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).
Good / Great
Sabai Dee Ton Sao
Sabai Dee Ton Soi
Sabai Dee Ton Len
Jâo Sue Nyung?
What is your name?
Jâo Ma Tey Sai?
Where are you from?
Good Luck (Used as Goodbye)
*Avoid using ‘La Gon’ for Goodbye
Swai or Ngam
(Swai is the Thai word)
Ngam Lai Lai
Very very beautiful
(Use this if you want to funny while flirting)
Foreigner (Typically Western)
Phasa Lao Noi Neung
I speak Lao a little
(Neung is pronounced Nuin)
(Pronounced as Nuan)
Food, Rice (same word for both)
Sep Lai Lai
Very Very tasty
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)
Green herb like the one used in Viet cuisine
Veggie Salad Leaves
Khao Pad Phak
Fried rice with vegetables
Khua Phak Bung
Fried Morning Glory
Khao Pad Khai
Fried Rice with Egg
Khao Pad Phak Khai
Fried Rice with Vegetables and Egg
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..
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 🙂