I’ve been in Thailand on and off for over a year now so I’ve picked up some (very basic) Thai. With two of my friends from New York City coming to Thailand in January 2020, I wanted to put together a guide of what I consider to be the words that every visitor should know. I find myself using these words almost daily so consider this list “must- know Thai phrases.”

Huge thanks to my friend Biw for helping me to translate and more importantly pronounce the Thai words correctly. If you have any Thai language questions for her, you can contact her on the Line app: BiwHuaHin_99.

BiwHuaHin_99 Line
Line: BiwHuaHin_99

Ka & Krup

From KnowPhuket.com

The important thing to know is that men say ‘krup‘ and women say ‘ka‘. So if you are a man you should say ‘sawatdee krup‘ and if you are a woman, you should say ‘sawatdee ka‘. You can add krup or ka to the end of almost any sentence to add a feel of politeness.

Hello : Sawadee

Thailand is the Land of Smiles so whenever you meet someone, the polite greeting is to say “sawadee+krup/ka” with your hands pressed together like the prayer emoji.

When I made these girls I said "sawasdeekrup"
When I met these girls in Hua Hin I said “sawadeekrup”

Toilet : Hongnam

If you plan on using the bathroom in toilet, this is one of the most important words that you’ll be using many times a day. 

Thank You : Kapkun

When thanking someone, you can also do the prayer emoji and say “kapkun+krup/ka.”

After Biw helped me with the translations and pronunciations I said “kapkunkrup”

Little : Nitnoy

I love saying “nitnoy” and it almost applies to any scenario referring to something little. Want sugar in your coffee? Nitnoy. Do you speak Thai? Nitnoy. Do you like me? Nitnoy. The opportunities to use this are endless, unless you’re referring to something big, in which case…

Big : Yai makmak

You can just say “makmak” and people will know you’re saying big. Want sugar in your coffee? Makmak. Do I have big biceps? Makmak. Do you like me? Makmak.

When I took my shirt off at the beach, Biw said “your shoulders are makmak”

Very drunk : Mao makmak

Most people in Thailand are either on vacation or retired which means there is a ton of time to spend at bars. If you see someone that is quite intoxicated, you can refer to them as “mao” (meaning drunk), and add “makmak” to say that they’re very drunk.

Foreigner : Farang

According to Into-Asia.com

Most European and American visitors to Thailand will quickly become familiar with the Thai word farang (often mispronounced (even by Thais) as falang – farang with a slightly trilled ‘r’ is the correct pronunciation.)

When I met Ploy (@chocoployz) I referred to myself as an ugly foreigner

Yes : Chai

Like the tea, the way you say yes is “chai+krup/ka.”

No : Mai

No rhymes with yes in Thai so “mai+krup/ka” instead of “chai+krup/ka”

Sexy : Sexy

Sexy is the same in Thai. How convenient! In USA, I’m not sure if you’re allowed use the word sexy anymore as the language police and moral grandstanders are everywhere but here in Thailand it’s a pretty common word, especially if you engage in any nightlife or dating activities. 

But Ploy surprised and delighted me when she said I was “sexy” (she actually said I was handsome but you get the point)

Delicious : Aroy mak

If you want to give your compliments to the staff at a restaurant, you can say “aroy mak+krup/ka.”

Excuse me : Ka toh

Did you accidentally bump into somebody? Do you need the check at a restaurant? Do you want to get someone’s attention? You can say “ka toh+krup/ka”

When I met this dogless girl I said, “katohkrup, would you like to borrow my dog?”

Repeat : Arehna

If you couldn’t hear somebody or just want them to repeat themselves, you can say “arehna?”

Check : Check bin

Need the check at a bar or restaurant? Just say “check bin+krup/ka.” According to ThaiLanguage-Learning.com

And the sounds ā€œLā€ from bill change to ā€œNā€ based on the rule of Thai language.

So there you have it. If you plan on visiting Thailand, this list of words should help you survive.

Thanks Biw!


Are there any important phrases that I missed?

Leave a comment or you can e-mail me adam@befreemysheeple.com. If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

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