What use is there in learning to read Thai addresses? In an age where we can access Google maps on our phones at will, remembering and writing out addresses has become much less common. Usually, you can just type the name of a building or shop you want to visit and it should be able to find it in an instant.
However, there are still many situations when you will be needing the address of somewhere. Those living in Thailand long term will understand. Therefore, being able to read and write out Thai addresses can be a very useful skill to learn. Here is an overview of Thai addresses and what makes them up.
Addresses in Thailand look like addresses anywhere, really. They are a line of words and numbers that generally start with the house number, going up to road name, city, country, etc. However, there are some unique concepts that are important when giving out an address.
The ‘changwat’ (จังหวัด) is best described as the province. Thailand, with its many regions, is divided into 76 different provinces, with 2 special administrative regions (these are Bangkok and Pattaya). This shouldn’t be too difficult to work out based on where you are staying, as they cover large areas.
An ‘amphoe’ (อำเภอ) is a district. Each province is divided into many different districts. Understandably, things start to get more confusing from this point, as smaller and smaller areas are being looked at. They can some in a variety of sizes. There are 928 districts in Thailand overall, with 50 in Bangkok alone.
A ‘Tambon’ (ตำบล) is a sub-district within a district. There are essentially 7,435 tambon throughout Thailand, with about eight to ten in each district.
Perhaps the most notable is the ‘Muban’ (หมู่บ้าน), also known as a ‘Moo’ (หมู่). This can be translated as village in English. They are the smallest division, and there are about 74,944 overall in the country.
The concept of roads or ‘Thanon’ (ถนน) and their alleys or ‘soi’ (ซอย) can be difficult to understand. ‘Thanons’ generally refer to major roads. One of the most notable examples is ‘Sukhumvit’. Then, there are many ‘sois’ that branch off from it. These are usually given a name like ‘Sukhimvit soi 7’ but then there can also be ‘sois’ designated as ‘soi 7/1’, for example. Then, each ‘soi’ can also be given its own name.
It is not uncommon to see the house number written alongside the plot number. You can read, for example, 82/3 ‘Plot 82 of House 3’.
Plot/House Number, Moo
Changwat, Post Code
Now that you know how to find places, here are a few words and phrases you can learn to help you get to where you need to go in Thailand.
Taxis, or in Thai pronunciation ‘taeksii’ (แท็กซี่) can be hailed on the street or ordered through some apps. Motorbike taxis, known as ‘motor sai rabchang’ (มอเตอร์ไซค์รับจ้าง) or just ‘moto sai’, can be a quick and convenient way to get around without too much traffic. ‘Songthaews’ (สองแถว) are pick up trucks where the back has been converted to a seating area. These are generally cheap and drive a certain route up and down ‘sois’.
A useful verb you should know is ‘pai’ (ไป) which means ‘go’. ‘Pai nai?’ (ไปไหน) means ‘where are you going?’.
If you want to know ‘Where does this bus/train go?’, you can use ‘roht khan nii pai nai?’ (รถคันนี้ไปไหน).
To ask ‘How do I get to…?’, you say ‘ja pai … yang rai?’ (จะไป … อย่างไร).
To tell the driver to take you someone specific, use ‘pai … na khrap/ka’ (ไป … นะครับ/ค่ะ). This means ‘Take me to … , please’.
For these two phrases, just input the name of the place you want to go. To help guide the driver, you can tell them to go left - ‘sai’ (ซ้าย) - or right - ‘khwaa’ (ขวา).
While it is not always a necessity to be able to read addresses, it can be a very useful skill. They follow a somewhat recognizable structure that can be easily read if you know what to look for. Now, once you familiarize yourself with your local area, you can start giving directions to exactly where you need to go. No more need to worry about mixing up a ‘soi’ and a ‘thanon’.
For more vocabulary, you can try the Ling Thai app. You can test your skills and practise until you perfect your pronunciation. Try it today for you next trip to the land of smiles.