Are you planning a trip to Thailand and want to know the basics of communicating in Thai?
Knowing basic Thai phrases is a useful enhancement for your vacation. Whether it’s asking questions, shopping or simply ordering food at restaurants, learning some key terms can make your travels much easier.
From greetings and useful questions to directions and common phrases used while out exploring, here are some of the most important basic Thai phrases that every traveler should learn before visiting this beautiful country!
Common Thai Phrases
Greetings are an important part of Thai culture and etiquette. It is customary to greet people with a smile, a bow, or the traditional Sawasdee (hello). This phrase can be used in both formal and informal settings.
When entering someone’s home or business it is polite to say “Sawasdee krub” for men and “Sawasdee ka” for women. If you don’t know the gender of the person you are greeting, simply use “Sawasdee”. To express gratitude when leaving someone’s home or business, say “Khop Khun Krub” for men and “Khop Khun Ka” for women.
When meeting someone new, it is common to ask how they are doing by saying “Sabai dee mai?” which means “How are you?” The response would usually be something like “Sabai dee” which translates as “I’m fine.” When parting ways with friends or acquaintances one might say La-kon (goodbye) followed by “Krub” if addressing males or “Ka” if addressing females.
It is also considered polite to thank people whenever possible; this can be done using the phrase “Khob Khun” (Thank you). In more casual situations such as shopping at a market stall, locals may use words like “Mai pen rai” (It doesn’t matter) instead of thanking each other directly.
Greetings are an important part of Thai culture, and learning some basic phrases can help you make a great impression on locals.
For more about Thai etiquette and culture, you can see our guide here.
Using Polite Endings
Adding Ka/Krub to the end of a sentence is a way of conveying politeness while speaking. You will generally hear these particles all the time when listening to Thai being spoken.
A woman says “Ka“
A man says “Krub“
Basic Thai Words
|I (Man and woman)||Chan||ฉัน|
|How are you?||Sabai dee mai||สบายดีไหม|
|Excuse me/Sorry||Kaw tohd||ขอโทษ|
|You’re welcome||Yin dee||ด้วยความยินดี|
|Thank you||Khob khun||ขอบคุณ|
|I can’t speak Thai||Chan poot pah-sah tai mai dai||ฉันพูดภาษาไทยไม่ได้|
|Can you speak slowly?||Khun poot cha cha dai mai||คุณพูดช้าๆได้ไหม|
|I don’t understand||Chan mai kao jai||ฉันไม่เข้าใจ|
|see you later||Ger kun||เจอกัน|
|Good night||Rah trii sawas||ฝันดี|
Questions are an important part of communication when travelling, especially in a foreign country.
Knowing the right questions to ask can help you get around and find what you need more easily. Here are some common questions that tourists may need to ask while in Thailand:
|Where is the bathroom?||Hong nam yoo tee nai||ห้องน้ำอยู่ที่ไหน|
|How much does this cost?||Raka Tao rai||ราคาเท่าไหร่|
|Can you speak English?||Khun poot pah-sah un-grit dai mai||คุณพูดภาษาอังกฤษได้ไหม|
|What is your name?||Khun cheu ah-rai||คุณชื่ออะไร|
|How old are you?||Khun ah-yoo tao rai||คุณอายุเท่าไหร่|
|Where are you from?||Khun mah jahk prah-teht ah-rai||คุณมาจากประเทศอะไร|
|Do you have Wi-Fi?||Mee wifi mai||มีไวไฟไหม|
|What time is it ?||Wee laa tao rai||กี่โมง|
|What time does it open/close?||Peid/Pid ki mong||เปิด/ปิด กี่โมง|
These basic phrases should be enough for most situations, but if all else fails, don’t forget that pointing and smiling will usually do the trick.
