10 phrases you should know for your Thailand holiday


Thailand, Land of Smiles

For those of you who’ve taken a holiday in Thailand will vouch for, you can get by in Thailand speaking English. However, there are a few phrases worthwhile knowing and below we feature the top 10 Thai phrases you should know. Trying these out should put you in favor with the locals and enrich your experience. Even if you get the phrases totally wrong, at least you had a go and they will appreciate that.

As Thai is very much a tonal language, the pronunciation of Thai words can often be tricky so we recommend you listen to some examples and practice before you go.

One thing to be aware of is there are different words depending on whether a male (phon or phom) is speaking or whether a female (chan) is speaking. The below phrases are written as if a man was saying them so If you are a female, just change ‘phon ‘or ‘phom’ for ‘chan’.

1. What’s your name? / My name is …
Kun-cheu-a-rai? / Phom-cheu…

2. I need a doctor

Quite an important sentence and definitely one to memorize

3. Good Morning


4. Good evening


5. Do you speak English?

Kun poot pah-sah angrit dai mai?

A great one to start with – you may not even need any more Thai if the answer to this question is “Chai” (yes). Although if the answer comes back as “mai-chai” (no) you may have to think again.

6. Thank you very much

Cup is the polite way of ending a sentence for a male while the female speaker will use Kah.

7. How Do You Say “[insert English word here]” In Thai?
Kam-wa-“[English word]”-nai-pa-sa-thai-pood-yang-rai?

A great phrase for picking up some new Thai words..

8. How are you? / I’m fine thanks
Sa-bai-dee-mai? / Sa-bai-dee, kob-kun

9. What’s that called in Thai?
…although this one is even better. This is usually accompanied by plenty of pointing or holding up of various objects.

10. I love you!
Hey…you never know who you might meet!

And for extra credit:

When ordering food these words will come in handy.


Mai Pet-Not spicy

Pet nit noy- a little spicy

And for when dinner is over:

Where is the bathroom?

Hongnaam yu ti ni


More Great Thailand Tales:

13 Responses to 10 phrases you should know for your Thailand holiday
  1. ChuckWow
    May 16, 2011 | 1:49 pm

    I think you should include “mai pet” and/or “pet nid noy”. (not spicy or a little spicy)

    Very useful even when ordering toast in Thailand.

    • Talen
      May 16, 2011 | 4:09 pm

      Chuck, So true and added… and you are joking about the toast :P

  2. Paul Garrigan
    May 16, 2011 | 6:20 pm

    Hi Talen, I haven’t heard how your Thai lessons have been goning. Are you going to be providing and update soon?
    Paul Garrigan recently posted..False Comfort Can Be OK TooMy Profile

    • Talen
      May 17, 2011 | 10:37 pm

      Paul I have just finished my first 200 hours of Thai lessons and begin my next class in June so I will be writing a huge update on it this week.

  3. Snap
    May 17, 2011 | 12:32 pm

    I’m sorry Talen, but I have to disagree with #5 ‘Do you speak English?’ That phrase is in my Thai/Vietnamese/Chinese and Malay phrase books, and I still don’t understand why. If you ask it in English, you’ll either get a ‘yes’ answer or a blank stare, so no need to learn it ;)
    Snap recently posted..Re-retreating to Chiang RaiMy Profile

    • Talen
      May 17, 2011 | 10:36 pm

      Snap, believe it or not it can come in handy…I have seen foreigners ask Thai’s who I know to speak English if they speak English and the Thai’s give them blank stares but if you were to ask them in Thai they will speak English…plus it could come in handy in an emergency situation.

  4. Catherine
    May 17, 2011 | 9:59 pm

    Good list Talen.

    “I need a doctor… Quite an important sentence and definitely one to memorize”…

    …especially if you are following in Talen’s footsteps :-D

    Other useful Thai bits:
    ka?o jai (understand)
    ma?i ka?o jai (don’t understand)
    Catherine recently posted..Visakha Bucha Day &amp Happy Birthday &amp VOTEMy Profile

    • Talen
      May 17, 2011 | 10:34 pm

      Cat, I am now learning phrases like ” I am bleeding from every orifice” and “Please call an ambulance” :P

  5. Catherine
    May 17, 2011 | 10:00 pm

    Darn… your code doesn’t like my code…
    Catherine recently posted..Visakha Bucha Day &amp Happy Birthday &amp VOTEMy Profile

    • Talen
      May 17, 2011 | 10:33 pm

      My code is a-sexual I thought :P

  6. SiamRick
    May 20, 2011 | 4:43 pm

    Good idea, Talen. Since I haven’t taken Thai classes since December, it makes me feel a bit guilty. Oh, well. Will get there soon.

    I would mention something about No. 5. Since it’s a “dai mai?” question, it requires a “dai” or “mai dai” answer, rather than “chai”, according to my (dust-gathering) books. Might double check that with your ajahn though.

    Nevertheless, a great list.
    SiamRick recently posted..Air Canada and Cathay Pacific- roses and brickbatsMy Profile

    • Talen
      May 23, 2011 | 12:10 pm

      Rick, you are correct it does require a dai or dai mai I was just using the affirmative of yes..you can or no cannot to demonstrate wrongly lol…Don’t feel guilty I skipped some classes myself…usually when you were in town.

  7. [...] Talen is also going to Pro Language, but in Pattaya. Same as Snap, he’s also written about his Thai learning experiences: 200 Hours of Formal Thai Language Classes. But if you don’t have 200 hours to invest in learning Thai then this post dangles 10 phrases you should know for your Thailand holiday. [...]