Tips For Shopping In Indonesia

Tourists Get Better Deals When Speaking Indonesian

Shopping can be a nonstop activity in Indonesia because merchants are everywhere. In larger cities, such as Jakarta, visitors will encounter everything from luxurious shopping malls to children selling goods on the sidewalks. Items from around the world are available in Indonesia, including food, clothing, and toiletries.

Local arts and crafts of all types are fascinating and abundant. Some islands and artisans specialize in primitive styles and materials, while elsewhere, artisans make some of the most refined pieces imaginable. Batik cloth, wood sculptures and masks, gold, silver, and pearl jewelry are some of the most notable items found across the islands. It’s often advisable to wait a few days after landing in this country before buying too many souvenirs. Jet lag, excitement, and ignorance can impair a visitor’s taste in the first few days on the ground.

Indonesia tourist souvenirs

As visitors travel among the villages and islands, they can see many different arts and crafts. The most unique arts and crafts are found in the more remote islands and villages. If you find something that you want in these areas, get it while you can. You may not have a second chance.

Visitors to Indonesia have a variety of options available for shopping—from luxurious indoor malls in Jakarta to sidewalk stalls, which are found throughout the country. For the most part, the prices for products and services in Indonesia are very reasonable and the experience of dealing with local merchants is entertaining and rewarding.

Bargaining In Indonesian

In supermarkets, department stores, pharmacies, and other formal stores, the prices are fixed and bargaining is not a factor. Elsewhere, bargaining is customary and expected. In these situations, the art is to start with an offer that is about half the asking price and slowly increase your bid until a compromise is reached. It helps to smile while bargaining and remember that many vendors work hard every day just to feed their families. Therefore, don’t bargain beyond reason to save a small amount of money that you will never miss. Some travelers take bargaining on as sport and are willing to humiliate vendors in an attempt to get a lower price that they can brag about among friends and family when they return to the beach.

merchants on Kuta beach

If the price for a product or service isn’t labeled, it’s probably negotiable. In fact, most merchants will expect you to bargain. To start the bargaining process, point to the item or hold it up and ask:

Harga? (HAHR‑gah) = Price?

It pays to know numbers in Indonesian when negotiating. After asking a merchant for a price, listen closely for the answer that will come very fast. If you don’t understand the price the first time, the merchant may see the confusion in your eyes and rephrase it in English, because many salespeople at least speak English numbers. If all else fails, get out your calculator or pen and use printed numerals to negotiate.

Most shops are open every day between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. (with shorter hours on Sundays). In smaller towns and villages, shops may be closed between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

In an attempt to make a living, local people will offer you products or services that you may not want or need. In these cases, don’t be shy about saying no. The quicker you express your lack of interest, the better. In parts of Indonesia, you may encounter the more aggressive sales approaches.

Morning Markets

The majority of Indonesians don’t have refrigerators or freezers in their homes, which means they shop for food every day for their families. Therefore, there are street markets in most communities every morning where the locals (mostly women) shop for their daily meals. These markets are very colorful and worth a visit. These markets typically have fresh fish, meat, eggs, flowers, spices, fruits, and vegetables. They rarely feature arts and crafts, but they do offer some unique and colorful photo opportunities.

rupia Indonesia currency

Money Conversion Rates

Many travelers find it helpful to take a pocket‑size calculator along when shopping. It can help calculate prices with conversion rates. A calculator also can help shoppers and vendors communicate. If you don’t understand a price, ask the merchant to punch the number into the calculator or write it down. In return, you can use the calculator to convey your offer. Even though numbers sound differently in the Indonesian language, the raw numbers look the same as they would in your home country.

Credit Cards

Bigger stores will take major credit cards, but traveler’s checks are tougher to use because of fraud. If you wear a money belt, keep some small change in your pocket to avoid drawing too much attention to your money belt by reaching into it for every purchase.

If you don’t have much time for shopping, but want some authentic souvenirs, find one of the super stores. Sarinah, Batik Keris, Matahari, and others have numerous stores on the major islands and they carry merchandise from all over Indonesia. The variety of merchandise in these stores is impressive and their prices are reasonable.

Indonesian Phrases for Shopping

I want to go shopping. = Saya mau ke belanja (SYE‑ah MAH-oo keh BEH‑lahn‑JAH)

I like it. = Saya suka (SYE-ah SOO-kah)

How much is this book? = Harga ini buku? (BEHR-rah-PAH EE-nee BOO-koo)

I want to buy _____. = Saya mau beli _______ = (SYE‑ah MAH-oo BEH‑lee ________.)

