Must Know Indonesian Travel Phrases

Travel/ Oli M (Flickr)

Whether you have travelled to Indonesia or another country, a universal tip to getting by is to learn basic language phrases. Regardless, of how long you are in another country for, being able to communicate in just few words can be useful. Plus, it shows respect for the local language and culture. Indonesia is no different. Thus, this article will introduce some basic travel phrases that you may encounter and also may come in handy for the times where you are stuck and have no clue what you are doing (yes, we have all been there).

Notably, this article cannot cover every scenario or word. Therefore, it always important to check in with language guide books. Try not to rely too much on Google translate because its not 100% and it can be awkward if you make a translation error.

If you read my previous article on Indonesian greetings, then some of the following will be familiar.

Basic Questions

One of the first aspects that usually pops into the mind is how to ask for help or just generally ask for something. Recognising the language structure of questions may help you formulate almost any question.

To start with:

WhereDi mana
WhichYang mana
How much is thisBerapa harganya
How manyBerapa banyak
Do you/Can youApakah/Bisakah

With this in mind, let’s explore a few examples:

Can you help me?Bisakah kamu membantu saya?/Bisakah kamu membantuku?
Do you speak English?Apakah kamu bisa bicara bahasa inggris?
Where is the hotel?Di mana hotel?

You can always try to use the English term such as help or whatever it is your asking. But do not assume that english is fluently spoken by all Indonesians and vice versa. Obviously, this article cannot cover everything but here are some basic travel vocabulary you will encounter upon your travels.

Modes of Transport

Use the word naik before the mode of transport. Naik implies to go by and or travel by.

Bike/Motor BikeSepeda/ Sepeda Motor
TrainKereta (api)
PlanePesawat Terbang
To Walk/WalkingBerjalan

Common Places

Hospital/doctor’sRumah Sakit/Doktor
Train stationStasiun kerata (api)

So, let’s put some of this vocabulary into context, for example:

Di mana kerata api?Where is the train station?
Restoran ini cantikThis restaurant is pretty
Saya naik sepeda motor ke kantor setiap hari.I ride my motor bike to the office (work) every day.

There may be slight variations depending on where you travel to in Indonesia. For example, in tourist areas where English will be widely used instead or other native Indonesian languages like Bahasa Sunda. Nevertheless, establishing the basics is valuable and practical for non-Indonesian speakers considering travelling in Indonesia. What’s more, you can easily build upon the basic travel knowledge especially if you are using the vocabulary on a daily basis.

Looking for more Bahasa Indonesia language study content? Check out this blog on Indonesian slang!

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Katherine Durban

Indonesia Correspondent at Asia Options
Katherine is studying a Bachelor of International Relations and Diploma of Languages (Indonesian) at La Trobe University. She plans to study Honors later this year. Katherine has participated in a number of programs aimed at strengthening Australia-Indonesia relations including the virtual Indonesian Language Short Course and Campus Ambassador program run by the Australian Consortium for 'In-Country' Indonesian Studies (ACICIS). She aspires to work in international development and will continue searching for professional opportunities in Asia.