Anyone who has been able to visit Thailand knows that there are so many markets around selling different pieces of clothing. Whatever you are looking for in whatever style, you will likely find it in one of these markets. I actually just recently bought a new shirt here. The whole thing went very smoothly as I was able to remember the word for shirt in Thai. Just so you know, it is basically the same as in English but you have to say it with a Thai accent. If you find yourself in a similar situation to me, then you should start learning the names for clothes in Thai. Here is a guide for just that.
Let’s start off with the names for basic clothes in Thai. In the Thai language, clothing is referred to as ‘suea pha’ (เสื้อผ้า). This would be every type of clothing, including things like t-shirts and shorts (which you might find yourself wearing a lot in this heat). There unfortunately doesn’t seem to be any real pattern to follow in the name of clothing. Related things like shirts and t-shirts or shorts and trousers do have similar names, but otherwise, you will need to remember the name for each individually.
|Shorts||gang gehng kha sahn||กางเกงขาสั้น|
|Underwear||chood chan nai||ชุดชั้นใน|
|Jacket||suea ja get||เสื้อแจ็คเก็ต|
|Bra||suea chan nai||เสื้อชั้นใน|
As a note, if you want to mention a design or particular material of a piece of clothing, it would go after its name. For example, to say plaid shirt in Thai, you would use ‘suea churt lai sa gort’ (เสื้อเชิ้ตลายสก๊อต). Also, for shoes and socks, you would add on the end ‘neung khu’ (หนึ่ง คู่), which means ‘a pair’.
I am sure many people are familiar with some pieces of traditional Thai clothing, known as ‘chut thai’ (ชุดไทย). These are used a lot in promotional photos and reflect the culture of Thailand. While you are unlikely to wear the more elaborate dresses and jewellery, there are some things you can buy easily around the country.
For starters, there is the ‘pha nung’ (ผ้านุ่ง), which is a dress worn by women. It is essentially a piece of cloth that is wrapped around the waist, but it can be styled in different ways. For example, if it is then folded between the legs toward the back, then it is known as a ‘chong krabeng’ (โจงกระเบน).
A ‘sihn’ (ซิ่น) is a type of skirt worn by women predominantly in the north of the country. These are typically worn for special events, especially when made of silk with beautiful designs. They are usually paired with ‘sabai’ (สไบ) a type of breast cloth or shawl that covers the upper body.
There are also many different minorities with their own styles and clothing, so this is not an exhaustive list. However, it does provide an insight into the more common ones you may see around.
While the sarong may not be completely Thai, it has been used in the country and surrounding region for many years. The name is different depending if it is for men or women. A male sarong is called a ‘pha khao ma’ (ผ้าขาวม้า), while one for females is a ‘pha tung’ (ผ้าถุง). These are very versatile and can be used than more than just clothing. However, what they do have in common is their interesting designs. The better ones are made of silk, though they come in all types of material.
As you can imagine, the weather plays a large role in the choice of clothing and the materials used. The word ‘phaa’ (ผ้า) means fabric, and is placed before the name of a particular material. Cotton, for example, is ‘phaa fai’ (ผ้าฝ้าย). The name for wool in Thai is ‘phaa khon gae’ (ผ้าขนแกะ).
As mentioned above, silk is a common material used for some clothes in Thailand. The country is famous for its silk, after all. In Thailand, Silk is called ‘phaa mai’ (ผ้าไหม). If you want to make sure you are getting Thai silk, then you would say ‘phaa mai thai’ (ผ้าไหมไหม)
As you can imagine, the clothes people wear in Thailand are not completely different from those that are worn elsewhere in the world. Due to the climate, there are some materials and styles that are more common than others. Even so, you will still find many people wearing jeans and jackets in the 30 degree heat. Some traditional Thai clothing can still be seen, especially for special occasions like religious holidays or weddings. Keep an eye out for them. Otherwise, you should now know the names for clothes in Thai.
Want to learn more beyond just clothes? Try the Ling Thai app to kickstart you journey learning Thai. We have many different games, tests, and challenges to help you learn.