, its depends on the person. Although the original nature remains like their culture. ��

  19. Really really agree! Mine is javanese btw

  20. Totally Agree on the Batak bit.

  21. Hello, I am just reading this and it's very cool.
    I am a Javanese girl and I admit that Sundanese girls are very beautiful and good at caring themselves, Manado girls as well.
    this article is very helpful to illustrate the inheritance of each ethnic in Indonesia.
    However, it would be better if you (as an expat) can get a clear background story of the woman you want to approach. a perfect combination of ethnicity, educational background along with the environment where they live will create their own unique character (and you will see whether it's match with you or not).
    Like my own experience, I stick with some of the nature of my ethnic heritage, but the others are based on my educational background and the environment in the city I migrate.
    as a Javanese girl, I am not entirely can hide my feelings, even I dare to argue for things that I feel are not according to my principles. I also do not hesitate to express my feelings (although it is not in every situation).
    Good position in a company also can make a girl more rational (sometimes picky) to choose a man who she wants to date. Not always about the money, but they know what they want and worth for.

    Anyway, that's my opinion. And once again this article is very remarkable, Thanks for sharing :)

  22. Sorry it was so heart breaking to read your article, full of stereotype :(
    Me as sundanese girl, I born in a good finance family background, but I chose to pursue my master with my own money, I worked so hard, I spent some of my money to pamper my self. Every girls can be pretty with their own hands, is it wrong to use our money to shopping? To make us look presentable? It is not for anyone it is for ourselves, until now I never ask guys to buy me a house, jewellery, car, or any other expensive gifts, that is too much if you said sundanese girls are materialistic, I am local sundanese, we love our family so much, and we can do great house chores since we do care so much about cleanliness. I don't know about the other ethnics, but please none of those girls (manadonese, chinese Indonesian, batak etc) are able to bully's
    Every person has their own stories and you can't judge them, look yourself in to mirror.
    There is no such things as you said, don't make assumptions

  23. Hi, I'm Javanese girl and I'm from Yogyakarta. I'm agree with "nrimo" culture because it's thing my parent always taught me since I was kid. Not just "nrimo" culture, but in Java especially in Yogyakarta, we have others 'javanese philosophy'that always teach us to not be arrogant, always down to earth and have manner. You can look other 'javanese philosophy' and google will show you up hihihi

    The myth about javanese would unlucky if married with Sundanese still happen here. My dad used to tell me about it, but, it was not just a myth. The different characters between javanese and Sundanese are the reason.

    Javanese people are money-saver, they prefer to save their money than use it for not-important things. For example, we don't really need expensive new clothes if we still have other clothes that still in good condition. It's our "Nrimo" culture. We prefer to save our money for school and other stuff we would need in future. My experience: I have bank account since I was in elementary school, I can buy my own laptop with it in middle school. I don't need to ask more money to my parent :D

    Sundanese people are money-spender and lazy at same time. I have university-friends who come from Bandung that were studying in Yogyakarta and they always spending money for useless thing. They love party and stuff which I'm not into it. So the reason why javanese and Sundanese can't stick together because the characters of money oriented are different. Fyi, money problems are most reason of divorce in Indonesia.

    Other things, Javanese are hardworker and educated. For example, in Yogyakarta where top universities in Indonesia located. We can easily got job abroad. That's make thousand of students from other provinces come here to studying, in the end of day, they don't want to come back to their damn hometown and gave bad social impacts sometimes.

    About sexual thing, yeah that's true if javanese are bad in sex things. Sex without married are still taboo here. We mostly not doing sex before married. How could we great at thing of we didn't ever do it? Lol. Most of Javanese girls from yogyakarta and I still stuck on the culture hehehe

  24. What about mixed blood? I read your article about indonesian women. And yeah. I have to say that, we are unity in diversity. Beauty in diversity. Im mixed blood. My mother is sundanesse my dad is bataknesse. Purely. But i was born and raised in jakarta. I like my mother physically,skinny body,white skin,vegetarian and long brown hair. Typical sundanesse girl..but i like my father in characteristic. He is strict and well educated man. Outspoken and confident. Thats why i still in law school until now :) XoXoooo

  25. Sundanese and Manado women have almost similar characters, women like to date well-established and rich men ,yes they are beautiful no doubt but to choose their partners very carefully

  26. Based on myself, I am hardworker and independent girl, but also materialistic. I'm Javanese which has strict bounded culture from my family. I think if we talk about personality and character, it depends on education, background, religion and society culture. But yes, that's true that mostly Javanese ppl are looking so good and calm, but they talk something behind. That's suck lmao. But if we are talking about appearance, mostly indonesian ppl like light skin so sundanese and manadonese are better. But if ppl like such an exotic complexion, javanese and balinese is good to chose because they generally have darker skin.

  27. Hi folks.. I am an indonesian-chinese man and i'd love to share my experiences about indonesian women.

    Sundanese girlfriend(s) : partygoer, talkative, well groomed, naturally beautiful, absolutely great sex, materialistic, easily cheating, and the most prominent thing is how their parents, siblings, families and close friends had no shame at all on using you and your money for their benefit, disguised in sad stories, illness, debts, or another made-up life dramas.

    Javanese girlfriend(s) : calm, a bit passive submissive, sex may vary but not always great, not as fashionable as sundanese, dilligent and quite a hard worker, money saver, easily maintained, not as fanatic as sundanese about religion.

    Bataknese girlfriend : straightforward, well educated, ambitious, speak quite loudly, a bit feminist, hard to control, sex were average, headstrong and stubborn, always ready to argue even on small stuffs.

    as for laziness, i found that it depends on the person itself, even if she is a well educated indonesian women.

    Manadonese girlfriend : beautiful, stylish, a true money spender, mostly are christian, nice sex, cheated easily on wealthier men. quite similar character as the sundanese.

    It is a pity that i had no experiences with Balinese women or Other indonesian races.

    Please share me your stories.

  28. Nice article. My ex-wife's family were Minangkabau, you missed them entirely hahaha

  29. This article is similar to an astrology chart ... you can believe it or not.