In Thailand, the visitors might need to learn a skill to order food in Thai. Thai food is one of the most popular in the world. There are many restaurants in tourist areas mostly will understand English to an extent, learning the Thai words and phrases will really open more opportunity to try the local cuisine in a more authentic and likely cheaper way. You will enjoy learning Thai and get to eat delicious food both at restaurant and local food area around Thailand.
Below are some important words and phrases you need to know when you go to eat in Thailand.
Ending word makes phrases more polite
If you are males, you end your sentences with the word (krup/krap) . Similarly, if you are females, you end your sentences with the word (ka). Those ending words make your sentences or questions more polite and respectful.
How to say ‘I would like’ to order in Thai
Ao – means I would like /Want
Ao un nee = I’d like to have this one.
Ao un nan = I’d like to have that one.
Mai ao = I don’t want
The Food flavors in Thai
Here are the words for some of the flavors.
Khem – Salty
Wan – Sweet
Ped – Spicy
Khom – Bitter
Bpriao – Sour
How to order street food in Thailand
Thai street food is often displayed openly, allowing you to see the dishes being prepared. Spend some time observing the food stalls and the dishes they offer. Look for stalls that are popular among the locals, as this is usually a good indication of the quality and taste of the food. Take note of the dishes that appeal to you. Approach the food stall and engage with the vendor. If they don’t speak English, it can be helpful to have some basic Thai phrases or keywords to assist you. You can start with a simple greeting like “Sawasdee khrub/ka” (hello) and then point to the dish you want to order.
If you have any specific dietary preferences or restrictions, communicate them to the vendor. For example, if you’re a vegetarian, you can say “mai sai nuae” (no meat). Thai people are generally accommodating and will try their best to cater to your needs.
Once your food is ready, the vendor will let you know the price. Pay the vendor in Thai Baht, and they will give you your order. Some stalls may have seating areas where you can enjoy your meal, while others may be takeaway-only.
Remember, street food in Thailand can be spicy, so if you’re not accustomed to it, you can request milder flavors or ask for chili sauce on the side. Enjoy the experience and savor the delicious flavors of Thai street food!
To order grilled pork on skewers or fried meat/fish balls from the street cart:-
Ao nueng/song/sarm mai krub/ka. = I’d like one/two/three skewers, please.
Ao nueng/song/sarm chin krub/ka. = I’d like one/two/three pieces, please.
Ao kao neaw duay krub/ka. = Can I have sticky rice, too?
Ao kao neaw nueng toong duay krub/ka. = Can I have one bag of sticky rice, too?
Nueng = one(1) ; Song = two(2) ; Sarm = three(3)
Kao Neaw = sticky rice ; Duay = also, too ; Toong = bag ; Chin = piece ; Mai = stick, skewer
To order noodles
- Pom kor sen yai moo nueng tee/charm. = May I have one (nueng) set (tee) / bowl (charm) of wide rice noodle (sen yai) with pork (moo)? “Pom” represents I for men.
- Dichun kor sen lek gai nueng tee/charm. = May I have one set/bowl of small rice noodle (sen lek) with gai (chicken)? “Dichun” represents I for women.
- Pom kor sen mee luke chin pla nueng tee/charm. = May I have one set/bowl of thin rice noodle (sen mee) with fish balls (luke chin pla)?
- Dichun kor ba mee moo dang nueng tee/charm. = May I have one set/bowl of red barbeque pork (moo dang) egg noodle (ba mee)?
- The noodles can be served in soup (guay teow narm) or dry (guay teow hang).
- Pom kor Pud Thai sai Goong. = May I have fried noodles with shrimps?
- Dichun kor Pud Si Iew Moo. = May I have fried wide rice noodle with Chinese broccoli and pork? The word “Pud” in Thai means to fry.
- Moo = pork ; Gai = chicken ; Goong = shrimp/prawn ; Poo = crab ; Kai = egg.
