Thailand is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, and for many good reasons. The Thai people are friendly, hospitable and welcoming, but they also love to see visitors taking the time to learn a few basic phrases, it shows a bit of respect for their culture and will undoubtedly enhance your experience of the country. So don’t be afraid to give it a go, and if you can get as far as mastering the numbers, you may well find that you are also offered a better price when haggling at the local markets!
Thai language can be hard to master for some as it has five distinct tones, some of which may sound deceptively similar, but don’t worry too much about the tones for now, the Thais will know that you are a foreigner and try and be a bit more understanding if you don’t get something quite right, but rest assured, your efforts will certainly be appreciated. If you venture further out of the tourism hotspots, you will find that the standards of English are often low, and this is compounded by the fact that the Thais are generally shy and afraid of saying something incorrectly, so it would help to download a translation app to your phone which can work offline. It’s much more fun to try and learn a few phrases yourself, though!
Note – some words in Thai (not many) change depending on whether the speaker is male or female. This includes the polite particle at the end of sentences which is khrap (cap) for a male, and ka (car) for a female. Also, the personal pronouns “I” or “me” are different, pom for a male and chan for a female. In the examples below, the male pronunciation is given first, followed by the female, with phonetic pronunciations in parentheses.
Hello – Sawasdee khrap (sa-wat-dee cap) / sawasdee ka (sa-wat-dee car)
How are you? – Sabaidee mai (sa-by-dee my)
I’m fine, thank you – Sabaidee khrap (sa-by-dee cap) / sabaidee ka (sa-by-dee car)
I’m not well – Mai sabai (my sa-by)
Thank you – Kop khun khrap (kawp coon cap) / kop khun ka (kawp coon car)
Sorry – Khaw tort khrap (cor tort cap) / khaw tort ka (cor tort car)
At the Airport
Where are the taxis? – Taksi yoo tee nai khrap (tak-see you tee nai cap) / Teksi yoo tee nai ka (tak-see you tee nai car)
Where is the train? – Rot fai yoo tee nai khrap (rot-fye you tee nai cap) / Rot fai yoo tee nai ka (rot-fye you tee nai car)
Can you speak English? – Puut Angrit dai mai (poot ang-keet dye my)
At the Restaurant & Ordering Food
Not spicy please – Mai phet khrap (my pet cap) / mai phet ka (my pet car)
I am vegetarian – Phom bpen mangswirat khrap (pom pen mang-sa-wi-rat cap) / Chan bpen mangswirat ka (chan pen mang-sa-wi-rat car)
Please don’t use fish sauce – Mai sai nam plaa khrap (my-sy nam baa cap) / Mai sai nam plaa ka (my-sy nam baa car)
I would like this one please – Ao an-nii khrap (ao an-nee cap) / ao an-nii ka (ao an-nee car)
Note: “ao” sounds like the noise you make when you stub your toe, it means “want”.
This one – An-nii (an-nee)
That one – An-nan (an-nan)
Where is the bathroom, please? – Hawng nam yoo tii nai khrap (horng nam you tee nye cap) / hawng nam yoo tii nai ka (horng nam you tee nye car)
The bill, please – Check bin khrap (check-bin cap) / Check bin ka (check-bin car)
In the Taxi
To the hotel please – Bai rong raem khrap (bye low-ng lairm cap) / bay rong raem ka (bye low-ng lairm car).
To the airport, please – Bai sanambin khrap (bye sa-nam-bin cap) / Bay sanamabin ka (bye sa-nam-bin car).
Straight on – Trong bai (trawng bye)
Turn left – Liaow saai (lee-ao sai)
Turn right – Liaow kwaa (lee-ao kwaa)
At the Market
How much is this one? – An-nii taorai khrap (an-nee tao-lie cap) / An-nii taorai ka (an-nee tao-lie car)
Can you discount? – Suanlod dai mai? (soo-an lod die my)
Do you have big size? – Mii size yai mai? (me size yai my)
How much – Taorai (tao lai)
Expensive! – Paeng (pair-ng)
I like it – Chawp (chorp)
I don’t like it – Mai chawp (my chorp)
Learning Thai numbers can be very helpful in many situations. To complicate matters, however, they also have their own symbols, many of which look quite similar to one another. They are often used in official documents, for opening times and sometimes for prices at attractions.
|0 – Soon||20 – Yiisip||1000 – Noong pan||0 – ๐|
|1 – Noong||30 – Samsip||10000 – Noong moon||1 – ๑|
|2 – Song||40 – Siisip||100000 – Noong saen||2 – ๒|
|3 – Sam||50 – Hasip||1000000 – Noong larn||3 – ๓|
|4 – Si||60 – Hoksip||4 – ๔|
|5 – Ha||70 – Jetsip||5 – ๕|
|6 – Hok||80 – Bpairtsip||6 – ๖|
|7 – Jet||90 – Gaosip||7 – ๗|
|8 – Bpairt||100 – Noong Lawy||8 – ๘|
|9 – Gao||9 – ๙|
|10 – Sip||10 – ๑๐|