Top 100 basic Laos Phrases to know

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Laos is a country with an attractive culture and a diverse range of food. Knowing 100 basic Laos phrases in communication will help a lot if a traveler intends to visit Laos.

Night Market, Luang Prabang, Laos
Photo by Sung Shin / Unsplash

Lao is the official language of Laos and is also spoken in parts of Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia. It belongs to the Tai-Kadai language family and is closely related to Thai.

The Lao alphabet consists of 27 consonants and seven vowels written from left to right. Lao is tonal, meaning a word's meaning can change depending on the tone used to pronounce it. Lao has six tones: high, mid, low, rising, falling, and high-falling. Various languages, including Pali, Sanskrit, Khmer, and French, have influenced Lao. The Lao language has many loanwords from these languages, especially Pali and Sanskrit in Buddhist terminology.

Photo by Molydar SOUAMA / Unsplash

Basic Laos phrases for greetings

In Laos, the greeting is an integral part of the culture and is done with great respect and formality. When greeting someone in Laos, showing respect using the appropriate title or honorific is essential.

It is customary to place your hands together in a prayer-like gesture known as "nop", and bow slightly. This gesture is a sign of respect and is used when greeting elders or people in authority.

Therefore, because Lao has been influenced by various languages, mainly from Buddhist terminology, it is essential to respect Buddhist customs when greeting someone in Laos.

  • Hello (politely) =  ສະບາຍ ດີ (Sa bai di)
  • Hello madam = ສະບາຍດີເອື້ອຍ (Sa bai di uo)
  • Hello sir = ສະບາຍດີ ອ້າຍ (Sa bai di ai)
  • How are you doing? = ຈັງໃດສະບາຍດີບໍ່ອ້າຍ? (Chang day sa bai di bo ai?)
  • Thank you = ຂອບໃຈ (Khop chay)
  • Sorry =  ຂໍໂທດi (Kho thot)
  • Goodbye = ລາກ່ອນ (La con)
  • Can you speak Laos? =  ອ້າຍເຂົ້າໃຈພາສາລາວບໍ່?  (Ai khau chay pha sa Lao Bo?)
  • How old are you? = ເຈົ້າ​ອາ​ຍຸ​ຈັກ​ປີ? (Chau a nhu chac pi?)
  • I am __ years old =ຂ້ອຍ​ອາ​ຍຸ​ຊາວ​ຫ້າ​ປີ (Khoi a … ha pi)
  • What is your name? = ເຈົ້າ ຊື່ ຫຍັງ? (Chau xu nhang?)
  • My name is ___ =   ຂ້ອຍ ຊື່  ___ (Khoi xu ___)

Basic Laos phrases to address people

In Laos culture, it is essential to show respect to people by using the appropriate form of address based on their gender and status. "Khun" is a formal way to address someone, and "kha" is a polite form of address for females, while "khap" is for males.

  • I = ຂ້ອຍ (khoi)
  • I (polite) = ຂ້າພະເຈົ້າ (kha pha chau )
  • You = ເຂົາ/khau /
  • Female (junior) = ນາງ / ນາງສາວ (nang / nang sao)
  • Female (senior) = ແມ່ຍິງ / ຜູ້ຍິງ (me nhinh / phu nhinh)
  • Male (junior) = ຜູ້ບ່າວ (phu pa)
  • Male (senior) = ຊາຍ / ຜູ້ຊາຍ (xai / phu xai)

Basic Laos phrases for direction and transportation

Laos traffic can differ from what you might be used to in other countries. In the cities, many motorbikes, tuk-tuks, and other small vehicles are on the roads, and traffic can be congested during rush hour. Laos also has public transportation and modern hailing Apps for travelers.

Drivers in Laos are generally polite and patient, and they often use their horns to signal their presence rather than as a sign of aggression. However, being cautious when crossing the road is essential, as drivers may not always follow traffic rules. Learning some Laos phrases for direction and transportation can help you so much when catching transportation during the trip:

  • Where are you going? - Pai nai?
  • Where is it? - Thii nai?
  • Bpai… - Go go
  • Lot dai - Turn left
  • Lot kwaa - Turn right
  • Tii nai bawk? - Where is the bus station?
  • Nang rong khoy = Train station
  • Port or pier - Hawng naam
  • Airport - Thuk khawng
  • Where is the airport? - Thuk khawng bawk nai?
  • Motorized three-wheeled taxi - Tuk tuk
  • Shared pick up truck taxi - Songthaew
  • Boat - Nao
  • Sai thaeo - Bicycle
  • Pohm saam sai - I’m lost

Basic Laos phrases for shopping

It's important to note that bargaining is expected in Laos, so it's helpful to negotiate the price when shopping in markets or with street vendors. Using these phrases and a friendly attitude can help you get a good deal.

Also, it's always polite to say "Khawp jai" or "Thank you" after a transaction, regardless of whether or not you made a purchase. And if you want to express that you had fun shopping, you can say "sanuk."

