You will find yourself shopping on the street for many things including flowers, souvenirs, and of course food.
Despite Thailand’s role as a major transit hub for travellers across the world (in fact, Bangkok is the world’s most visited city two years in a row according to Forbes), English is not as pervasive as one might expect when communicating with local Thai people on the street.
While speaking English slowly and annunciating your words – with a smile – can help, the best way to get around Thailand is to speak some basic Thai! From ordering foods, to asking for road directions, basic phrases can not only ensure you have a smooth time in the land of smiles, but also empower you to explore with confidence.
Ordering food in Thai can seem daunting, but comes with a delicious reward at the end.
Here are some of our recommended good starter phrases to get the ball rolling—all of which are more understandable when you smile:
Sawasdee(khrap/kha) – Hello
Sabai Dee Mai (khrap/kha) – How are you?
Sabai Dee (khrap/kha) – I am Fine.
Khob Khun (khrap/kha) – Thank you.
Pii – (Female/Male) Senior
Nong – (Female/Male) Junior
Khun pud pasa enkrit dai mai – Do you speak English?
Chai – Yes
Mai Chai – No
Dai – (you/I) can
Mai Dai – Can not
Mai pen rai – Nevermind. (politeful one, most used)
Kow jai mai – Do you understand?
Kow jai (khrap/kha) – I Understand.
Mai kow jai – I do not understand.
Puut chaa chaa noi – Speak slowly.
Speaking even a short phrase or greeting in Thai will often be returned with a big smile.
Asking for directions
One of the best ways to get around the city is riding on a Tuk Tuk.
Most of us now rely on technology for directions to and fro when we travel. However, there may be a situation where you don’t have a phone or you want to take a Taxi and will need to get your point across in Thai during your stay in Thailand. Here are the basics to ensure you make it to your destination.
Tii nai – Where?
Horng nam yuu tii nai – Where is the toilet?
Dtrong nai – Which way (direction)?
BTS Asoke yuu dtrong nai – Where is BTS Asoke?
glai – Far.
glâi – Close.
glai tâo-rài – How far?
dtrong bpai – (go) Straight.
líeow sáai – Turn left.
líeow kwăa – Turn right.
yòo kâang-kâang – Next to.
yòo kâang lăng – Behind.
Chai meter mai – Do you use the meter? (taxi)
Tii nee – Here
Jort tii nee- Stop here.
Local Thai shop selling a variety of items, including many food related products.
Being able to understand numbers is a good way to earn respect from Thai people when interacting while shopping or at a restaurant. Once you begin to see the pattern of adding Thai numbers together it is actually quite easy. This list below will get you speaking from 1-1,000 in no time flat!
Yii sip et
Yee sip song
Practicing your Thai numbers while out shopping is a great way to learn by doing.