Getting Around if you don’t speak the Local Language
Anybody who can speak a little English should be able to communicate enough to get by in Bali. The hotels and restaurants you visit will all have no trouble communicating with you in English. Quite often the Balinese will use a “creative” translation, but you’ll still get the idea. Visitors of international hotel chains may frequently find employees fluent in the languages of the nations from where the majority of their guests come from. If you stay at a Novotel that is operated by the French company Accor, you may expect to hear French spoken by some of the Guest Relation Officers (GROs). At Grupo Melia, they speak Spanish and so on.
The menus at most restaurants are written in both English and Indonesian, while some may only feature one. You can try asking for a menu in your native tongue if you are Japanese, Korean, Chinese, or Russian in Kuta, Legian, Nusa Dua, or Seminyak.
Many foreigners have made Bali their permanent home, and among them are a strong and active expat community that has developed restaurants and small hotels. Customers from their own nation make up a significant portion of their customers. Those interested in learning more about the local community may pick up a “LOCAL” Gazette in French or a compact German newsmagazine. Typically, you may pick up one of these periodicals for free at a local grocery store, bakery, or eatery.
Multilingual signage and advertising fliers aimed to international travelers sometimes have translations into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, or German. Those fluent in either of these languages may be hired as tour guides to take you around and explain everything. They do, however, charge significantly more than guides who speak “only” English for their services.
Dutch, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, and Korean speaking tour operators are especially plentiful. There are travel agencies in the area that may assist you.
More and more people from China and Russia are visiting the Island of the Gods, therefore the Chinese and Russian languages are gaining prominence.
Many visitors, especially those who return, as well as some locals, now speak some level of the language well. Even if you can just speak a few words of Indonesian, your time in Bali will be much enhanced. You will feel more at ease haggling with shopkeepers and asking taxi drivers to turn on their meters. When you learn only 20 words of Bahasa, Balinese people will be much more open and welcoming to you.