There’s no doubt about it – knowing a bit of the local language will ease your travels like nothing else. A phrase or two spoken at the right moment lends an instant familiarity to your interactions with locals and you may even draw out an appreciative laugh or two.
Most of the locals will speak some English and expect to communicate with you in English so when you bust out with some Bahasa Indonesia, they’ll be impressed or at least appreciative that you’ve made an effort to get to know some of their language. It shows an instant respect for the Indonesian culture and with just a few words, you’ll find that you’re no longer viewed as such a stranger.
This doesn’t mean you have to learn Bahasa Indonesia overnight – just a few common phrases will do it. Memorize them and you’ll be traveling through Indonesia like a local.
The Very Basics (Must Know Phrases)
Terima Kasih: Thank you
Kembali: You’re welcome
Permisi: Excuse me (to ask for something)
Maaf: Excuse me, Sorry
Selamat Tinggal: Goodbye
Apa Khabar?: How’re you?
Baik-baik saja, terima kasih. Bagaimana dengan Anda?: I’m fine, thanks. And you?
Shopping and Getting Around
Berapa?: How much?
Berapa harganya: How much is it? What does it cost?
Murah?: Cheaper? (Said hopefully, with a smile – this is a powerful word :))
Kamar ___ dimana?: Where is the ___?
Di mana?: Where?
Di mana Jalan ___?: Where is the street ____?
Saya mau ke _____: I want to go to ______
Bagaimana caranya pergi ke sana?: How to get there
Berhenti disine: Stop here
Saya tersesat: I’m lost
Bisa bantu saya?: Can you help me?
Great for Small Talk
Siapa nama anda?: What’s your name?
Nama saya ____: My name is _____
Anda berasal dari mana?: Where are you from?
Saya dari _____: I’m from _____
Senang bertemu dengan anda: Pleased to meet you
Useful Phrases You Might Be Using A Lot
Apa ini?: What is it?
Hati hati: Go carefully
Cepat cepat (che-pat): Hurry
Saya tidak mengerti: I don’t understand
Di manakah kamar kecil?: Where is the toilet?
Fun Phrases You Might as Well Know
Bapak/Ibu ini akan membayar semuanya: This gentleman/lady will pay for everything.
Bersediakah anda berdansa dengan saya?: Would you like to dance with me?
Satu bahasa tidak pernah cukup: One language is never enough.
And of course, it’s always useful to know how to feed oneself. Check out the guide to eating in Indonesia!