Balinese Language and other languages in Bali: A quick review

 In Bali, Travel, Travel Facts, Travel Journal

So all your bags are packed for your Bali holiday and are you wondering what languages are spoken in Bali? 

For many years, Bali has been a popular holiday destination that attracts all kinds of tourists: adventure seekers, nature lovers, surfers, digital nomads, party animals, yogis and those who come for wellness and wellbeing. You can have your pick from Bali Trip Packages, and help you plan your itinerary.

 Bali is also often described as a place for healing. The island has many opportunities for self-care: there are Spas in Bali , healthy restaurants, yoga studios, and natural healing centers everywhere. So whatever it is you are looking for on your holiday, Bali always delivers.

There are two official languages in Bali: Bahasa Indonesia or Indonesian, which is spoken in every island in Indonesia, and Balinese, spoken by the locals on the Island of the Gods aka Bali. Most Balinese people are bilingual – they can speak in Indonesian and Balinese, lots of them are also trilingual with English as their third language. While locals are known for their friendly nature towards foreigners, conversing with them in Indonesian or Balinese can be a great way to connect with them more.

Hence, there are three main languages spoken in Bali: Indonesian, Balinese, and English.

Bali is rich in culture, including local languages.

Bahasa Indonesia:


Although Bahasa Indonesia is the national language used in institutions such as schools, offices, and the government, you will hear people speaking in other languages besides Bahasa Indonesia as well.

Bahasa Indonesia is a relatively easy language to learn. It is written using the alphabet and pronunciation which is purely phonetic (that is, you say it as you read it).

It has some of the simplest grammar of any language too. There is also the advantage that if you learn Indonesian, you can use it all over the vast archipelago rather than just in Bali.

You will have no problems communicating with most Indonesians using this language.

Curiously, it’s also very similar to Malay and somewhat similar to the Philippines’ main language, Tagalog. So, if you learn Indonesian, you can quickly learn Malay and get some advantage in learning Tagalog too.

Suggested Read: Temples in Bali

Bahasa Bali


Balinese is the local language spoken in Bali, and some parts of Lombok and East Java by approximately 3.3 million people. Balinese language in Bali borrows from Javanese and Sanskrit from India.

Generally, learning the Balinese language is not essential as nearly every local speaks Indonesian. However, attempting to speak in a local language such as Balinese will almost certainly please them.

The Balinese language has three main speech levels and depends on the status of those who are speaking:

  • Low/ casual (basa ketah)
  • Middle/ formal (basa madia)
  • High/ artificial (basa singgih)

Bahasa Bali is complicated by the fact that it is based on the feudal system of Hinduism and while Balinese Hinduism does vary from the Indian version, it still has some trappings of feudalism.

So, most Balinese people are of the “Sudra” caste and they will speak a common version of Balinese.

Then there’s a high (or “Halus”) variant which is actually a version of the Javanese tongue and it is used for talking to strangers, whose place in the caste system you don’t understand, or your social superiors.

On top of that, there’s also “Kawi” which, a bit like Latin, is used for ancient stories and plays. You will also find Balinese incorporates Sanskrit which is the language for prayer and scripture for Hindus.

Some Simple Indonesian & Balinese Phrases

Image Source- TheSmartLocal Indonesia

So, we’ve said the two official languages are a bit different from each other but how different are they?

Well, you can see from these simple phrases which we offer in English, Indonesian and then in Balinese:

  • Good morning – Selamat Pagi – Rahajeng Semeng
  • Good afternoon – Selamat Sore – Rahajeng Semeng
  • Good night – Selamat Malam – Rahajeng Wengi
  • Thank you – Terima Kasih – Suksema
  • You’re welcome – Sama Sama – Suksema Mewali

As seen above, Indonesian and Balinese are totally separate languages.

Indonesian is, in fact, a standardised version of the Malaysian language and it is from the Austronesian language family.

Balinese, on the other hand, comes from the Malayo-Polynesian languages and it’s a subsection of the Bali-Sasak-Sumbawa languages.

Other Useful Words & Phrases in Indonesian:


Belok kanan – “Turn right”
Belok kiri – “Turn left”
Lurus terus– “Go straight”
Dekat – “Near”
Jauh  – “Far”
Di mana… – “Where…” (Ex. “Di mana toilet?”)

Berapa? – “How much?”
Murah – “Cheap”
Mahal – “Expensive”
Terlalu mahal – “Too expensive”

Saya Vegetarian – “I’m a vegetarian”
Tidak terlalu pedas – “Not too spicy”
Ini enak! – “It’s delicious!”

English (Bahasa Inggris)

Since tourism has been one of the major sources of income in Bali, a large portion of the region speak a decent level of English.

If you are staying in the popular Beaches in Bali like Ubud, Canggu, Seminyak, Kuta, Jimbaran etc you’ll get along just fine on knowing only English.

Apart from these major languages, you are most likely to hear some Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Russian, etc in the popular touristy-places. You can now even find small newspapers and magazines in French and German in some of the supermarkets.

This is largely due to the budding community of expatriates and foreigners residing in Bali, who have established their own businesses. Some restaurants in the more touristy areas of Kuta, Nusa Dua and Legian also have menus in Chinese and Russian available upon request.

Suggested Read: Restaurants In Bali

What are the top 5 languages spoken in Indonesia?

Apart from Indonesian and Balinese, English is spoken widely by locals in Bali thanks to the tourism industry being the dominant industry here. Apart from these languages, nowadays, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and German are also spoken in some popular tourist spots like Nusa Dua, Legian, etc.

What is the most popular language in Bali?

Balinese is spoken widely in Bali even though Indonesian is the official language. Also, English is spoken by most locals in Bali because of the tourism industry.

Is Bali cheap or expensive?

Bali can be as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be. And that is because Bali is an affordable island to travel to and can certainly be done on a budget or if you want there are many options for luxurious retreats in Bali too. What makes Bali special is how you can visit on any budget and have a great time.

Do I need a visa to go to Bali?

Yes. Indians travelling to Bali need a visa. However, if you are planning to travel to Bali for less than 30 days you can travel visa free, but if your stay extends 30 days then you need to buy Visa-On-Arrival for a cost of Rs 2800.

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