52 Basic Indonesian Phrases That Every Traveller Needs to Know

52 Basic Indonesian Phrases That Every Traveller Needs to Know

These phrases will definitely help you on your travels!

Indonesia is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Within the archipelago, there are over 300 different languages that are spoken. Out of all of them, Indonesian — or Bahasa Indonesia — is the most-spoken language. It is spoken by 94% of the country’s native population, especially in top destinations like Bali, Jakarta, and Medan

No matter where you go, knowing a few Indonesian expressions and terms will go a long way. Besides helping you get around, you’ll find your trips more enriched when you speak the language. On that note, here are 52 basic Indonesian phrases that every traveller needs! 

Also read: 70 Words in Bahasa Indonesia and Tagalog That Have Similar Meanings

Basic Indonesian greetings to remember

basic indonesian phrases - halo!

Image credit: Johan Mouchet

1. Halo

Befriend the locals on your trip with a simple ‘hello!’

Proper pronunciation: Ha-low

2. Selamat pagi

Planning to head out for breakfast or sightseeing early in the morning? Make sure to greet hotel staff, restaurant servers and even your Gojek driver with a ‘Good morning’ and a smile! 

Proper pronunciation: Sau-la-mut pa-gie

3. Selamat siang

When it’s around noon, greet those you meet with a simple ‘Selamat siang.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Sau-la-mut see-an

4. Selamat sore

While the direct translation is the same, the context is actually completely different. ‘Selamat sore’ is only used in the late afternoon, around 5pm. 

Proper pronunciation: Sau-la-mut so-rei

5. Selamat malam

When you’re heading in for the night, remember to wish the hotel staff, your loved ones, and travel guides ‘goodnight. 

Proper pronunciation: Sau-la-mut ma-lump

basic indonesian phrases - terima kasih

Image credit: Dadan Fitranyana via Canva Pro

6. Selamat tinggal

Use this Indonesian phrase when you want to say ‘goodbye.’

Proper pronunciation: Sau-la-mut ting-gal

7. Hati-hati

On its own, the word “hati” means heart. But when you’re saying bidding someone farewell, this basic Indonesian phrase means, ‘Take care!’

Proper pronunciation: Huh-ti huh-ti

 8. Terima kasih

Knowing this quintessential Indonesian expression is a sign of respect and gratitude. Whenever you’ve received something on your trip, remember to say ‘Thank you.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Te-ree-ma ka-see

9. Sama-sama

On the other hand, if someone thanks you, reply with ‘You’re welcome.’

Proper pronunciation: Sa-ma sa-ma

Also read: 12 Stunning Islands in Indonesia Near Singapore That Are Perfect for a Short Holiday

Useful Indonesian expressions to know

basic indonesian phrases - apa kabar?

Image credit: Jeremy Bishop

10. Apakah kamu bisa Bahasa Inggris?

While English is commonly spoken in many tourist spots like Bali, Indonesian remains the most spoken language among locals. Do remember to ask if someone speaks English or not if you ever need help getting around. 

Proper pronunciation: A-pa-ka ka-moo bee-sa ba-ha-sa ing-grees

11. Apa kabar?

No matter where you are, asking ‘How are you?’ is one of the best ways to make friends in Indonesia. 

Proper pronunciation: A-pa-ka-bar?

12. Baik

On the other hand, when someone asks how are you doing, tell them, ‘I’m doing good.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Ba-eek

13. Siapa nama kamu?

Ask for someone’s name with this basic Indonesian phrase. 

Proper pronunciation: See-a-pa na-ma ka-moo?

14. Nama saya…

When someone asks you what’s your name, reply with ‘Nama saya…’ and insert your name.

Proper pronunciation: Na-ma sa-ya

15. Senang bertemu denganmu

Once you have introduced yourself to someone, top off your handshake with this great Indonesian expression! It means ‘Nice to meet you.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Se-nang bear-te-moo the-ngan-moo

Image credit: Paolo Nicolello

16. Permisi

Excuse yourself in a crowd or in the company of others with this basic Indonesian phrase. 

Proper pronunciation: Per-me-see

17. Tolong 

In addition, say ‘Please’ with this useful Indonesian phrase. For example, if you’d like someone to open the door for you, say, ‘Tolong saya buka pintu.’ Make sure to follow it up with a thank-you after!

Proper pronunciation: To-long

18. Saya minta maaf 

If you’ve accidentally gotten in the way of someone or something, do remember to apologise by saying ‘I’m sorry.’

Proper pronunciation: Sa-ya min-ta ma-aughf

19. Iya / Tidak 

Knowing how to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are two of the most basic Indonesian phrases to equip yourself with. 

Proper pronunciation: E-ya / Tee-duck

20. Apakah kamu punya…?

When you would like to ask someone if they have something you need, all you have to do is say this Indonesian phrase. 

E.g., Apakah kamu punya pen? = Do you have a pen?

Proper pronunciation: A-pa-ka ka-moo poon-ya…?

basic indonesian phrases: saya punya / tidak punya...

Image credit: Camille Bismonte

21. Saya punya / Saya tidak punya…

However, if you’re on the receiving end of the previous question, you can say that you have or don’t have the item they’re asking for. 

Proper pronunciation: Sa-ya poon-ya / Sa-ya tee-duck poon-ya

22. Saya mau… 

In cases when you want or need something, you can say, ‘Saya mau…’ and then mention the particular item. 

Proper pronunciation: Sa-ya ma-ooh

Travelling-related basic Indonesian phrases to know

23. Dimana toiletnya?

When a sudden urge to go to the bathroom arises, simply ask where is the toilet with this basic Indonesian phrase. 

Proper pronunciation: Dee-ma-na toy-let-nya?

24. Dimana halte bus terdekat?

Use this Indonesian expression for when you’re looking for the nearest bus stop. Alternatively, you can apply the same question with a range of other common places you may need to go to on your trip. Just replace ‘halte bus’ with any of these useful phrases: 

  • Rumah sakit: Hospital 
  • Stasiun kereta: Train station
  • Bank: Bank 
  • Kantor polisi: Police station
  • Mall: Shopping mall
  • Apotik: pharmacy

Proper pronunciation: Dee-ma-na hall-de bus ter-de-khat?

Also read: Jakarta to Yogyakarta by Train: An Easy Guide for This Scenic Train Journey in Indonesia

25. Apa ini cara yang benar pergi ke …?

Ask this question when you’re confused about whether you’re going the right way or not

Proper pronunciation: A-pa-e-nee-cha-ra hyang bhe-naar per-gie khe?

Image credit: Sandy Zebua

26. Bagaimana saya bisa sampai…?

Similarly, you can use this basic Indonesian phrase to ask how you can get to this location

Proper pronunciation: Ba-gai-ma-nuh sa-ya bee-sa sum-pie…?

27. Dimana tempat penukaran uang?

Forgetting to exchange your money before a trip is definitely a universal problem wherever you go. If you’ve found yourself in a situation like this, you can ask simply anyone where is the money exchanger and head to the nearest location!

Proper pronunciation: Dee-ma-na tum-path pae-nu-ka-run oo-wang?

Learn your directions with these simple Indonesian terms:

28. Ke kiri / Ke kanan 

These two Indonesian phrases mean to ‘go left’ and ‘go right’ respectively. 

Proper pronunciation: Khe kee-ree / Khe ka-nun

29. Terus saja!

This basic Indonesian phrase means to ‘go straight ahead.’ 