That’s all = Ini saja (EEN-ee SAH-jah)

I already have one = suda punya (SOO-dah POON-yah)

I don’t want it = Tidak mau (TEE‑dahk MAH-oo)

I want a large one = Saya mau besar (SYE-ah MAH-oo BEH-sahr)

Learn more about bahasa Indonesia here.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

Language Tips For Tourists In Indonesia

Bahasa Indonesia Phrases For Tourists

Indonesia is a beautiful country full of natural and man-made wonders. It has ancient temples, beautiful beaches, hundreds of volcanoes, endangered wildlife, and abundant natural resources. Get the most from your trip with the right Indonesian words.

Lombok Rinjani

Indonesia includes Bali, Borneo, Java, Komodo, New Guinea, and Sumatra. There are more than 17,500 islands in all. Indonesia shares two of its largest islands with other countries. The Indonesian state of Papua, formerly known as Irian Jaya, occupies the western half of New Guinea—the world’s second largest island. Indonesia also controls part of the island of Borneo, which is the third-largest island in the world. Indonesia shares the island of Borneo with Brunei and Malaysia. Indonesian Borneo is called Kalimantan (East, West and Central).

In addition to these large islands, Indonesia controls all of Sumatra, which is the sixth-largest island in the world. Meanwhile, Sulawesi and Java rank as the 11th and 13th largest islands on the planet. Java is the most populous of the Indonesian island—more than 60 percent of all Indonesians live here—and it is the most populated island in the world. Java,is home to the capital city of Jakarta, where about 25 million people live. Despite the population density on Java, hundreds of other islands in the country are uninhabited.

Indonesian language and words

The real beauty of Indonesia is found in the eyes and smiles of its people. Taking the time to learn some simple Indonesian words and phrases will help you unveil more of this country’s wonderful treasures. Most Indonesians are happy, friendly, and curious people. They often will speak to you as you cross paths. They typically will ask where you are from and where you are going. When you have the opportunity, try to converse with locals. It can be educational, informative, and rewarding. Most Indonesian people know at least a few English words and are eager to learn more. Many Indonesians are very articulate in English, especially those involved in tourism, retail, and international business.

Indonesian Words and Phrases

Indonesia tourism

Indonesian Words For Greetings & Small Talk

Hello.  Halo. (HAH‑loh)

How are you?  Apa kabar? (AH‑pah KAH‑bahr)

(I’m) fine/good.  Baik/bagus. (BYE‑eek, BAH‑goos)

Good morning.  Selamat pagi. (SEH‑lah‑maht PAH‑gee)

Good day. (use this from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.)  Selamat siang. (SEH-lah-MAHT SEE-ahng)

Good afternoon. (use from 3 p.m. until dark)  Selamat sore. (SEH-lah-MAHT SOHR-reh)

Good evening. (after dark)  Selamat malam (SEH-lah-MAHT MAH-lahm)

Good night.(use when going to bed)  Selamat tidur. (SEH-lah-MAHT TEE-door)

Good bye/good trip.  Selamat jalan. (SEH‑lah‑maht JAH-lahn)

Enjoy your meal.  Selamat makan. (SEH-lah-MAHT MAH-kahn)

Enjoy your drink  Selamat minum (SEH-lah-MAHT MEE-noom)

What is your name?  Siapa nama anda? (SEE‑ah‑pah NAH‑mah AHN‑dah)

My name is ______.  Nama saya ______. (NAH‑mah SYE‑ah ______)

Where are you from?  Dari mana? (DAH‑ree MAH‑nah)

(I’m) from ________.  Dari ______. (DAH‑ree _____)

Where (are you) going?  Ke mana? (keh MAH‑nah)

(I’m going) to ________.  Ke _____. (keh ______)

Bali culture

Indonesian Words For Appreciation, Courtesy and Respect

Excuse me, I need help.  Tolong tanya. (TOH‑lohng TAHN‑yah)

Excuse me.  Permisi. (PEHR-mee-SEE)

