Bali is a great place for English speaking travelers because most of the locals speak English as well. But if you’d like to get a smile from the locals (and maybe a better price) it’s helpful to know a few words of the local lingo.
The Indonesian language is easy and fun to learn. A few phrases are all you need to blend right in. Here are ten words and phrases to get you started:
Terima Kasih – Thank You
Courtesy goes a long way in Bali. One of the first phrases any traveler should know is “thank you.” Terima Kasih ( ter-ee-mah kah-see) is the proper way to give thanks. But the locals have a habit of shortening all of their words, so if you’d like to sound like you’ve been there for a while, just say “Ma Kasih.”
Sama-Sama – You’re Welcome
If you say “ma kasih” to a Balinese, you’ll hear “sama-sama” every time. The Balinese version of “You’re welcome” is more like “same to you.”
Selamat Pagi – Good Morning
It’s always nice to give a greeting in the local tongue, and this one will get you by ‘til noon. You don’t even need to say the first word. When Balinese greet one another in the morning, they often just say “pagi!”
Selamat Sore &Selamat Malam –Good Afternoon and Good Night
When giving a hello after noon, “selamat sore” (So-ray) will get a smile and a nod at the very least. And when it’s time to bid good night, “selamat malam” will do the trick. If you want to sound like a true local, just leave out the first word. “Sore!” or “Malam!”
Ibu & Pak – Mom and Pop
Respect for your elders is a big deal amongst the Balinese. “Ibu” (ee-boo) is the respectful term of address for a mother or an older woman. If you’re speaking to an older man or someone with standing in society, “pak” is the word to use.
Tidak – No
As you walk down the local roads, you’ll hear one person after another calling “taxi.” It’s great if you’d like to catch a ride somewhere, but if you just want to explore the place on your own two feet, it helps to give a polite no. The word for “no” in Bahasa is “tidak.” Just follow it up with a brief “thanks” and a smile, and you’re sure to keep things friendly. “Tidak, ma kasih.”
Pedas – Spicy
Bali has some of the best sambal (chili paste) in the world, and most of the dishes come with a bit of a kick. So if you’d like to have it toned down a bit for a sensitive palate, pedas (pay-dahs) is a word you need to know. If you say “Tidak pedas” when you order your food, they’ll be sure to direct you to something that won’t leave your tongue dancing around.
Ada – is there?
Whether you’re asking for a room or for an avocado, the word “ada” comes in handy. Ada can be used to ask about just about anything. Follow it up with the English word for whatever you need at the moment, and the Balinese will catch the drift and give you a grin as well.
Apa Kabar – How are you?
It’s nice to be able to ask, “How are you?” when running across someone you’ve met before. And knowing the Balinese, you’ll always hear “Bagus” in response. That’s the local lingo for “good.”
Permisi – Excuse Me
This one is a big help when you’re trying to attract the attention of the waitress or the guide. It’s sure to get a look and a bit of quick service. And when it’s time to move on from the local diner, “Permisi! Nota!” Is the local equivalent of “Check, please!”