As an avid traveler, I think it would always be helpful or value-adding to immerse myself in the local culture through its language. So, although majority of the Balinese population are fluent in English, learning how to speak basic Indonesian will come in handy. Often times, speaking to locals in English will leave tourists prone to falling for scams. Hence, it is wroth spending some time to master basic Bahasa Indonesia before heading off to Bali!
- Ya/Tidak (ya/tee-duck) — Yes/No
- Ada (uh-duh) — Is there?/Do you have?/There is…/I have…
- Bisa (bee-suh) — Is it possible/Can you?/I can…
- Mau (ma-woo) — Want?
- Apa (ah-pa) — What?
- Mana (ma-na) — Where?
- Kapan (ka-pun) — When?
- Ini/Itu (ee-nee/ee-two) — This/That
- Saya (sa-ya) — I/Me
- Kamu (ka-moo) — You
- Dia (dee-ya) — Him/Her
- Mereka (mur-ray-ka) — They
- Mas (mus) — Sir
- Mba (uhm-baa) — Ma’am
- Terima Kasih (trim-ma-ka-see) — Thank you
- Sama sama (sa-ma sa-ma) — You’re welcome
These 16 words will help you understand to comprehend the most basic Indonesian phrases. It is worth noting that Bahasa has no concept of tenses, no distinction between masculine and feminine nouns and no plural terms, so for example, to negate a term, it is simply to just add the term “no” in front of the word (e.g. mau (want) to tidak mau (don’t want)). Bahasa is really uncomplicated, so navigating around Bali would not be difficult if you have mastered these limited number of words.
- Selamat Pagi/Siang/Malam (sir-la-mutt pa-gee/see-young/ma-lum) — Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening
- Apa kabar? (ah-pa ka-bar) — How are you?
- Lagi apa? (la-gee ah-pa) — What’s up?
- Baik-baik saja (baa-eek baa-eek sa-ja) — It’s been good/alright
- Nama kamu siapa? (na-ma ka-moo see-ya-pa) — What’s your name?
- Kamu dari mana? (ka-moo duh-ree ma-na) — Where are you from?
- Mau apa? (ma-woo ah-pa) — What do you want?
- Jam berapa? (jum bra-pa) — What time is it?
- Dimana toilet? (dee-ma-na toilet) — Where is the toilet?
The Balinese are a friendly bunch. They love to have random conversations with tourists and are always pleasant and polite to start a conversation with. Instead of just saying hi, it is worth it to attempt conversing with some locals, who may cut some special deals just for you.
- Murah (moo-rah) — Cheap
- Mahal (ma-hull) — Expensive
- Beli (buh-lee) — To buy
- Harga (hur-ga) — Price
- Bisa Lebih Murah? (bee-sa lur-bee moo-rah) — Can it be cheaper?
- Kemahalan (ker-ma-hull-un)— Its too expensive!
- Harga Lokal (hur-ga low-cull) — Local price
- Beli Banyak/Beli Grosir (buh-lee bun-yak/gross-eer) — Buy in bulk/wholesale purchase
- Ada Barang Baru? (ah-duh bra-ng buh-roo) — Is there a new one?
There are so many things to do or buy in Bali and most places do not offer fixed rates. Negotiating power becomes a valuable asset in the area and it could get really stressful. Some tourists might succumb to paying for goods at a price much higher than the actual value of the goods. However, if you play around with some of the words above and not show that you want the goods too much, you are likely to cut your budget some slack.
- Tolong (tow-long) — Help!
- Maaf (ma-uf) — I’m Sorry
- Cepat (ch-uh-putt) — Hurry
- Permisi (purr-me-see) — Excuse me
- Kiri (key-ree) — Left
- Kanan (ka-none) — Right
So, coming from the freshest Indonesian here, you can definitely survive independently in Bali by mastering these 40 essential words. Just be brave, be adventurous and travel safe!
If by any chance you encounter angry locals who lash these words at you, let us help you translate what these words might mean.
- Ngentot (ng-and-tot) — Fuck
- Anjing (un-jeeng) — Dog (its a valid profanity)
- Asu (uh-soo) — Bitch (another profanity)
- Kontol (con-tol) — Dick
- Edan (ay-done) — Crazy