More Indonesian Lessons

Lesson: Indonesian Greetings

You should learn to greet people in Indonesian even if you don't plan to become fluent.

Apa kabar?/How are you?

  • These are great words to start a friendly conversation with an Indonesian.

    Good Morning/Selamat Pagi

  • Spoken from sunrise until about 11 AM

    Good Afternoon (Part I)/Selamat Siang

  • Spoken in the middle of the day (11 AM to 2 PM) when the sun is at its brightest

    Good Afternoon (Part II)/Selamat Sore

  • Spoken from 2 PM until sunset

    Good Evening/Selamat Malam

  • Spoken at night only

    Good Night/Selamat Tidur

  • Spoken to someone going to sleep

    Selamat Datang/Welcome

  • Spoken to someone arriving

    Selamat Tinggal/Goodbye

  • This is spoken when sending a long farewell to a person being left behind. In this case, the person departing expresses these words to the person staying behind. In Indonesian, tinggal means to "live" or "stay".

    Selamat Jalan/Goodbye

  • This is spoken when sending a long farewell to a person leaving. In this case, the person staying behind expresses these words to the person departing. In Indonesian, jalan means to "travel" or "go".

    Sampai jumpa/See you later

  • Spoken to someone who will return shortly

    Terima Kasih/Thank You

  • Spoken to show your appreciation even if you don't mean it


  • Spoken to someone you will meet later that same day


  • Spoken most often when answering the phone. It has the same informal meaning as English.


  • Spoken informally around young people and has the same meaning in English. It can also mean "yes".

    Right Hand Rule

  • You can introduce yourself with a handshake especially in a business environment. Don't use your left hand though, it's considered unclean. I think this has something with an action we perform in the bathroom. Just remember to use your right hand when interacting with people especially when giving and receiving things. A firm handshake will do. Don't squeeze until their eyes pop out. Now that would be embarassing.

    Don't Pat People's Head

  • Nearly everything I read regarding Indonesian etiquette tells me not to pat someone's head. Patting little kids or siblings on the head may be the only exception to this rule. If you find yourself unable to resist patting someone on the head for whatever reason, then please remember to use your right hand (see Right Hand Rule above).

    Don't Call People Animal Names

  • Of course, we learned that it's not polite to call people names. In Indonesia, calling someone a dog (anjing), pig (babi) or pretty much any other kind of animal is not a good idea. So why do I point out the obvious? Well, here in the United States, it's ok to "address" a person as a dog as long as we don't "call" s/he a dog. Here's an English example with Indonesian translation:

    Person English (OK) Indonesian (Not OK)
    Randy: Wuz up, Dog? Apa kabar, Anjing?
    Simon: Not much, Dog. Tidak ada, Anjing.