I’ve been traveling across Thailand over the last month – mostly exploring the offbeat. As always, learning the language has been my biggest tool to explore the offbeat and connect with the locals. Not to forget it also helps get in negotiation to get better prices than “the English” tourists.
I was surprised when I heard from my friends who have traveled more on the beaten track that even the touristy places were not equipped with English in Thailand.
That comes as a surprise considering the amount of tourism in Thailand and – for good or for worse – the universality of the English language.
So, to help other travelers and nomads, here’s a list of the important words, phrases, and numbers you must learn in Thai!
NOTE: Thai is a tonal language so it’s best to hear these words a few times from locals to get the exact tone. But the guide below will still be a good reference to remember which phrase means what.
Let’s get started:
Hello / Hi
Sawa-dee-khrap (if you’re male)
Sawa-dee-kha (if you’re female)
Note: khrap is the respect suffix used by males and kha is the respect suffix used by females. You can use these to end any phrase.
You can also use the short version ‘Sawa-dee’ without the respect suffix. (Not recommended)
You can use Sawadee anytime of the day.
How are you?
Sabai-dee-mai-khrap? (if you’re male)
Sabai-dee-mai-kha? (if you’re female)
Just ‘Sabai dee mai?’ (Short version without the respect suffix)
I am fine
Sabai-dee-khrap (if you’re male)
Sabai-dee-kha (if you’re female)
Just ‘sabai dee’ (short version without the respect suffix)
* In the examples below, I’ve not used the respect suffix. You can add khrap (male) or kha (female) at the end of all these phrases / sentences.
Arunswad (pronounced Alun-sa-wad)
Ratreswad (pronounced Ratee-sa-wad)
What is your name?
Khun chue arai?
How old are you?
Khun ayu torai?
You can answer this question ones you learn counting in Thai which I’ve explained further below in this blog.
Or Mai Chai
(Mai chai literally translates to not yes)
Do you understand?
Khao jai mai?
I’m sorry / Excuse me
Mai pen rai
I like it
No, thank you
Mai, khab khun
How many / how much?
How to count in Thai (0 to 9999)
0 – soon
1 – nùng
2 – song
3 – sam
4 – see
5 – há
6 – hok
7 – jed
8 – bpad (pronounced paad)
9 – kao
10 – sib (pronounced seeb)
11 – sib ed
12 – sib song
13 – sib sam
20 – yee seb
21 – yee seb ed
22 – yee sib song
30 – sam seeb
40 – see seeb
And so on until 99
100 – nùng roy
1000 – nùng pan
Shorthand conversation Example:
Me: Sawadee krap (I say hello)
Girl: Sawadee kha (She says hello)
Me: Sabai dee mai krap? (I ask how she is)
Girl: Sabai dee or sabai dee kha. (She says she is fine)
Me: Khun chue arai krap? (I ask her name)
Girl: Aom. Khun chue arai kha? (Tells her name and asks for mine)
Me: Phom Cheé Dev (I reply with my name)
Me: Khao Jai Mai Krap? (I ask her if she understood me)
Girl: Chai kha (She says yes)
Me: Dee Mak (I say that’s good)
Thanks for reading..
Enjoy your time in Thailand!