Helpful Phrases For When Travelling In Thailand
You are planning your next vacation, and that vacation is going to be in Thailand. Congratulations on a fantastic choice! But you aren’t sure you will be understood by the locals? Well, you can learn the language, of course, but what if you aren’t quite up to learning a whole language just for a vacation? Nobody is going to blame you. It’s not an easy language – if anything it’s quite tricky and much harder to master than English, especially if you don’t have any background in Sanskrit and similar languages.
Khun phuut pasa angkrit dai ruu pao – “Can you speak English?”
Even if you learn no other Thai phrases or words, this should be the one sentence you ought to memorize from the outset to facilitate communication.
Mai pen rai – “Never mind.”
This phrase is useful when you want to say any variant of “don’t mention it,” “it’s all right” or to accept an apology (such as when a waiter spills something on you or the concierge took a while to find your luggage).
Rakha tau rai – “How much is this?”
Useful universally when shopping; you don’t need to specify the type of goods to be understood.
Khob khun krap/kha – “Thank you.”
The “krap” and “kha” are gendered suffixes; the former is used by men to end sentences, the latter by women. It is considered polite to include them, especially when speaking to strangers.
Sawatdee krap/kha – “Hello.”
Usually spoken with hands clasped together, head bowed and knees slightly bent, similar to the namaste gesture of Indians.
Rong ram yuu tee nai – “Where is the hotel?”
If you would like to be specific, you will have to add the hotel’s name after “rong ram,” i.e. “Rong ram Sunshine yuu tee nai.” Alternatively, if you’d like directions, you could also ask “Rong ram pai taang nai.”
Rong praya bhan yuu tee nai – “Where is the hospital?”
Ha khao gin tang nai – “Where can I find something to eat around here?”
Helpful if you are not sure whether there are restaurants or eateries around where you currently are.
Ja ma mua rai – “When is it coming?”
Depending on the context this can be used by itself or may require an object to specify what you are asking after, but the language is sufficiently flexible that the listener should be able to get the gist of what you are asking (e.g. when is the food I ordered coming).
Sanam bin yuu klai ruu plao – “Is the airport far away?”
Mee arai naa gin bang – “Can you recommend me a dish?”
Can be used both at a restaurant to inquire the waiter or elsewhere to ask for suggestions of what to eat in general, though for the most part this phrase would work best when you’re already at the table and perusing the menu.
Gin kaew chao tee nai – “Where do I take breakfast?”
Pai duen tiew tee nai dee – “Where can I take a sightseeing stroll?”
The question would generally be answered with the name of a street or an outdoor market, though this depends on which part of Thailand you are visiting and whether you are staying in a city.
Mueng nee yai kae nai – “How large is this city?”
Joanne Chong is a multilingual Thai native working at the Empress Hotels Group, a family of Chiang Mai luxury hotels providing the best value for three/four-star Chiang Mai accommodation suited for Chiang Mai holidays and long-stays, convention facilities and fine dining in the city center.
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