How To Tell the Time In Thai - Learn Thai from a White Guy

How To Tell the Time In Thai

Need to know how to tell the time in Thai?  You’ve come to the right place.

Saying the time in Thai is different from English and may seem a little confusing at first, but if you stick with it, and drill the rules covered in this post then you will start to get the hang of it.

First, you’ll need to be confident with Thai numbers. We have a great post all about numbers in Thai so check it out if you haven’t learned those yet.

Already brushed up on Thai numbers? Ok, time to dive in!

How to Tell Time in Thai

กี่โมงแล้ว

Quick Reference for Telling Time in Thai

When telling the time in Thai, the first thing you need to know is that Thai people think about the day a little differently than you might.  In English we split the day up into AM and PM when telling the time, in Thai the day is split up into multiple parts.  Different words are used when telling the time for each of these different parts of the day.  This takes some getting used to so we recommend just learning one part of the day at a time as opposed to trying to memorize this all at once.

Look at the table below to see how the day is split up when telling the time in Thai.  We’ll use the important time word ตอน (ttawn) which means in this case “a period of time,” but it can also function like “at a particular time” depending on how it’s used.

Parts of the DayTime From / ToParts of the Day in Thai
Morning1am - 11:59amตอนเช้า (ttawn chao)
Noon12pmตอนเที่ยง (ttawn tee-ang)
Afternoon1pm - 3pmตอนบ่าย - (ttawn baai)
Evening4pm - 6pmตอนเย็น - (ttawn yen)
Night-time 7pm - 11pmตอนค่ำ (ttawn kham)
*Around 9 or 10pm it switches to "late night"
ตอนดึก (ttawn duek)
Midnight12am เที่ยงคืน - thii-ang koen

1am – 5am: Morning ตอนเช้า (ttawn chao)

(Use ตี (ttee) + the HOUR)

For telling the times from 1am to 5am the word ตี (ttee) is placed before the number of the hour.  The word ตี (ttee) means to hit or strike and refers to a tradition of a nightwatchman striking a drum on the hour from 1am – 5am.  I’m sure everybody in town appreciated someone making a lot of noise all night.

TimeThai ScriptTransliteration
1amตีหนึ่งttii neung
2amตีสองttii sorng
3amตีสามttii saam
4amตีสี่ttii sii
5amตีห้าttii haa

6am – 11am: Morning ตอนเช้า – (ttawn chao)

(Use HOUR + โมง (mohng*)

* Sometimes people add เช้า​ (chao) which means “morning” at the end, but it’s usually dropped.

For 6am to 11am use the pattern as in these examples:

The word โมง (mohng) is named after the sound of a large gong which was traditionally hit hourly on these morning hours.  It also forms part of the word ชั่วโมง (chua mong) which is the Thai word for “hour”.

เช้า (chao) means “morning”.  If it’s clear from the context that you are referring to the morning hours then the word เช้า (chao) will often be dropped so it’s perfectly fine to use just the HOUR + โมง (mohng).

TimeThai ScriptTransliteration
6amหกโมง (เช้า)hok mong chao
7amเจ็ดโมง
(เช้า)
jed mong chao
8amแปดโมง(เช้า)ppaed mong chao
9amเก้าโมง(เช้า)gao mong chao
10amสิบโมง (เช้า)sip mong chao
11amสิบเอ็ดโมง(เช้า)sip ed mong chao

12pm: Noon(time) ตอนเที่ยง (ttawn tee-ang)

เที่ยง (tee-ang) 

The word for midday in Thai is

However, in most circumstances วัน (wan) – the Thai word for day – is dropped and เที่ยง (tee-ang) alone is used.  

The word เที่ยง (tee-ang) can also be combined with other words to create a new meaning:

1pm-3pm: Early Afternoon ตอนบ่าย (ttawn baai)

(Use บ่าย (baai) + HOUR*)

*1pm is an exception.  We just say บ่ายโมง (baai mohng) for 1pm.

In the afternoon – from 1pm to 3pm – the word บ่าย (baai) is used.  

In the case of 1pm, the number 1 is dropped and Thais only say บ่ายโมง (baai mong).  For 2pm and 3pm the number is placed between บ่าย (baai) and โมง (mong).  However, the word โมง (mong) is usually dropped in everyday speech.  So 2pm is บ่ายสอง(โมง) (baai sorng mong) and 3pm is บ่ายสาม(โมง) (baai saam mong).  

