If you’re travelling, being willing to communicate in a native tongue is a great way to come across as a more attentive traveler and learning how to greet and say goodbye is the first step. If you are traveling to Thailand or interested in the Thai language, you will find greetings in Thai unique in many ways.
Greetings in Thai has a slight variation based on whether you’re a man or a woman. The tone of the greeting can be emphasised to show more enthusiasm. In addition, the Thai wai is a way of greeting those in more formal, respectful or serious situations.
Whilst this greeting is pretty much all you need to know how to speak, there is another component of greetings in Thai which is an essential component of Thai etiquette.
The wai is almost like a method of shaking hands in Thai. The wai is a gesture that resembles a prayer. You simply put your hands together in front of you and tip your torso slightly forward. The height at which you hold your hands dictates the level of politeness of the wai and/or the social status of the person you are greeting.
This is a way of greeting someone of higher social standing, or a way of offering a more sincere hello, goodbye or apology. You may see this mostly in temples where monks greet each other in silence with a wai.
Common Greetings in Thai
Saying ‘Hello’ in Thai
In Thailand, there is only one frequently used way of saying hello and as a traveller, this is the only greeting you’ll need to learn. Regardless of whether it’s day or night, this greeting will get you by just fine!
The written phrase to say hello in Thai is Sawasdee Krab/Ka. The ending Krab/Ka depends on your own gender, not the gender of the person you’re speaking to. Krab is for men and ka is for women.
- In Thailand, men say hello with the following phonetic phrase: sah wah dee khrap! (short and sharp finish)
- Women say hello with: sah wah dee khaa… (drawn out finish)
In the male version of hello, the emphasis is on the khrap which is usually punctuated sharply. The khrap part usually ends up sounding more like kap and more enthusiasm indicates more friendliness (like in any language really!).
In the female version, the khaaa is usually drawn out and descending in tone. A more drawn out and enthusiastic khaa signifies greater enthusiasm and friendliness.
How to say ‘How are you?’ in Thai
Even though sawasdee ka/krab will suffice in most situations in Thai, sometimes it’s nicer to actually state that it’s nice to meet someone. Stress the underlined sections if you can!
Yindee Tee Dai Ruejak Krab – Male
Yindee Tee Dai Ruejak Ka – Female
How to say ‘Thank You’ in Thai
Whilst Sawasdee Krab/Ka is an all-mighty greeting that can be used almost universally for hellos, thank you has a few more variations. The basic variations are still simple to learn, though.
Khorb Khun Ka is a women’s way of saying ‘thank you’ in the usual circumstances and for men it’s Khorb Khun Krup. The same tone for the end male/female component of the phrase applies.
On occasions, you might hear a slightly longer phrase “Khorb Khun Na Ka” or “Khorb Khun Na Krup”. This is mainly just to make the phrase roll of the tongue.
If you want to add a ‘very’ to the phrase, like thank you very much, then you simply add in the word mark. For women, it’d be “Khorb Khun “Mark” Na Ka” and for men it’s “Khorb Khun “Mark” Na Krup”. Once again, the na is optional and is added in to make the phrase phonetically smoother.
So what about a simple ‘thanks’? You should only use this if you’re confident that you’re close to someone. Thanks is simply Khorb Chai Cha and this is the same regardless of gender.
Saying ‘Goodbye’ in Thai
A standard ‘bye’ is the same as ‘hello’ in Thai, so simply Sawasdee Krab/Ka.
If you’re not expecting to see someone again then a more serious goodbye is Laagorn Krab/Ka.
If you want to say something a bit more, like ‘thank you for today’, then you can say Khobkhun Samrab Wan-nee Krab/Ka.
Take care is a slightly longer phrase, ‘DuuLae TuaAeng Dee Dee Na Krab/Ka’.
See you again is ‘Laew Phop Kan Mai Na Krab/Ka’
A shorter ‘see you’ is ‘Pai Laew Na Krab/Ka’
I’ll be back is ‘Laew Ja Maa Mai Krab/Ka’
Greetings in Thai are simple as you can see! There’s nothing much to stress over here, just remember the wai, it’s a great way to show respect to Thais in any situation. Overall, Thai is a very easy language in terms of its greetings. There is only one you need to know and it’s used for hello and goodbye at any time of day! Make sure you understand the Thai wai too and you’ll be good to go!
Check out more articles on saying hello and goodbye in different languages: