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How to Say Cute in Thai

how to say cute in Thai


Want to know how to say “cute” in Thai? Just like in English, the Thai word for cute can be used both with people you find attractive as things, animals and children.

The Word for Cute in Thai

The word for “cute” in Thai is น่ารัก and it consists of two parts.

น่ารัก naa rak cute

The 2nd part: รัก (rak) means “to love.”  You can read more about love talk in Thai here.

The 1st part: น่า – is placed in front of certain words to express that the target is worthy of or looks good to (eat, drink, watch, etc). Have a quick look at the examples below to get an idea how it works:

  • น่าไป (naa ppai)- looks like it’d be worth going to (if someone shows you a picture from a trip they took you might say this)
  • น่ากิน (naa gin) – looks good (for food)
  • น่าดู (naa duu) – looks like it would be worth watching or fun to watch

If you follow the above pattern, then น่ารัก (naa rak) ends up meaning something like “worthy of loving/love.”

how to say cute in Thai


How to Say Someone/Something is Cute in Thai


how to say cute in thai


Cute vs Beautiful in Thai – น่ารัก vs สวย (naa rak vs soo+ay)

This is tough to answer in any language as everyone has a different idea of how these two concepts differ. “Cute,” tends to be used with young or seemingly young people and big-eyed, round-faced, puffy-cheeked and/or fluffy people, animals or things.

People will use น่ารัก to describe attractive men or boys, but not สวย.

น่ารัก can also be used to describe someone’s actions. For example, if a man buys a woman flowers for Valentine’s Day, or surprises a girl with a birthday gift, girls might respond with ขอบคุณนะ น่ารักจัง “thanks, that’s so cute.” Here they are referring to the act rather than the person.

Cute Items and Objects

Objects can both be called น่ารัก or สวย. Clothing, shoes, bags and the like can all be described using these words.

If you are talking about views, nature and most large naturally occurring things, you need to use สวย. A mountain, a view or an ocean can be สวย, but not น่ารัก. There are exceptions, of course. If someone drew a face on a small rock, for example, that could be น่ารัก.

Can’t Read Thai?

Learning to read the Thai script is the fastest and easiest way to understand the fairly complex sound system that the Thai language uses. It is the single most important part of learning to speak Thai well. It requires a 10-20 hour time investment to grasp everything you need to know, but until you learn those things, your Thai will forever be severely handicapped.

How to Say Sorry in Thai

When saying sorry in Thai, the words you should use will depend on the person you are speaking with and your relationship, age and status relative to them.  Until you’ve learned to navigate that, just stick to this expression:

ขอโทษ ครับ/ค่ะ (khaw thot + khrap/kha)

  • ขอ (khaw) – is used in Thai as please in the sense of asking for something from someone
  • โทษ  (thoht) – means to punish

Even though Thai people don’t think of it this way, it’s a fun mnemonic to think of saying sorry as “Please punish me.”

Saying Sorry in Thai – Polite

When speaking to people with higher status

Higher status means bosses, elders, people in respected positions.  It will also include people like your partner’s or friend’s parents.

When apologizing in Thai to people of higher status, you should say the standard phrase introduced above, but in many cases, it’s also a good idea to include a wai.  If you really messed up, this is a good way to defuse a tense situation.

ไหว้ [wai] – the wai is when you put your hands together in prayer-like position and it may or may not include a slight bow. The position of the hands in relation to the face/head as well as the deepness of the bow convey differing levels of respect.

What to say:

Saying Sorry in Informal Thai

to friends and partners


If you’re fairly close to someone (and this can happen fast), you don’t need to use the polite gender particles ครับ/ค่ะ .  The need for politeness drops off considerably at this level of intimacy.  If you aren’t sure, use it for the first few sentences and then you can tone it down or phase it out over a longer conversation.

When you need to apologize for small stuff:

  • ขอโทษนะ – sorry
  • โทษที – my bad
  • ขอโทษจ้ะ – sorry *the จ้ะ is mainly used by women

If you did something really bad or offensive and/or feel really awful about it, you want to express your apology a bit stronger.

  • ขอโทษจริงๆ – I’m really sorry
  • ขอโทษมากๆเลย – I’m very sorry

How to say Sorry in Formal Thai

This expression is very formal and not normally used in conversation, but you’ll hear it in public announcements, when you call someone on the phone and it doesn’t connect, on the BTS or other public transportation,  and you’ll find it written in signs.