Some rice dishes to order:- “Kao” = Rice
Kao Pud Gaprao Moo sai Kai = Rice and stir fried pork with holy basil and chilies, plus fried egg on top.
Kao Pud Poo = Fried Rice with crab.
Pud Prik Gang Moo/Gai = Pork/ chicken stir fried in red curry paste with holy basil.
Kao Moo Dang = Red barbeque pork on rice.
Kao Mun Gai = Chicken meat on rice with spicy ginger sauce.
Narm Pla Prik = Chilies in fish sauce, as one of the condiments to go with rice dishes.
Som Tum = Spicy papaya salad. Don’t forget to say “Mai Ped” for “not spicy”.
Visitors can ask what is most delicious here by saying “Arai aroy tee soot?”
Arai = what ; Aroy = delicious ; Tee soot = most
To order some Thai fruits;
Sub-pa-rot = pineapple ; Tang-mo = water melon ; Ma-muang = mango
Ao (sub-pa-rot) nueng/song chin krub/ka. = I’d like one/two pieces of (pineapple).
Ao (ma-muang) nueng/song luke krub/ka = I’d like one/two whole (mangoes).
The word “chin” is used when asking for a piece of fruit or food and “luke” for any whole, round food item such as a whole mango or a steamed bun/dim sum
Thai restaurant phrases
Here are some common Thai phrases that you may find helpful when dining at a Thai restaurant:
Sawasdee krub (for males) / ka (for females) – Hello/Goodbye.
Khob khun krub/ka – Thank you.
Ga-ru-na krub/ka – Please.
Nee arai krub/ka? – What is this?
Aroi mai krub/ka? – Is it delicious?
Pood passaa ang-grit dai mai krub/ka? – Do you speak English?
Chorp krub/ka – I like it.
Mai ao krub/ka – I don’t want it.
Khor Sung ahan krub/ka – Can I order, please?
Nee ahan arai krub/ka? – What is this dish?
Ao krub/ka – Yes, please. Mai ao krub/ka – No, thank you.
How to order drinks;
Ordering drinks in Thailand is just as important as ordering food, especially in the hot climate. You can use the word “ Ao (want/would like) at front of your Thai sentences before order. For example,
Ao cha yen krup/ka means “I want iced tea please”. Some common drinks are Cha yen for iced tea with milk and sugar,
Ao cha thai yen krup/ka means “I want Thai iced tea please.”
Ao cha dam ron krup/ka means “ I want hot black tea please.” This is not mixed with milk and sugar
Kafae yen for iced coffee with milk and sugar.
Ao kafae dam ron krup/ka means “I want black hot coffee please.”
Nam som for orange juice, and Bia for beer. You can also add Mai sai nam tan if you don’t want sugar, or Mai sai nam kaeng if you don’t want ice.
Ao nam plao krub/ka – Drinking water ,please
Ao nam ma plao krub/ka – Coconut water, please.
Ao nam ad lom krub/ka – Soda drink, please
How to order food online in Thailand
Here are several popular food delivery platforms in Thailand, such as GrabFood, Foodpanda, Robinhood, Lalamove and Lineman. Visit their websites or download their mobile apps from Google Play Store or the App Store. You must sign up for an account on the selected food delivery platform. You will typically need to provide your name, phone number, and email address. Some platforms may require verification through an OTP (One-Time Password) sent to your phone number. The platform will use your location to show nearby restaurants that deliver to your area.
Explore the available restaurants and browse through their menus. The menu is all available in English , while you have to choose language . You can search for specific cuisines or dishes to narrow down your options. Many platforms also provide user reviews and ratings to help you make informed decisions. Once you have chosen a restaurant, select the items you want to order. Add them to your cart and specify the quantity or any special instructions, if needed. Some platforms also offer customization options for certain dishes. When you are ready to proceed, click on the “Place Order” or similar button. You may need to confirm your order and select a payment method.
