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10 Thai Words to Learn Before You Travel to Thailand

For travelers visiting Thailand, Phuket Airfares is the best source for great deals on airfare. Before departing, however, it is highly recommended that travelers learn a few common terms in Thai to better interact with locals and ensure the best travel experience. Here is a list of 10 common and useful phrases.

1. Ka and Krub

Ka and Krub are added to the end of a sentence to denote respect. For men, krub is used while for women ka is the correct term.

With ka, there’s a tone difference between questions and statements. With the former, a high tone, short vowel sound is used while for the later a falling tone and short vowel pronunciation is used.

2. Sawatdee

Like aloha in Hawaii, sawatdee is a universal greeting in Thailand and is pronounced “sa-wat-dee.” It means hello, goodbye and everything in between. Be sure to always follow the greeting with krub or ka depending on your gender.

3. Khun

Khun is another pleasantry that’s primarily used before a person’s name when they’re addressed. Using this term will quickly earn the respect of locals so its use is advised. Note, however, that in Thailand, as with many Asian countries, individuals are formally addressed by their first name in lieu of their surname. The pronunciation is “koon.”

4. Phet

The first of a few dining-based phrases, phet means hot, or spicy. If you intend to dine out in Thailand, it’s a good word to know since Thai food is generally spicy. Two phrases worth knowing are mai phet, or not spicy, and phet nit nawy, or a little bit spicy.

5. Aroy

Aroy simply means delicious. Since cuisine is an important part of Thai culture, having this word in your arsenal is definitely a wise choice.

6. Kep Tang

This term is used when asking for your bill in a restaurant. We’ve all experienced the daunting task of trying to get a waiter’s attention when we’re ready to leave, so this term should come in handy.  Be sure to incorporate  krub or ka at the end as well.

7. Tao Rai

Tao Rai, pronounced “tow-rye,” means how much and is always a useful term when shopping.

8. Lod Dai Mai?

Translated as can you give a discount, this is a term that’s useful when shopping as bargaining for cheaper prices is a standard practice in Thailand. Most items are marked up and the vendor expects shoppers to haggle. Don’t, however, go too low initially as that can be perceived as disrespectful to the vendor. The dai and mai are pronounced with a long i sound.

9. Khob Khun

This phrase means thank you. Pronounced “cob-koon,” besides hello and goodbye, thank you is one of the most often used terms in any language so it’s good to know the Thai translation. Be sure to follow the phrase with krub or ka as well.

10. Chan Tong Pai

Meaning I need to go … this is a useful term to know when asking for directions.

Photo by Ian Fuller