40 Basic Thai Words and Phrases to Know Before Your Visit

Thai Words

We’ve spent a lot of time traveling over the years through the beautiful country of Thailand. While we aren’t anywhere near fluent in the language, we have found that learning a few common Thai words and phrases can go a long way in interacting with locals! In this article, we’ll share some of the most basic Thailand words to know before your visit. 

Our Experience Traveling in Thailand

If you’ve been following along with our Southeast Asia content you already know that we love Thailand! The country’s high season is during the winter in Europe and the United States. This makes it an easy choice for where to go once the weather turns cold in other places around the world. 

Without a doubt, the beautiful islandsamazing beaches, and delicious Thai food (these are our favorite dishes), are just some things that draw travelers to Thailand. It’s also known as the “Land of Smiles” for its kind-natured people and hospitality. 

In the popular tourist destinations of the islands and major cities, you’ll find that many people do speak English. However, we’ve discovered that knowing some easy words in Thai to communicate will help you along your journey. 

Now that doesn’t mean you have to learn the entire Thai language before your visit! Yet, making a small effort to learn common Thai words and phrases when eating out or taking public transportation is a good idea. Even a Thai greeting like “hello” or a “thank you” is sure to win you some extra points with the locals!

โ†’ 50 Backpacking Thailand Tips That Will Make Or Break Your Trip

Words in Thai

Using Google Translate For Thai Words

Google can be a great tool for translating Thai to the English language. We’ve found this specifically helpful at local restaurants to read menus, or when trying to figure out our bus and ferry routes. 

โ€‹There is really no reason to pay for a crazy translator app. We’ve been traveling the world continuously for 7 years and a simple google translate has worked wonders.

โ€‹For general translations, you can type what you want to say into the phone and then show it to the person. It’s also easy to use the speaker to play what you have typed. 

Google Image Translate can sometimes be an amazing tool to use as well. Just keep in mind that it’s not always perfect. Some things can be misspelled or won’t come through at all! Still, it will give you an idea of what you’re looking at so you’re not completely lost.

One of the best things you can buy when you get to Thailand is a sim card for your phone (or have an e-sim set for when you arrive). While wifi is easily found at hotels and cafes, you won’t want to be without this.

If you come across someone who speaks zero English you can simply type in what you’re trying to say in a translator to communicate. This is the best way to cut to the chase and not waste your time or anyone else’s. 

Thai Words for Traveling in Thailand

Thai Words With Male & Female Pronunciations

One important thing to know about learning basic Thai words is that many have different pronunciations for males and females. This is quite different than Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian languages. 

The Thai alphabet is made up of 44 consonants and 21 vowels which makes it tough to become fluent in. It’s also a tonal language so there are five different tones that people in Thailand speak with! 

The male and female aspects can be a bit confusing when learning common Thai phrases. As you’ll see, with some of the most useful words in Thai you’ll want to be careful with the endings. 

For males, they will typically end sentences with “khrab.” Whereas female speakers will end with the word “kha.” The best example of this is when simply saying hello in Thai.

Male: Sa watdii khrab

Female: Sa watdii Kha

You should also know that using Mr. or Mrs. often comes before speaking any words in Thai. Don’t be surprised when you hear “Khun” before local people start speaking with you as a tourist. This basic vocabulary is gender-neutral so it’s used regardless of the gender of the person.

It’s hard to say if someone would be offended if you screw the male and female pronunciations up when attempting to break the language barrier. They might just be a little confused at the street food stalls and restaurants! 

Easy Thai Words

Common Thai Words and Phrases to Know 

Now that you know the story behind this native language it’s time to learn a few basic Thai words and essential phrases for your visit. Take a look at our brief overview of the various Thai phrases below. You can even bookmark this on your phone to go back to before heading out on the town!

Greetings and Thai Phrases

Hello: Swasdee (khrab/kha)

Goodbye: Laa Kon (khrab/kha)