  • ขออภัย – We’re sorry (for public announcements and signs)
    • ขออภัยค่ะ เลขหมายที่ท่านเรียกไม่สามารถติดต่อได้ในขณะนี้ – We’re sorry, the number you are calling can’t be reached right now.
    • ขออภัยค่ะ ขบวนรถเกิดความล่าช้า เนื่องจากอยู่ในระหว่างจัดการจราจร – We’re sorry, the train is delayed due to traffic between stations.

Saying Excuse Me in Thai

Luckily, we can use the same expression, ขอโทษ, for both “sorry” and “excuse me” in Thai.


  • ขอโทษครับ คุณชื่ออะไร – Excuse me, what’s your name? (male speaker)
  • ขอโทษค่ะ ห้องน้ำอยู่ไหน – Excuse me, where is the bathroom? (female speaker)

Saying Sorry in Thai on Social Media / Chat / Texting

There tends to be a big drop in formality/politeness in Thai when chatting online.  However, when talking on message boards seen by a lot of people, many people will still be fairly polite and often use the polite gender particles.  When chatting with your friends on Facebook or Line, it’s not usually necessary.

  • โทษที (thot thee)- sorry *sometimes intentionally misspelled as โทดที
  • โทษๆ (โทดๆ) –  sorry
  • โทษนะ (โทดนะ) – sorry (the นะ gives it a softer, gentler feeling)
  • ซอรี่ – sorry (from English)

Saying Why you are Sorry in Thai

Often times, just saying sorry isn’t enough.  You may want to specify what you are apologizing for.  Here are some examples of different situations.

The pattern is simple enough:

ขอโทษ + ที่​​​ ​+ whatever I did wrong

sorry + for + whatever I did wrong / or whatever happened

*You can switch out ขอโทษที่ … for โทษนะ ที่ … to get a more intimate/informal version of this pattern to use with friends.

  • ผิดนัด – Showing up for an appointment late
    • ขอโทษที่มาสาย – Sorry for coming late.
    • ขอโทษที่มาช้า – Sorry for coming late.
    • ขอโทษที่ผิดนัด – Sorry for missing (our) meeting/appointment
    • ขอโทษที่ทำให้รอ – Sorry for making you wait.
  • ทำผิด – Having done something wrong
    • ขอโทษที่ทำอย่างนั้น – Sorry for doing like that
    • ขอโทษที่ทำแบบนั้น – Sorry for doing like that
    • ขอโทษที่พูดแบบนั้น – Sorry for saying (something) like that / Sorry for talking like that
    • ขอโทษที่ทำผิด – Sorry for doing (something) wrong
  • If you want to apologize for not doing something:
    • ขอโทษที่ไม่ได้โทรไป – Sorry for not calling (you)
    • ขอโทษที่ไปไม่ได้ – Sorry that I can’t go.
    • ขอโทษที่ไม่ได้ซื้อของขวัญให้ – Sorry for not buying you a gift.
    • ขอโทษที่ลืมวันเกิด – Sorry for forgetting your birthday.

How to Say “I didn’t mean to.” in Thai

ไม่ได้ตั้งใจ – I didn’t mean to. / I didn’t intend to.

  • ตั้งใจ – to decide *when used with a verb, it shows intention
  • ไม่ได้ + VERB – I didn’t VERB
    • ไม่ได้ไป – I didn’t go.
    • ไม่ได้ทำ – I didn’t do (it).


How to Say Sorry in Thai for Things you Didn’t Cause

When you feel bad about something that happened to someone else, such as a death in the family, you’ll use a different phrase.

  • เสียใจ
      • เสียใจด้วยนะ
      • เสียใจนะ
  • เสียใจด้วยนะที่เลิกกับแฟน – Sorry that you broke up with your gf/bf
  • เสียใจด้วยนะที่สอบไม่ผ่าน – Sorry you didn’t pass the test.
  • เสียใจด้วยนะที่หมาตาย – Sorry that your dog died.


Embarrassing Day at the Market

Wet Market

Wet Market

Here’s another short real story from a native Thai speaker. In this one, a girl goes to the market with her mother and something embarrassing happens.

