Going To The Cinema In Thailand: A Cultural Experience

When it comes to experiences, one that people seem to glance over when they are abroad is how movie theatres work. Movies are of course a major cultural product. Just as there are movies produced in the U.S. or in India, Thailand also has a growing movie production industry. You cannot only expect to see Thai dubbed films but also Thai made films too. There are also some unique practices that take place when visiting a movie theatre in Thailand that you don’t really see elsewhere.

Let’s look at the movie going experience in Thailand and what you should expect.

Cultural Experiences With Movies Unique To Thailand

So what makes the movie-going experience in Thailand so unique? There are a number of ways. Most notable is the requirement to stand up during the royal anthem song played before the beginning of the film. You may get into trouble if you do not stand for this (there are laws in place), and so try to be vigilant. If you are unsure, just watch what others around you do and you should be fine. There are some great visuals shown on the screen of the country too.

Then, of course, let’s not forget the other Thai cultural product on the show — the films. At any time, you can find a Thai movie or two showing at the cinema. These will be completely in Thai unfortunately but can still be enjoyable to experience. If you have a Thai friend to go with, they may be able to help explain things to you afterward. Otherwise, you can stick with English films.

Are Movies In Thailand In English?

Go to cinema
You will find that Thai cinemas are as modern as anywhere around the world

Most of the time for the average visitor, you will be able to find movies in English with Thai subtitles. Cinemas generally show a mixture of Thai language movies and English Language movies with subtitles. This should be obvious when booking so doesn’t worry about picking the wrong showing. 

As you venture away from the major cities and tourist areas, you will find that there are fewer and fewer showings of films in English. Instead, the movies will mostly be in Thai. There will also be less films coming in general, so only the biggest will be available in the countryside. 

You may find that some movies you have never heard of before are showing in Thailand. This is due to the popularity of films from nearby countries such as Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea. These rarely get a proper cinema release in the West, so here is a great place to check them out. They are unlikely to have English subtitles, however.

How Common Are Cinemas In Thailand?

You can find movie theatres in the big shopping malls and supermarket buildings across the country. In some cities, you won’t need to travel far to find one. Their location, usually on the top floor of the malls, makes it convenient for a day trip with friends, or a loved one you are trying to impress. Make sure to bring an extra layer such as a jacket, as the air conditioning can be very cold in the theatres.

Thai Vocabulary For The Movies

Watching movies in English with Thai subtitles can be a great way to start learning Thai words. You can begin to recognize the words in the Thai script, perfect for people beginning to learn the language. Here is some vocabulary about movie-going you can try out with your friends next time you are at the cinema in Thailand.

Movie (Formal)Papayonภาพยนตร์
Movie (Colloquial)Nangหนัง
Cinema (Formal)Rong papayonโรงภาพยนตร์
Cinema (Colloquial)Rong nangโรงหนัง
Watch a movieDu nangดูหนัง
Let’s go to the cinemaPai du nang ganไปดูหนังกัน
I don’t want to go alone Mai yak pai kon diaoไม่อยากไปคนเดียว
Have you seen … ?Khun du ruang … ru yangคุณดูเรื่อง…หรือยัง

Thai Movie Genres

To name a genre of movie in Thai, just take the Thai word for movie and follow it with the relevant word:

Action FilmNang taw suหนังต่อสู้
Animated FilmNang katoonหนังการ์ตูน
Comedy FilmNang ta lokหนังตลก
Drama FilmNang che witหนังชีวิต
Sci-fi FilmNang sci fiหนังไซไฟ
Romance FilmNang rakหนังรัก
Thriller FilmNang ratuek khwanระทึกขวัญ
Horror FilmNang sa yong khwanหนังสยองขวัญ

Going To The Cinema In Thailand

Now, armed with this new knowledge and vocabulary, you know what to expect when going to the movies in Thailand. You can persuade your friends to come and decide what type of film you want to watch in Thai, which is a great skill. When you are in the country, you can now be confident that you know your way around the cinema and some of the unique aspects that come with it. Don’t miss out on the fun that can be had watching movies while traveling.

If you want to continue your learnings, try the Ling Thai app and start learning new and relevant words and phrases. If you keep at your studying, you may one day be able to watch a film in Thai without English subtitles.


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