I’m sorry  ma’af/sori (MAH‑ahf, SOHR-ree)

please (help me)  minta (MEEN-tah)

please (help yourself)  silahkan (SEE-lah-KHAN)

thank you  terima kasih (TEH‑ree‑mah KAH‑see)

thank you (in Balinese)  matur suksma (MAH-toor SOOK-smah)

you are welcome  sama sama (SAH‑mah SAH‑mah)

you are welcome   terimah kasih kembali (TEHR‑ree‑mah KAH‑see KEHM‑bah‑lee)

you may  boleh (BOH-lay)

welcome  selamat datang (SEH-lah-MAHT DAH-tahng)

welcome (in Balinese)  om swasti astu (OHM SWAH-stee AH-stoo)

Until we meet again.  Sampei jumpa lagi. (SAHM-pye JOOM-pah LAH-gee)

speak Indonesian

Indonesian Words About People

baby  bayi (BAH‑yee)

child  anak (AH‑nahk)

family/relatives  famili (FAH‑mee‑lee)

father/Mr.  bapak (BAH-pahk)

friend  teman/kawan (TEH‑mahn, KAH‑wahn)

him/her  dia (DEE-ah)

husband  suami (SOO-ah-mee)

me  saya (SYE-ah)

man  pria (PREE‑ah)

mother/Mrs.  Ibu/bu (EE-boo). It is often shortened to bu  BOO)

Ms.  nona (NO-nah)

sir  tuan (TOO-ahn)

we  kita (KEE-tah)

wife  isteri (EES-tehr-ree)

woman  wanita (WAH‑nee‑tah)

you  anda/aku (AHN-dah, AH-koo)

Below are some of the key words and phrases that you will need frequently. Start a list of the words and questions that will meet your needs. The language is structured so simply that a single word can often be a sentence, question or a response.

Ubud art

Asking Questions In Indonesian Language

Asking questions is fun and challenging. First of all, you will need to structure questions differently in Indonesian than in English (refer back to the grammar chapter). Secondly, be braced for answers that you may not understand. However, here are the key words you need to start forming some questions:

who  siapa (SEE‑ah‑PAH)

where  mana (MAH‑nah)

when  kapan (KAH‑pahn)

why  kenapa (KEH‑nah‑pah)

what  apa (AH‑pah)

how  bagaimana (BAH‑gay‑MAH‑nah)

Indonesia travel tips

Answering Questions In Indonesian

I only speak a little Indonesian.  Saya bisa bahasa Indonesia sedikit. (SYE-ah BEE-sah BAH-hah-sah EEN-doh-NEES-ee-ah SEH-dee-keet)

I don’t know.  Tidak tahu. (TEE-dahk TAH-hoo)

I don’t want it.  Tidak mau. (TEE-dahk MAH-oo)

later  nanti (NAHN-tee)

no  tidak (TEE‑dahk)

not yet  belum (BEH-loom)

OK  OK (OH‑kay)

yes  ya (yah)

Bali tourism

Other Helpful Indonesian Words

address  alamat (AH‑lah‑MAHT)

age  umur (OO‑moor)

attention  perhatian (PEHR-hah-TEE-ahn)

book  buku (BOO‑koo)

careful  hati‑hati/awas (HAH‑tee HAH‑tee, AH-wahs)

closed  tutup (TOO‑toop)

country  negara (NEH‑gahr‑RAH)

map  peta (PEH‑tah)

marital status  kawin (KAH‑ween)

name  nama (NAH-mah)

occupation  pekerjaan (PEHK‑ehr‑jahn)

open  buka (BOO‑kah)

place of birth  tempat lahir (TEHM‑paht LAH‑eer)

religion  agama (AH‑gah‑MAH)

restroom/toilet  kamar kecil/toilet/W.C. (KAH‑mahr KEH‑cheel)

signature  tanda tangan (TAHN‑dah TAHN‑gahn)

word  kata (KAH-tah)

Crew plus 2

Useful Phrases

Food and Drink

I’m thirsty.  Saya haus.

I want/need a drink.  Saya mau minum.

I’m hungry.  Saya lapar.

I want/need some food.  Saya mau makan.

May I have one?  Boleh saya minta satu?

That’s all.  Ini saja.

 Where is a place to eat?  Rumah makan dimana?

 What is this?  Apa ini? 

I don’t want ice.  Tidak mau es.

Without ice!  Tanpa es!

One more.  Satu lagi.

Two more.  Dua lagi.

