Learning at least a few words of Thai shows respect for the culture and can be a great way to break the ice when you are in Thailand. In many of the main tourist areas and resorts, people will speak at least some English and you are unlikely to have any major issues. However, if language difficulties do arise, just smile and accept it as part of the travel experience.
Women should add the polite word ‘ka‘ at the end of a sentence and men should add ‘khap‘. Men can also use ‘khrap’, but in everyday speech the ‘r’ is usually dropped and khap is more commonly used. Although there is a Thai word for please (karunaa), it isn’t used in the same way as it is in English. Instead, the polite addition of ‘khap‘ or ‘ka‘ is normally used.
Thai is a tonal language and different methods are used for transliteration of Thai into English. For example, you may see the Thai word for ‘hello’ written as sawatdee, sawasdee or sa-wa-dee. We’ve put together some helpful Thai phrases for you to learn in preparation for your next trip to Thailand.
Don’t forget to add the polite ka if you are female or khap if you are male when you are saying hello, thank you and in general small talk. For a female saying thank you it’s ‘khop khun ka’. A male should say, ‘khop khun khap’.
Essential Thai phrases
Thank you: Khop khun
How are you?: Sabai dee mai?
I’m fine thank you: Sabai dee
What is your name?: Khun cheu arai?
My name is: Phom cheu … (male) | Dichan cheu/Chan cheu … (female)
Pleased to meet you: Yindee thii dai ruujak
You’re welcome: Yindee
Good luck: Chok dee
No problem/It’s nothing: Mai pen rai
It’s fun/I’m enjoying this: Sanuk dee
Very comfortable/Really relaxed: Sabai sabai
Excuse me/Sorry: Khaw thawt
Pardon?: Arai na?
Toilet: Hong nam
Where is the toilet? Hong nam yuu thi nai?
Understand: Khao jai
Don’t understand: Mai khao jai
100: Neung roy
500: Haa roy
1,000: Neung phan
Food and drink
Have you eaten yet?: Kin khao reu yang? / Thaan khao laew reu yang?
What do you have that’s special?: Mii arai pii-set?
I’m vegetarian (male): Phom kin jeh
I’m vegetarian (female): Dichan/Chan kin jeh
Normal portion: Thammada
Special/Large portion: Pii-set
Take-away/Take home: Sai-tung/Klap baan
Can I have the bill?: Check bin / Kep tang
Very delicious: Aroy mak
Not spicy: Mai phet
A little bit spicy: Phet nit noy
Big/Wide noodles: Sen yai
Small/Thin noodles: Sen lek
Water: Nam plao
Ice: Nam keng
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How much: Tao rai?
How much is this one?: An-nee tao rai?
Can I try it on?: Lawng sai dai mai?
Can you lower the price?: Lot noy dai mai?
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Learn more Thai
We hope this article has helped, but the best way to learn is by listening to native Thai speakers and learning from them. If you get talking to staff at your hotel in Thailand you will probably find they are more than happy to give you some pointers. And if you’re really keen to learn more Thai, there are lots of helpful resources on YouTube like the one below.
Chok dee na khap!
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