How is easy is it to get by in Thailand without knowing Thai?

24th of March 2013 5

How is easy is it to get by in Thailand without knowing Thai?

I am traveling alone for the first time to Thailand next month. From the US, and gonna be there about two weeks. I just want to know if language will be a problem. Also, do the ATMs there take debit cards from US banks, or do I need to go to a currency exchange place? Answer will be appreciated. Thanks.

Best answer:

Answer by Jose
I went there and I dont know thai but I was a big hit with the ladies they were trying to speak english and I was pulling them all night. I say no big deal

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5 great comment(s) for this post

  1. scottie322 8:27 am 24/03 of 2013

    If you are going to the normal resorts,Phuket ,Samui, Pattaya,Bangkok you will always find people that speak English but if you go up Country hardly anyone speaks English.
    As for ATM the most important thing is you tell your Bank that you are going to Thailand , give dates and approx spend. Each time you use ATM you get charged 150 Baht – max withdrawal is 20,000 Baht a day.
    Have a wondeful time in The Land of Smiles

  2. MarkmBha 8:34 am 24/03 of 2013

    You should have not any problems getting by, as most Thais know a little english.
    As for your ATM card, there are machines in all major cities which will accept VISA and M/C.

  3. karazyal 8:36 am 24/03 of 2013

    Around 17 million tourists visited Thailand last year very few knew more than a few Thai words!

    Most of the people you will come in contact with will know enough English to understand you or they will grab another Thai nearby to help. Airline workers, hotel desk clerks, stores, malls, etc. should be no big problem. Restaurants and bars the same way. Menus are often in English in restaurants tourists eat at. Road signs are often in English in areas where tourists visit.

    You can also buy a small cheap English to Thai dictionary in Bangkok. Then you can just point to the translation. Most Thais can read their own language. But you should always learn how to say hello and thank you. (Check out a travel guide for Thailand at your library.)

    No problem with using US debit cards. I have MasterCard and Visa that work okay in Thailand. I do have 4 digits in the pin number. You must first tell your bank that you will be overseas or your ATM withdrawals may be denied because of suspected fraud. Thai ATM’s charge 150 baht per withdrawal. That is 5 bucks for small amounts or the maximum you can take out so don’t waste big fees on small withdrawal amounts. (Don’t rely only on a single debit card because it could be damaged or lost. I keep a credit card for emergencies that may come up.)

    For restaurants and other cheap purchases use cash. The less you expose your credit card the less chance of credit card fraud.

    No problem with cashing travelers checks either. There is a fee of 33 baht to cash one. So only take the largest denominations you can get. Why spend 33 baht to cash a $ 5 check?

    When you bring cash currency only take newest currency in hundred or 50 dollar denominations. For US currency bring the bills with big heads. Make sure they are not worn, torn or dirty. You will get a better rate changing currency in Thailand than anywhere in the US. Bank money changers available 24 hours at the airport.

    Below travel forums can be helpful for currency, hotels, scams, safety, transportation, hotels and other helpful info.

    Virtual Tourist

    Trip Advisor

    Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum

    Thai Visa Forum

    Good luck.

  4. Rat@Ratchaburi 9:22 am 24/03 of 2013

    I live here in a rural area and know as much Thai as a 3 year old and have no problems so you in tourist area will only run into a very little confusing. Example I wanted boxer shorts (underwear), the girl at MBK took me to the muay thai section. LOL

    As for your ATM, let your Bank know you are traveling overseas and know what they charge for international use. Have the phone number of your bank in case you have a problem. Hide your pin number when you enter it (thief’s have cameras on the keyboard). All thai banks charge 150 baht fee per transaction, so take as much as you need up to the bank limit. Some bank will only give 10,000 baht per transaction. I use Krung Thai Bank ATM’s they all give 20,000 baht limit per transaction. Try to do your transactions at a Bank that is open so you have a problem and it eats your card they can give it back to you.

    Have fun.

  5. penguin 9:48 am 24/03 of 2013

    If you don’t know Thai, you can still accomplish everything you like, but it will be more difficult sometimes, and quite difficult in a non-touristy area where people don’t speak much English. Just keep trying to communicate what you want…see it as a fun game, smile, be soft-spoken but persistent…and eventually you will get results. Thais are cool people, for the most part. The toughest part…maybe impossible at times….will be paying the same prices as Thais pay at markets and national parks, for example, and for touristy stuff. But don’t get hung up about that too much. If you get quoted a ridiculous price, just laugh, and bargain the price down patiently. Try not to get angry.

    As for money, other answerers have given you all the info you need.


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