Indonesia, being one of the most diverse countries in the world, is home to hundreds of ethnic groups with hundreds of different languages. From the magnificent waterfall and rice fields of Bali to the bustling city of Jakarta, it is where traditional lifestyle meets modernity. Indonesia is also home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World — the Borobudur Temple. There is certainly so much more to this incredible country that is well worth exploring.

"Bahasa" means "Language"

It won't be hard to find someone who can speak English, especially in touristy areas and big cities. However, it is best if you learn some key phrases to ease your stay and to enjoy more of a local experience. The official language of Indonesia is called Bahasa Indonesia. Many resources refer to the language simply as “bahasa”. The Indonesian language is the national standard alongside all the hundreds of local languages.


How Different is Spoken from Written?

One difficulty that Indonesian language learners encounter is how different the spoken form is to the written form. Although Indonesian has a standard written form, everybody speaks colloquially and this differs from place to place. For instance, “kakak” in Jakarta can refer to both male and female older sibling, and “abang” refers to older brother in Medan. These vocabulary differences can cause funny exchanges from time to time. Nevertheless, you won't encounter any problems communicating with Indonesians anywhere in the country using the standard language.

Indonesian Phrases for Traveling

The following are some key travel phrases divided into five categories that could assist you while you are traveling in Indonesia. Please note that Indonesian has different registers and the one I present here is the colloquial register. Also note that most sentences are not direct translations nor expressed in the same way as the corresponding English phrases, but should convey the same meanings in the context they are meant to be used.

Airport (Bandara)

1. Where is the check-in counter for AAA airline? Di mana kaunter check-in maskapai AAA?
2. Can I see your ticket and passport, please? Bisa saya lihat tiket dan paspor Bapak/Ibu?
3. How many pieces of luggage are you checking in? Berapa banyak bagasi Bapak/Ibu?
4. Can you place your bag up here? Bisa taruh tas Bapak/Ibu di atas sini?
5. Here are your tickets. The gate number is at the bottom of the ticket. Ini tiketnya. Nomor pintu ada di bawah tiket.
6. You should report to gate A2 20 minutes before the departure time. Bapak/ Ibu harus melapor di pintu A2 20 (dua puluh) menit sebelum keberangkatan.
7. Where is the boarding gate for flight AAA? Di mana pintu keberangkatan penerbangan AAA?
8. Are there any duty-free shops around here? Ada toko duty-free di sekitar sini?
9. Where can I get my baggage? Di mana bisa saya ambil bagasiku?
10. Your flight is delayed/canceled. Penerbangan Bapak/Ibu terlambat/dibatalkan.

Taxi (Taksi)

1. Excuse me, where can I get a taxi? Permisi, di mana ada taksi?
(lit: excuse, where have taxi)
2. Where are you heading? Bapak/Ibu mau ke mana?
(lit: you want to where)
3. Could you take me to ___? Bisa antar saya ke ___?
(lit: can take me to...)
4. I want to go to the AAA Hotel. Saya mau ke Hotel AAA.
(lit: I want to ...)
5. I’m really in a hurry, so can you take the shortest route, please? Saya sangat buru-buru, jadi bisa tolong ambil rute yang terpendek?
(lit: I very hurry, so can please take route that's shortest)
6. How much is the fare? Berapa biayanya?
(lit: quantity fare-it)
7. Keep the change. Simpan kembaliannya.
(lit: save change-it)
8. Can I schedule a taxi pick up for 7 am tomorrow? Bisa saya pesan taksi untuk jam 7 pagi besok?
(lit: can I order taxi for hour 7 morning tomorrow)
9. Would you mind making a quick stop? Bisa berhenti sebentar?
(lit: can stop briefly)
10. Would you drive slower, please? Bisa tolong lebih pelan?
(lit: can please more slowly)

Hotel (Hotel)

