No one likes to say goodbye. Maybe some introverts do, but it can be quite sad to part ways with a friend or loved one. So what is it like to say goodbye in Thai? There are actually many different ways to do so, depending on the situation, who you are talking to and more. Add into that the whole politeness dynamic that is prevalent in the Thai language, and you have enough phrases to fill a small book. Not literally, of course, but it is worth knowing some of the different ways to say goodbye, just so you are ready.
Sometimes when you learn Thai, you come across these ‘shortcuts’ that help reduce the burden of learning so much vocabulary. This is one example of that. If you have recently learned how to say hello, then I have some great news for you. The basic way of saying hello is the same as saying goodbye. Just to jog your memory, let’s go over the phrase again:
Goodbye in Thai is ‘sa wat dii’ (สวัสดี).
Of course, you can add the relevant polite word on the end too - ka (ค่ะ) for women and krap (ครับ) for men. It can be a bit weird adjusting to use the same word for hello and goodbye, but it is something you get used to - especially as you will likely be saying it often.
Depending on who you are saying goodbye to, you can also wai to them, again like you would when saying hello. You wouldn’t really wai to friends, as it is usually reserved for people of higher status, those who should be respected, or in professional environments.
There are of course a number of different ways to say goodbye in Thai if you want to mix things up a little. They may not be as common or easy to use as the phrase mentioned above, but they can work in some more specific situations.
When saying goodbye to friends, you would likely use different words than to other people, whether for politeness or otherwise. That is why we have put together a few less formal ways to say goodbye in Thai to your friends.
If you want to sound cool (or you are just hanging out with friends), it is possible to just shorten ‘sa wat dii’ into ‘wat dii’ (หวัดดี). While it only saves a syllable, it is a quicker way to let people know you are taking your leave.
Another less formal way to say goodbye in Thai is ‘jer gan’ (เจอกัน) - which means see you. It is possible to add words in the phrase to say slightly different things that ultimately have the same meaning. For example, ‘jer gan mai’ (เจอกันใหม่) means see you again, while ‘laew jer gan’ (แล้วเจอกัน) means see you later. Like in English, these phrases are much more down to earth and friendly to say.
Even when speaking with friends, you can add in the polite words at the end of the phrase, or at least a particle like na (นะ) that makes it less abrupt.
Here are a few more noteworthy contenders for saying goodbye in Thai. They are great if you can use them as they are a little more different from what we have covered above.
Anyone familiar with the phrase ‘chokh dii’ (โชคดี) will know that is usually translated as good luck. However, it also makes for a good way to say goodbye. Essentially, you are wishing them good luck for whatever they do next. This is probably best used when you know they are going to do something they are nervous about or is important, the same as it is used in English.
Perhaps you are more of a straight-talking person. Thankfully, there is a phrase for you too. You can just announce that you are leaving by saying ‘bpai gawn’ (ไปก่อน). For this one, you should definitely add in the particle na as well as the polite word. You can also add on the end the basic way to say goodbye - sa wat dee - so that you don’t come off as rude.
If you read some phrases books (like I did), you may find the word ‘laa gorn’ (ลาก่อน) as the translation for goodbye in Thai. However, this is not the word Thai people actually use on a regular basis. In fact, it is very rarely used as it sounds overly dramatic. It implies that you will not meet them ever again or at least for a long time, so it shouldn’t be used regularly.
If you don’t want to overcomplicate things, it is not unusual for Thai people to say bye bye with a wave of their arm. This is a universally recognized way of parting ways, so if you find yourself forgetting how to say goodbye in Thai (if that is possible) then you can use this. Goodbye and see you should also be understood by most people.
Whatever you choose to use, saying goodbye in Thai will show a lot of respect to the person you are talking to. There are a number of varieties each with slightly different use cases, so be sure to choose one that is appropriate. Thankfully, you can always fall back on the basic phrase for goodbye or even the widely understood English words. With that, you should now be able to bookend your conversations with a hello and goodbye.
Need to learn Thai to fill in the conversation between the hello and goodbye? The Ling Thai app may just be perfect for that. Practice your vocabulary and learn more Thai with Ling.