Useful Indonesian Phrases While Traveling

It’s always nice to learn a little bit of the local language wherever you are traveling. It helps a lot in easing the interactions between you ( the foreigner as aptly called) with the locals who are here way long before you came. It’s good to respect their culture and learn some of their language. Soon you will realize everyone is that much friendlier and you will bear well in mind that it is not the place that is foreign, it is you.

Here are the few common phrases I found important in anywhere that you are traveling, and their equivalent Indonesian phrases for my travels here right now:


Thank you – Terima Kasih
Please – Tolong
You’re welcome – Sama-sama
Excuse me / Sorry – Maaf
Older man – bapak / pak
Older woman – ibu / bu
Younger / peer for both woman / man – kakak / kak


Hello – halo
How are you – Apa Khabar?
Turns out there are various greetings in the day but once you get the hang of it, it should come naturally:
Good morning (before 11am) – Selamat Pagi
Good after noon (till 3pm) – Selamat Siang
Good evening (till 6pm) – Selamat Sore
Good night – Selamat Malam
Good night while going to bed – Selamat Tidur
Goodbye – Selamat Tinggal


Yes – Iya
No – Tidak
How much – Berapa?
Expensive – Mahal
Cheaper? – Murah?
Stop here – berhenti disine
Left – kiri
Right – kanan
I don’t understand – saya tidak mengerti

These are just the few common phrases in Indonesian that I find useful while doing simple interactions with the locals. The best to avoid and say no to people offering you ‘services’ or to a point of harassing is just smile, shake your head and hand, and say “Tidak mau, terima kasih” (No, thank you). Meanwhile, prick your eyes to catch on the local slang and phrases and you may well pick up more useful ones that suit your needs, just remember you are the one on the lookout to learn, to blend in and to have a good time in a place you have yet to know.

If all else fail and you’re lost for words, just flash a smile, the universal language to make things better.

If you want to read up more, Wikitravel has a good list of Indonesian phrases. Also, if you know any more useful Indonesian phrases for traveling, please do share it here in the comments. Terima kasih!

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