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Speaking with Thai peple

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How will you be understood by locals during your trip in Thailand ?

Thai is the official language but Thailand is a very toruistic country so you will not have any difficulties to find someone who speaks English (except in really remote areas). So if you speak a little English, you should have no trouble to make yourself understood while traveling in Thailand. No need to be perfectly billingual, just know how to ask for directions, order food, book a room... I still advise you to learn some thai phrases and basic words or use smartphone apps to speak or translate Thai for you (see below).

The Thai language

Thai language is very different from our Western languages. It has sounds and intonations that we often have many difficulties to differentiate and reproduce but also a specific alphabet. Thai sounds are quite different from those to which we are used to and the language is based on 5 different intonations which can radically change the meaning of a word and can in some cases mean the opposite. Grammatically Thai is a fairly easy language. Thai alphabet is composed of symbols with curves and spirals. It contains 44 consonants and 32 vowels, but some are obsolete. In short, you'll understand that learning Thai language is far from easy!
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Learn some Thai before leaving

It is highly appreciated that a tourist arriving in Thailand knows a few thai words to greet and thank for instance. I give you some expressions that if you make the effort to use, should trigger the famous Thai smile and an even warmer welcome. Note that in Thai, men end their sentences with the word 'krap' and women with 'kha'.

Some useful thai words for your trip

Salutations / Greetings

Hello / Good bye
Sawasdee
How are you ?
Sabaïdee maï ?
My name is Jean
Chew Jean
Nice to meet you
Yin dee tee daï rou djak

At restaurant

Menu, please
Khô meniu noï
Iwill order pad thai
Khô pad thaï noï
How much does it cost ?
Raka tao raï
Check bin, please
Check bin na
Water
Naam
Beer
Bia

Ask for directions

Where is ... ?
... you ti naï ?
I want to go to ...
Yak paï tee ...
Does this bus go to Chiang Mai ?
Rot mae nee paï ti Chieung Mai maï ?
Does this train go to Chiang Mai ?
Rot faï nee paï ti Chieung Mai maï ?
Bangkok
Krungthep

Some useful thai verbs

to have
mi
to be (someone)
pen
to be (somewhere)
you
eat
khin khao
want
yak
go
paï
love (something)
chop
love (someone)
rak

Numbers

1
neung
7
djet
2
song
8
bèt
3
saam
9
gaao
4
sii
10
sip
5
haa
11
sip èt
6
hôk
20
yi sip
Say sip for 10, add 4 in front of it to say 40, 3 for 30 ect... And the unit figure after.
If you want to learn more, look these few Thai language lessons in video

Some smartphone applications to speak Thai or understand Thai :

  • SpeakThai

    Free application listing many sentences in Thai situation by situation and can tell them for you (iOS)
  • Walen Thai

    Free application to learn the basics of the Thai language and Thai alphabet (iOS / Android)
  • iTranslate

    Free application translating into more than 90 languages including Thai and providing quality translations (iOS / Android)
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