If you stay close to your resort's swimming pool you will be able to cheerfully communicate in English until your mouth goes dry. And, on the street in Chaweng or Lamai, the majority of Thai people you'll meet have learnt to get by with basic English. But everywhere else around the island the vast majority of Thai people don't speak the English language.
The phrases below serve two purposes. The first is to show the Thai people around you that you have made a small effort to learn a bit of their language. They like this. They will smile quietly at your clumsiness but will also appreciate your endeavours, particularly if you ask their advice on pronunciation and vocabulary.
The other reason is so that you can grunt a few words of the local language in those situations where you might really need to make yourself understood!
An English-Thai dictionary is a help - but then few people can really be that bothered to learn a new language for a 10-day holiday, and quite rightly.
Consider this as a realistic guide to 'getting by'. And it also is to your advantage if you are taking a 'songthiew' (open taxi-pick up) or are haggling for a shopping bargain! If you can speak Thai, then you are obviously not fresh off the banana boat.
The Thai language is based on different tonal variations of the same sound. There is no attempt to indicate this here. And if all fails, smile, wave your hands about and draw pictures in a notebook!
Example - a man will say - kop khun cap! A woman - kop khun kha!
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