Where (and How) to Travel Without Learning the Local Language

Wish to travel but don’t have the time (or interest) to learn a new language? We get you, that’s why we’ve decided to come up with a quick guide on how to do it. Besides sussing out travel destinations with English as one of their main languages, we figured it doesn’t hurt to learn several basic greetings to say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’,  ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. You know, being polite is also an effortless way to score points with the locals.

Here, we put together several fun facts to know about the following six travel hotspots:

#1 Netherlands

Fact: More than 90% of the Dutch is able to speak English. Having a language barrier, then, wouldn’t be a huge deal.

english speaking

While it is a must to walk or cycle around the scenic surrounds, you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the beautiful country. Don’t hesitate to ask a local for quick directions. What you can’t miss: A memorable cruise down the canal and a trip to the famous Van Gogh Museum.

Basic greetings in Dutch: 

Hello: Hallo (Hah-loh)

Please: Alstublieft (alst-oo-bleeft)

Excuse me: Pardon

Thank you: Dank u wel (dahnk-oo-vel)

Goodbye: Dag (dakh)

#2 Philippines

english speaking

Fact: English is one of the two official languages here, so there’s no need to learn Tagalog.

Known for its beautiful islands and charming cities, Philippines is a beauty. Navigate around the country without worries; the locals are reportedly friendly, amiable and welcoming.

Basic greetings in Tagalog:

Hello: Kamusta (ka-mus-ta)

Thank you: Salamat (sa-la-mat)

#3 Bali, Indonesia

english speaking

Fact: English is the next most spoken language in Bali after Bahasa Indonesia and Balinese.

A popular tourist destination, it’s definitely possible to get around the island with just English, especially if you’re touring the touristy spots like Seminyak, Ubud and Kuta areas. In fact, most of their signs and menus are usually bilingual. Pro tip: It’s useful to learn basic Bahasa so you could pass off as a local and bargain.

Basic Greetings in Bahasa Indonesia

Bargain: Tawar (ta-war)

Please: Silahkan (si-lah-kan)

Excuse me: Permisi (per-mee-see)

Thank you: Terima Kasih (te-ree-ma ka-seeh)

Goodbye: Selamat Tinggal (se-la-mat ting-gal)

#4 Iceland

english speaking

Fact: Most Icelanders speak English, so this is a great destination for any first-time travellers.

Nature lovers will appreciate the breathtaking sceneries in Iceland – from snowmobile tours to glacier hiking. The best part: Here’s where you can catch the Northern Lights and cross it off your bucket list!

Basic greetings in Icelandic:

Hello: Hallo (Hah-loh)

Excuse me: Afsakið (av-sa-kith)

Thank you: Takk (tak)

Goodbye: Bless

#5 Japan

english speaking

Fact: English is commonly used in tourist magnet areas such as Tokyo and Kyoto. Do note that the locals aren’t that fluent in speaking English. Tip: Carry a notebook and pen to write down what you wish to communicate; most locals are able to understand and you can expect a reply.

Most of the important signs put up on subway stations and roads are in both Japanese and English. Menu-wise, they’re also mostly in English and even if not, take cues from the pictures.

Basic greetings in Japanese:

Hello: Konnichiwa (kon-ni-chi-wa)

Excuse me: Sumimasen (su-mi-ma-sen)

Thank you: Arigatou Gozaimasu (ari-ga-tou go-zai-ma-su)

Please: Kudasai (ku-da-sai)

Goodbye: Sayōnara (sa-yo-na-ra)

#6 India

english speaking

Fact: Even though many languages and dialects are spoken here, English remains one of the two official languages in this former (and largest) British colony.

India is stunning and diverse and its own way, and we’re digging many of its historic sites, vibrant cultural activities (see how you can relax in a tea plantation) and local food. According to a BBC report, India now claims to be the world’s second-largest English-speaking country. But we also heard that in rural and off-the-beaten paths in the country, it’s wiser to speak basic Hindi. But in the southern parts like Bangalore, English would be much preferred.

Basic greetings in Hindi:

Hello: Namaste (na-mas-te)

Please: Krpya (krp-ya)

Thank you: Dhanyavaad (dhan-ya-vad)

Tell us some of your favourite local language in the comment box below!

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