  • How much does it cost? - Khoy pen nyang?
  • Too expensive -Niaow
  • How much is it? - Thao dai
  • I want to buy - Mi kin kong
  • Want - Ao
  • Don't want - Mai ao
  • Correct - Sai
  • Incorrect - Mai sai
  • Take - Lai
  • Bag - Bang
  • Shirt - Kiio
  • Skirt - Sii
  • Can you lower the price? - Lot not dai?
  • I'll buy it - Ja bok
  • Buy - Bok
  • I don't want it - Mai aow
  • Thank you - Khop jai
  • I'm sorry - Sai jai
  • Bpen yang - Cheap

Basic Laos phrases for restaurant or coffee shops

Laos food combines fragrant herbs and spices, fresh vegetables, and tender meats, reflecting the country's diverse culinary traditions. It's heavily influenced by Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cuisines but has a distinct flavor.

Lao cuisine also features a wide variety of fresh herbs and vegetables, such as lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, and mint, which are used to add bold flavors to dishes. In addition to savory dishes, Laos cuisine offers a range of sweet treats, such as coconut milk desserts, sticky rice cakes, and fried bananas. And to accompany meals, Laos people often drink Beerlao, the national beer of Laos

Here are some basic Lao phrases that you can use when dining at a restaurant or coffee shop:

  • Delicious - Khop chai
  • Take away - Khoi haeng
  • Eat here - Kin houm
  • What do you recommend? - Nong sai ahn?
  • What do you want to eat? - Chau dac kin nhang?
  • What do you want to drink? - Khuom dum de, chau xi dum nhang?
  • Do you want ice cream? - Kin ca lem bo?
  • What's the taste of Laos's food? - A han Lao pen neo day?
  • Delicious, but it's too spicy for me - Xep, te phet lai sam lap khoi
  • Steak - Xin ngua bap sa thec
  • Grilled meat - xin ping / xin pin
  • Grilled lamb - xin ke pin
  • Grilled chicken - cay pin, cay op
  • Grilled duck - pep pin
  • Grilled pork - mu pin
  • Grilled beef - Ngua p’hẩu, ngua pìn
  • Fish - pa
  • Cookies - khau nom pang
  • Noodles - my
  • Rice - khau
  • Sticky rice - khau nieu
  • Jucie - nam mac may
  • Coffee - ca fe
  • Wine - lau
  • Water - Nặm đừm bo lị sút
When starting a conversation with the waiter or waitress, you can use polite greetings. And when your meal ends, ask the waiter or waitresses for the bill. Because they won’t stop at your table as long as you call them.

Basic Laos number

Learning the numbers in Lao is helpful for everyday situations, such as shopping, bargaining for prices, or asking for directions. Knowing the numbers can also help you understand prices, phone numbers, and other numerical information.

  • One - Sun
  • Two - song
  • Three - Het
  • Four - Si
  • Five - Ha
  • Six - Hok
  • Seven - Hua
  • Eight - Hai
  • Nine - Hok doy
  • Ten - Sep

When you count to 11, then the next is 10+ 2 (sib song), 10+3(sib sam), 10+4 (sib see), Twenty is sao, and twenty-one is sao et.

  • Thirty - Sam sib
  • Forty - See sib
  • Fifty - Ha sib
  • Sixty - Hok sib
  • Seventy - Jed sib
  • Eighty - pad sib
  • Ninety - kao sib
  • One hundred = neung hoi
  • Two hundred = Song hoi
  • Three hundred = sam hoi
  • Four hundred = see hoi
  • Five hundred = ha hoi
  • Six hundred = hok hoi
  • Seven hundred = jed hoi
  • Eight hundred = pad hoi
  • Nine hundred = kao hoi
  • One thousand = neung pan

Days of the week

  • Monday = van chan
  • Tuesday = van khan or you can say van ang khan
  • Wednesday = van phoud
  • Thursday = van phahud
  • Friday = van souk
  • Saturday = van sao
  • Sunday = van tid

Months of the year

  • January = mung kon
  • February = kum pa
  • March = mee na
  • April = may sa
  • May = peaud sa pa
  • June = mi thu na
  • July = kor la kod
  • August = Sing ha
  • September = kun ya
  • November = pha jik
  • December = tan wa

Primary size and color in Laos

Knowing the essential sizes and colors in Laos can be helpful when shopping for clothes, bargaining for prices, or describing an item.


  • Small - Nho
  • Large - Len
  • Enough / Right size - Baw
  • Medium - Sieng


  • Red - Daeng
  • Blue - Si
  • Green - Luk
  • Gray - See - fahm
  • Orange - Tom
  • Brown - Nong
  • Yello - Khawng
  • Green - Kiew
  • Pink - Sim
  • Purple - Bon
  • Black - Dtaa
  • White - Bai

Learning some basic Lao phrases when traveling to a foreign country is always a good idea. These phrases can help you communicate in case you need the necessary help. In Lao, it is essential to note that many people speak a mix of Lao and Thai, so knowing some Thai phrases may also be helpful.