Before heading to Bali, it’s a good idea to get a feel for the customs, beliefs and language to make your visit even better. 

It will make your journey easier, as although many people speak English, it shows a level of respect to be able to say some basic phrases in the local language. 

Balinese people have their own regional language, but Indonesian is widely used and understood. 

Here are some great phrases to add to your notes. They will get you by, and impress the locals! 

Permisi – saya mau bertanya / Excuse me, I want to ask about..

per-mee-see, saa-yha ma-oo ber-ta-nya

Say ‘permisi’ before you start a conversation, or want to ask something. It is out of politeness, in both informal or formal situations.

When you have the attention, you can continue with “saya mau bertanya…” and explain what you want to know or ask.

‘Permisi’ is also often said when you want to pass in a crowd.

Terima kasih – sama-sama / Thank you, you are welcome

Te-ree-ma ka-see, sa-ma sa-ma

Balinese people are so friendly, they will help you out with just about anything!  

Throwing them a thank you in their own language will add an extra special touch to your thanks.

You can say ‘terima kasih’ when someone serves your food, helps you unload your luggage, hands you something, and so on.

Apa kabar? Saya baik-baik saja / How are you? I’m fine

A-pha kha-bar sa-ya ba-eek ba-eek sa-ja

Asking how you are, even if it’s just small talk, is a conversation starter.

The phrase ‘apa kabar’’ can be said in formal or informal situations.

If the other person asks you back, you can reply with ‘saya baik-baik saja’.

Nama kamu siapa? Nama saya / What’s your name? My name is..

Na-ma ka-moo see-ya-pa? Na-ma sa-yaa…

Most people appreciate it when someone they talk to remembers their name. 

‘Nama kamu siapa?’ could be the start of many of your Bali friendships!

You can also introduce yourself by mentioning your name using the phrase ‘nama saya…’ followed by your name. It’s appropriate for mostly informal situations.

In formal situations, you should change ‘kamu’ to ‘anda’, which in bahasa Indonesia is considered more polite way. 

Maaf saya tidak mengerti / Sorry, I don’t understand

Ma-ough, sa-yaa tee-dak me-nger-tee

Sometimes we speak a little Indonesian, and the other person thinks we are quite proficient, but not necessarily.

When they trail far from your knowledge, and you don’t understand what they are saying, say ‘maaf, saya tidak mengerti’.

This can also be used in situations where you really don’t have an answer or explanation for certain things. 

Sampai jumpa – Hati-hati / Goodbye, be careful

Se-laa-mat teeng- gall ha-tee ha-tee

If there is a greeting, there must be a farewell. 

Saying ‘sampai jumpa’ and ‘hati-hati’ can be used in both formal and informal situations. It is a form of politeness and concern for those we have met.

Although, more and more Balinese are more familiar with ‘bye’ or ‘da dah’

Dimana..? / Where..?


‘Dimana’ can be used to ask the whereabouts of a person, thing or the location of a place.

The trick is to add a pronoun in the form of a name or place after the word ‘dimana..’.

Sometimes the word stands alone, especially when you are on the phone and asking the whereabouts of the person you are calling, just say ‘dimana?’

Berapa harganya? / How much?

Be-ra-pah har-gaa-nya

An easy trick if you want to try and get a better price, is to negotiate using the seller’s language. 

Surprise them with ‘berapa harganya?’ and see if they will knock a bit off 😉 

Apa benar ini jalan ke..? / Is this the right way to..?

A-pa be-narr ee-nee jaa-lan ke…

If you are going to learn just one phrase off this list, this is probably the most useful. Everyone gets lost on holiday, and knowing how to get home isn’t easy if there’s a language barrier.

You can use ‘apa benar ini jalan ke …?’ to make sure you are going in the right direction.

You are sure to be pointed in the right direction. 

Tolong antar saya ke.. / Please take me to..

To-long han-tarr sa-yaa ke…

When you take a taxi or use online transportation, you can ask the driver ‘tolong antar saya ke…’.

It could start a conversation, or even just lighten the mood.

You can then talk and ask a little more about Bali, culture, food, tourism and more. They will be happy to tell you!

Final Thoughts

When in Bali, do as the Balinese do.

Well, as close as you can with your newly learnt Indonesian phrases.

Bahasa Indonesia is the language most commonly used, even between locals! It is incredibly rare for a tourist, even domestic tourist, to learn Balinese.

Are there any other phrases you would like to learn?


Featured image: Penglipuran Village