For a trip to Sumatra, you should know some basic Indonesian vocabulary. The goal is not to be fluent in Indonesian, of course, but rather to know a few simple words and phrases to communicate with the locals. You will be all the more warmly and hospitably received. Many locals in Sumatra in particular speak little or no English. It helps if you know a a little Indonesian vocabulary for your trip to Sumatra. You will also stand out from the many travellers who don’t even want to learn a simple hello or thank you.

Indonesian is not as difficult as you think

The good news first: Indonesian has the same Latin alphabet as many languages in Europe. You don’t have to learn complicated writing symbols, as you do with Thai or Vietnamese, for example. In addition, some words also come from Dutch or English, which makes learning a little easier, and the pronunciation is exactly as you read it. There are no silent letters or anything like that.

There are also no articles and no real tenses. The latter also reflects the way many Indonesians live. They live in the now. No matter what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. We Europeans can take a leaf out of their book.

Basic Indonesian vocabulary/Common expressions

Englisch Indonesisch
Hello Hai
Good morning/day/evening/night Selamat pagi/siang/sore/malam
Yes Ya
No Tidak
Thanks Terima kasih
How are you? Apa kabar?
I am fine. Thank you. Kabar baik. Terima kasih.
And you? Dan kamu?
Good baik
I don’t understand Tidak mengirti
Sorry Maaf
Goodbye Selamat tinggal
My name is… Nama saya…
Do you speak English? Anda bisa bicara bahasa inggris?
Yes a little Ya, sedikit
You’re welcome Sama sama
See you later/tomorrow Sampai jumpa (lagi / besok)!


Englisch Indonesisch
How much? Berapa harganya?
That’s a good price Itu adalah harga yang bagus
That’s too expensive Itu mahal.
Can you make it cheaper? Bisakah Anda menurunkan harganya?
I want to buy that? Saya ingin membeli ini.
I like it/I don’t like it Saya suka / saya tidak suka
GeldMoney Uang
Price Harga
I just have a look. Saya lihat saja.


English Indonesisch
Airplane Pesawat
Bus Bis
Taxi Taksi
Boat Kapal
Scooter Sepeda Motor
Car Mobil
Train Kereta Api
Bus station Stasiun bis


English Indonesisch
Where is…?/ I wan to go to… Mana…? Mau ke…
Bank Bank
Station Stasiun
City center Pusat Kota
Hotel Hotel
Hospital Rumah Sakit
Is it far? Apakah itu jauh?
Straight ahead Turus
Left/Right Ke kiri/ke kanan


English Indonesisch
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten satu, dua, tiga, empat, lima, enam, tujuh, delapan, sembilan, sepuluh
twenty, thirty, forty… dua puluh, tiga puluh, empat puluh…
Hundred, two hundred, three hundred… Se ratus, dua ratus, tiga ratus…
Hundred thousand, two hundred thousand, three hundred thousand… Seratus ribu, dua ratus ribu, tiga ratus ribu…

Time, Date, Days

English Indonesisch
What time is it? Berapa jam?
When? Jam berapa?
Yesterday Kemarin
Today Hari ini
Tomorrow Besok
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday Senin, Selasa, Rabu, Kamis, Jumat, Sabtu, Minggu
I am on vacation Saya berlibur di sini
Day/s Hari/Hari-Hari
Week/s Minggu/Minggu-Minggu
Month/s Bulan/Bulan-Bulan

Eat and dring

English Indonesisch
Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Sarapan/makan siang/makan malam
to eat makan
to drink minum
I want… Saya mau…
I don’t eat meat/fish/egg/cheese Saya tidak makan daging/ikan/telur/keju
with dengan
without tanpa
sugar Gula
salt Garam
Vegetables Sayuran
Soy sauce Kecap (pronounced like Ketchup!)
Ketchup Saus tomat
cold/hot dingin/panas
Tasty Enak sekali
Spicy/not spicy pedas/tidak pedas
Rice/fried rice Nasi/Nasi goreng
Noodles/fried noodles Mie/Mie goreng
French fries Kentang goreng
Potato Kentang
Fruit Buah
Tomato Tomat
Banana Pisang
Pineapple Nanas
Papaya Pepaya
Avocado Alpukat
Mango Mangga
Coconut Kelapa
Water Air
Coffee/tea Kopi/Teh
Ice Es
Juice Jus
Beer Bir
I want to pay Mau bayar

We have also put together a dedicated article on Sumatra for vegetarians and vegans.

We hope that these Indonesian vocabulary words will help you on your Sumatra trip. If anything is missing or you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.