Useful Malaysian Phrases
Have you booked your trip to Langkawi – now eagerly waiting for the day that you jet off to the beautiful island? Whilst planning your itinerary is very important, you may also look to pick up some of the lingo before your trip of cultural experiences, amazing food and adventure.
Just over half of Malaysians can speak English, so don’t worry if you’re not a born linguist – you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to communicate with the locals. But if you fancy earning yourself some extra points, attempt to speak the local language and you may also grab yourself some better prices at the local markets!
At Paradise 101, we have listed useful Malay words and phrases that will come in very handy throughout your trip.
Greetings and the Essentials in Malay
- Good Morning // Selamat pagi (S’LAH-maht pag-ee)
- Good Afternoon // Selamat tengah hari (S’LAH-maht teen-gah har-ee)
- Good Night // Selamat Malam (S’LAH-maht mah-lahm)
- Thank you // Terima kasih (te-ree-mah ka-seh)
Malaysians are big on gratitude, so this one will come in super handy if you want to please the locals.
- You’re welcome // Sama-sama (saa-ma saa-ma)
If someone says thank you, reply with sama-sama, or the more memorable response, ‘sama’.
- Yes // Ya (yah)
- No // Tidak (tee-dak)
These will be your most used phrases whilst in Malaysia and thankfully they are very easy to learn.
- I don’t understand // Saya Tak Faham (saa-yah tak faa-haam)
I don’t understand is a must-know phrase when traveling in Malaysia. If you have impressed the locals with your Malay lingo and get spoken to in local dialect, reply ‘Saya Tak Faham’.
At a Restaurant or Bar
- Water // Air (ah-yer)
- Tasty // Sedap (se-daap)
- Extra Spicy // Tambah pedas (tam-bah pe-das)
- Less Spicy // Kurang pedas (koo-raang pe-das)
Whether you are dining at a fancy restaurant or street stall, you can ask for your meal to be less or more spicy depending on your preference. If you can’t handle the heat, say ‘kurang pedas’ when you order.
To Use Whilst at the Market
- How much? // Berapa (be-raa-paa)
Street markets are arguably the best places to visit for tourists wanting to experience authentic Malaysian culture. You are bound to find hidden gems and souvenirs you would like to purchase. Always ask your vendor for the price before agreeing to buy anything.
- Expensive // Mahal (maa-hal)
If the vendor comes back with a too high of a price, tell him its too ‘mahal’ – and try and haggle the price down!
- One // Satu (saa-too)
- Two // Dua (doo-aa)
- Three // Tiga (tee-gaa)
- Four // Empat (erm-paat)
- Five // Lima (lee-mah)
- Six // Enam (er-nam)
- Seven // Tujuh (too-jooh)
- Eight // Lapan (laa-pan)
- Nine // Sembilan (sem-bee-lan)
- Ten // Sepuluh (se-poo-looh)
Here are some useful phrases if you’ve found yourself lost or searching for the restroom.
- Where is the bathroom? // Di mana tandas (dee ma-na tan-das)
- Turn right // Belok kanan (beh-lock kaa-naan )
- Turn left // Belok kiri (beh-lock kee-ree)
- Go straight // Jalan terus (zha-lan te-roos)
Please // Tolong (toh-long)
Tolong is Malay for please, but it could also mean ‘help’ if you are lost or need assistance. You may hear “tolong-lah” – which may or may not be used in jest.
Can // Boleh (bow-leh)
When someone tells you “boleh,” it means it’s no problem and can be done.