What is better than a warm greeting from a friend? It is great to hear them say hello after a long day at work. Wouldn’t it be even better if strangers also gave you a kind greeting? That is why it is so important to learn to greet people before you leave for your travels.
Learning to say ‘hello’ is just as important as learning to say ‘thank you’ as you will be saying it to everyone you meet. Here are a few words and phrases that you can use to make the best first impression and bring a smile to peoples faces.
How to Say Hello in Thai
So let’s start with a basic ‘hello’. This is what you would use everyday when meeting people:
The word for ‘hello’ is sa wat dee.
Males: Sa wat dee krap (สวัสดี ครับ)
Females: Sa wat dee ka (สวัสดี ค่ะ)
As you can see, things are a bit different from English. As we learnt before when we looked at the Thai language, there are polite words that apply based on the gender of the speaker. Other than that, it should be quite easy to remember. It can be used in place of good morning, good afternoon and good evening too. Were you worried that Thai would be difficult?
Now is probably a good time to introduce the wai. The wai is the action of putting your hands together and lifting them up to your face, most commonly when saying hello and goodbye. You are not expected to do this all the time. If someone does it to you then that is probably the time to do it.
Of course, there are other ways you can greet people, depending on your relationship and how close you are with them.
Different Ways to Greet People in Thai
If you are getting tired of saying ‘Sa wat dee’ to everyone, you can try mixing it up a little with these alternatives.
Sa bai dee reu (สบายดีหรือ)
While this means ‘how are you?’ which usually comes after the hello, you can just start things off by asking this.
Pen yang ngai bang (เป็นยังไงบ้าง)
This is a much more informal greeting — closer to ‘what’s up?’ — that should only be used between friends. You would sound really cool saying it though.
Some of these greetings are best used in certain situations, so make sure you remember the best times and places to use them. When in doubt, you are probably best to stick with the regular hello, especially if you think you might cause offence, However, I’m sure whoever you are talking to will be shocked that you are able to greet them beyond the basic ‘hello’.
Unfortunately, with every ‘hello’ there is a ‘goodbye’. These are just as important as greetings as it lets them know that you are going. If you were worried that it would be a complicated phrase that you would need to remember, then good news. To say ‘goodbye’, you use the same words as ‘hello’.
Goodbye in Thai is ‘Sa wat dee’
I am sure you are happy to hear that you don’t need to worry about mixing the words up. There are other ways to say goodbye too. Again, these are dependent on the situation you are in.
Laew phob gan mai na (แล้วพบกันใหม่นะ)
This one is a bit of a mouth full. It translates more like ‘see you again’ and so is more light hearted.
Laa gon (ลาก่อน)
This one is best used when you will not see the person for a long time, if ever again. It is quite a sad thing to have to say.
The Best Greetings for the Right Situations
So, there are the many ways to greet people and say goodbye in the Thai Language. It shouldn’t be too difficult to learn and get used to. You will be saying them a lot, after all, as Thai people are very kind. Just make sure you remember those polite words and you should be fine.
To fully prepare yourself for your travels or work abroad, you can use the Ling Thai app. Try it today to push yourself and practice the language. You should feel more confident to use you new found Thai skills.
Originally published at simplylearnlanguages.com on April 1, 2019.