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Balinese: A Guide to the Language of Bali

Picture yourself walking along the pristine beaches of Bali, surrounded by lush landscapes and vibrant culture. As you immerse yourself in the local atmosphere, you may notice that the language of Bali is unlike any other. Though at first you may think it’s the Indonesian language you’re hearing, soon you’ll realise that this language has its own unique sounds.

Welcome to the world of Balinese, the fascinating language that echoes through the heart of Bali, Indonesia. In this guide, we will take you on a linguistic journey through the Balinese language, from its importance to locals to essential phrases for tourists.

Are you ready?

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Balinese, Indonesian, and English: One Island, Three Languages

Bali, the jewel of Indonesia, is more than just an island paradise. It’s a cultural haven where languages intertwine to create a symphony of communication. This linguistic medley comprises Balinese, Indonesian, and English – three languages that coexist in harmony, shaping the island’s identity and enhancing the experience of both locals and visitors.

The Balinese Language

In the intricate dance of Bali’s languages, Balinese takes centre stage as the emblem of tradition and heritage. Rooted in the Austronesian language family, Balinese reflects the island’s distinct cultural history. It’s the language of prayers, rituals, and storytelling, connecting generations through its poetic nuances.


Just as a canvas comes to life with different hues, the Indonesian language adds vibrancy to Bali’s linguistic palette. Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of Indonesia, serves as a unifying force across the archipelago. In Bali, it bridges the gap between various ethnic groups, enabling conversations between Balinese, Javanese, Sumatran, and countless others.


The modern age has ushered in a third partner to this linguistic dance: English. Bali’s status as a global tourist hub means that English has become a crucial tool for communication. From hospitality and tourism to international business, English breaks down barriers, allowing visitors from all corners of the globe to connect with locals and fellow travellers alike.

The Importance of the Balinese Language for Locals

For the people of Bali, the Balinese language is not just a means of communication; it’s a symbol of cultural identity and heritage.

Despite the widespread use of Bahasa Indonesia and English, Balinese remains integral to religious ceremonies, traditional performances, and interpersonal connections. It carries the stories of generations and the wisdom of ancestors, fostering a deep sense of belonging and pride within the community.

If you’re travelling to Bali (whether for pleasure or business), learning the language of Bali is a meaningful way to honour the culture and better connect with locals.

Om Swastiastu: This traditional Balinese greeting is used to say “hello” and convey good wishes. It’s often accompanied by placing both hands together in a prayer-like pose and bowing slightly.

Selamat Pagi: Translating to “Good morning,” this greeting is a wonderful way to start the day. It expresses your well-wishes for a positive and safe morning.

Selamat Sore: As the day transitions to dusk, use this phrase, which means “Good evening” It’s a polite and friendly way to greet someone in the late afternoon or early evening.

Selamat Malam: As night falls, say “Goodnight” with this phrase. It’s a thoughtful way to wish someone a peaceful and restful night.

10 Key Balinese Phrases to Use While Shopping

Would you like to go beyond Balinese greetings and start having some real conversations? Here are 20 essential phrases in the Balinese language that will come in handy during your travel

  1. “Berapa harganya?” – How much is this?
  2. “Sing ada diskon?” – Is there a discount?
  3. “Tiang lakar ngasurang mapupul dening kartu kredit?” – Can I pay by credit card?
  4. “Sing ada warna lianan?” – Do you have other colours?
  5. “Sing ada ukuran lianan?” – Do you have other sizes?
  6. “Tawar sedikit boleh?” – Can I bargain a little?
  7. “Sidakarya?” – Is that the best you can do?
  8. “Sing ada yang lebih murah?” – Do you have something cheaper?
  9. “Iang tedunangang nika.” – I’m just browsing.
  10. “Titiang milih punika.” – I’ll choose that one.

10 Key Balinese Phrases to Use While Eating Out

The gastronomy in Bali is an adventure for both the eyes and the taste buds. But, to make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for, here are some essential key phrases in the Balinese language that will come in handy during your meals.

  1. “Nika becik?” – Is this good?
  2. “Sing ada nasi vegan?” – Do you have vegan rice?
  3. “Iang dados rujak, suksma.” – I’d like a fruit salad, please.
  4. “Sing ada sup laut?” – Do you have seafood soup?
  5. “Tiang dados tahu tempeh.” – I’ll have tofu and tempeh.
  6. “Pisang goreng galungan duaning tiang vegan.” – I’ll have fried bananas, because I’m vegan.
  7. “Iang dados air maté.” – I’ll have iced tea, please.
  8. “Tolak daging lan telur.” – No meat and eggs.
  9. “Sing ada yang lebih pedas?” – Do you have something spicier?
  10. “Tiang dados lawar babi.” – I’ll have pork lawar.

5 Key Balinese Phrases to Ask for Help

While getting lost in the beauty of Bali is part of the experience, knowing a few key phrases in the local language can make your journey even smoother. Whether you need directions, assistance, or just a friendly hand, these five Balinese phrases will help you seek help when you need it most.

  1. “Tiang lapas.” – I am lost.
  2. “Tiang rarisang?” – Can you help me?
  3. “Di mani pura?” – Where is the temple?
  4. “Di mani pasar?” – Where is the market?
  5. “Tiang lunga niki?” – Am I going in the right direction?

More About the Language of Bali: FAQs

How Do You Call Balinese People if You Don’t Know Their Name?

When addressing someone whose name you don’t know, it’s customary to use the terms Bapa for men and Ibu for women. This demonstrates politeness and acknowledges their status while creating a welcoming atmosphere.

Do Balinese People Say Namaste?

While the term “Namaste” has deep cultural and spiritual significance in other regions of Asia, it’s not native to Balinese culture. However, due to Bali’s popularity as a tourist destination, you might hear “Namaste” being used, especially in places frequented by international travellers.

How Do You Say “No, thank you” in Balinese?

To gracefully decline something in the language of Bali, you can say Tidak, suksma. Tidak translates to “no,” and suksma means “thank you.” This combination of words expresses your appreciation for the offer while politely declining. It’s a kind and respectful way to communicate your wishes without causing any offence.

How Do You Say “Okay” in the Balinese Language?

The Balinese equivalent of “okay” is Jani. This term is frequently used to indicate agreement, acceptance, or understanding. It’s a versatile word that can be applied in various situations, from confirming plans to acknowledging instructions.

How do you say “I love you” in Balinese?

Do you want to express your feelings using the language of Bali? Say Tiange tresna sami to beautifully convey “I love you.” This phrase carries the warmth of affection and connection, encapsulating the depth of your feelings in the eloquence of the Balinese language.

As you explore the enchanting island of Bali, venturing beyond the tourist hotspots and delving into the heart of Balinese culture is a rewarding experience.

Learning a few words and phrases in the language of Bali can open doors to genuine connections and a deeper understanding of the island’s rich heritage.

→Sign Up Now: Free Trial Balinese Lesson With a Native Teacher!←

At Listen & Learn, we offer online Balinese lessons to help you embark on a journey of cultural exploration.

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, our certified and experienced native instructors will guide you through the fundamentals of the language and culture, allowing you to experience Bali in an authentic way.

So why not take your first steps into the beautiful world of the Balinese language today? Contact Listen & Learn now and get started!