Destinations Magazine

How to Ask Direction?

By Hendra @tukangminggat

Getting lost when traveling is somewhat humane. Sometimes the map you got from the airport or guide book you bought still couldn’t lead you to the place you’re onto. You might want to ask people around, but you’re too afraid of being scammed or posing language barrier that would lose your trip mood.

You might remember how someone cast you out even when you’re about to say “excuse me?” Or you still remember how a stranger offered you a ride and ask for bunch of money when arrived? Or you got to nowhere after following a false direction by somebody?

What’s wrong with people? Are they allergic to strangers? Have the world run out of good man? Or maybe the asking technique should be revised?

Here I’d like to share some tips based on my experience when getting lost and trying to ask the local. Well, it works on me at least, and hopefully it would work on you too

1. Write the name of the place or the address in local alphabets


Sometimes writing them in roman alphabet will just make the local confuse. How they usually pronounce and how it’s written mostly could be totally different. Hence, search on Google or ask the hostel receptionist where you stay how the name and the address is written in local alphabet.

2. Buy something at a store and ask

Or having meals at a restaurant/ cafe/ street vendors will build a good psychological connection among you. They will delightedly and generously  answer all your question as a gratitude for buying their stuffs

3. Don’t pick strangers randomly to ask in a touristy area

Scammers can smell your confusion. You’re lucky if you meet a good person who gives you a correct info. But sometimes strangers could take benefit on you. Some could give you false info, some might offer a help but then asking for money in return.


4. Avoid asking direction to public transportation (like bajai, Ojek, Tuk-tuk or taxi) driver, unless you wanna use their service

They will offer their service to get to the place once you approach them. Bad driver will give you false info like “the place is still far and not in walking distance”, or “no more buss will pass by”. And the worst is, they will charge you double or even ten times the exact fare.

5. Try to learn few local language!

This would be much helpful. At least, try to memory, “where is…”, “left-right-go straight” and “near-far” in local language. People will appreciate you more when asking with their own language and will be pleased to answer.

6. Always prepare notes and pen

It will be easier to have a visual information through the map drawn on it rather than counting on your memory.

7. Don’t forget to say thanks in local language after getting the info


Pic taken from


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