Proper pronunciation: The-roos sa-jha

30. Di depan / Di belakang

These two Indonesian phrases means ‘in front and behind.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Dee duh-pahn / Dee buh-lah-kang

Image credit: Anggit Rizkianto

31. Di atas / Di bawah 

These two Indonesian phrases mean ‘upstairs and downstairs.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Dee ah-taaz / Dee ba-waah

32. Di Sini / Di Sana 

These two Indonesian phrases mean ‘here and there.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Dee-see-ni / Dee-sa-na

33. Di samping / Di seberang 

These two Indonesian phrases mean ‘right beside and right across.

Proper pronunciation:  Dee sum-ping / Dee se-berung 

34. Di dalam / Di luar 

These two Indonesian phrases mean ‘inside and outside.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Dee duh-lum / Dee loo-are

Image credit: Odua Images via Canva Pro

Best Indonesian phrases for dining

35. Mas / Mbak, saya mau pesan! 

Whether you’re dining out at a warung or a trendy restaurant, eating Indonesian food is definitely one of the highlights of your trip. When you’re ready to order, raise your hand and call for the server and tell them that you would like to order

If the server is male, address him by ‘Mas.’ If the server is female, address her by ‘Mbak.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Must/Mm-bag, sa-ya maw pe-saan

Also read: 10 Restaurants in KL & Selangor to Fix Your Indonesian Food Cravings

36. Apa makanan favorit di sini?

When you’re dining somewhere for the first time and don’t know where to start, simply ask the waiter for some recommendations

Proper pronunciation: A-pah sa-run An-duh

37. Boleh saya minta menu?

Ask for the menu with this basic Indonesian phrase. However, if you might need something else (e.g. condiments or utensils) here are some useful words you can use:

  • Kecap asin / Kecap manis: Soy sauce / Sweet soy sauce
  • Kecap manis: Sweet soy sauce
  • Saus tomat / Saus sambal: Ketchup sauce / Chilli sauce
  • Billnya: The bill
  • Es batu: Ice cubes
  • Sendok dan garpu: Fork and spoon
  • Sumpit: Chopsticks
  • Piring kosong: Empty plate

When you’ve received what you requested, don’t forget to thank the server with a smile!

Proper pronunciation: Bo-leh meen-ta meh-new?

38. Ada makanan vegetarian/vegan?

For those with dietary restrictions, you can ask if there are vegan or vegetarian options on the menu. 

Proper pronunciation: Ah-da ma-ka-nun vegetarian/vegan?

Also read: 10 Instagrammable Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Bali That You Have to Try

39. Apakah ada makanan dengan…? Saya alergi

Similarly, for those with an allergy, it’s best to let the waiter know beforehand. While you’re ordering, ask which dishes incorporate the ingredients that you’re allergic to

Proper pronunciation: Ah-pa-ka a-dah ma-ka-nun de-ngan…? Sa-ya a-ler-gie

Image credit: fikri nyza

40. Tolong kurangi pedasnya

Indonesian food has always been known for its great heat in its recipes. However, if you’re not ready to handle the spice in certain dishes like nasi goreng, you can request for your order to be less spicy.  

Proper pronunciation: To-long koo-rung-e pe-dash-nya 

41. Boleh tambah pedas?

As for those who actually want more spice to be added, say, ‘Boleh tambah pedas?’ 

Proper pronunciation: Bo-leh tam-bah pe-dash?

42. Jangan pakai…

On the other hand, if you want the cook to not include certain ingredients or condiments in your order, say ‘Jangan pakai…’ 

Alternatively, you can swap out bawang goreng with these useful terms:

  • Gula: Sugar
  • Telur: Egg
  • Es batu: Ice (for drinks)

Proper pronunciation: Hyang-an pa-kai ba-wang goh-reng

43. Saya mau secangkir / sebotol…

Order a cup of a beverage in Indonesian with this easy phrase. The most common drinks you can order in a cup include:

  • Teh: Tea
  • Kopi: Coffee
  • Air: Water
  • Jus: Juice

But for situations where you’d like a bottled beverage drink instead, swap out the word ‘secangkin’ with the word ‘sebotol’. E.g. — ‘Saya mau sebotol air.’ 