I’ve had enough. Thank you.  Sudah cukup. Terima kasih.

rupiah Indonesia money

Indonesian Words About Money

Where is a bank?  Bank di mana?

 I want to exchange some American dollars.  Saya mau tukar uang dolar Amerika.

 How much does this cost?  Berapa harga ini?

Hotel Vocabulary

I need a hotel. Where is one?  Saya mau hotel. Di mana?

 Where is my room?  Kamar saya di mana?

 May I have my room key?  Minta kunci kamar?

 Room number.  Nomar kamar.

Words For Small Talk

I’m from America.  Saya dari Amerika.

 I don’t speak Indonesian, yet.  Belum bisa bahasa Indonesia.

 I only speak a little Indonesian.  Saya bisa bahasa Indonesia sedikit.

I’m just walking around.  Jalan‑jalan.

Are you married?  Anda kawin?

 Do you have children?  Berapa anak anda?

 Not yet.  Belum.

 Is there a person here who speaks English?  Ada orang di sini yang bicara bahasa Inggris?

Do you speak English?  Saudara bisa berbicara bahasa Inggris?

I do not understand.  Saya tidak mengerti.

Thank you.  Terima kasih.

 No (as in no way).  Tidak.

I can (am able).  Bisa.

Can’t do (it).  Tidak Bisa.

Do not do _______.  Tidak jangan ______.

Do not do that.  Angan begitu.

Time & Travel Vocabulary

What time is it now?  Jam berapa sekarang? 

When will it/they be ready?  Kapan selesai?

How many hours from Ubud to Kuta?  Dari Ubud ke Kuta berapa jam?

How many hours to Jakarta?  Berapa jam ke Jakarta?

I want to go to the hotel.  Saya mau pergi ke hotel.

I want to go to the airport.  Saya mau ke airport.

I want to go to the beach.  Saya mow ke pantai.

I want to go to _______.  Saya mau ke _______.

Where is the road to the beach?  Jalan ke pantai di mana?

Where is the road to the hotel?  Jalan ke hotel di mana?

Where is the road to ______?  Jalan ke ______ di mana?

Let’s go.  Ayo.

arts and crafts Indonesia

Shopping Vocabulary

Where is a pharmacy?  Apotik di mana?

 I want ______.  Saya mau _____.

I want to buy _______.  Saya mau beli _____.

(I) already have (that, one).  Sudah punya.

What time do they open?  Buka jam berapa?

I don’t want.  Tidak mau.

I’m just looking.  Lihat‑lihat saja.

Please wait a moment.  Tunggu sebentar.

May I see (it)?  Bisa lihat?

Can we bargain?  Bisa tawar?

Excuse me. Get in line. (Don’t cut in front of me.)  Ma’af, antrean!

How much does this cost?  Harga?

How much (is it)?  Berapa harganya?

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Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia

Learn To Speak Bahasa Indonesia

A Few Indonesian Words Go A Long Way

This quick video tutorial helps introduce travelers to the Indonesian language. Learn proper pronunciation, grammar and essential words to get the most from your trip.

Learn to say hello, goodbye, please and thank you. Put a smile on hundreds of faces along the way by saying just a few simple words in Indonesian.

Indonesians will smile in delight when you speak just a word or two of their language. In addition, many locals will turn around and speak English to you. It’s a fun experience and a great way to get to know the real fabric of Indonesia and its culture. Plus, if you ever find yourself in need of directions or help, just a few words can make a big difference.

Speak Indonesian

Indonesian is a phonetic language. One way to learn the Indonesian language bahasa Indonesia pronunciation is to listen to locals speak. After listening carefully, imitate their pronunciation as accurately as possible and practice speaking out loud. Most Indonesians are happy to help you learn the language.

Travelers also can learn a great deal about the Indonesian language by watching local news and programs on Indonesian television. Watching movies also can help you learn words because they often are in English with Indonesian subtitles. It makes for an interesting language lesson.

Bali culture

For a quick introduction to Bahasa Indonesia, please watch this short video overview and then order your copy of the book. Pronunciation is critical, so take your time and practice just a few words at a time. Terima kasih!

Indonesia tourism marketing and public relations firm

Crossbow Communications specializes in international marketing, issue management and public affairs. Indonesia is one of our regions of expertise. Our President and founder is the author of the Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia. Please contact Gary Chandler at Visit Indonesia.

Language and Travel Guide To Indonesia