อาย – to be shy; to be embarrassed
ต่างจังหวัด – out of town (lit. to go to another province)
แวะ – to stop by somewhere for a short time
More Vocabulary and Notes

วันนั้นเรากับแม่กลับบ้านที่ต่างจังหวัดโดยขับรถไปกัน พอไปถึงก็เช้าพอดีแม่ก็หิวข้าวแล้วปวดฉี่มาก เลยไปเข้าห้องน้ำและแวะไปตลาดเช้า พอไปถึงก็มียายคนนึงขายพวงมาลัยนั่งอยู่ แม่เราก็ซื้อพวงมาลัยแล้วฝากเค้าเอาไว้เพราะต้องกลับมาทางเดิม ยายแกก็ทำท่าอึกอักๆเหมือนจะพูดอะไรแต่ไม่พูด ด้วยความที่แม่หิวก็รีบไปหาซื้อกับข้าว ขนมเพื่อที่จะเอากลับบ้านมากินกัน เราก็คอยเดินตามหลังแม่ก็เห็นมีแต่คนมองแม่เรา เราก็ไม่คิดอะไรเพราะคิดว่าเค้าคงไม่คุ้นหน้าแม่เลยมองปกติ พอขากลับแม่ก็กลับไปเอาพวงมาลัยก่อนขึ้นรถ ยายที่ขายพวกมาลัยก็บอกกับแม่เราว่า”หนูไม่ได้รูดซิปนะลูก” แม่เราก็อายมากเพราะเดินไปทั่วตลาดแล้วและแม่ค้าส่วนใหญ่จะนั่งขายของคือระดับสายตาจะอยู่ตรงเป้าเลย แม่เลยถามยายว่าทำไมไม่รีบบอก แต่ยายแกบอกว่า”ยายเห็นหนูรีบเลยกะว่าค่อยบอกทีหลัง” เรากับแม่ก็ขำกันใหญ่ ที่คนมองกันทั้งตลาดเพราะกางเกงในแม่เป็นลายสีแดง

  • คง
  • อาย
  • พอไปถึง
    after arriving
  • พวงมาลัย
    flower garland
  • ขำ
    to laugh
  • รีบ
    to hurry
  • บอก
    to tell
  • ฝาก
    to store; to deposit
  • All Done!

Birthday Facial

Here’s a funny high school story in Thai. I recommend trying to read through the parapgraph a couple of times before clicking through to the document with vocab and sentence pattern explanations.

ตอนนั้นกำลังเรียนอยู่มัธยม คือที่โรงเรียนช่วงเช้าๆ ชอบมีบูธมาแจกของขนาดทดลอง พวกขนม ของต่างๆ จำได้แม่นเลยวันนั้นไปซื้อเค้กให้เพื่อนเลยมาโรงเรียนสายเพราะคือถ้ามาสายกว่า 8 โมงจะต้องถูกทำโทษหน้าโรงเรียน วันนั้นก็มีบูธมาเหมือนเดิม พี่ๆเค้าก็รีบแจกของมาให้เยอะแยะเพราะด้วยความที่โรงเรียนจะเข้าแล้ว เราก็รีบเข้าโรงเรียนมากเพราะกลัวโดนทำโทษ นี่ก็รีบหยิบแล้วไปเข้าแถว พอถึงบอกพักเที่ยงเป็นวันเกิดของเพื่อนในกลุ่มพอดี แล้วมีการเล่นเอาเค้กป้ายหน้ากัน ทุกคนก็หน้ามันกันหมด ลืมตากันไม่ได้เพราะครีมเค้กเปื้อนกันทุกคนแต่ไม่มีใครเอาโฟมล้างหน้ามาเลย เราก็นึกได้ว่า เออเมื่อเช้าได้โฟมล้างหน้ามาเยอะ ก็แจกเพื่อนๆ ไปล้างหน้ากัน ทุกคนก็ล้างหน้ากันเสร็จ เพื่อนๆบอกหอมคือเย็นสบายหน้ามาก จากนั้นทุกคนก็หันหลอดนั้นมาสรุปแล้วมันคือยาสีฟัน จังหวะที่ทุกคนรู้ว่ามันคือยาสีฟัน เพื่อนคนนึงวิ่งออกมาแล้วบอกว่า”มึงมันไม่ใช่โฟม มันคือยาสีฟัน!!” ตอนนี้ก็ขำกันหมดเพราะใช้ล้างหน้ากันไปทั้งกลุ่มแล้ว

Funny Story: Hungry

First, try to read through the paragraph a couple of times.  Don’t worry about words you don’t know.  Just focus on figuring out what’s happening based on what you do know.  Guess the rest.  After you’ve gone through it, go into the google doc, check the meanings of the words you didn’t know and then read it 2 more times.

