If like thousands of others, you are considering visiting Thailand for your vacation this year, you are likely to have a better experience and make more Thai friends, if you try and learn some of the language before you go.
It isn’t necessary as many Thais, especially around the tourist areas do speak English but if you take the trouble to even learn just a few phrases, the Thai people will appreciate it and quickly offer you friendship, informing you of the better places to go and give advice as to how to enjoy them best. It has even been known for street vendors to give discounts to ‘Thai speakers’.
The Thais are proud of the fact that they have their own unique language and appreciate that westerners can find problems with it due to it being tonal. A tonal language, such as Thai, Lao and Chinese, is a language that can say the same word in different tones to give that same word different meanings. For example, the word glai, when spoken in a mid-tone, means ‘far away’, whilst the same word written with a tonal notification above the first vowel (glâi) meaning it is to be spoken in a falling tone, means ‘near’.
Thais know that westerners can make common mistakes with these tones and will just ignore or laugh off any mistakes they may make.
The Thais are also proud of their history, especially the fact that as Siam, it was the only country in South East Asia, never to have been colonized by any European power. They are also proud of their monarchy system, which is similar to Britain’s and of their current monarch who, in 1942 was crowned King making him the longest ruling monarch in the world.
In fact the King is so revered that it is illegal to disrespect him by stepping on his image, a law the Thais take very seriously and as his image is on every Thai coin and banknote, it is illegal to step on any Thai money.
Thailand has become South East Asia’s most popular tourist destination, which is understandable given the Thai people’s friendly nature and the wide variety of different places to enjoy in the country. Most visitors, regardless of the main reason they choose Thailand for their holiday destination, will take a day or two to visit the magnificent Buddhist Temples in the capital Bangkok, most though, then go on to spend time on one or other of Thailand’s beautiful beaches.
Even though your main intention may be to soak up the sea, sun and sand, you will have plenty of choices of where exactly you do that. You can choose the more popular beaches like Pattaya which is known for its nightlife or opt for the tranquility offered by one of Thailand’s many islands.
Then of course you could choose a bit of both by opting for Phuket or Ko Chang which, whilst still being islands, have undergone some major developments in order to cater to tourists.
We would recommend you try to learn at least some of the language prior to your visit, to be curtious if nothing else. As this is a difficult language for westerners to generally pick up; we suggest looking into online resources which will teach you how to learn Thai.