I have found that Thai people have a great sense of humor. During my time here, I have had some great experiences when talking with my local friends. It seems that, along with their ‘sabai’ lifestyle, they like to have a good laugh with others. For that reason, I found myself wanting to look into this topic deeper. I wanted to learn how to say fun in Thai and perhaps some of the more cultural aspects that shape their fun attitude. So what does it mean to be funny in Thai?
If you are as interested as I am in this, then please take a read as we look into the fun side of the Land of Smiles.
The word for funny in Thai is ‘talok’ (ตลก). The word is short and simple to say, much like a good joke. It can be understood as meaning ‘to joke’ or ‘be amusing’. It doesn’t take a long time online to find Thai people having a joke. You will find many posts writing 5555 after they write something. The Thai word for 5 is ‘ha’ (ห้า), so that is their way of laughing.
A lot of TV shows in Thailand seem to use comedy, which just goes to show how much they enjoy a joke. This really fits into the culture of the country, which holds fun in high regard.
So, how do Thai people refer to fun? They refer to it as ‘sanook’ (สนุก), which may also be spelt ‘sanuk’ depending on where you read it. It can also mean enjoyable, pleasant, or entertaining, so it is quite versatile when it comes to describing a good time. It is one of the key terms you will come across during a stay in Thailand for reasons we will look into in a bit.
As it is, this is just the adjective form, describing something that is fun. For example, you could say ‘Ling sanook’ (หลิงสนุก), meaning Ling is fun. If you want to use the noun version, you would say ‘khwaam sanook’ (ความสนุก).
Much like the word ‘sabai’ reflects a lot about the Thai attitude to life, ‘sanook’ shows that they also value their enjoyment. Many shops and bars have the word sanook in their name, Similarly, you will often be asked ‘sanook mai?’ (สนุกไหม) or ‘are you having fun?’. It is almost as common as being asked how you are.
There seems to be the goal of combining several elements – work, rest and, in this case, play – to ensure a good and balanced lifestyle. This can be seen in the way people communicate, the way they choose to spend their time, and the relationships they build with friends. The Songkran festival is likely the best representation of this sanook culture.
It seems that this culture has developed from Buddhist values, which prioritize contentment in life. This has made its way to the everyday life of Thai people, earning the country the name ‘Land of Smiles’.
Thailand has no shortage of things to enjoy. Whether it is the food, beaches, or the people, everything is very welcoming and will very quickly show you how sanook is reflected in everyday life. They love to joke and enjoy life when they can. The best way to enjoy it is to go in with a light-heart and a smile, which many people will appreciate seeing. As long as you are not rude and use common courtesy, you should be in for a great time and a lot of fun in Thailand.
Want to learn more vocabulary like this? Try the Ling Thai app for yourself and see how the different tests and games help you to learn the Thai language while also having fun.