Important Thai phrases for tourists
Here's what to say in some of the most common situations
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Lingo Ninja Research Team
3 min read · published April 12, 2021 · last update April 14, 2021

Really important: polite particles

Thailand is known for the politeness of its people - as illustrated by its moniker "Land of Smiles".  The easiest way to be polite is to use polite particles, most commonly  ค่ะ polite word for women
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and ครับ polite word for men
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. There are other particles, but ค่ะ polite word for women
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and ครับ polite word for men
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are the most important ones. Let me again emphasise this point: Please use polite particles. If you don't use them you might sound slightly rude.
Depending on your sex, you always use a certain particle at the end of the sentence. Just to be clear, as this is different from many other languages: the ending you use does not depend on whom you are talking to, but which sex you are. 

Hello / Goodbye 

Women say: สวัสดี Hi, Hello, Goodbye
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: สวัสดี Hi, Hello, Goodbye
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ครับ polite word for men
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Thais use this as a general greeting in every situation. They don't say "Good Morning", "Good Evening", etc.  Just use สวัสดี Hi, Hello, Goodbye
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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/ครับ polite word for men
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  for all of these. If you want more information on Thai greetings, we have written an entire article about this topic.

Thank you

Women say: ขอบคุณ Thank you
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: ขอบคุณ Thank you
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ครับ polite word for men
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You can read about other ways to say thank you in this article.

I want this

Women say: เอา take
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อัน general quantifier for small objects
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นี้ this
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: เอา take
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อัน general quantifier for small objects
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นี้ this
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ครับ polite word for men
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Literally "want piece this". You usually don't say "I" in Thai.

I don't want (this)

Women say: ไม่ no, not
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เอา take
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: ไม่ no, not
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เอา take
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ครับ polite word for men
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Literally "not want". If you want to specify what exactly, you can say ไม่ no, not
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เอา take
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อัน general quantifier for small objects
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นี้ this
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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/ครับ polite word for men
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  and point to the object. But Thais usually leave "this one" อัน general quantifier for small objects
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นี้ this
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out, if it can be understood from the context.

How much is it?

Women say: เท่าไหร่ how much; not quite
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: เท่าไหร่ how much; not quite
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ครับ polite word for men
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Just hold the item or point to the item while you ask.

Calling the Waiter

Women say: น้อง you (for a younger person than the speaker)
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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(nong ka)
Men say: น้อง you (for a younger person than the speaker)
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ครับ polite word for men
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(nong krab)

น้อง you (for a younger person than the speaker)
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means "you" for a younger person, but is also used for people that serve you. Don't worry, using น้อง you (for a younger person than the speaker)
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is perfectly polite, even if the waiter is older than you and you are in a fancy restaurant.

Do you speak English?

Women say: คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
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พูด speak, talk
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ภาษา language
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อังกฤษ English,England
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ได้ไหม can you?
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: คุณ Ms, Mrs, Mr; you
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พูด speak, talk
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ภาษา language
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อังกฤษ English,England
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ได้ไหม can you?
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ครับ polite word for men
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อังกฤษ English,England
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means English, but also England. You are literally asking "You speak language England can?"

I don't understand

Women say: ไม่ no, not
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เข้าใจ understand
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: ไม่ no, not
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เข้าใจ understand
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ครับ polite word for men
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ไม่ no, not
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means "no" or "not". เข้าใจ understand
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means "to understand"

Not spicy, please

Women say: ไม่ no, not
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เผ็ด spicy
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: ไม่ no, not
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เผ็ด spicy
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ครับ polite word for men
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ไม่ no, not
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means "no" or "not". เผ็ด spicy
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means "spicy"

Don't add MSG, please

Women say: ไม่ no, not
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ใส่ put something in; put on (e.g. clothes)
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ผงชูรส MSG, monosodium glutamate
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: ไม่ no, not
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ใส่ put something in; put on (e.g. clothes)
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ผงชูรส MSG, monosodium glutamate
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ครับ polite word for men
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MSG is ผงชูรส MSG, monosodium glutamate
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. ใส่ put something in; put on (e.g. clothes)
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means to add or put something. ไม่ no, not
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means "no" or "not".

No bag, please

Women say: ไม่ no, not
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ใส่ put something in; put on (e.g. clothes)
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ถุง bag (e.g. a plastic bag)
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: ไม่ no, not
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ใส่ put something in; put on (e.g. clothes)
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ถุง bag (e.g. a plastic bag)
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ครับ polite word for men
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ถุง bag (e.g. a plastic bag)
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means a bag. ใส่ put something in; put on (e.g. clothes)
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means to add or put something. ไม่ no, not
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means "no" or "not". Thailand is flooded with plastic bags. Major shops stopped offering bags in 2020, but especially street food vendors still pack everything in bags. Please help reduce waste and reject bags whenever possible. 

Where is the toilet?

Women say: ห้องน้ำ toilet, bathroom
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อยู่ที่ to be at
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ไหน where; which
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: ห้องน้ำ toilet, bathroom
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อยู่ที่ to be at
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ไหน where; which
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ครับ polite word for men
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น้ำ water; liquid
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is water, so you are literally asking "water-room is where?"

Sorry/Excuse me

Women say: ขอโทษ excuse me; sorry
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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Men say: ขอโทษ excuse me; sorry
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ครับ polite word for men
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You normally say this when you did something wrong. It literally translates to "please punish".

No worries/everything is ok

Women say: ไม่เป็นไร That's all right / Never mind
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ค่ะ polite word for women
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(mai ben rai ka)
Men say: ไม่เป็นไร That's all right / Never mind
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ครับ polite word for men
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(mai ben rai krab)

Literally "Not is anything". You use this when people offer you goods and don't want them. You can also use it if someone bumps into you and asks if you are ok.

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Lingo Ninja Research Team
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