Taxi Thai 1 - Taking a Taxi Can be Just Like Groundhog Day

When asking foreigners that have been in Thailand for any reasonable amount of time “How’s your Thai?”, I often hear the answer “Oh, I speaka bit of Taxi Thai and that’s about it”.  Striking up a conversation with ataxi driver is a great way to build up fluency when speaking Thai, and there’sno reason ‘Taxi Thai’ can’t be great Thai.  Some of practicing / learning Thaiin taxis are :

  • Taxi drivers can come from various social andregional backgrounds, letting us hear a variety of accents and levels of speechwhen speaking Thai.
  • In many cases, it’s highly unlikely that you willmeet the driver again.  With this kind of turnover, if we try something and itdoesn’t work with one driver, change it and try a new approach with the next –no-one will ever know you goofed the first… second … third times!  – A bit likegroundhog day!
  • The language used in a taxi at base level is fairlypredictable (giving directions, destinations, street names, speaking aboutwhere you come from), though this can be expanded upon as confidence builds.

The following vocabulary includes common terms that might be used in a dialogue between ataxi driver and passenger.  Set a goal for yourself of learning or testing anew term each time you ride in a taxi. This list is just a start. Next time youtake a taxi, keep your ears peeled and try to learn even more terms to add somecolour to your journey.


No. ไทย Pseudo Script Roman Script Meaning
1. ขึ้น /ลงรถ khึn / lng rt kheun / long rot Embark / Alight (vehicle)
2. ไปไหนครับ ไp ไhn khrัp pai nai khrap Where are you headed?
3. ไป… ไp pai (I’m) going to …..
4. เปิด เpิd poed Open / Turn On
5. เปิดมีเตอร์ เpิd mีเtอr์ poed mi toe Turn on the meter
6. นั่ง nัng nang To sit / to take (e.g. a cab, train etc)
7. รถ rt rot Vehicle / car
8. แทกซี่ แtksี taek si Taxi
9. รดติด rt tิd rot tit Traffic jam
10. ทางลัด thาng l ัt thang lat Short cut
11. เรว เrw rew Fast (said twice means ‘hurry up’)
12. ช้า chา cha Slow
13. เลี้ยวซ้าย / ขวา เlีyw sาy / khwา liew sai / khwa Turn left / right
14. เท่าไหร่ครับ / ค่ะ เthา ไhr khrัp / khะ thao rai khrap / kha How much? (cost / fare)
15. ไฟแดง ไf แdng fai daeng Red-light (often used to mean a traffic light intersection)
16. นาน nาn nan A long time
17. เบื่อ เิbือ beua Bored / Boring / Sick of …/ Fed up
18. ลักไก่ lัk  ไk lak kai Cut across (where one normally shouldn’t) to gain an advantage.
20. ตรง trng trong Straight / upright.  Also used as a general prepositional word for ‘at’.
21. ตรงไป trng ไp trong pai Straight ahead
22. ปั้มป์น้ำมัน pัm nำ mัn pam nam man Petrol / Gas Station
23. เซเว่น เs เwn se wen Seven Eleven Store
24. สีแยก sี แyk si yaek Intersection (crossroads – 4 directions)
25. สามแยา sาm แyk sam yaek T-Intersection
26. ซอยตัน sอy t ัn soi tan Dead end Soi
27. ทะลุ tะ lุ ta lu Lead into, pierce into (e.g. one road will eventually enter into another road)
28. ขึ้นทางด่วน khึn thาng dwn kheun thang duwn Take the expressway
29. ลงที่…. lng thี long thi Get off (either from the expressway, or to alight the vehicle)
30. พอถึง….. ค่อย ….. phอ thึng …. khอy … pho theung Once you’ve got to …… then …….
31. หยุด hyุd yud Stop
32. ปากซอย pาk sอy pak soi Mouth (entrance) to a soi
33. อยู่ซ้ายไว้ ?yู่ s้าย ไw้ yu sai wai Stick to the Left – The structure อยู่ ____ ไว้ means ‘stick to the …’ or keep ____


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Written by

Stuart Jay Raj