Thank You: Khob Khun

You’re Welcome: Yin Dee

Please: Krunaa

Excuse Me: Khor Toht

Good Night: Raa-dtree Sawas

Khun: Mr., Mrs., or Miss

Good Morning: Sawasdee Ton Chao

Good Afternoon: Sawasdee Ton Bai

Thai Words to Know

Common Thai Questions & Answers

How Are You?: Khun Sabai Dee Mai

I Am Fine: Sabia Dee

What is Your Name?: Cheu Arai

My Name is xxx: Chan Cheu

What Are You Doing?: Tam Arai

Where are You Going?: Bpai Tee Nai

Where Do You Live?: Khun Yu Tee Nai

Common Thai Words

Words in Thai for Transportation & Directions 

Car: Rot Yon

Bicycle: Jak-gra-yaan

Motorbike: Maw-dterk-siak

Airplane: Kreuang Bin

Train: Rot Fai

Bus: Rot Mel

Boat: Reua

Pier: Thaa

Taxi: Taek-Sii

Tuk Tuk: Gra-chao

Left: Sai

Right: Khwaa

Straight: Trong

Basic Words in Thai

Basic Thai Words For Food

Food: Aa-haan

Water: Naam

Tea: Chaa

Beer: Bia

Rice: Khaao

Noodles: Gway-dtiao

Chicken: Gai

Beef: Nuea

Shrimp: Gung

Fish: Bp-laa

Fruit: Naam

Basic Thai Words and Phrases

Numbers in Thailand

Just like the useful phrases in Thai, you’ll want to learn your numbers as well! This can be an easy way to enhance your Thai vocabulary, and can especially come in handy when shopping at the markets.

Thailand is a very tourist-friendly country and bartering is part of the local culture. If you don’t see a price at the local markets and night markets then it’s probably fair game to negotiate for a better price. Just be careful not to offend anyone by going too low in your haggling adventures.

At the markets, don’t worry if you can’t get every number correct. It’s common for the vendors to pull out a calculator and start showing you the prices. When they do this it’s acceptable to take the calculator and make a counteroffer. 

Below are the Thai numbers one through ten which you can use along with the most basic Thai phrases. 

  1. Neung
  2. Song
  3. Saam
  4. See
  5. Haa
  6. Hok
  7. Jet
  8. Paet
  9. Kao
  10. Sip

Thai Words Travel in Thailand

How Important is it to Learn Basic Thai Words Before Your Visit?

So how much of the Thai language do you need to know before traveling to Thailand? Honestly, you could make your way around the country fine without knowing a single thing. 

As we’ve said, Thailand is a very touristy country and many people do speak English. Nevertheless, having a basic knowledge of greetings, numbers, and Thai travel phrases can make your overall visit so much more pleasant. 

We can tell you firsthand that native speakers appreciate it when they see English speakers using Thai sentences and words. This applies not only to Thailand, but anywhere you’re traveling around the world.

Obviously, it’s not the easiest language to learn! Yet, if you can get some of the most common Thai words and phrases down you’ll be much better off.

Basic Thai Words

Have any questions about this article or want to share more basic Thai words you think travelers should know? Leave us a comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

PIN FOR LATER โ†“

Thai

Thailand Travel Planning 

 Transportation: While traveling through Thailand 12Go is where we find all our ferries, trains, buses, and transfers! You can find everything from island hopping speed boats to the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

 Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. That’s how we found flights from Bangkok to Phuket for $12 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50! 

 Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also,  Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

 Tours: Check out Get Your Guide to find activities all over Phuket! You can find everything from a James Bond island luxury sunset cruise, to Phuket Old Town 15-taster food adventure, and 5-hour island tour

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without protection. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

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Helpful Thailand Posts

Phuket: 22 Things to DoOld Town Food Guide6  Sunset SpotsRawaiElephant SanctuaryPromthep Cape SunsetSunday Night MarketPhuket Old TownBig BuddhaRenting a Motorbike 

Phuket Beaches:  15 Best Beaches Nai Harn & Yanui – Kata BeachKata NoiNui Beach

Koh Phi Phi:  Ferry from Phuket25 Things to KnowMaya Bay Private Tour3 Viewpoint HikeMonkey BeachPhi Phi Don Boat Tour 

Railey Beach:  12 Things to Do3 Epic BeachesKrabi to Koh Phangan

Gulf of Thailand: Koh Phangan 10 Things to KnowBottle Beach Koh PhanganKoh Tao 12 Things to KnowFreedom Beach Koh TaoKoh Samui 

More: Planning Thailand TripKoh LipeChiang Mai

Thailand Travel Guide

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2 Comments

  1. John
    December 13, 2023 / 10:33 am

    Thank you for sharing these common Thai phrases and vocabs. Will be visiting Thailand next month and I’m excited to use these when ordering food and asking for directions!

    • Brigitte & Jake
      Author
      December 13, 2023 / 11:10 am

      Glad our Thai words article was helpful for you. Have a great trip ๐Ÿ˜€

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