1. Good morning/day/evening, can I help you? Selamat pagi/siang/sore, bisa saya bantu?
2. I’ve got a reservation. Saya punya reservasi.
(lit: I have reservation)
3. Could I have your ID and credit card, please? Bisa saya lihat KTP dan kartu kredit Bapak/Ibu?
(lit: Can I see ID and card of-credit of-you)
4. Your room is on the third floor on the left. Kamar Bapak/Ibu di lantai tiga sebelah kiri.
(lit: room of-you at floor of-three side of-left)
5. Could you give me a morning call at 6 tomorrow, please? Bisa bangunkan saya besok jam 6 (enam) pagi?
(lit: can wake me tomorrow hour 6 morning)
6. When do you serve breakfast? Jam berapa sarapan?
(lit: hour quantity breakfast)
7. Breakfast starts from 7 am to 10 am. Sarapan mulai dari jam 7 (tujuh) sampai 10 (sepuluh).
(lit: breakfast start from hour 7 until 10)
8. Could I have your room key, please? Bisa saya lihat kunci kamar Bapak/Ibu?
(lit: can I see key of-room of-you)
9. What time is check out? Jam berapa check-out?
(lit: hour quantity check-out)
10. The key/television/light doesn't work. Kunci/televisi/lampu tidak berfungsi.
(lit: key/television/light not function)

Getting Around (Berkeliling)

1. Where can I find ___? Di mana ada ___?
(lit: at where have...)
2. Where is the bank/ supermarket? Di mana bank/supermarket?
(lit:at where bank/supermarket)
3. How far is it to ___? Berapa jauh ke ___?
(lit: quantity far to ...)
4. The museum is not far from our hotel. Museum tidak jauh dari hotel kami.
(lit: museum not far from hotel of-just-us)
5. The bus stop is there. You can take R12 bus. Halte bus di sana. Bapak/Ibu bisa naik bus R12 (dua belas).
(lit: stop of-bus at here. you can ascend bus R12)
6. Can you show me the way? Bisa tunjukkan jalannya?
(lit: can show road-it)
7. Do you sell maps here? Apa ada peta di sini?
(lit: you have map at here)
8. How much is the ticket? Is there discount for kids? Berapa harga tiket? Ada diskon untuk anak-anak?
(lit: quantity price of-ticket? have discount for kid-kids)
9. How to go there? Bagaimana ke sana?
(lit: how to there)
10. Go straight, turn left, turn right. Jalan lurus, belok kiri, belok kanan.
(lit: road straight, turn left, turn right)

Common Problems (Masalah Umum)

1. I am allergic to __. Saya alergi pada ___.
(lit: I allergy on)
2. I have lost my passport/wallet. Saya kehilangan paspor/dompet.
(lit: I lose passport/wallet)
3. Please help. Call the police/ambulance. Tolong bantu. Panggil polisi/ambulans.
(lit: please help. call police/ambulance)
4. I am not feeling well. I want to take a rest. Saya tidak merasa baik. Saya mau istirahat.
(lit: I not feel good. I want rest)
5. Where is the nearest pharmacy? Di mana apotek terdekat?
(lit: at where pharmacy nearest)
6. You look pale. Are you fine? Kamu kelihatan pucat. Baik-baik saja?
(lit: you appear pale. good-good just)
7. Do you need help? Bapak/Ibu perlu bantuan?
(lit: you need assistance)
8. My leg hurts. Let’s find somewhere to sit. Kakiku sakit. Ayo cari tempat duduk.
(lit: feet-my sick. let's find place sit)
9. I need to go to the toilet now. Where is it? Saya perlu ke toilet sekarang. Di mana?
(lit: I need to toilet now. at where)
10. My phone runs out of battery. HPku habis baterai.
(lit: cellphone-my exhaust battery)

The formal “you” is commonly translated as “Anda” but it is rarely used. “Bapak” for male and “Ibu” for female is more widely used. Indonesian language has two forms of “we” — the inclusive “kita” and the exclusive “kami”. With the growing number of foreign influence, Indonesian speakers have adopted quite a lot of modern Western words, mainly from English. For example, “duty-free store” is “toko bebas pajak” but it is more common to hear the English words. Thus, if you forget the Indonesian word, try to say it in English.

Always remember these three magic words: “permisi (excuse me)”, “maaf (sorry)”, and “terima kasih (thank you)”.

Have fun traveling!

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