Google Doc Breakdown

เวลาขึ้นรถตู้ถ้าจะลงระหว่างทางต้องบอกคนขับตอนใกล้ถึงจุดที่จะลง คนขับจะได้ชะลอรถและจอดให้


นึกถึงอาหารหลายอย่าง ทั้งข้าวมันไก่ ข้าวเหนียวหมูปิ้ง แล้วก็ส้มตำแซ่บๆกับข้าวเหนียวไก่ย่าง



เลยตะโกนออกไปเสียงดังว่า “ก๋วยเตี๋ยวต้มยำด้วยค่ะ” แทนที่จะบอกว่า “เซนทรัลลาดพร้าวด้วยค่ะ”


Do Farang even Shower?

Here’s another quick Thai reader.  It’s a Thai person’s quick thoughts on showering habits of Thai vs Farang.  Try to read it here first a couple of times without any help.  Skip words you don’t understand and just see if you can work out what’s happening.  After a couple of passes, go to the doc and try again in the gdoc reader: Do Farang even Shower? 



คนไทยชอบอาบน้ำ ส่วนใหญ่จะอาบน้ำวันละสองครั้งคือตอนเช้าและตอนเย็น ถ้าอากาศร้อนมากๆอาจจะอาบอีกครั้งตอนบ่ายๆด้วย

ถ้าได้ยินว่าฝรั่งอาบน้ำแค่วันละครั้ง หรือหลายๆวันครั้ง จะตกใจมากเพราะไม่เข้าใจว่าทนไม่อาบน้ำนานๆได้ยังไง ทำไมไม่รู้สึกว่าตัวเหม็นและสกปรก

หรือถ้าฝรั่งไปเที่ยวบ้านคนไทยแล้วใส่รองเท้าเดินในบ้าน ก็อาจจะโดนดุเอาได้

ใส่รองเท้าออกไปเดินข้างนอกแล้วเข้ามาเดินในบ้านพื้นจะเลอะ ควรถอดไว้นอกบ้าน

เรื่องที่คนไทยไม่ชินอีกอย่างนึงคือการใช้เท้าชี้หรือเขี่ยสิ่งของ เพราะคิดว่าเท้าเป็นของต่ำจึงไม่สุภาพที่จะใช้แทนมือ


Sentence Patterns:

  • มีหลาย _____ – There are a number of/a bunch of  _____
    • มีหนังหลายเรื่องที่อยากดูกำลังจะเข้าโรง – There are a bunch of movies I want to see about to come out.  
  • ทำ (SOMEONE) ให้ รู้สึก SOMETHING
    • แฟนทำให้เราน้อยใจนิดนึงที่ไม่ได้พาไปญี่ปุ่นด้วย – my gf/bf made me feel a bit bummed because he/she didn’t bring me along to Japan.
  • วันละครั้ง – once per day
    • ออกกำลังกายอาทิตย์ละกี่ครั้ง – how many times a week do you exercise?


In this video, Night tells about her internship.


B: เออ ! โอเค ไนท์ ขอเล่าให้ฟังหน่อย เอ่อ.. ตอนนี้เราฝึกงานอะไร
N: ฝึกงานที่เครือข่าย เฮด ไอ วี อีท อะค่ะ เป็นกองทุนโลกอ่ะค่ะ เป็นของ เค้าเรียกไอเน็ต เค้าจะเรียก
B: ไอเน็ต คืออะไร ?
N: ไอเน็ต ก็คือ เดี๋ยวนะ ชื่อมันยาวอ่าจำไม่ได้
B: อ่าวหรือ International อะไร อะไร พอ (หัวเราะ)
N: อืม อะไรประมาณนั้นแหละค่ะ และก็ มันจะแบบเหมือนกับเป็นเครือข่ายมี 3 ศาสนา ก็มี พุทธ คริสต์ อิสลาม ไรอย่างเงี๊ย ใน ใน ในที่ ที่ทำนะคะ เค้าจะมีแกนนำเป็นประสานงานกับทั่วประเทศอ่ะค่ะ แต่แบบเนี่ย ตั้งที่เชียงใหม่ที่เดียวนะ แบบที่ศูนย์มันจริงๆ เซสเตอร์จริงๆ อ่ะ ก็นอกนั้นก็เป็นแบบ ถ้าตามต่างจังหวัดก็เป็นแบบวัด เป็นอะไรอย่างเงี๊ย
B: แล้วได้ทุนจากที่ไหนเนี่ย
N: กองทุนโลกอ่ะค่ะ
B: โอเค
N: อืม ก็เพราะว่าเป็นเกี่ยวกับเอดส์ด้วยรึเปล่าไรเงี๊ย แล้วมันเป็นที่แรกที่แบบว่าเป็นศาสนามารวมกัน เพราะว่าที่จริง มุสลิม อิสลาม เค้าจะไม่มารวมกับนี้นะ เค้าจะแบ่งนะ เค้าจะถือนะ แต่แบบ คืออยู่ด้วยกันได้อะไรอย่างเงี๊ย อืมนั่นแหละ ก็มีไปเวิร์กช็อป ก็มีไปคุยกับคนเป็นเอดส์บ้าง แล้วก็แบบ เหมือนกับถามว่าเป็นยังไงบ้าง ก็คือให้เค้าแบบมีคุณค่าอะไรอย่างเงี๊ย เพราะว่าพวกที่เค้าเป็นมีเชื้อนะคะ เค้าจะแบบว่า มีแบบ เค้าเรียกว่า อืม ! ยังไงอ่า แบบรู้สึกว่าตัวเองไม่มีค่า มีปมด้อย อยากฆ่าตัวตาย หรือไม่ก็ประชดโดยการที่แบบไปแพร่เชื้ออะไรอย่างเงี๊ยไง เราก็ต้องทำให้เค้าแบบมีคุณค่า แบบ เชลเอสตีม (Self Esteem) อะไรอย่างเงี๊ยอ่าค่ะ แค่นี้แหละค่ะ บ๊าย บาย
B: โอเค แต๊งกิ้ว