TimeThai ScriptTransliteration
1pmบ่ายโมงbaai mong
2pmบ่ายสอง(โมง) baai sorng (mong)
3pmบ่ายสาม(โมง) baai saam (mong)

 

4pm – 6pm Evening – ตอนเย็น (ttawn yen)

โมง(เย็น) (mong yen) 

For the times 4pm to 6pm the words HOUR (4, 5 or 6) + โมง (mong yen) are used.  Sometimes, people may add (yen) เย็น afterwards as in ห้าโมงเย็น (haa mohng yen)

The word เย็น (yen) refers early evening –  though when used as an adjective it means cold or cool.  When เย็น (yen) is combined with the Thai word for rice  – ข้าว (khaao) – it means “evening meal” or “dinner.”   This word เย็น (yen) is the same word used when ordering iced (as opposed to hot) drinks like coffee.

TimeThai ScriptTransliteration
4pmสี่โมง(เย็น)sii mong (yen)
5pmห้าโมง(เย็น)haa mong (yen)
6pmหกโมง(เย็น)hok mong (yen)

7pm – 11pm: Night ตอนค่ำ (ttawn kham) AND Late-Night ตอนดึก (ttawn duek)

  • The word ค่ำ or ตอนค่ำ is often used once it starts getting dark or shortly after dark.  Depending on location and time of year, the time of this can vary, but it functions like “early evening.”
  • Once a certain individual time threshold has passed, it becomes “late night” or ตอนดึก (ttawn duek).  We have found that ตอนดึก starts around 9 or 10 pm for most people and goes until midnight after which time it becomes morning again.

Farang Tip:

Please keep in mind that this system is very colloquial and may vary a little bit from person to person and place to place.  Because of this, it’s a good idea to just have a general idea of how the day is split up and gradually learn the time system for each segment of the day separately.

We recommend starting with 6-11 am first, then 4-6 pm as they make the most sense in that it’s just HOUR + time-of-day-word.   Once you can fire off those at will, learn 7-11pm.  And finally, 1-3pm and 1-5am.  It will take a bit of work, but there’s no way around it if you want to really learn how to speak Thai.

Make sure you have mastered the Thai numbers first, of course, or this will be harder than it needs to be.

ทุ่ม (tum) 

From the hours 7pm to 11pm the word ทุ่ม (tum) is used.  ทุ่ม (tum) is named after the sound of the drum that is hit on the hour during these times.  

This is where things start to get a little unfamiliar for people who are new to Thai language.  According to Thai time – 7pm is the official start of night-time so counting starts again from one. So 7pm is หนึ่งทุ่ม (neung tum) – one “tum”.  8pm is สองทุ่ม (sorng tum) – two “tum” and so on, all the way up to 11pm.  For 7pm, the หนึ่ง (neung) – “one” is often dropped so you will often here people refer to 7pm as just ทุ่ม (tum). 

TimeThai ScriptTransliteration
7pmหนึ่งทุ่ม OR  ทุ่มหนึ่งnueng tum OR tum nueng
8pmสองทุ่มsawng tum
9pmสามทุ่มsaam tum
10pmสี่ทุ่มsii tum
11pmห้าทุ่มhaa tum

12am / Midnight

เที่ยงคืน (teeang keun)

Remember how we used the word เที่ยง (teeang) for midday?  Well we can use the same word for midnight combined with the Thai word for “night” – คืน (kuen).  So the Thai word for midnight is:

How To Say Minutes Past the Hour in Thai

Now that we know how to say the hours in Thai, we need to learn how to say minutes past the hour.  The Thai word for minutes is นาที (naatii).

In Thai it is always minutes past the hour, never minutes to the hour.  For example, in English we can say twenty to eight or five to three whereas in it would always be seven forty or two fifty five. For half past the hour, the word ครึ่ง (kreung) is used however there is also no version of quarter past the hour so in Thai the number fifteen is used instead. 

The structure for saying minutes past the hour in Thai is:

In every day speech the word นาที (naatii) is often dropped.

Example sentences.

 

ตอน (tton) + Time Of Day

It’s also useful to understand how Thai people break the day up in to different parts.  When referring to different parts of the day, the word ตอน (tton) is used which acts as a preposition similar to – “at” (night) or “in the” (morning).

Common Thai Time Sentences

Useful Thai Time Vocabulary:

Now, Go Out and Tell the Time in Thai

Now you know how to tell the time in Thai, it’s time to get out there and start practicing.  Want to learn more time related words in Thai?  After you have the hours down, try learning the Thai days and months