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Pee Pee | © marinaoffice0850/
Pee Pee | © marinaoffice0850/
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11 Commonly Mispronounced Places in Thailand

Picture of Kyle Hulme
Updated: 23 February 2018
The Thai alphabet can take a long time to master. While there are English equivalents of its words and places, so much is lost in translation — leading to many places being mispronounced by visitors to the Land of Smiles. Discover how to pronounce like a local.

Thailand

You’d be amazed at the number of people who butcher the pronunciation of the country itself, yet here we are. A popular mispronunciation for fellow Southeast Asians, the Filipinos, it’s not “Thigh-land” — despite what you might have heard about Pattaya — but “Tie-land”, with a silent “h”. The Thais themselves refer to their country as Prathet Thai, again with both words featuring a silent “h”.

The flag of Prathet Thai
The flag of Prathet Thai | © spaway/Pixabay

Suvarnabhumi Airport

Where better to head to next than the first place most people arrive at in Thailand — Bangkok’s huge Suvarnabhumi Airport. Whilst millions fly through it each year, only a small percentage actually nail how to say it. Rather than “Soo-var-na-boo-mee”, it’s instead said as “Su-wan-na-poom”. Though, however you pronounce it, there’s still a good chance the taxi drivers will understand and take you to the right place — unless you’re flying out of the other Bangkok airport, Don Muang, that is…

Suvarnabhumi Airport
Suvarnabhumi Airport | © TheDigitalWay/Pixabay

Koh Phi Phi

Arguably Thailand’s most famous island, with its stunning views, great parties and, of course, that beach, Koh Phi Phi has rightfully made its way into guidebooks and blog posts around the world for some time now. Yet despite its world-renowned status, there are still many who get its name hopelessly wrong. Whilst in English we pronounce a “ph” sound like “f”, in Thailand the “h” is dropped, making it Koh Pee Pee, not Koh Fee Fee.

Phuket

We know it’s fun to say a swear word every once in a while, but when it comes to Phuket, the actual pronunciation is miles away from the “f**k it”-sounding name many travelers like to christen it. Like with Koh Phi Phi, the “ph” doesn’t sound like an “f” but rather a “p”, and so the actual pronunciation is “Poo-ket” or “Poo-get”, not “Foo-ket”. We know, it can get pretty confusing.

Big Buddha in Phuket
Big Buddha in Phuket | © Eirien/Flickr

Wat Pho/Wat Phra Kaew