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Language barriers?

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Language barriers?

Hi everyone,

I know this probably sounds completely silly!

We are travelling to Phuket in a couple of weeks- is there a massive language barrier, for example- if we go to restaurants, are we able to read menus/ talk to the wait staff?

Sounds completely silly I know!

First time out of australia- any tips?

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Patong
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4,372 posts
32 reviews
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1. Re: Language barriers?

You will have no Problem, things sometimes get lost in translation, but mostly ok. Most Resturants also have picture books

Just dont use too many works, get to the point without being rude, and you will havea great time.

EG, the dont need life story if you dont want say onions, just say " no want onions please"


Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Phuket
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2,085 posts
84 reviews
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2. Re: Language barriers?

Hi Danni,

As Michelle said keep it simple but we have never had a language issue in 12 trips to Thailand, try to learn a few simple words and they will love that.

Cheers, Pete

Sydney, Australia
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1,780 posts
102 reviews
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3. Re: Language barriers?

First time out of Aus - this will be an exciting holiday and may start an addiction! All those thousands of Aussie travellers every year can't be wrong - there is no language barrier, especially in a place so buzzing with English-speaking tourists as Patong. If you meet a misunderstanding, patience and smiling goes a long way. The important thing is not to get annoyed or impatient, as then a barrier may come up, but that is more cultural than language.

Chester, United...
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169 posts
16 reviews
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4. Re: Language barriers?

Don't worry.

Thai people are very friendly and welcoming.

You will be surprised how many Thai people in the tourist areas can understand and speak English. Many restaurants have photos of dishes and some form of translation.

I'm sure you will have no problems.

newcastle upon tyne
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10,346 posts
153 reviews
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5. Re: Language barriers?

English is widely spoken/understood in all the touristy areas. Off the beaten track, not so much.

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39,484 posts
206 reviews
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6. Re: Language barriers?

Definitely no problem in restaurants, most of the restaurants have both photos and the menu in English and as for shopping you'll see a calculator being pushed backwards and forwards with shrieks of " Lady No can do" it's all good fun.

Phuket, Thailand
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773 posts
58 reviews
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7. Re: Language barriers?

Most important, Always smile and be calm, as long as you smile you will have no problem, and as all the above post states: Don't use to many worlds, cut out all unnecessary worlds to keep it very basic.


Please can you hand me some tissue?

cut all worlds and only say "Tissue'


Where can I find the toilet? to long senetece, better to only use "toilet?" and a smile , and you will be surprised how easy everything gets. :)

Also I would say, the other way around.... speak slowly and clear to the Thai's so they can understand your English... then you will have no problem.

It can always be a good advise if you ask for direction to ask two different persons for an directions, in many cases when you ask for an direction they will give you a direction even if they don't know, its a culture thing.... they don't want to "hurt you" by saying they don't know, then better to give you and answer.

If you get a big smile and still no answer then that is another way for them to be polite if they don't know the answer.

Smile and you will have a great holiday in Thailand with few "funny" misunderstandings , and this is the things you will talk about when you are back in Australian!

Wish you an awesome holiday!!

Norfolk, United...
Destination Expert
for Chaweng, Ko Samui
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36,391 posts
349 reviews
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8. Re: Language barriers?

We have never ever had any issues. As suggested always keep questions simple and learn thankyou in Thai - its always welcomed by the Thais.

Always smile whatever!

Adelaide, Australia
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29 posts
24 reviews
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9. Re: Language barriers?

I took it upon myself to learn some basic thai words before I left on my trip to Thailand.

Even the basics will make negotiating directions, food, and destinations so much easier, and like everyone says keep it simple.

Toilet = Hong naam

Vegetarian = mang sa wi rat

Thank you = Khob khun Krub/ka (said by male/female)

not want thanks = mai Ow krub/ka (remember this one every time you get pestered for a taxi/suit/vacation club/etc. They appreciate you refusing politely)

Yes = Chai

No = Mai Chai

hotel = rong ram

Needless to say, you do not have to learn Thai if you dont want to, but, a few of these words said with a smile will make communicating a little easier for both parties and your experience more enjoyable, rather than feeling frustrated that they do not understand you well.

Hope this helped

Edited: 02 October 2013, 03:27
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85 posts
22 reviews
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10. Re: Language barriers?

If anyone stops beside you on a motorcycle and asks if you speak english. Just keep walking smile and say no thanks. Its someone trying to sell you timeshare. Have a great holiday.