5 Practical ways to learn Thai without feeling overwhelmed

For most people, learning a foreign language like Thai is an exciting prospect. Who doesn’t want to travel to an exotic country and be able to chat freely with locals? Who wouldn’t want to discover a new culture and potentially share new experiences that would otherwise be impossible without learning a foreign language? If you ask them, most people like the idea of a acquiring a second language.

But the excitement, wonder, and novelty of the idea can wear off quickly for the few brave souls who actually decide to learn a new language. At first new language learners often feel like they make quick progress. They get a few new words and basic phrases under their belt and they’re floored that their speaking the language.

However after a week or two they start to run into some of the first real hurdles of language acquisition. If you’re learning Thai these are likely to be the language’s tonal system, foreign grammar, or the alphabet and script. Faced with these obstacles many start to see the immense challenge of learning a language and resign themselves from the adventure. In the end they simply feel overwhelmed and quit.

Others might not quit, but they think that the language is too difficult because they don’t have the right course or method. Unfortunately this isn’t usually the case. There are some great Thai learning courses out there. However, at the end of the day courses and methods can’t fully remove the difficulty of learning a language.

In this post we’ll look at five practical tips you can use when the Thai language feels overwhelming. Yes learning Thai is no walk in the park, but if you stick with it you might surprise yourself.

  1. Give yourself a daily but limited study time
  2. Far more important than how long you study, is how often you study. Cramming a week’s worth of study into a massive four hour session will never be as effective as simply spending 15-20 minutes studying each day. Make Thai a part of your daily routine, and don’t be afraid to limit your study time.

    I personally like to set a timer when I study (especially if I’m working on something particularly difficult). Once the timer goes off I stop what I’m doing, even if I’m in the middle of a lesson. This allows me to compartmentalize the difficult parts of the language. Even though I’m working through something extremely difficult I know that once the timer goes off I can drop it.

    This takes a lot of the pressure off. I don’t feel like I HAVE to spend hours grinding over a particular grammar point or pronunciation exercise. I can certainly spend more time in the language if I want, but the timer gives me the freedom to forget about whatever I’m working on until the next day.

  3. Focus on one part of the language at a time
  4. A foreign language will seem intimidating if you look at it all at once. The grammar, the vocabulary, the pronunciation, the skill and practice it takes to correctly use it all…it’s a lot to take hold of. Make the process more manageable by breaking the language down into small bite sized parts (ever heard the saying “how do you eat an elephant”?

    Focus on one grammar point, one group of vocabulary words, or one sentence pattern to practice. Once you’re comfortable with that specific part of Thai, move on to another one. It’s this sort of step by step approach that will keep you from getting too stressed out. It’s all about perspective really.

  5. Add some variety to your learning
  6. There are four aspects of learning Thai (or any language for that matter): reading, writing, speaking, and listening. While you may want to focus on studying a single part of the Thai language, you don’t have to limit yourself to doing so in one particular way. Use the four aspects of the language to bring balance and variety to your study routine.

