Ever want to learn another language?
Ever want to try to get by while travelling through Bangkok/ Thailand, using only Thai?
Ever feel like you want to negotiate fixed prices with taxis or motorcycle taxis?
It’s never too late to pick up a language while you are travelling!
Sawasdee torn Chao (Good Morning!). It’s been a while since our article on the Thai Language. Our dear guests, travellers, backpackers and temporary visitors, welcome to Thai Lesson 102. We have more lingo tips to help ease your travels and boost your language skills. Besides, one of the best things about traveling is self-development whilst uncovering the unknown!
For some of you who are new to Chao Hostel’s blog, we will also include some terms and phrases from our previous article.
Ready to learn how to politely converse with the locals while moving about in Bangkok?
- Taxi Drivers – Greetings
Ever wonder why some taxi drivers won’t take you to a certain destination around 5pm? One of the major reasons could be that it is their usual time in which they have to turn in their cars on time, otherwise they will be also be penalised. Many less fortunate cab drivers in Thailand cannot afford to own their own vehicle and therefore relies on Taxi companies to provide them with the ride (depending on models, condition etc.) which could cost up to 1,200 baht a day!
Of course, sometimes they just don’t want to go to your place of destination in fear of traffic and again, the fear of not being able to return their car on time.
Nonetheless, here are some basic Thai that can help you with simple conversations with the local guys.
Hello: Sawasdee krub/ ka
- Transation: Hello + polite ending for men/ women
- Thai Karaoke Language: Sa-wat-dee krub/ sa-wat-dee ka
- Example: Sawasdee krub!
Do you speak English?: Khun Pood Pasa Ungkrit Dai Mai Krub/Ka?
- Transation: You (Polite) + Speak + Language + English + can/ do + question word + Polite ending word (male/female)?
- Thai Karaoke Language: Sawasdee krub! Khun Pood Pasa Ungkrit Dai Mai Ka?
I want to go to……: Pom (male)/ Di-Chun (female) + yark + Pai ……
- Translation: I + want + go ______
- Thai Karaoke Language: Pom Yark Pai ______
- Example: Pom Yark Pai BTS Sanam Gi-La ( BTS National Stadium Station, closest to Chao Hostel).
Will you go to….: Pai ______ mhai krub/ ka?
- Translation: go ______ (question word) + polite ending word (male/female)
- Thai Karaoke Language: P(h)ai m(h)ai krub/ ka
- Example: Pai Wat Phra Kaew (the Grand Palace) mhai ka?
- Directions: Other Key Words
Street = Thanon
Alley = Soi
Corner = Hua-Moom
Example: Pai Thanon Sukhumvit mhai krub? Pom Yark Pai EmQuartier.
Turn = Liew
Left = Sai
Right = Kwaa
Stop = Youd
Turn Left = Liew Sai
Turn Right = Liew Kwaa
On the left = Daan Sai
On the right = Daan Kwa
In front = Kang Nar
Behind = Kang Lung
On top = Kang Bon
- Counting in Thai
Counting in Thai is actually rather similar to counting in Chinese in terms of structure. Here, you will have to learn to combine the words that represent the numbers with one another.
1 = Neung
2 = Song
3 = Sam
4 = Sii
5 = Haa
6 = Hok
7 = Jed
8 = (b)Paed (To pronounce this one think of iPad, as 8 in Thai sounds like a drawn out version of Pad)
9 = Gao
10 = Sib
Now make sure you masters “Nueng” (1) to “Sib” (10) in Thai first before you engage the more complicated combinations.
**11 = Sib Ed
12 = Sib Song
13 = Sib Saam
14 = Sib Sii
15 = Sib Haa
16 = Sib Hok
17 = Sib Jed
18 = Sib Paed
19 = Sib Gao
**20 = Yii Sib
** 21 = Yii Sib Ed
** 22 = Yii Sib Song
30 = Saam Sib
**31 = Saam SIb Ed
32 = Saam Sib Song
Do you notice a pattern here?
That’s right, anything ending with “1” (11, 21, 31, 41, 51, etc.) and 20s are special.
Therefore, anything ending with 1 within the realm of two digits (11 – 99) will always end with “Ed”.
While on the other hand numbers in the 20s will start “Yii” instead of the generic “Song”.
So lets practice together, for example, as the starting price of all taxis (metered) are 35 baht, the best way to go about saying it in Thai is separate “the contents” of the number into sections.
3 – 10 – 5
Sam – Sib – Haa
= 35 !
Now you are getting the hang of it!
Now you may be thinking what about the hundreds, thousands and beyond? Well here are some examples:
100 = Neung Roi
** 101 = Neung Roi Neung
200 = Song Roi
300 = Saam Roi
400 = Sii Roi
And by now if you have mastered 1-10 in Thai you should be able to guess how to say 1 – 999 (e.g. “Nueng” to “ Gao Roi Gao Sib Gao”)
1000 = Neung P(h)un
10,000 = Neung Meun
100,000 = Nueng Saen
1,000,000 = Neung Laan
Once you’ve learned all these numbers, you will be able to navigate your way around Bangkok rather well. For example, “I want to go to Sukhumvit Soi 39 in Thai will be?
“Chun (Unisex) yark pai Sukhumvit Soi Saam Sib Gao”.
(please notice the use of the polite ending to sentences/ responses = Krub/ Ka)
Yes/ Correct = Chai + Krub/ Ka
That’s Possible (Affirmative)/ Can do = Dai + Krub/ Ka
Excuse me/ Sorry = Kor Tode + Krub/ Ka
Help! = Chuay Duay
It’s okay/ no worries = Mai Pen Rai + Krub/Ka
I don’t understand = Pom/ Di-Chun/ Chun + Mai Kao Jai + Krub/ Ka
Thank you = Korb Khun + Krub/Ka
Now the fun part, the negotiation of price (for fixed fares)
Rule number 1# – always try to go for the Taxi meter if the drivers are suggesting a ridiculous price for a short distance. To suggest them to turn on the meter:
Can you please turn on the meter?
- Transation: Help + Turn on + meter + can/do + question word + polite ending word?
- Thai Karaoke Language: Chuay Perd meter dai mai krub/ka?
However, sometimes, you may be in a desperate need to go to the airport and therefore may need to haggle a price down.
Expensive = Paeng
Cheap = Toog
Too (excessive) = Gern
Pai = Go/ Way
That’s too expensive!
- Transation: Expensive + Too + Go/Way
- Thai Karaoke Language: Paeng Gern Pai
If a cab driver says 500 baht after having responded to your request of end destination. To say a price you want, for example, 300-400 baht (usually an acceptable fare from the city to the Airport). You can politely suggest the number.
______ (this price) okay/ can do? = ______ Dai Mai Krub/Ka?
= ______ Okay Mai Krub/Ka?
300 baht okay/ can do? = Saam Roi Baht Dai Mai Krub/Ka?
= Saam Roi Baht Okay Mai Krub/Ka?
And if they refuse?
Example: No, Thank you (in the case of denying something) = Mai Pen Rai + Krub/Ka + Korb Khun + Krub/Ka
And of course, always remember to say “thank you” at the end of your trip:
(Men) Korb Khun Krub/ (Women) Korb Khun Ka
Remember It is never too late to learn something new, its one of the most essential parts of travelling. Happy practicing Thai and safe travels!