Guide: How to Say Greetings in Thai – Formal and Informal Ways

Thai is a beautiful language spoken by millions in Thailand and several other countries. If you plan to visit Thailand or have Thai friends or colleagues, knowing how to say greetings in Thai can go a long way in fostering positive connections. In this guide, we will explore formal and informal ways to greet someone in Thai, providing helpful tips and examples along the way. So, let’s dive in!

Formal Greetings

When in formal situations or addressing people of higher social status, it’s important to use proper etiquette in Thai greetings. Here are a few formal ways to greet someone:

1. Sawatdee (สวัสดี)

Sawatdee is the most common and versatile greeting in Thai. It can be used to say “hello,” “goodbye,” or “greetings.” However, when used as a greeting, it’s often followed by the appropriate title to show respect.


Sawatdee kha (for females) / Sawatdee krub (for males) – Hello / Goodbye (with respect)

2. Sawatdee Rue Yang (สวัสดีเรียวยาง)

This formal greeting translates to “How are you?” and is commonly used in business or professional settings. It shows interest in the well-being of the person being greeted and can be responded to with a simple “sabai dii” (I’m fine).

3. Yin Dee Ton Rub (ยินดีต้อนรับ)

When welcoming someone, whether it’s at an event, in your home, or at a business establishment, “Yin Dee Ton Rub” is an excellent way to convey warm hospitality and make the other person feel welcome.

Informal Greetings

Informal greetings are used amongst friends, peers, or in casual situations. While it’s crucial to understand the appropriate context, using these greetings can help you build rapport with locals and show your friendliness. Here are a few examples of informal Thai greetings:

1. Sa-wat (สวัสดี)

“Sa-wat” is a shortened and informal version of “Sawatdee.” It’s commonly used among friends and peers when saying hello or goodbye.

2. Bai Nai? (ไปไหน)

When meeting up with friends or acquaintances, a common informal greeting is to ask “Bai Nai?” meaning “Where are you going?” Although it may seem like a strange greeting to non-Thai speakers, it’s an informal way of asking how someone is doing or what they are up to.

3. Sa Bai Dee Mai? (สบายดีไหม)

Directly translated as “Are you well?”, this informal greeting is used to ask someone how they are doing. It’s a more casual way of expressing concern for the other person’s well-being.

Tips for Greeting in Thai

To make your greetings more authentic and convey respect, consider the following tips:

1. Wai – The Thai Gesture of Respect

When addressing someone older or of higher social status, incorporating the “wai” gesture can enhance your greetings. To perform a wai, place your palms together in a prayer-like fashion near your chest and slightly bow your head. This gesture is especially important in formal greetings.

2. Mind Gender and Social Status

In Thai culture, gender and social status play an essential role in greetings. Females often add “kha” at the end of their greetings, and males use “krub.” Moreover, when greeting someone of higher status, it’s advisable to elevate the level of politeness and formality.

3. Smile and Maintain Eye Contact

Thai people are known for their warm smiles and friendly gestures. When greeting someone, remember to smile genuinely and maintain eye contact. This non-verbal communication can go a long way in establishing a positive connection and making the other person feel comfortable.


Mastering the art of Thai greetings can be an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local culture and build meaningful relationships. Whether you opt for formal greetings like “Sawatdee” or more informal phrases, making an effort to use Thai greetings will surely be appreciated by locals. Remember to consider the appropriate context and use tips like the “wai” gesture to convey respect. So go ahead, explore the various greetings, and confidently greet people in Thai!

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