    I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re learning a group of new vocabulary words. For the sake of this example we’ll say you’re learning the basics of how to talk about yourself (job, hobbies, where you live etc). You could spend some time working on your pronunciation with a site like Forvo using those new words. You could use your Thai course or book to practice your reading. Finally you can practice everything with a native Thai speaker, either in person or through a free online language exchange.

  7. Set small goals each week
  8. If your only goal is to be fluent in Thai you’re in for frustration. It certainly can be your ultimate goal, but you should work your way their via a series of smaller trackable steps. Set smaller goals for yourself that can be quickly achieved to build and maintain momentum in your studies. This works great if you’re breaking the language into smaller parts like we recommended in tip number two.

    Each week look at what you plan to study and make a small goal associated with it. Going back to our example from earlier, if you’re learning how to talk about yourself; you could set a goal of having a short conversation (5+ minutes) with a native speaker at the end of the week. This type of goal is challenging but it’s not so challenging that it’s overwhelming.

  9. Focus on speaking good Thai not perfect Thai
  10. If you’re a perfectionist you’re going to struggle with language learning. It’s simply not possible to speak a language perfectly without a lot of trial and error. You can’t just learn from a Thai course or grammar book. You will have to fumble your way through conversations with native speakers.

    When you practice your spoken Thai don’t beat yourself up about mistakes. Mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process. Success in speaking Thai depends both on your ability to correctly pronounce and string together the sounds in a way that a native speaker can easily understand as well as your ability to understand what people are saying to and around you. If you want to get fluent, you’ll really need to spend time mastering the sound system.

    Think of mistakes as the stepping stones to speaking fluently. They are definitely not obstacles.


With all this talk about how hard it can be to learn a language, it’s easy to forget how fun it can be. If you stick with it, learning Thai is nothing short of an awesome (and sometimes crazy) adventure. Following these tips will help you focus on the positive and enjoyable parts of language learning, while helping you overcome the more difficult ones. It takes a bit of work to get there, but if you spend a bit of time everyday doing the right kind of practice, you’ll get to the fun part in no time.

How to Eat Vegan in Thailand

People often wonder how I could possibly ever survive here in Thailand as a vegan. Considering I’ve been here well over 10 years and I still haven’t died, I think I’m doing fairly well. There is veggie food all around you, and I’m not just talking the salad shops that have sprung up in the last 2 years or. There are tons of veggie spots in town. On Suthep road alone, there are 3 lined up in a row each doing their own thing and there are 3 more down back roads within 5 minute walking distance from the first 3.

There are 2 main types of veggie eats in Thailand and while they both avoid meat entirely, there are a some important differences.

Jeh versus Mung

มังสวิรัติ [mung sa wi rut] comes from the Sanskrit mamsa, which means “meat” and virat which means “without.” So this is essentially an acceptable translation of “vegetarian.” As with in English, some people may or may not eat eggs and/or dairy.
เจ [jeh] comes from the Chinese word 齋 (jai1/jaai1) which is also the source for the equivalent words in Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

If you happen to be reading this in October, then you are in luck, my friend. This is when the Vegetarian Festival (เทศกาลกินเจ) happens. During that time almost everybody gets on the jeh train for a bit. Some people eat jeh for the entire month, the entire 10 day festival, and most franchise restaurants (Black Canyon, MK, etc) offer at least one jeh option, but some actually have a full jeh menu during the festival. The only downside is that a lot of regular jeh restaurants don’t really do anything special during this time except get a lot more crowded than usual and in some cases raise their prices. Yay for jeh.
As far as the food goes, the main difference between Jeh and Mung is that real Jeh forbids eating food with really strong flavours and/or smells as it is believed that each one does harm to different parts of the body. This includes stuff like chives, garlic, parsley, and onions.

So what does all this mean for you? Real Jeh food will always be vegan. But, you need to be careful as some jeh places will have 1 or 2 Mung options which may contain egg. And even though jeh avoids really strong flavours, it can still taste pretty awesome. They often make all kinds of fake vegan meats to help ease the suffering of all those poor meat eaters who torture themselves by abstaining from me for a meal, a day or the entire vegetarian festival.

What are my choices?

  • Jeh – Technically vegan, but watch out for those handful of places that will have one or 2 dishes with egg. Jeh spots will almost always have one or more yellow flags posted both inside and out. The flag will either say เจ, the Chinese character the word is based on or both. They often use a Chinese-y font so sometimes the word เจ looks a bit like the number “17”.
  • Mung(sawirat) – Vegetarian w/eggs. As far as things eaten with rice, dairy is pretty rare, but pastries and other sweets sold at Mung places may contain butter, cream and/or milk.

