Slideshow 14

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The Bahasa Indonesia  language has no need for past or future tense, which means that verbs only exist in present tense. Also, Bahasa Indonesia makes no distinction for masculine and feminine nouns. To make the language even less complicated, the words have no plural; singular and plural terms are all the same.

With a population of more than 250 million citizens, the national language is spoken throughout the country. It is also good to note that Bahasa Indonesia is similar to Bahasa Malaya (Malaysia’s national language), which is why the language is also understood in Malaysia.

Here are some basic Bahasa Indonesian words to help you prepare for  your next holiday in Indonesia!


Selamat Pagi: Good morning
Selemat Siang: Good afternoon
Selamat sore: Good evening
Selemat malam: Good night
Apa kabar?: How are you? – Kabar baik: I’m good
Terima kasih: Thank you
Sama Sama: You are welcome
Yes/No: Ia/ Tidak


Saya: I
Kamu: You
Dia: He/She
Kita: Us
Kilian: You (guys)
Mereka: They

When asking for something, always start your question with ‘Permisi’ (Excuse me) :

Permisi Mas (to young males)
Permisi Adek (to young females)
Permisi Pak (to older men)
Permisi Ibu (to older women)
Saya mau tanya: I would like to ask
     Ex : Permisi Pak, pantai ada di mana ? (Excuse me Sir, where is the beach?)

Where are you from and where do you want to go?

As people are very friendly and communicative, you will pick up the language quickly. During your travel around Indonesia, the most common questions you’ll hear will be: “Dari mana?”  and “Mau ke mana?”.

“Dari mana” means where (are you) from and “ke mana” means where (are you) going. So familiarize yourself with these two short and simple phrases, they’ll definitely come in handy!

Here are some more useful phrases to help you:

Saya mau ke Bali: I want to go to Bali
Saya dari: I am from… Perancis (French) – Ingrris (English) – Spanyol (Spanish) – America – Australia – Singapura
Kiri: Left
Kanang: Right
Lurus: Straight
Belakang: Behind
Ordering food in Indonesia

Most people love Indonesian food.

From personal experience, your Bahasa will improve significantly from ordering food in the Indonesian warungs. Going to the warungs will definitely invite opportunities to mix and converse with the locals. Do bring a pocket dictionary if you want to make your conversation more interesting!

Permisi Pak, ada tempat makan di dekat sinin?: Excuse me Sir, is there a restaurant near here?
Makan: To eat
Pedas: Spicy (if you cant handle spicy, remember to say Tidak pedas!)
Saya suka pedas: I like spicy
Minyak: Oil
Gula: Sugar
Minum: Drink
Nasi: rice
Mie: noodle
Sayur saja: if you are vegetarian you might want to ask for “Sayur saja” (Vegetables only)
Enak : Delicious!
Bargaining and Numbers

Knowing a few words of the language will always helpful to get better deals in Indonesia.

Advice, try to bargain around 40% off the initial price offered when you negotiate, especially in touristic areas:

1 – Satu ; 2 – Dua ; 3 – Tiga ; 4 – Empat ; 5 -Lima ; 6 -Enam ; 7 – Tujuh ; 8 – Delapan ; 9 – Sembilan ; 10 – Sepuluh.
11 Seblas
12 Dua belas
13 Tiga belas
14 Empat belas
20 – Dua puluh ; 30 – Tiga puluh, etc …
100 – Seratus ; 200 – Dua ratus etc…
1, 000 : Seribu – 10,000 Sepuluh Ribu
1 million : Satu juta
Harga: Price
Berapa harganya?: How much does it cost?
Harga nya mahal: Price is expensive
Lebih murah bisa?: “Cheaper possible?”
Saya tidak ada cukup: I don’t have enough
Mahal sakali: Very expensive!

Police in Indonesia

It is hoped you won’t get arrested by the Police whilst travelling in Indonesia, but this happens sometimes so don’t be afraid of them. It will make a big difference for them if you talk to them in Bahasa Indonesia so here are a few sentences to use if involved with the police

Getting questioned by the police whilst on the road is quite a notorious problem here in Indonesia. Should it happen to you, the first rule is not to panic. Talk to them nicely and they will be especially impressed if you can speak some Bahasa!

Travel tips meeting with Indonesian policemen:

My wallet was stolen: Dompet saya di curi
I am very sorry I won’t do it again: Maaf sakali, saya tidak akan ulangi lagi
Saya tinggal disini, saya tidak bule: I live here, I am not a tourist (Bule is actually the term to describe a white foreigner).
Saya jujur: I am honest

Other easy words in Indonesia that you will use often :

Tidak Apa Apa!: No worries!
Bagus!: Great!
Hati-hati: Be careful
Boleh or Bisa: Can.
Ada/Tidak ada : There is/There is not
Buka/Tutup: Open/Close
Selamat jalan: Have a safe journey
Ini apa?: What is this?
Sampai jumpa lagi : See you again
Tolong!: Help
Maaf: I am sorry
Jam berapa?: What time is it?

Bonus for the surfers:

Ombak bagus: Good waves!
Banyak angin: Lot of wind
Air dingin: Cold water
Banyak arus: Lots of current
Bahaya: Dangerous
Ikan Hiu: Shark (but normally there are no sharks in Indonesia!)

Lastly, remember that there are over 200 dialects spoken in Indonesia. Balinese is just one so traditional Balinese people speak Balinese between themselves, but all of them speak Bahasa Indonesia and many speak English too. Bali is a good place learn Bahasa so when you start your trip to the rest of Indonesia a little knowledge of Bahasa will reduce the language barrier.

Happy touristing from Kembali Villas