Online food delivery platforms in Thailand usually offer various payment options, including cash on delivery (COD), credit/debit card, or digital wallets like GrabPay or Line Pay. Select the payment method that suits you best. After placing your order, you will typically receive a confirmation message with an estimated delivery time. Many platforms provide real-time tracking, allowing you to monitor the status of your order and track the delivery driver’s location. Once your food arrives, check the order for accuracy. Pay the delivery driver if you have chosen the cash on delivery option. Enjoy your food !!
Thai words for food
Here are some common Thai words related to food, that are used daily life for every Thais ;
Kao – Rice
Kao nieow – sticky rice
Guay tiao – Noodles
Pat – Stir-fried
Gaeng – Curry
Tom – Boiled/Soup
Tot – Fried
Yum – Salad
Gai – Chicken
Kai – Egg
Nuae – Beef
Goong – Shrimp
Pla – Fish
Bpet – duck
Ahan ta lay- Seafood
Phon la mai – Fruits
Ka nom – Snacks/Desserts
Nam – Water
Nam kaeng – Ice
Kao pat- Fried rice
Kao kai jieow song kreuang – Pork omelet on rice
Kao man gai – Hainanese chicken rice
Kao na bpet – Roast red duck on rice
Pad Thai – Pad Thai
Kao soi- Khao Soi
Ba mee moo daeng – Egg noodle soup with red roast pork
Guay-dtieow pat kee mao – Drunken noodles
Gaeng kiaow wan – Green Curry
Gaeng Daeng – Red curry
Gaeng massaman – Massaman Curry
Tom yum – Tom yum curry
Som tum – Papaya Salad
How to say spicy or no spicy in Thai ;
To indicate how spicy you want your dish, you can use the word Ped, which means “spicy”. For example, Gaeng khiao wan ped noi means “green curry with little spicy”. Some common words for spiciness are Ped mak for very spicy, Ped pan glang for medium spicy, and Mai ped for not spicy.
How to say Take away in Thai
Sometimes when stopping to buy at the street food stall, the vendor would ask if is for take away or to eat at the shop:-
Gin tee nee – To eat here
Sai glong /Sai Toong – To take away (box/ bag)
Tarn tee nee – To eat here
Ao glub baan – To take home
Tarn = polite word for eat ; Gin = eat ; Tee nee = here ; Glong = box ; Toong = bag ;
Glub = to return ; Baan = home
Expression Thai words after eating
Aroi – Delicious , you can Mak (a lot/ very ) to make it stronger like Aroi mak – very delicious
Aroi dee – Yummy , Aroi dee mak – very yummy
Sot – Fresh , you can use Sot to compliment the freshness of the ingredients, especially for seafood, fruits, and vegetables. For example, pla sot mak– The fish is very fresh.
Hom – Fragrant /smell good. This is a word that you can use to compliment the aroma of the food, especially for dishes that use herbs and spices. For example, Gaeng khiao wan hom mak – The green curry is very fragrant.
Khob khun sam rap ahan aroi aroi krab /ka – Thank you very much for the delicious food. This is a polite and formal way to show your gratitude to the person who cooked or served the food.
How to ask for your bill ?
There is a Thai simple phrase that you can use that works no matter where you are in Thailand: Kor Check-bin Duuai krub /ka, meaning: “Can I have the bill, please ?” The staff will understand that you would like to receive the check or bill to settle your payment.
There is not much of a tipping culture in Thailand. If you were to eat at a local Thai restaurant, tips would not be expected. However, when your change is brought back to you, some will leave the coins or notes as a small tip of usually 10-20 baht per person. Anyhow, it would be very high appreciated if you tip some baht for services in Thailand.
Remember, exploring Thai cuisine is part of the adventure when visiting Thailand. If you have a lit bit knowledge of Thai language, it would be very helpful to communicate with local people. Enjoy the flavors, try new dishes, and immerse yourself in the vibrant culinary scene of this wonderful country. Smile and embrace the Thai concept of “sanuk”: “Sanuk” is a Thai term that translates to “having fun” or “enjoyment.