Do You Need to Learn Bahasa Indonesian if You Travel to Indonesia?

Do you need to learn Bahasa Indonesian? If you’re heading to Jakarta or Bali, you may be wondering about the language barrier. And I can’t blame you for that. The first time I went to Indonesia, I was a bit worried about not speaking any of the local language.

See, I’ve been to Brazil without Portuguese and Mexico without Spanish… and it was really difficult.

While I had a hell of a time in both countries before I learned that language, life got 10X better once I spoke the local language.

Speaking Spanish or Portuguese helps you make friends with locals, blend in with the Indonesian culture, and of course – gives you access to girls that other foreigners would never have access to because they can’t communicate.

Bahasa Indonesian

I was concerned about Indonesian, or Bahasa. I didn’t know how long I’d spend in the country. I knew I’d only be able to use the language in Indonesia.

Bahasa isn’t like Spanish. You can’t use the language in dozens of countries around the world.

No! You can only use Bahasa Indonesian in Indonesia.

And I wasn’t sure the time and energy investment into a language was worth it for one country.

Learning Indonesian

First, when we are talking about learning Indonesian, I’m referring to Bahasa. Indonesia has over 300 native languages and 740 languages (dialects) spoken.

These dialects are spread over the 17,000 islands in the country. And the vast majority of them are irrelevant to your travels in the country.

If you want to learn the local language, then you’ll be looking to learn Bahasa Indonesian.

But do you need to learn Bahasa Indonesia…?

Honestly, probably not. Unless you’re living and working in the country for a long time, the language won’t do you much good.

If you’re only passing a month or three in Bali or Jakarta, then getting by with English won’t be much of an issue. The level of English in these areas is high, especially with the younger girls.

English works very well in the country. While you won’t “need” Bahasa Indonesia to have a good time and meet some Indonesian girls, it doesn’t hurt to learn a few words and phrases.

Women in Indonesia will think it’s cute that you’re trying to learn here language, especially if you butcher it completely in front of her.

Here are a few Bahasa Indonesia phrases to learn to get more points from the locals:

  • Ada: This word has a number of meanings, including – “I do…” / “I have…” / “Is there…”
  • Bisa: This word means “can” in every sense – “I can…” / “Can you…” / “It’s possible…”
  • Tidak: “No” or “not”
  • Ya: “Yes” or “Yeah” or “Yeah?”
  • Makan: Anything food – “Food” / “Eat” / “Meals”

One thing I quickly learned about Bahasa is that verb tenses are virtually irrelevant in everyday conversation. Indonesian is not like Spanish. You just say the word and the local will interpret what you’re talking about and the verb tense.

From that perspective – it’s fairly easy to pick up a few words of Indonesian relatively quickly.

Bahasa Indonesian

How to Learn Bahasa Indonesia

If you plan on investing a lot of time in Indonesia, then learning the language isn’t a bad idea at all.

There are a number of places to take classes throughout the country. Once you arrive, ask one of the cute girls you’re seeing for her recommendation on the best Bahasa school for foreigners in the city.

If you’re looking to pick up Indonesian before you arrive, the best resource I’ve found is Learning Indonesian.

The course offers a free audio program and a full-length course and community for learners committed to Bahasa.

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