Proper pronunciation: Sa-ya ma-oo se-chang-kir / se-bo-toll 

Also read: 11 Prettiest Cafes in Jakarta for Coffee, Brunch, and More

44. Makanan ini enak!

Last but not least, give compliments to the chef in Indonesian when the food was delicious

Proper pronunciation: Ma-ka-nun e-nie eh-nak!

Useful Indonesian phrases to use when shopping

Image credit: Farhan Abas

45. Apakah toko ini buka?

While malls in Indonesia usually open at 10am, some market stalls tend to open as early as 6am. In case you’ve arrived at a shop in the morning, it’s ideal to ask if they’re open yet or not. 

Proper pronunciation: Ah-pa-kah tow-ko e-nie boo-ka?

Also read: 13 Things to Do in Kuta, Bali for a Memorable Time

46. Dimana saya bisa membeli ini?

In situations where you’re on the hunt to look for certain items, ask someone where you can buy them

Proper pronunciation: Dee-ma-na sa-ya bee-sa mem-be-lee e-nie?

47. Bisakah saya mencoba ini? 

For those who are shopping for clothes in Indonesia, you would be pleasantly surprised to know that the sizes are referred to according to their assigned labels. Although shopping for clothes in malls is much easier, buying clothes in the local markets is an experience like no other. In fact, some of the market stalls may have fitting rooms inside. Remember to ask beforehand if you can try on clothes or not.

Proper pronunciation: Bee-sa-kah sa-ya meun-cho-ba e-nie?

48. Ada ukuran lebih besar / kecil?

Let’s say you do go into the shop and try on the clothes but you need a different size. Fret not — you can ask for a bigger or smaller size with this simple phrase. 

Proper pronunciation: Ah-da oo-ku-run luh-bee buh-sar / khe chill?

49. Apakah Anda memiliki warna yang berbeda?

Here’s a potential third scenario when you’re trying on clothes on your trip — while it fits you perfectly, the colours don’t suit you at all. If that’s the case, ask the shopkeeper if they have it in a different colour.  

Proper pronunciation: Ah-pa-ka Ahn-da me-me-lee-key whar-na young ber-be-da?

Image credit: Fikri Rasyid

50. Ini berapa?

There are a lot of things that you might see and want to buy but it’s important to make an informed decision first. If you see something that you’re interested in, simply ask the shopkeeper, ‘How much is this?’ 

Proper pronunciation: E-nee beh-ra-pa?

51. Berapa semuanya? 

When you’re ready to pay, ask ‘How much is everything?’ This is one of the most useful basic Indonesian phrases you might need on your trip, especially in places where the shopkeepers calculate the total amount by hand. 

Proper pronunciation: Beh-ra-pa se-moo-anya?

52. Bisakah Anda memberi saya harga yang lebih murah?

One of the secret skills you should know while you’re in Indonesia is haggling for a cheaper price. If the item or piece of clothing that you want is way over your budget, ask the shopkeeper for a cheaper price in Indonesian. 

Proper pronunciation: Bee-sa-ka an-da mom-buh-ree sa-ya har-ga young luh-beeh moo-rah?

Also read: Jakarta Souvenirs: 10 Authentic and Budget-Friendly Things to Buy in Jakarta


Anyway, here is a quick summary of all the important Indonesian phrases and words you’ll need to remember on your trip!

basic indonesian phrases

basic indonesian phrases

basic indonesian phrases

Learning a language from scratch might sound a little daunting at first but don’t worry! We’re here to help. 

Featured image credit: Bastian Saputra via Canva Pro

About Author

Natasha Effendy
Natasha Effendy

Natasha is a wordsmith and digital content creator who's been trying to write her way into the adventure of a lifetime. If she's not writing, you'd definitely catch her nursing her addiction to romance and fantasy novels with a cup of tea.