Asia | Asia

15 beautiful Thai words (and how to say them)

Recently updated on April 30th, 2024 at 03:02 pm

One of the best parts of travelling is learning a new language! And if you’re heading to Thailand, you’re in luck – the Thai language is one of the most charming in the world. It’s a tonal language, and although it can be difficult to learn, there are so many melodic Thai phrases you’ll just love to practice. From the classic Thai greetings to meaningful phrases, here are 11 of the most beautiful Thai words to learn before you visit Thailand.

A woman with a straw hat walks away from camera, toward a Thai temple while huge pillars line the sides of the walkway.

1. สวัสดี – Sà-wàt-dee

Pronounce it like this: Sa-wot-dee

Meaning: Hello. This is probably the first word you’ll hear when you arrive in Thailand and the first you’ll learn. It’s such a warm and beautiful Thai word and you’ll feel welcomed every time you hear it. 

Tip: Remember to say ‘kha’ or ‘krup’ after saying “Sà-wàt-dee”, depending on whether you are a man or woman. If you are a man, you’ll say “Sà-wàt-dee-krup”, and for a woman you’ll say “Sà-wàt-dee-kha“.

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2. สบายๆ – S̄bāy s̄bāy

Pronounce it like this: Sabai sabai

Meaning: This is also another very common phrase you’ll love to hear and use on your Thailand trip. It means “I’m feeling good” or “Take it easy”. If someone asks you “Sabai dee mai?” (How are you?), you can reply “Sabai sabai”, meaning you’re feeling fine.

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A fisherman casting a net while wearing a straw hat, standing in the middle of a body of water on a canoe.

3. ไม่เป็นไร – Mai bpen rai

Pronounce it like this: My pen ry

Meaning: This is one of the most beautiful Thai words and the “Hakuna Matata” of Thai. It means “it’s okay”, “never mind”, “it’s nothing”, or “it’s not a big deal”… Basically, it means no worries and you’ll feel all your troubles float away as soon as you hear it.

4. คิดถึง – Khit thueng khun

Pronounce it like this: Kit-toong kun

Meaning: I miss you. You can say this to someone when you miss them… Or just say it out loud whenever you’re missing Thailand after your amazing trip!

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Three boy monks laughing while leaning on a baby elephant, which is lying down on the forest floor.

5. จริงๆ – Jing-jing

Pronounce it like this: Jing-jing.

Meaning: This is used when you’re being earnest. It is similar to “Really!” or “Seriously!” or “I’m telling the truth!” and you use it when you really mean something.

6. ชีวิตชีวา – Chee-wít chee-waa

Pronounce it like this: Chee wit chee waaa

Meaning: Energetic or full of life. This is one of the best Thai phrases and it’s made up of two words – “chee-wít” meaning “life” and “chee-waa” meaning “lively”. The whole phrase sounds so peppy and definitely gets us in touch with our spirited side!

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A tribal woman with a traditional neck ringlet smiling while playing a small guitar.

7. จุ๊บบบบ – Júp júp

Pronounce it like this: Choop choop

Meaning: Kiss kiss! This is one of the cutest and most beautiful Thai words. It’s the sound that a kiss makes and you can say this to your lover, your baby, your puppy. For example, “Rák ná júp júp” means “I love you, kiss kiss!”

8. สวย – Suay

Pronounce it like this: soo-I.

Meaning: Beautiful. You can use this to describe anyone or anything you think is beautiful. And if you hear some say “suuaaay” to you, it means they think you’re beautiful! 

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A woman dances in traditional Thai dress, adorned with green, red and yellow colours.

9. ไว้ใจ – Wái jai

Pronounce it like this: Why jy

Meaning: You can say this when you trust someone or have faith in them. “Wái” means “to keep” and “jai” means mind, heart or state of mind. So when you say “Wái jai kăo”, it literally translates to “I keep my heart with him/her”, meaning I trust or have faith in him/her. How sweet!

10. ช้าๆหน่อย – Cha-cha-noi

Pronounce it like this: Cha-cha-noy

Meaning: You can say this when you want to do something slower or slowly. This lovely Thai phrase will definitely come in handy when you’re speaking the language in Thailand, as you can say “Put cha cha” which means “Speak slowly”. 

Two monks rowing a boat through water in Thailand.

11. คิดว่า – Kít wâa

Pronounce it like this: Kit-wa

Meaning: To think something. This beautiful Thai word is said whenever you think of something. For example, you could say “Chan kit-wa hyu kow”, which means “I think I am hungry.” And in that case, you better head to the nearest restaurant for some tasty Pad Thai!

RELATED CONTENT: 13 yummy street food dishes you must try in Thailand

Even pragmatic words sound beautiful in Thai. Here are some more practical phrases you can use to help get around Thailand.

12. ขอโทษครับ Kor tot

Pronounce it like this: Kor-tot

Meaning: Excuse me. This is a good way to sorry, or to get someone’s attention. Use this for getting a waiter’s attention, or if you accidentally bump into someone.

13.  ผมไม่เข้าใจ – Mai Khao Jai 

Pronounce it like this: my-cow-jai

Meaning: I don’t understand. Very handy when you’re stuck in a social interaction with someone who is talking fast at you. Pair it with the previous ‘Kor-tot’ for a polite way of expressing that you’re struggling to understand them.

A tuk tuk in the golden hour sun in Bangkok.

14. หฺยุด/ไป – Yut / Bpai

Pronounce it like this: Yoot / Bye

The next few phrases are super useful for when you’ll inevitably use a tuk tuk to get around. Impress your driver by directing them in Thai, telling them to stop (yut) or go (bpai).

15. คิดว่า – Hai Chah Long

Pronounce it like this: high-cha-lom

Meaning: Slow Down.

This will come handy if your tuk tuk driver is blasting at top speed and you want them to slow down.

Learning how to speak Thai

Two women in a boat are smiling and laughing, holding each other in their arms.

Learning the Thai language can be a daunting task, as it uses five tones to differentiate between otherwise identical words. So not only do you need to learn how to pronounce the words, but you’ll also need to learn their proper tone, otherwise the locals may not understand what you’re saying. And don’t get us started on that beautiful, yet enigmatic, Thai script!

But don’t worry – the Thai people are famously friendly and they’ll appreciate any attempts you make at speaking their language. Even if you don’t get it right every time, the locals are happy to communicate with you, and learning some Thai phrases will make your trip so much more enriching. You’ll likely have some memorable encounters with the locals and you’ll get a real insight into the Thai culture. Plus, people are always more helpful when you bring out a please and thank you in their mother tongue. Remember, a cheery “Sà-wàt-dee” (hello) and a smile goes a long way in Thailand. 

If you want to learn some Thai phrases and words before you go, a great resource is Thai-Language, where you’ll find accurate pronunciations and translations in English. You can also listen to Thai radio stations to get a feel for the Thai tones and common words, or get on Youtube to discover some wonderful Thai musicians and sing along! 

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Treasures of Thailand

Do you know any beautiful Thai words? Let us know in the comments below…

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