500 Useful Common Thai Phrases For Travel

Every year, millions of people from around the world visit Thailand. Whether due to the lovely locals, wonderful weather, fantastic food or beautiful beaches, the country has long been a must-visit destination.

Cultural immersion is one of the many benefits of travel. Being in a different land, amongst different traditions is always a great experience. Language is one of the main cornerstones of this experience and of the culture, which is why learning Thai is such a useful skill for getting the most out of a stay in Thailand.

To get started, we have put together some common Thai phrases that will come in useful when travelling in the country. A total of 500 of them, in fact. But, before delving into the vocabulary, it is worth taking a look into what makes the Thai language tick.

History Of Thailand And Thai Language

Thailand is located in Southeast Asia, sharing borders with Malaysia, Laos, and Cambodia. Several different kingdoms called the region that became the Thailand that we know today as their home.

As you can imagine, they would all eventually fight amongst each other and with neighboring kingdoms such as the Burmese. Eventually, the Rattanakosin Kingdom was founded and continues to be in place today.

The Thai language has also had an interesting history. Like all languages, the path leading to what we know as the modern Thai language is long and confusing. Language is ever-evolving and is easily influenced, which is why many elements of Thai are taken from a variety of different sources.

Pali, Sanskrit, Mon and Old Khmer are amongst the biggest contributors to the vocabulary of the Thai language, while also shaping many elements of the alphabet and pronunciation. It is a part of the Kra Dai language family alongside the likes of Lao and Shan.

Meanwhile, the Thai script is thought to have been derived from the Khmer script and wad adapted to fit with the Thai vocabulary and grammar.

Thai Culture

From the food, to the language, to the people, the culture of Thailand is quite prominent in everyday life throughout the country, and is easily seen when first stepping foot in the country and interacting with a local.

For example, there are plenty of monuments to religious, historical, and mythological figures. These reflect the history of the country and the beliefs of the people. When they speak, you will hear the different accents and dialects of the different regions of Thailand.

Perhaps the best example of this is with the Isaan (northwest) region, which shares very close cultural ties with Laos. This is reflected in the food they eat and the way they talk. The South also has strong cultural traditions, being located at the border with Malaysia.

Politeness and social hierarchy are also held in high regard in Thailand. The use of different words and designated politeness particles are a testament to this. In some situations, you need to choose the right way to address someone, especially those higher in the social hierarchy such as your boss.

Buddhism is the most popular religion in Thailand. More specifically, Theravada Buddhism is practiced by close to 95% of the country (that’s around 66 million people). With this in mind, it is easy to understand why the religion has had such an impact on the culture.

Large beautiful temple compounds are dotted across the country, home to the millions of monks who are studying the way of the Buddha. If you wake up early enough, you may catch them walking through the cities accepting alms and saying prayers.

The proliferation of Buddhism can also be seen in the holidays celebrated in Thailand. There are three main buddhist holidays observed in Thailand. Songkran, the Thai new year celebration which itself often involves making merit at temples, is the biggest and most famous of them all, however. Many major western holidays are also celebrated, especially in the more touristy locations, though they are not always recognized officially.

Thai Language

The Thai alphabet is a unique script that consists of 44 consonants and 28 vowels.

Thai Consonants

When consonants are shown in Thai, they are usually shown with a word that starts with the corresponding sound. These are known as acrophonics.

Learn 44 consonants now.

Thai Vowels

In Thai, vowels can be split into two categories : short and long. The vowel length can be determined based on the character that is used.

Learn 28 vowels now.

Thai Sentence Structure

The Thai language follows an SVO structure. That means that sentences are composed of the subject, followed by the verbs, and ending with the object. This is the basic word order of Thai, but in some cases, elements can be moved around.

Particles are used extensively in Thai. These are short words that do not have any direct translation or meaning, but are used to convey emotion, mood, and politeness. These are generally placed at the end of sentences.

Thai Tones

Thai is a tonal language, much like Chinese or Vietnamese. Tones impact the way you pronounce words/syllables. More specifically, it affects the pitch of the word. For English speakers or speakers of any non-tonal languages, it is quite difficult to get used to this concept, but it can be done.

There are five tones in Thai: low, mid, high, rising, and falling. These are quite self-explanatory in how they work. You would speak with a lower pitch for the low tone, speaker normally for the mid tone, higher for the high tone, etc. It is much easier to grasp once you hear it in practice. Tone markers are used to show which tone is to be used, so looking at the written word will give you a good idea of how to say it.

Tips To Learn Thai Fast

Everyone wants to learn a new language, but very few people actually want to put in the effort. The unfortunate truth of learning Thai or any other language is that it requires a lot of time and effort. The reward for doing so, however, is priceless.

Saying that, there are some things to keep in mind and try out that can help speed things along. These will come in especially useful for those looking to learn some useful common Thai phrases for travel too. Here are a few tips on how to learn Thai fast:

Learn the tones early on. This is really important as, the longer you take to perfect your pronunciation with the tonal system of the Thai language, then the more you will need to backtrack and work on fixing your pronunciation of words. Starting on the right foot is a much more efficient way to go about it.

Focus on vocabulary. Got the tones and basic grammar rules down? The next step should be to increase your vocabulary. This is the quickest way to start communicating with others in the language. Sure, there may be some grammatical slip ups, but for the most part, if you are using the right words, your point should get across.

Be smart about your learning. There is a reason why a lot of emphasis is placed on common Thai phrases. The very fact that the phrases are common means that they will be used often, so learning these phrases will be the most useful for those starting out or looking to travel with some knowledge of Thai.

Best Apps For Learning Thai While Traveling In Thailand

Apps are the latest and perhaps greatest tool in the language learner’s repertoire. What better option is there than something you nearly always have access to, offers a multimedia experience, and is powerful enough to provide engaging experiences. This is, of course, referring to mobiles, but also extends to tablets, laptops and desktops.

For learning Thai, there are many great options available whether you are using an Android or IOS device. Here are a few examples that each offer a different utility when learning the language.

Ling

Using gamification, Ling makes language learning more exciting. Instead of reading book after book, you are taught and tested on your knowledge through a range of different challenges, quizzes and dialogues. Get instructed on grammar, pronunciation and more thanks to the chat bot feature that walks you through real conversations. Audio clips are provided by native speakers, meaning you are hearing authentic voices.

Ling is the all-around app that is designed to get you from beginner to advanced level without getting too boring.

Simply Learn

Simply Learn is the travel phrasebook that enables you to get around with ease and learn nearly 2000 common Thai phrases. Through a combination of voice samples, pronunciation tips and spaced learning techniques, you can quickly find what you need and make sure you are understood. You can customize your experience based on your needs, making the app fit for any purpose.

If you are off on an adventure, be sure to keep Simply Learn by your side.

Vocly

What Vocly brings to the table is the ability to build up your vocabulary in a given language. Through fun and engaging mini games, you can practice words from a variety of topics using a mixture of images, sounds and writing. Reminders can also be set to ensure you keep up your language learning regime to give you the best chance of success.

If you are focused on vocabulary, then Vocly should be your go-to.

Write Me

The purpose of Write Me is self explanatory: learn, improve, and master your writing skills. Languages like Thai use a unique writing script that can be difficult to get your head around, but with Write Me, you will be walked through every stroke of each character to help you recognize and write out the characters.

When you are learning to write, Write Me is the best option.

500 Common Thai Phrases for Travel

Open a list of 500 common Thai Phrases for Travel.

Originally published at https://ling-app.com on August 25, 2020.

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