When you travel to a new country, it’s very easy to feel like a fish out of water. This is especially true when you are unfamiliar with the host country’s language. The effects of culture shock become compounded when you are not able to relate to people or communicate your needs and concerns to those around you. Therefore, learning the language is not only a necessary skill for survival, but it will also help you comfortably adjust to your temporary home.


Not to mention, the country’s locals enjoy it and tend to respect you more when you can speak their language (so much that they may even offer you discounts). Here is a list of 10 must know Thai phrases to make your transition abroad a little bit easier.

1. Sà-wàt-dii

“Hello and Goodbye” When greeting someone of respect (i.e. anyone older, professors, and especially Monks) you should also accompany this phrase with a Wai (a polite gesture consisting of placing your hands together like you are praying, and a slight bow of the head).

2. Chǎn chûue

“My Name is…”

3. Châi/Mâi


4. Thâo-rài

“How much?” This phrase is especially useful in markets (in which you’ll likely spend a lot of time in)

5. Lót-nàuy dâi-mǎi

 “Can you lower the price?” This phrase is another useful phrase for the markets (it is not advised to use this outside of the markets). Although some vendors won’t budge, a lot of vendors will be willing to lower their prices for you.

6. Bpai yang-ngai

“How do you go to…?”

7. Khun phûut phaa-sǎa ang-grìt dâi mǎi

 “Do you speak English?”

8. Khàawp-khun

“Thank you!”

9. Khàaw-thôot

“Excuse me/I’m sorry” This phrase is really useful for getting people’s attention, especially in the markets. Another way to get someone’s attention who is older than you is to say P’ka/P’khap, depending on your gender.

10. Mâi-bpen-rai

“It’s okay/You’re welcome”

Note: In Thai, it is courteous to end your sentences with “Ka” if you are a woman and “Khun” if you are a man.

Chrissy Brimmage is a TEAN Alum and graduate from Georgia State University. She studied abroad with TEAN in Chiang Mai, Thailand over the summer.