Shopping in Thailand can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, clothing or electronics, it pays to know a few basic phrases before hitting the markets. Here are some of the most useful phrases for shopping in Thailand:
|What would you like?||Aou arai dee||เอาอะไรดี|
|How much does this cost?||Auun nii tao rai||อันนี้ราคาเท่าไหร่|
|I want this. / I want that.||Ao uhn nee / ao uhn nun||เอาอันนี้/เอาอันนั้น|
|Can you lower the price?||Loht noy dai mai||ลดหน่อยได้ไหม|
|It’s too small. / It’s too big.||Lek gern pai / yai gern pai||เล็กเกินไป/ใหญ่เกินไป|
|Do you have size ……?||Mee ber/size……..mai||มีเบอร์/ไซส์………..ไหม|
|Can I try it on?||Lawng sai dai mai||ลองใส่ได้ไหม|
|That’s cheap. / That’s expensive.||Took / paeng||ถูก/แพง|
|What colours do you have?||Mee see arai bang||มีสีอะไรบ้าง|
|I like it. / I don’t like it.||Chawp / mai chawp||ชอบ/ ไม่ชอบ|
|Can I pay with a credit card /cash ?||Chan jay duay credit card/ ngern sod dai mai||จ่ายด้วยเครดิตการ์ด/เงินสดได้ไหม|
|I don’t want a plastic bag||Mai ao toong||ไม่เอาถุง|
This one should come in handy when browsing around markets or shops without price tags – just make sure you understand how much they’re asking for before committing! Don’t forget that haggling is expected here so don’t be afraid to negotiate prices down if necessary.
Eating out in Thailand can be a fun and exciting experience, but it can also be intimidating if you don’t know the language. To make sure your dining experience is as enjoyable as possible, here are some useful phrases to help you navigate Thai restaurants.
|Are you hungry?||Khun hiw mai||คุณหิวไหม|
Have you eaten yet?
|Khun kin arai reu yang||คุณกินอะไรหรือยัง|
|I’ve ordered already||Chan Suhng laew||ฉันสั่งแล้ว|
|I can eat spicy. / I can’t eat spicy.||Chan kin pet dai/ Chan kin pet mai dai||ฉันกินเผ็ดได้/ฉันกินเผ็ดไม่ได้|
|Don’t add [food], please.||Mai sai….||ไม่ใส่…|
Finally, when paying your bill at the end of your meal remember to say thank you with either “Khob khun krub” (for males) or “Khob khun ka” for females). This will show respect and appreciation towards your server.
Eating out in Thailand is a great way to sample the country’s delicious cuisine, so don’t forget to try some of the local dishes while you’re there! Now let’s move on to finding accommodations.
Asking for directions in Thailand can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t speak the language. However, with some basic Thai phrases and words under your belt, it doesn’t have to be so intimidating. Here are some useful phrases that will help you find your way around:
|Where is…?|| …yoo ti nai |
Here are some Vocabulary
market: ta lad
massage: rahn nuad
bus station: sa ta ni rod pra jam tang
bathroom: Hong nam
restaurant: rahn ah hahn
post office: brai sa nee
immigration: dtaw maw
|How do I get there?||Chan/ Phom ca pi tii nan dai yang rai||ฉัน/ผม จะไปที่นั่นได้อย่างไร|
|Go straight. / Turn left. / Turn right||Trohng pai / lee-oh sai / lee-oh kwah||ตรงไป/เลี้ยวซ้าย/เลี้ยวขวา|
|Stop here. / Park there||Yoot tee nee/ Jowt tee nun||หยุดที่นี่/จอดที่นี่|
These simple questions should help you navigate around Thailand more easily and make sure that you don’t get lost. If all else fails, just ask someone nearby for assistance or use Google Maps on your phone to locate yourself and figure out where you need to go next.
How do you pronounce Thai phrases?
The pronunciation of Thai phrases can be quite challenging for English speakers. It is important to take the time to learn the basics and practice regularly.
The tones used in Thai are an essential part of understanding how words should sound, as they change the meaning of a word when pronounced differently.
There are five tones in total: mid, low, falling, high and rising. Each tone has its own distinct sound that must be mastered in order to correctly pronounce a phrase or word.
Additionally, some consonants require more emphasis than others when speaking Thai.
With patience and practice, you will soon become familiar with these nuances and be able to confidently speak basic phrases in no time!
Learning basic Thai phrases can be a great way to make your holiday in Thailand more enjoyable. Knowing how to greet people, ask questions and navigate around the country will help you feel more comfortable during your stay. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to enjoy all that Thailand has to offer without worrying about language barriers.
So don’t forget to brush up on your basic Thai phrases before embarking on your next trip!