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You can live in Thailand without speaking Thai and do just fine if that is your choice. Many ex-pats communicate with their local friends and co-workers by using English, whether out of preference or necessity, but others don’t bother learning the language at all.
If you take this approach, be prepared to stick to specific ex-pat communities, which is the only way to communicate with many people in Thailand.
You may want to consider learning some useful Thai phrases to help with your daily life.
No matter what language you use to communicate, Thai people will be pleased to see that you are making an effort to learn their language.
Many speak English well, but it is always polite and respectful to say hello, thank-you or goodbye.
Learn some basic phrases (watch the video below):
It is not necessary to be fluent before coming to Thailand. If you make an effort to learn a few words and phrases, you will already be well ahead of most people who come here.
The alphabet is not difficult to learn, and once you can read the letters, pronunciation is easy. There are four primary dialects as with any language, but standard Thai is spoken throughout the country.
Do they speak English in Thailand?
You will find English speakers all over the country. It is not the same everywhere, but most cities and towns have at least some English speakers. Thai is the official language of Thailand, but many people speak English in some professional or business circles, including retail shops and restaurants.
There are also some provinces in Thailand where most people cannot speak any English at all.
In some regions, a few people can read and write English well. In most cases, Thai people will learn a little English from attending a university or college.
Before going on holiday to a place you do not know, we recommend that you plan your trip beforehand to make sure that you can speak English there.
Can you live comfortably in Thailand without knowing any words or phrases?
It depends on where you live. If you live in a big city or close to one, you will find English speakers, so it is easier to get by with just English.
In more rural areas of Thailand, no matter what part of the country you go to, we recommend that at least some basic Thai phrases and words be learned before going on holiday.
Do I need to speak Thai to go to Thailand?
Not really. There is considerable diversity in languages spoken across Thailand, and many people speak English even outside the main cities.
Large parts of Central Thailand (such as Bangkok) are home to many speakers of Mandarin Chinese, and other parts such as Chiang Mai are home to many other languages such as Burmese, Vietnamese and Indonesian.
Most people in the tourism industry speak English, and you can usually get by speaking English.
However, most Thais will appreciate it if you learn a few (very few) words of Thai even if speaking in English or another language.
The most significant advantage is that you will be seen as more humble in their eyes, which makes people in Thailand friendlier towards you.
Is it hard to learn the thai language?
A foreigner who has lived and worked in Thailand for more than a few years will need to speak and understand at least enough of the language to get by.
English-speaking foreigners living in Thailand can usually manage essential communication with ordinary Thais if they are patient and are willing to make an effort.
That’s because Thais, in general, appreciate and admire people who want to learn their language and will usually go out of their way to help foreigners speak it well enough to get by.
However, many foreigners in Thailand either don’t bother or aren’t interested in learning enough language to get by with everyday communication.
Understandably, foreigners coming to Thailand for a holiday may not be eager to learn the language.
Those working in Thailand without learning any Thai run into problems because they cannot communicate effectively with Thais, especially if they do not speak English.
If you plan on staying in Thailand for more than a few years, learning to speak at least rudimentary Thai is essential.
Do they speak English in Bangkok?
English is widely spoken in Bangkok for business and tourism. The locals are very used to tourists, and most of them can speak English.
Bangkok is considered one of the most accessible places to travel around because there’s no language barrier like in many other countries.
Do they speak English in Phuket, Thailand?
Many people in Phuket speak English. You can expect to find that most people working in the tourist industry will understand you and communicate with you on some level. However, this does not apply to everyone, so it is always good to have a phrasebook for emergencies.