Looking to pick up some basic Thai phrases for your travels? You’ve come to the right place as in this article, I’m going to walk you through a few basic Thai phrases and words that will immensely help you when traveling around the country.
Learning a language, or at least trying to is a huge part of traveling. Whether it’s being able to say please and thank you or mastering essential phrases like how to order a beer. Learning basic words is showing effort, respect, and an open mind.
Even though my pronunciation isn’t the best, I personally do it because I love getting wide grins and chuckles from locals when I say something unexpected in their language.
When traveling in Thailand, although most people, especially those in the touristy areas speak English, here are a few basic Thai phrases that will help you get by.
Basic Thai Phrases
The Rule: If you are male, you end sentences with the word (khrup/krap) similarly if you are female, you end your sentences with the word (ka/kap). This is used to make your sentence or question polite and respectful.
- Hello – Sawadee khrup/ka
- Yes – Chai (khrup/ka)
- No – Mai (khrup/ka)
- Maybe – Aaj ja (khrup/ka)
- Thank you – khop khun (khrup/ka)
- Sorry/excuse me – Khor thoad khrup/ka
- Where is the restroom– Hong nam yoo tee nai khrup/ka?
- I need a doctor- Phom dong gaan hai mor maa raak sa khrup/ka
- No worries- Mai pen rai
- Can you speak English? = Kun pood paasaa anggrit dai mai
In a nutshell, the Thai phrases and expressions cover the essentials to help you travel around the country. Naturally, there are loads of other Thail words but the ones listed above are the basics!<
If your bus broke down in the middle of the road, instead of complaining and worrying, Thai’s would just say “mai pen rai” which means, it’s okay, don’t worry, everything will be alright.
So next time a Thai person gets your order wrong or accidentally bumps you while you’re waking, just bust out these famed words, “Mai Pen Rai” and no doubt you will get a smile and a look of surprise.
Wondering how Thailand compares to other countries in Southeast Asia? Check out our comparison guides:
Indonesia vs Thailand
Thailand vs Vietnam
Thailand vs Philippines
Thailand vs Malaysia
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Basic Greetings in Thai
Out of all the essentials, being able to say hello, how are yo and thank you are non-negotiable on my list. Master these three words and you will most likely make a friend or impress a local.
Thai language is a beautiful and complex language that is spoken by more than 60 million people worldwide. One of the most important aspects of Thai culture is the use of polite language and greetings.
In fact, greeting someone in Thai can often set the tone for the entire conversation, as it reflects respect which is highly valued in their culture.
Thai people use different greetings depending on the time of day, the social status of the person they are addressing, and the context of the situation. Additionally, the use of different tones and inflections can completely change the meaning of a word, making Thai a challenging but rewarding language to learn.
- Hello – Sawadee khrup/ka
- Good Morning- sawatdee tohn chao
- Good Afternoon- sawatdee tohn bai
- Good Evening- sawatdee tohn yen
- Good Day- chohk dee
- Good Night- ra tree sawat
- How are you? – Sa bai dee mai khrup/ka
- Goodbye! – La gorn khrup/ka
Editor’s Note: Check out our ultimate guide on Thailand Travel Tips which features the best things to do, where to stay, and what to eat.
Basic Thai for Eating and Ordering Food
Nothing is worse than being ridiculously hungry only to find out that your Thai food is way too spicy to eat. Trust me, it happens more often than you think. With that in mind, here are a few Thai words essential for eating and ordering food.
If you’re planning to travel to Thailand or dine at a Thai restaurant, it’s helpful to learn some basic Thai words and phrases for ordering and eating out. Knowing a few simple expressions can make your dining experience more enjoyable and allow you to communicate more effectively with the servers and chefs.
In this introduction, we’ll cover some of the most commonly used Thai words and phrases for ordering food, asking for recommendations, and making special requests.
Whether you’re a foodie looking to explore Thailand’s vibrant culinary scene or just looking for a quick and delicious meal, these words and phrases will come in handy. So, let’s get started and learn some basic Thai words for dining out and ordering food!
