Thai Phrases for Tourist

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Many phrase books and dictionaries give over-complicated ways of formally dealing with the matter of getting around in Bangkok. The following are simplified phrases, used by most people, which work perfectly well and make it easier for you to remember.

Learning a few simple phrases will also make it less likely that you will be a victim of unscrupulous vehicle owners, who can prey on unsuspecting and ignorant tourists. Don’t be one of them.

For example, if you want to give your destination to a tuk-tuk driver, or taxi, you may simply say "pai wherever". Wherever being your destination. To ask how much the fare will be, there are two simple options, either "tao rai" or "gee baht". You can learn the numbers or just use your fingers as a sign.

How Much To Go To Khaosan Road?
Pai Khaosan tao rai?

To which the driver may reply "har sip baht" (fifty baht).
You can then say, "pang pai, sam sip baht dai mai?" (too much, how about 30 baht?).

The tuk-tuk driver, or motorbike taxi may say "mai dai, see sip baht" (no, 40 baht).
To which you may reply "tok long, see sip baht". (OK, 40 baht).

I don't want to go there. (mai yak pai) 
Do you know ………..? (roo jak ………mai?)

Turn left. (lee-o sai) Turn right. (lee-o kwar)

Straight on. (trong pai) Stop here. (jord tee nee)

And finally probably the most useful of all phrases, where you will be the target of many scams designed to part you from your money.

"mai ow" which literally means, "no want". It is absolutely essential to learn this one.

Getting Around Tips

Before getting in, or on, make sure you settle the price first. Usually the minimum fare is 35 baht, although they may start by asking at least fifty baht, often more, depending on how much of a tourist you look, and how busy (or not) they may have been. It is always difficult to assess how much it should be, and drivers are well known for ripping off tourists when they can, so beware.

To avoid these annoying bartering sessions in the searing heat, you may want to consider using an air conditioned taxi car. These are usually very inexpensive and definitely far more comfortable. Fares start at only 35 baht, and are metered.

Getting To Sky Train Stations – Useful Phrases

One of the best mass transit systems anywhere, the Bangkok Sky Train is probably the most convenient and pleasant way to get around in Bangkok. Not only is it relatively clean and air conditioned, the signs are in Thai and English.

But you have to get to the station first, and this is what this section of useful phrases is all about. Not all Thais know the Sky Train by that name. Many call it BTS or "rot fai fah". The word for station in Thai is "sa tha nee". These phrases will be helpful.

Where do you want to go? (ja pai nai)
I want to go to the nearest skytrain station. (pai sa-tha nee rot fai fah tee glai tee soot)

You should note that we do not use "I" at the start of the sentence. This is very common when speaking Thai. The Thai word for nearest is "glai tee soot". 

Skytrain station. (sa-tha nee rot fai fah …...) 
Put the name of the station you want at the end. For example --- Nana Station would be "sa-tha nee rot fai fah nana".
These are the stations on the Sky Train line: 
- On Nut. (aon noot)
- Phra Khanong. (phra kha-nhong)
- Ekkamai. (eak ga-mai)
- Thong Lo. (thong lor)
- Phrom Phong. (phrom pong)
- Asoke. (a-soak)
- Nana. (nar nar )
- Phloenchit. (phloen jit)
- Chitlom. (chit lom)
- Siam. (sa-yam)
- Rajchathewi. (rat cha tay wee)
- Phayathai. (pha-ya thai)
- Victory Monument. (anu sao-wa ree chai sa mhor ra phoom)
- Sanam Pao. (sa-nham bao)
- Ari. (ar ree )
- Saphan Kwai. (sa phan kwai)
- Mo Chit. (mhor chit)
- National Stadium. (sa-nham gee lar hang chart)
- Ratchadamri. (rart cha dam rii)
- Saladaeng. (sar lar daeng)
- Chong Nonsi. (chong non see)
- Surasak. (soo ra sak)
- Saphan Taksin. (sa-phan tark sin)

Basic Thai Phrases

Hello (male speaker)

sawatdee krub

Hello (female speaker) sawatdee kaa
How are you? sabai dee reu
Fine, thank you sabai dee, kop koon
Never mind mai pen rai
I can't speak Thai phoot Thai mai dai
I don't understand mai kao jai
Do you understand? kao jai mai
May I take a photograph? tai roop dai mai
Where is the rest room? hong nam yoo tee nai
How much does this cost? nee tao-rai
What is this ? nee arai
Is this expensive? paeng mai
The bill please gep taang
Good-bye la gon
See you again laew phop gan mai
Good luck kaw hai chok dee
Sorry/excuse me kaw toat

The words "Krub" (for a male) and "Kaa" for a female are often used at the end of sentences and elsewhere to be polite. There are many words to say "I" or "Me" and "You". Whichever you use, you are most unlikely to offend. A very respectful way of addressing a person is the much used "Khun" and is applicable to both males and females.

"Sa-wat-dee" is the general greeting in Thailand and covers the English "Good morning" and "Good Afternoon". Various alternatives to this greeting exist, but are almost never used. It is considered correct to follow "Sa-wat-dee" with their "Ka" for a woman speaker, or "Krub" for a male speaker.

When travelling in Bangkok, it will be extremely useful to you to know some numbers.


Here are numbers one to ten, again written phonetically in English: 
1 neung
2 song
3 saam
4 see
5 haa
6 hok
7 jet
8 pad
9 gow
10 sib

Another useful phrase, which really encapsulates the Thai way of looking at things, is "jai yen yen". This literally means, cool your heart. And a cool heart is one of the most prized attributes of a Thai.
Learn more about Thai culture and customs or Learn Thai in Thailand

Generally speaking, most Thais do not speak much English. Many may say "nit-noy" which means "a little". So any Thai you learn will be extremely helpful to you during your visit to Bangkok, and is sure to be very much appreciated by these friendly and helpful people. 
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