There’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is that learning Thai is hard work. Really hard work.
The good news is that any attempt to say a few of the local phrases will be appreciated and you’ll get extra kudos points.
Now, we want to help out as much as we can, but if you really want to know why ‘mai mai mai mai mai’ is a sentence you’ll need to go to school. In case you don’t have time for that, we’ve come up with the most common phrases that you need to get by.
Before we start, a couple of things to remember. Thai is a tonal language and it’s wise to get these right, but even if you don’t a Thai will usually understand from the context of what you’re saying. Secondly, you’ll see transliterations of Thai to English words spelled very differently (we’ve seen road signs for Pattaya, Pataya and Phattaya). Sometimes there’s no direct match, but we’ve done the best we can. Be grateful.
If you’re a man, add ‘krap’ to end of each sentence; if you’re a woman add ‘ka’.
Sawadee krap/ka - hello (male/female speaker)
Sabai dee mai? - how are you?
Sabai dee - I’m fine
Taow-rai krap/ka - How much?
Arn-nee taow-rai - How much is this?
Wannee, khun su-ai mark - Today, you look very beautiful. (su-ai has a rising tone)
Phut len, lor? - You are kidding, right?
Phom mai mee / mee ngern - I don’t / do have money.
Yark bai rong raem - I want to go to the hotel.
Phom mai mao, phom sabai dee - I’m not drunk, I’m just happy.
Rong raam - hotel
Hong-norn – bedroom
Mee ____ mai – is there ______?
Mee air mai? - Is there air-conditioning?
Mee hong-nam mai? - Is there a bathroom?
Hong-dieo – single room
Hong koo – double room
Arp-nam - shower
Aharn-shao – breakfast
Leum goon-jae – I’ve forgotten my key
Panak-ngam-borigarn – room service
Kuen la taorai? – how much is the room per night?
Aharn-shao kee mong? – when is breakfast?
Garuna plook chan nai wela – Can you call me at…o’clock?
Kor doo mae-nu? – I’d like to see the menu?
Kor – I would like…
Bia sorng kuat – two bottles of beer
Geb-tang krap? – Can I have the bill, please.
Soob buree dai mai? – May I smoke?
Kor lekthorasap noi si? – May I have your phone number?
Pom dee chai teedai pob khun – I’m pleased to meet you.
Khun yoo tee nee ma nan rue young? – how long have you been here?
Pom cha nam krung deum mahai na? – Would you like a drink?
Kwar – left
Sai – right
Doen trong pai – go straight ahead
Yoo sai/kwar mue – it’s on the left/right
Thanon – street/road
Soi – sidestreet
Dern – walk
Pharn – after
Korn – before
Shai thale – seaside
Ko – island
Reua – boat
Tua – ticket
Rao – quick
Cha – slow
Ranggai – body
Leen – tongue
Khaen – arms
Nah – face
Tah – eyes
Kha – legs
Phom – hair
Phark – mouth
Rim fee phak – lips
Ya – drug
Ya as-par-in – aspirin
Pah pid plae - plaster
Yah nawn lab – sleeping pill
Roke tawng ruang – diarrhoea
Roke puad hua – headache
Roke ai – cough
Roke puad fun – toothache
Jep – hurt
Jep mai? – does it hurt?
Jep tee nai – where does it hurt?
Jep tee nee – it hurts here
Ko doo mor – I’d like to see a doctor
Bai rong payabarn – Take me to the hospital