What do I do if I can’t find a jeh place?

Some regular restaurants may attempt to accommodate you or at least make you think they are doing so.

Avoiding Animal Products:

More than anything else, you’ll want to watch out for oyster sauce.  Vegetable dishes at regular restaurants will almost always be cooked with oyster sauce. Oyster sauce is dark, oily and gummy. And it comes from oysters! If you don’t want it in there, you gotta say so. You’ll know if it’s not in there, because they will probably only have used soy sauce and vegetable oil. So it may be bland, but vegan.
Solution: ไม่ ใส่ น้ำ-มัน-หอย (mai sai nam-man-hoi) – Don’t put in oyster sauce.

Fish sauce is another standard ingredient in a lot of (almost all!) Thai dishes.
Solution: ไม่ ใส่ น้ำ-ปลา (mai sai nam-plaa)
Soup broth – At non-jeh places, even if they say there isn’t any meat in it, it will still have meat stock so skip the soup.

Thai Dishes that usually Contain Egg:

  • ข้าวผัด – fried rice (khaao pad)
  • ผัดไทย – pad thai
  • ผัดซีอิ๊ว – pad see-yu

Notice the word ผัด (pad) appears in all 3 of the words above. ผัด = stir-fried/sauteed

How to say “Don’t put egg in”
ไม่ ใส่ ไข่ (mai sai kai) = don’t put in egg

Even if you ask for something jeh, they don’t always really know what that means so you are better off making it as clear as possible.

Full Sentence: เอา ข้าวผัด เจ ไม่ใส่ไข่ (ow kaaw pad jeh mai sai kai) – I’d like fried rice (jeh) without egg.

First thing you want to do is find out if they are willing to try to make you something jeh/mung. And just because they tell you they can, doesn’t mean they aren’t going to forget and give you something wish oyster sauce or fish sauce. Aside from being a tonal language, Thai also contains a whole lot more vowel sounds than English and when you say the vowels wrong, people probably won’t understand you. Be patient with them as you are the one who needs something from them and may not be able to
speak their language.

I remember this one time, a buddy of mine ordered a bottle of water and got a coconut, so watch out friends, watch out.

Look for the yellow flag!

How to Make Friends and Get Free Language Practice

My friend Jeremy, who also happens to be my counterpart in Vietnam, is here to offer you some tips on how to get good at a language. He’s in the process of writing a book about his experiences which you should definitely check out. See if you can’t pick him out of the photo below. – Brett

I’m probably one of the worst language learning students ever. I never study. I’ve never bought a textbook. I hate flashcards. In highschool, I got caught cheating in French class and almost got kicked out of the class.

It’s not just that I’m cheap, it goes beyond that. I’m sure I could benefit a lot from using an online tool such as iTalki or something like that, but it’s just not my style.

See, I’ve never thought of myself as a language learner. Rather, I’ve always thought of myself as a culture chameleon, a traveler who makes friends with the locals and blends into the local culture as much as possible.

Despite my stubbornness when it comes to language learning, I’ve had some successes. Despite never being able to remember any conjugations, I can now sing in French. I can’t name a single Vietnamese grammar book, but I can perform stand up comedy in Vietnamese.

After living in Vietnam for ten months, I got “famous” after going on a few Vietnamese TV shows. But, I’m not here to talk about that, because I don’t care about being famous.

What I do care about is learning the local language, and I truly believe that it can make your experience living in a foreign country feel like home. Thailand and Vietnam are very similar countries, yet they do have some differences. Okay…I’ll say what you’re thinking, “Thailand and Vietnam are same same, but different.”

Anyways, here are my top tips on how to befriend locals and learn a language for free.

Always make the effort
This goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyways: you need to make a conscious effort day in and day out. You get out what you put in, that means you need to be putting in the work every day. This can be as simple as sparking up a conversation with a stranger or reviewing your new vocabulary words, but you’ve got to do it.

Write in a notebook
Hopefully you recognize the necessity of learning to read Thai. If not, well….good luck. I strongly recommend carrying around a notebook wherever you go. You can use your phone if you’d like, but a notebook is better.

Write down new words as they come, and when you interact with locals, ask them for help. Sometimes, that may mean asking them to write down the words for you. Other times, it may mean having them go back and correct your spelling mistakes before.

