A Travellers Guide to Basic Bahasa Indonesia

Indonesia is an incredible archipelago with over 17,500 islands. This enormous stretch of islands has everything from culture, world-class surf and diving and of course plenty of beautiful beaches, making it a traveler favorite. With a population of 242 million and over 300 languages spoken, it is Bahasa Indonesia, or the Indonesian standard language that ties the people together.

A Travellers Guide to Basic Bahasa Indonesia

The Balinese people speak Basa Bali, so when you’re staying at Lotus Bungalows you will probably hear people speaking both Basa Bali and Bahasa Indonesia. Often they mix words from both languages together as well. Bali is probably one of the easiest places to learn a bit of Bahasa because so many people speak English too. They are happy to help you with words and will explain the meanings of Indonesian and Balinese words.

When you visit Indonesia, whether it’s beautiful East Bali or anywhere else in the country, you’ll be able to communicate if you speak a little Bahasa Indonesia. We’re going to help you out today with some basic words and phrases that come in handy on travels in Indonesia.

Greeting People and Introducing Yourself

A Travellers Guide to Basic Bahasa Indonesia

You’ll often be asked your name and where you come from when you meet Indonesians, so it’s wonderful if you can introduce yourself in their language.

  • Selamat Pagi: Good morning
  • Selamat Siang: Good afternoon (from around 11am-4pm)
  • Selamat sore: Good evening (from around 4pm-sunset)
  • Selamat malam: Good night
  • Apa kabar?: How are you? – Baik Baik (pronounced like bike): I’m well
  • Siapa nama anda? or Siapa namamu? (informal): What is your name?
  • Nama saya ……….. : My name is …………
  • Anda berasal dari mana? or Dari mana/Asli mana? (informal): Where are you from?
  • Ba Pak or Pak: Father or Mister (used for an older male)
  • Ibu or Bu: Mother or Miss (used for an older female)

You will probably find you’re meeting a whole lot people called of Wayan, Kadek, Made, Nyoman and Ketut. This is because the Balinese name their children by numbers (with variations), Wayan being number 1, Kadek or Made number 2, Nyoman or Komang number 3 and Ketut for number 4.

Shopping and Bargaining

A Travellers Guide to Basic Bahasa Indonesia

Bargaining is almost a sport in Indonesia. If you don’t bargain at least a little people will be confused. You’ll need to know your basic numbers and the word mahal, and make sure to practice your acting skills as well.

  • Berapa harganya?: How much is this?
  • Mahal: expensive
  • Terlalu mahal: too expensive
  • Boleh ditawar?: May I bargain?
  • Boleh kurang?: Can you drop the price?
  • Harga Pas: Fixed price
  • Terima Kasih: Thank You
  • Sama sama: You’re welcome
  • Satu: one
  • Dua: two
  • Tiga: three
  • Empat: four
  • Lima: five
  • Enam: ix
  • Tujuh: seven
  • Delapan: eight
  • Sembilan: nine
  • Sepuluh: ten
  • Puluh: add this on to any number to make a multiple of 10 e.g dua puluh: twenty
  • Ratus: add this on to any number to make a multiple of 100 e.g tiga ratus: three hundred
  • Ribu: add this on to any number to make a multiple of 1000 e.g lima ribu: five thousand
  • Juta: add this on to any number to make a multiple of 1000000 e.g Enam juta: six million

Finding Your Way Around

A Travellers Guide to Basic Bahasa Indonesia

People are generally happy to help you get around, but if you are out on your own it’s good to know how to ask for directions. You’ll also get Indonesians asking you where you’re going (Mau ke mana?) or where you’ve been (Datang dari mana?) all the time. Just know they aren’t being nosy, just making conversation.

  • Kiri: left
  • Kanan: right
  • Belok: turn
  • Near: dekat
  • Jauh: far
  • Dari: from
  • Ke: to
  • Di mana?: Where
  • Di mana ……? Where is ……? E.g Di mana supermarket?: Where is the supermarket?
  • Saya mau pergi ke ……: I want to go to……

Now you know enough basics of Bahasa Indonesia to get out and see a bit of the amazing Indonesian archipelago. The most important thing to do is be confident and know that Indonesian people are open, welcoming and very happy to help. They love when tourists make an effort to learn a little Bahasa and will repay you for your effort with smiles and friendship. Is there anything else you would like to know in Bahasa Indonesia? Let us know in the comments.

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