Greetings should be the first phrase you learn. It’s your first point of call to create communication. A polite greeting shows your willingness to communicate with Indonesians.

Don’t be nervous and don’t hesitate. Your effort will be greatly appreciated even if you don’t get it quite right!

Unlike in English where AM and PM are the boundary of good morning and good afternoon, in Indonesian, the sun dictates the greetings times.

The time distribution is approximate as follows:

  • Selamat Pagi. Good morning – from sunrise to approximately 10.30 – 11.00 AM.
  • Selamat Siang. Good afternoon – from 10.30 to approximately 3.00 – 04.00 PM.
  • Selamat Sore. Good afternoon – from 3.00 PM to sunset.
  • Selamat Malam. Good evening – from sunset to sunrise.


  • We use the word ‘Selamat’ for greetings. It means ‘safe, secure, everything is okay’ and ‘Selamat sore’ means good afternoon.
  • Literally, we wish the person to have a ‘safe afternoon’.
  • The letter ‘e’ in the word ‘Selamat’ is pronounced [el as in her! The letter ‘e’ in the word ‘sore’ (e) is pronounced as in ‘bed’.
  • In Indonesia the sun usually rises at bam and sets at around 6pm all year round.

How do you greet someone in the following hours in Indonesia?


Selamat! also means Congratulations! You can say that to congratulate people on any occasion.

The word ‘Selamat’ is used for almost all of Indonesian greetings, followed by the word for the appropriate time of the day or the activity intended. You can also add the person’s name after that.

For examples:

  • Selamat datang*- welcome
  • Selamat makan- enjoy vour meal
  • Selamat belajar – happy studying
  • Selamat bekerja – happy working/have a productive dav at work
  • Selamat berlibur – have a good holiday/ enjoy your holiday
  • Selamat natal – Merry Christmas
  • Selamat tahun baru – Happy new year
  • Selamat lang tahun – Happy birthday

Combined Consonant ‘ng’

The combined consonants ‘ng’ in the word “datang’ are pronounced like the English /ng/ in ‘sing’; ‘king’. 


In English ‘goodnight’, is like ‘goodbye’ when you are leaving someone in the evening. You also say to someone when you or they are going to bed or about to sleep.

In Indonesian, we say Selamat tidur to someone who is going to bed or about to sleep. It means ‘have a good sleep!. You don’t use this as a ‘goodbye’ when you are leaving someone in the evening.


Saying goodbyes in long separation:

  • Selamat jalan – goodbye said to people who are leaving
  • Selamat tinggal – goodbye said to peoplewho are staying

These long separation goodbyes are rarely used among Indonesian. People are more likely to use the short separation goodbyes below.

  • Sampai jumpa – Till we meet again.
  • Dah OR dadah (from Dutch word dag)-bye.
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