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The most important vocabulary to know during your trip in Laos

Asian languages are generally hard to learn and Lao is no exception! You'll be able to pick up the basics but it will be nigh on impossible to hold a fluent conversation. But it's not a problem if you have to resort to speaking English during your trip to Laos.

Lao, the official language

Lao, the country's official language, closely resembles Thai. To give you an idea, Lao's similarities with Thai are like those between Spanish and Portuguese. Unless you're fluent, there's not much use in relying on Thai to get by.

Learning Lao is no mean feat, so don't expect to be able to hold a conversation in the language. At the same time, it's good to learn the basics, which will help you meet people and navigate your way around. Knowing how to say 'hello', 'how are you?', 'thanks' as well as being able to count will help you get along.

As with Thai, the biggest challenge is being able to pronounce words. A slight change in intonation will completely alter the meaning of a word. But that shouldn't stop you from trying to speak the local language; Laotians will love that you're making the effort and you'll be warmly welcomed in return. No one's going to get upset if your pronunciation isn't perfect. If, when eating out, you manage to order in Lao, don't be surprised if you're met with astonishment or if you unleash fits of giggles.

Meeting in Laos

Speak in English.

The few words that you'll pick up in Lao won't be enough to hold down a conversation. Fortunately you can fall back on speaking English. If English doesn't work and if you know some French, you can always try the latter during your trip to Laos , particularly when speaking to the older generation. You'll also see that official documents are written in both Lao and French. But encountering French speaking Laotians is becoming rare. Young Laotians tend to speak English and it's more widely spoken than its European counterpart. Throughout the country you'll find that anyone in contact with tourists will be able to speak English.

Basic expressions / Common Words

UsaLao
Good morning / Good eveningSabaï dii / None lap fan dii
How are you?Sabaï dii bo ?
Fine, thank you, and you?Sabaï dii, khop tchaï, lè tchao dè ?
I understand / I don't understandkhaphachao khao tchaï / Khoï bo khao tchaï
SorryKho thot
GoodbyeLa kone
WelcomeNyinditonhab
Thank you (very much)Khop tchaï laï laï
Excuse meExcuse khaphachao / Kalounaa
My name is...Khoï suu...
No thank youBo khop tchaï
Yes / NoTchao / Bo
You're welcomeThan nyinditonhab

Commerce

UsaLao
How much is it?Laka tao daï ?
It is very cheapBo peng
It is too expensive!Peng phôt
Can you lower the price?Lout laka daï bo ?
I would like to buy ... this one!Khaphachao yakcha su... thini
I like it / I don't like itKhaphachao hak / Khaphachao sang
MoneyNgoen
I'm just looking around.Khaphachao phiangaet sokha

Transportation

UsaLao
I would like to go to ...Diak...
PlaneGnyone
BoatHeua
TrainKanfukobhom
TaxiLot taxi
BusLot mé
I would like to rent ...Khaphachao tongkan thichahai seoa...
MotorbikeLot chak
CarLot keng
BikeLot thiip

Directions

UsaLao
Where is ...? / How can I get to ...?Bonthi pen... ? / vithikan pai... ?
BankThanakane
Train stationSatannii
CentreMeuong
HotelHong hèm
HospitalHong mo
Is it close / far?Pid bo ? / kaï bo ?
Straight aheadPaï su
Left / RightSaï / khoua
North / South / East / WestThit neua / thit taï / Thit tavén ok / Thit tavén tok

Numberssieben, acht, neun, zehn

UsaLao
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, tenNung, song, sam, sii, haa, hok, tiét, pèt, kao, sip
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixtySao, sam sip, sii sip, haa sip, hok sip
seventy, eighty, ninetytiét sip, pèt sip, kao sip
One hundredLoï

Hours/Dates and daysDienstag, Mittwoch, Donnerstag, Freitag, Samstag, Sonntag

UsaLao
What time is it?Singthi saiuaelaaemn vaman ?
When?Naiuaela thi ?
YesterdayMuuaanni
Today (morning/midday/evening)Naimuni (tonsao / thiang / tonaelng)
TomorrowMuun
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, SundayChan, vnoangkhan, vanphud, vanphahad, vansuk, vansao, vnoathid
I am here on vacationKhaphachao kiauakabkan phak / kandoenthang
I am here for businessKhaphachao yuthini soalabkan heduaiak / thulakid

Time to eat!

UsaLao
I am hungry / I am thirstyCha hiv / cha hiv noa
EnjoyKhuaamsuk danoahan khongthan
Cheers!Ne se traduit pas
It was deliciousSèp laaï
What can you recommend?Singthithan naenoa ?
I am vegeterianKhaphachao vegetarian pen
Not spicy please (I don't like spices)Bo saï mak phèt
It's too hotManpen hon koenpai !
I am allergicKhaphachao koedoakan aeph
Sea foodAhanthale
PeanutsThouadin
GlutenGluten
I would like...Khoï yak...
WaterNam
Tee / CoffeeAm sa / Kafé
Beer / WineBia lao /
The bill, pleaseChèk bin, kalounaa

Health / Emergency / Security

UsaLao
I need to see a doctor.Khaphachao choapentong paihamo dai
Call an ambulance / Call 911Othha thanmo / lot ohngmo
Where is the hospital?Hong mo you saï ?
I do not feel very goodKhoï bo sabai
It hurts hereKhoï penn tchèp you nii
Where can I find the restrooms?Hong nom you saï ?
Help!Suanyheu
PoliceTamlouat
DangerAntalai
I'm lostKhoï long thang

Other

UsaLao
Have a nice day !Mu thidi !
David Debrincat
459 contributions
Updated 26 October 2018

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