On a side note, when eating in a restaurant, it pays to compliment them by saying “aroy” for the food as you’re about to pay. I do this all the time regardless if it’s a nice restaurant or some hole in the wall street food joint. Trust me, a small compliment goes a long way!
- Not Spicy – Mai phet
- A little Spicy- phet nit nawy
- Really Spicy – phet mak
- I would like to order- sang aa-haan
- Delicious- Aroy
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Basic Thai for Shopping
If you’re planning to visit Bangkok, shopping is likely to be on your to-do list. From bustling street markets to high-end shopping malls, Thailand has a lot to offer to the shopping enthusiast.
Knowing some basic Thai words and phrases can make your shopping experience more enjoyable and help you communicate with the locals. In this introduction, we’ll cover some of the most commonly used Thai words and phrases for shopping.
I love wandering around the many Bangkok night markets and shocking the locals with some Thai words!
You’ll learn how to ask for the price, negotiate, and make purchases. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, clothing, or other items, these words and phrases will come in handy. So, let’s get started and learn some basic Thai words for shopping!
- That’s expensive! – Paeng mak khrup/ka!
- How much does this cost? – Ra ka tao rai khrup/ka?
- Can you give me a discount please?– Ga ru na lot ra ka hai noi khrup/ka?
Basic Thai to Impress and Gain Street Cred
- Neung, song, saam, see, haa, hook, jet, baat, gow, sip (one to ten)
- You are cute – Khun naa rak khrup/ka
- I’m drunk- Mao Laew
- Having fun? – sanuk mai?
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If you’re really serious about learning Thai, here are a few tips:
Invest in Thai lessons- If you’re serious about learning Thai while you are in the country, invest in lessons. Practicing the basics and starting it off with proper knowledge on the languages’ phonemes and accents will help you in mastering this language.
Thai Books- You can even pick up books similar to this one below to help you practice the basic words.
Spend time with local Thais- Making friends and regularly hanging out with locals is the best and easiest way to pick up the language. That way, you can also improve your textbook-based learning into a more relaxed tone. Conversational Thai is the way to go!
Practice- Practice with locals, practice by watching music videos, game shows, or cartoons. Practice by downloading useful apps to help you practice.
So that’s it for the basics! If you’re worried about the level of English spoken in the country- don’t! It’s a very tourist friendly country and if someone doesn’t understand the language, they will usually point you in the direction of someone who can speak.
Hopefully, this article has given you a brief overview of the various Thai phrases which will definitely come to use when traveling around. When traveling the country, check out some of the tours listed below which we highly recommend.
10 thoughts on “Basic Thai Phrases You Need to Know (Updated 2023)”
This is so great! I could’ve used this last year before my trip lol. And like you said, most locals in touristy areas speak English, but I really do think they appreciate it when visitors at least make an effort to speak Thai.
What a great round up of words and phrases to know! It definitely makes traveling easier when you can communicate.
What a useful guide. Learning the basics in the native language makes travel a little more fun and engaging. You may make a fool of yourself sometimes, but also immersing yourself into a different culture with even a little language skills goes a long way.
This is really useful, thank you! Locals really appreciate it when you make an effort to learn their language, and I like that you included some for gaining street cred 😉
I love learning a bit of the language from the places I visit. I often listen in on people speaking and see if I can make out any words that sound like English. Lol. Great post and tips…
I always try to learn a little of the local language before we visit a country. Unfortunately I really don’t have any talent for languages so it is never going to get me to a conversant level in any of them.
What terrific tips! I especially like the food ordering tips. I’ll bookmark this for my next trip to Thailand. Thanks!
Great tips, especially for the Thai language which can sound very difficult to learn and speak. It can definitely go a long way in making friends. Love your photos, especially the one of the Thai woman! I’d like to use some of the phrases to say hello. She looks so friendly. 🙂
I do think it makes a big difference when you are travelling to know a few phrases. Local people really appreciate it.
This is such a good idea for a post! Getting to know the basic phrases when travelling is such a nice thing, not only to show respect, but to also feel more in touch with the culture! I remember learning the Thai basics when we were over there, but this is very useful! Khop khun ka!