English speakers usually have no problem navigating the city and negotiating for basic food and transportation needs. That said, ordering street food can be tricky if you're a picky eater, unless you point to exactly what you want on a menu. Chances are you'll never be far from someone who can translate at least a few words, and menus at proper restaurants almost ubiquitously offer some English translation. Public transport, too, is very English-friendly. To avoid major misunderstandings or getting lost, carry a map and a simple guidebook.

As with any foreign country, learning a few basic phrases can help with simple conversation. There are multiple language schools in Bangkok, such as AUA Language Center, which also has the added perk of helping with visas for long-term students. And if you don’t have time for a course, here are a few useful Thai phrases. Remember: Thai is a tonal language so it’s useful to listen to the words as well. Be even more polite by adding ka if you’re a woman, or krap if you’re a man to the end of these:

Hello / sa-wat-dee
Goodbye / laa-gon-na
Thank you / kup-kun-maak
How much? / toe-rai
How are you? / sa-bai dee-mai
I’m sorry / kor-toat
Please / ga-roo-nah
Toilet / hong-num


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