Sabai Dee!

Welcome to my guide to essential Laos phrases and words.

And yes, the how are you in Thai is the greeting in Laos.

And that is ‘Sabai Dee’. This is an equivalent of Hello and works any time of the day.

And if you’ve been following my guide to Thai or if you can speak Thai ‘nit noi’ (a little bit), then you should have no issues navigating Laos.

Laos people consume Thai media and hence, almost all of them, understand Thai.

With that said, let’s jump right into learning basic Laos (the language is called Lao or Laotian).

  1. GENERAL:

Sabai Dee

Hello

Dee

Good / Great

Sabai Dee Ton Sao

Good morning

Sabai Dee Ton Soi

Good Afternoon

Sabai Dee Ton Len

Good Evening

Fun Dee

Good Night

Khop Jai

Thank you

Jâo Sue Nyung?

What is your name?

Jâo Ma Tey Sai?

Where are you from?

Doi

Yes

Baw

No

Sok Dee

Good Luck (Used as Goodbye) 

*Avoid using ‘La Gon’ for Goodbye

Swai or Ngam  

Beautiful 

(Swai is the Thai word)

Ngam Lai

Very beautiful

Ngam Lai Lai

Very very beautiful

(Use this if you want to funny while flirting)

Angkit

English

Falang

Foreigner (Typically Western)

Phasa Lao Noi Neung

I speak Lao a little

(Neung is pronounced Nuin)

Khak Lai

Awesome

Baw Dee

No Good

Baw Dai

Cannot

Ngern

Money

(Pronounced as Nuan)

Tam Chok!

Cheers!

  1. FOOD:

Khao

Food, Rice (same word for both)

Khao Niew

Sticky Rice

Nam

Water

Sep

Tasty

Sep Lai

Very tasty

Sep Lai Lai

Very Very tasty

Phed

Spicy

Sin

Meat

(Pronounced Seen)

Pa

Fish

Baw-sai sin, Baw-sai pa

No meat, no fish

(This one was my favorite hack to explore the Laos vegetarian options – which are not many)

Kin Jay

Eat Vegetarian

Manao

Lemon

Nam Manao

Lime Water

Bola Phak

Green herb like the one used in Viet cuisine

Hom Laap

Mint 

Phak Salad

Veggie Salad Leaves

Phak

Vegetables

Khao Pad Phak

Fried rice with vegetables

Mi

Noodles

Khua Mi

Fried Noodles

Khao Piak

Noodle soup

Mak Kuay

Banana

Mang Gon

Dragon Fruit

Mak Muang

Mango

Phak Bung

Morning Glory 

Khua Phak Bung

Fried Morning Glory

Khai

Egg

Kai

Chicken

Khao Pad Khai

Fried Rice with Egg

Khao Pad Phak Khai

Fried Rice with Vegetables and Egg

Khua Khai

Fried Egg

Im

Full

  1. FAMILY

Mae

Mother

Po

Father

Nog Sai

Younger brother

Aiy

Brother

Nog Sao

Younger sister

Aeung

Older sister

(Pronounced Eai)

Honestly, I got away with just this much Lao sandwiched between my limited Thai vocabulary and didn’t really need anything else.

Since I was only in Laos for 3 weeks and didn’t really plan to visit again, I made do with my Thai vocab here.

And yes, the numbers..

4.  NUMBERS

The most important part of your vocab, even though there is no need for negotiation in Laos.

Laotians are very honest and if you ask for a discount, they might even sell you stuff at their loss. So it’s better not to!

And yes, Good news again for Thai speakers & learners..

The numbers are same as the Thai numbers.

The only difference is 20 is sao (and not yee seb) and 100 is loi.

Also, you’ll be using thousand here a lot (much more than Thai because of the currency) and thousand is ‘phan’.

Just follow my Thai guide to learn the complete numbers in both Thai and Lao.

You can also use most of the words from the Thai guide in your Laos trip as well :)

Enjoy Laos!