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 – “Do you understand English?”
Not interested in learning any other phrase or words? Then learn at least this one-it will go a long way in facilitating communication! Alternatively, it’s a good way to check whether you need to fumble with your phrasebook or if you can just speak English.
Gin kaew chao tee nai – “Where do I take breakfast?”
Useful to ask the desk clerk at the hotel after checking in, though most hotels have staff who can speak fluent English (if you are staying at cheap guesthouses, however, this may be something of a crapshoot).
Mai pen rai – “Never mind.”
The equivalent of “Don’t mention it” or “It’s fine.” Used to accept an apology or telling that you have taken no offense. Good in situations where a flustered waitress has just spilled or dropped something and you want to tell her that you don’t mind.
Rakha tau rai – “What is the price of this [item]?”
The thing to ask when shopping anywhere in Thailand. Specifying the type of good is not required.
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 praya bhan yuu tee nai – “Where is the hospital?”
Not necessarily useful if you are standing right in front of a 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).
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 the Empress yuu tee nai.” Alternatively, if you’d like directions, you could also ask “Rong ram pai taang nai.”
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.
Sanam bin yuu klai ruu plao – “Is the airport far away?
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?”