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how to order food in Thai guide for backpackers

How to Order Food in Thai: Backpacker’s Guide to Practical Thai Language

Learn How to Order Food in Thai in Just 6 Minutes!

Once you know how to order food in Thai there’ll be no stopping you! Knowing how to order food in Thai can turn a good trip into a great one. Suddenly you can ask for exactly what you want, whether that’s the spiciest som tam salad or a mild and Massaman curry. It’s pretty helpful being able to plead with the local night market stall holders not to kill you with chili as well! Here’s a rundown of a few useful Thai phrases to make sure you get the dinner you want.

Nail the Basics of Ordering Food in Thai

Before you get into the culinary chat, it’s polite to throw out a few greetings in Thai to get the conversation going. Here are a few useful words to get you started:

Hello – Sawadee khrup (m) / ka (f)

Yes – Chai khrup (m) / ka (f)

No – Mai khrup (m) / ka (f)

Thank You – Khop Khun khrup (m) / ka (f)

Focus on the Food

Once you’ve wowed people with your ability to say hello in Thai then it’s time to cut to the most important bit – the food. There’s nothing worse than trying to order a meal through a series of mimes and ending up with the wrong thing! You might hear this phrase from the waiter or stallholder- ‘Gin a-rai ka?’ They’re asking you what you want to eat so here’s your chance!

First of all let them know what meat you want:

Pork – Moo

Chicken – Gai

Beef – Neau

Seafood – Talay

Prawn – Gung

And next let them know the cooking style:

Stir-fried – Pat

Crispy or crunchy – Grop

Dry – Haeng

Soup – Nam

learn how to order food in ThaiGet Your Phrases Ready

If you’re feeling brave then you could roll out some longer phrases, to check out what’s on offer. You could ask ‘Mee arry arroy bang kaap’ which means ‘What do you have that’s tasty?’, but just be aware that you might get a cascade of Thai back in return! If you want to be specific about what you get then these short phrases might come in handy:

Vegetarian – Kin jay

No MSG – Mai sai pong choo rote

I can’t eat nuts – Kin tua mai dai

I can’t eat seafood – Kin talay mai dai

If you spot your favorite dish then go for it!

Of course while it can be really good to order a customized dish, when it comes to Thai food, the golden rule is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If you just want to order your favorite meal and not worry about changing it then go for it! Here are a few popular dishes that you’re likely to try on your trip:

Pad thai – fried noodles

Pad see ew – fried noodles in soy

Pad krapraw – stir fried pork with holy basil

Moo grob – crispy pork

Som tam – spicy papaya salad

Rendang – light and fragrant curry with potatoes

You don’t know how to order food in Thai if you don’t know these two phrases

Above all others, there are two phrases that all visitors to Thailand eventually need to use: ‘mai pet’, meaning not spicy, and ‘pet mak mak’, meaning very spicy. It’s rare that someone gets through a trip without using one or both of those! Learn them now and thank us later.

You’re in for a real treat once you know how to order food in Thai!

Eating in Thailand is a real joy, and with these few simple phrases in your back pocket you’ll be sure to get what you order every time. Try a little bit of everything on the menu, learn what you like and repeat. You might end up twice the size but you’ll be twice as happy!