Having a notebook on you at all times sounds like a hassle, but it’s simple. Find a small one that fits in your pocket, or even fold it in between your wallet. If you have a purse, put it inside. That way, whenever you have a few minutes waiting in line, instead of checking Tinder, you can review some vocabulary from your notebook.

Live local
“I got so much better at Thai from hanging out at all the expat bars”, said no one ever.

If you want to improve your Thai, do as the Thai do. Go to a gym where nobody speaks English. Eat out on the street. This will not only improve your Thai, but it’ll give you an overall better experience. Plus, you’ll make more friends, understand the culture more, and you’re language skills will improve drastically.

Be brave
Practicing a language you are not confident it can be intimidating. But, once you get over the fear, you’ll see that it’s not so bad. Ask yourself about the worst case scenario. When you play it out, you’ll realize it’s not so bad. It’s probably just an awkward conversation where no one understands each other. That’s not a big deal at all.

Start off conversations in Thai, not English. Even if your Thai sucks, if you open up with English, then people will respond to you in English. If you start in Thai, they’ll be more likely to respond in Thai (which is what you want). Even if they respond in English, you can continue speaking in Thai. If they’re confused, just be polite and tell them, “Excuse me, I want to practice my Thai.” 9/10 people will be delighted and happy to help you.

If not, that’s okay, you just have too…
Find Your teachers and return frequently
Not every 7/11 worker is going to want to help you with your Thai. But, a few will, and those are the ones you need to remember. Once you find someone that’s willing to help you with your Thai and have conversations with you, keep going back to their store/restaurant. Not only will they continue to help you with your Thai, but you’ll build a relationship as well and become friends. It’s okay to make social visits and stop by to say hi and practice Thai. Think of them as a friend and after some time, you’ll feel like you’re apart of the community.

Use body language
The more you can use your hands and emotion, the better. If you don’t know the word for shower, play charades and pretend like you are taking a shower. This will make it a game, and once you communicate that you are going to take a shower, you’ll hear your conversation partner say the word for shower. This is a great way to learn new words and communicate words you don’t know. It’s also hilarious and a good skill to have.

Mimic Them (even if you don’t understand)
When you’re talking with locals, you need to listen and repeat as much as possible. Even if you’re not sure what they’re saying, just repeat after them. This will improve your accent and also improve your overall comprehension for the language. It’s also great to confirm what you just heard, and it improves your chances or remembering it.

You may not realize it, but as you do this, your subconscious picks up everything you say and hear. When you repeat after them, you’re also flexing the muscles in your mouth that allow you to have a good accent. Once you learn the word and it’s meaning, it will be easier to remember. It sounds weird at first, but think of a child mimicking its parents. It’s completely okay to say a word without knowing its meaning. Just be careful not to hang out with people who swear a lot!

Smile, Have Fun, and Flatter
Don’t approach people with the intention of learning five new words. Instead, have a goal of having fun. Once you do this, you’ll learn more than you could ever imagine. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If no one understands each other (trust me, this will happen), try not to get frustrated. Instead, just smile.

Don’t be afraid to flatter them with compliments. It’s a lot easier than asking questions, because you usually won’t be able to understand their responses anyway. Instead, just tell them they are beautiful. Tell them their food is delicious. Tell them you love Thailand, etc. They will love you for this. Being a foreigner in SE Asia is fun, don’t forget that by taking language learning too seriously.

Go In Order
If you’re just getting started, learn words and phrases in an order that makes sense. Don’t learn colors and then learn the days of the week. Start with the practical stuff. hello, how are you, thanks, see you again, etc. Seek out simple people and engage in simple conversation. It’s that simple!

Get Out There And Practice

Remember, language learning isn’t all or nothing. This may sound like a lot, but it’s up to you how often you practice and how intense your approach is. You don’t have to spend four hours a day talking to old ladies selling pad thai (though, those can make the best memories).

If you’re taking lessons or have a tutor already, then use these strategies on top of your weekly class. Do it on your own time. If you’re living in Thailand, opportunities are just outside your doorstep. Literally

Thailand is a beautiful country with beautiful people. But, if you can’t speak Thai, then you’re selling yourself short of an amazing experience. Learning Vietnamese changed my life, and I hope that you consider taking the time to learn Thai. Maybe it can change yours too.

About the Author:

Jeremy is a writer and an “entreperformer” and yet another white guy who can speak a Southeast Asian Language. After finding fame in Vietnam, he’s writing his first book, “F*ck Being Famous”. Sign up here for a FREE copy when it’s out. He also publishes weekly inspiring and funny videos on his YouTube channel.