Balinese is the traditional language of the island. All local people are brought up speaking it, but it’s tricky for foreigners to learn. Much more pertinent for visitors is the national language, Bahasa Indonesia (which literally means “the language of Indonesia”), commonly referred to simply as “bahasa”.

Influences from Dutch as well as English are evident in Bahasa Indonesia, which became the official language of the archipelago after the revolution, adapted from Bahasa Malay in an attempt to linguistically unify the archipelago. Although you can get by without hassle in Ubud by speaking English, it’s both a mark of respect and a bit of fun to attempt a little Bahasa Indonesia. It’s an easy and charming language to learn and pronounce, and you’ll find that you’ll get an enthusiastic response from local people who are impressed even if you can only string together a sentence or two.

There are many private language tutors in Ubud who will come to your home or hotel at a time convenient to you. There are a couple of good schools as well, offering intensive courses for those in search of accelerated learning. See our Services section – Schools.

Here is a core list of some of the most commonly used terms and phrases in Indonesian. Amazingly, you can make basic conversation with only about 60 words under your belt!

VOCAB LIST

Greetings

Welcome – selamat datang
Apa kabar? – how are you?
(I’m) well – baik baik
Good morning – selamat pagi
Good afternoon (llam-3pm) – selamat siang
Good afternoon (after 3pm) – selamat sore
Good evening – selamat malam
Goodnight / sleep well – selamat tidur
Goodbye – selamat tinggal (if you are leaving)
Goodbye – selamat jalan (if you are staying and another is leaving)
See you – sampai jumpa lagi
See you tomorrow – sampai besok
Please – silahkan
Thank you – terima kasih
You’re welcome – sama sama
Sorry – maaf
Excuse me – permisi
Siapa nama anda? – what’s your name?
Nama saya… – my name is…
Where are you from? – anda berasal dari mana?
I’m from… – saya dari…

Questions

Who – siapa
What – apa
When – kapan
Where is – di mana
Where to – ke mana
Where from – dari mana
How – bagaimana
Why – kenapa

Pronouns

I – saya
You – kamu / anda
He / she – dia
We – kami
They – mereka

Time

Today – hari ini
Yesterday – kemarin
Tomorrow – besok

Numbers

1 – satu
2 – dua
3 – tiga
4 – empat
5 – lima
6 – enam
7 – tujuh
8 – delapan
9 – sembilan
10 – sepuluh
11 – sebelas
12 – duabelas
13 – tigabelas
20 – duapuluh
30 – tigapuluh
100 – seratus
200 – duaratus
1000 – seribu
3000 – tigaribu
10,000 – sepuluhribu
1,000,000 – satu juta

Money

Money – uang
Small change – uang kecil
1000 Rp – seribu rupiah
10,000 Rp – sepuluh ribu rupiah
50,000 Rp – limapuluh ribu rupiah
100,000 Rp – seratus ribu rupiah
800,000 Rp – delapan ratus ribu rupiah

Food

Bon appetit – selamat makan
Food – makan
Drink – minum
Fruit – buah
Vegetables – sayur
Rice – nasi
Chicken – ayam
Pork – babi
Fish – ikan
Eggs – telur
Milk – susu
Delicious – enak
Breakfast – makan pagi
Lunch – makan siang
Dinner – makan malam

Useful Words / Phrases

Yes – ya
No – tidak
Not yet – belum
Good – bagus
Out walking – jalan jalan
Room – kamar
Toilet – kamar kecil
Help! – tolong
I don’t know – saya tidak tahu
I don’t understand – says tidak mengerti
I’m hungry – saya lapar
I’m thirsty – saya haus
Doctor – doctor
Dentist – doctor gigi
Pharmacy – apotik
Sick / ill – sakit
Balinese healer – dukun