How to make Thai friends in Thailand

For many people it’s hard to make local friends in Thailand. You will see foreigners stay in their own group with each other most of the time. But really, you can’t live a good life in Thailand unless you make good local friends.

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So why should you make Thai friends?

To learn the culture

Let’s face it, you cannot learn the culture from another foreigner. It will be at least second hand. It is best to learn the culture from another person who bas born into it.  Learning the culture is not something that is just theory. It will help you to do almost everything you want to do in Thailand faster and with less mistakes. 

To learn the language

Your Thai friends will speak a lot of Thai with other people. And you cannot help but to pickup what you hear. Some of the words you hear repeated again and again you should ask what they mean and try to say them yourself. Your Thai friends will correct you -- several times [laugh].

To get help when you need it

Quick - how many of you know the number to call the police in Thailand? Can you quickly describe where you live? How about if you get in an accident or have a crime committed against you? What if you have to speak to an official person who does not speak English?

This is another good reason to have genuine Thai friends to help you when you need it.

It’s good to have local friends

The last reason is simple - humans are social animals and everyone needs friends. Even Thai people! They like to have foreign friends so they can learn your culture and language and you want the same thing too.

Ok so those are the reasons why you should have Thai friends. Now here are some great ways to actually go out and do it. You might have many reasons to make friends. Perhaps you see something that you like. Perhaps you just want someone to talk with. But there is one strong way to do it.

Repetition.

Thailand is known as the land of smiles. But this is Bangkok, and people might not smile with you in the beginning. So the best way to meet people is to repeat. Let me go through a few ways on how you should do this.

 

#1 Buy from the same people

When you arrive in Bangkok, and you do everyday shopping, you should try to do it from the same stores. Pick a 7-11 and stick to it. Buy fruits from the same fruit stand everytime. Even buy your clothes from the same store.

But you need to go a bit further. Remember you are trying to make friends. So you should also try to shop at around the same time, so you meet the same people on their work shift.

#2 Eat at the same restaurants

The same goes from restaurants. In the beginning you will try many restaurants. But in the end, settle at just a few in your neighborhood or near your workplace or school or on your commute. Don’t just buy your food from everywhere.

Another thing. Tip the waiters. Yes, Thailand is not the place to tip people, but if your favorite restaurants allow it, then do it. Remember, you're trying to make friends.

As you walk in, try to find your favorite waiter and wave to them. They will come over to you for sure.

#3 Show an interest

The next tip is good for store owners, or street food vendors.  Ask them how business is doing. Listen to what they say and seriously sympathize with them or congratulate them if they are doing well. Say the product or product looks nice today. But really mean it of course. 

People can smell fakeness a mile away. So if you don’t mean it, don’t bother to say it.

#4 Try to remember people

If you shop at a big supermarket like Tesco of Big C, try to remember the staff that works in the departments you frequent. As we said before, try to do your shopping on the same days or times if possible so the chances of meeting them again are greater. You have to be really specific about this by even going to the same cashier you used before.

#5 Smile and say hello

It’s one thing to see people all the time. But at some point you have to act on it. So learn how to say “Hello” in Thai and smile at the same time. Some Thai people can be quite shy, and if they don’t speak English very well, then that can also be the biggest reason to not talk to you.

So a few choice words in Thai will make a big difference.

This is why in many Baan Smile videos, we always recommend you try to learn a few words of Thai.

#6 Ask for their name

A good next step is to ask them what their name is. Thai people will tell you their nickname and that’s fine. Repeat it to them and they will probably correct your pronunciation. This is ok!!

When you get their nickname right, you can say what your name is.

Make a polite bow and say goodbye. Don’t try to take things any further at this time. The next time you see them, please call them by name.

So where are we now?

You’ve begun to frequent the same locations at the same time and you’ve learned the names of the people you’re interested in. You’ve begun to smile and maybe you’ve even run into some people you know while you’re out and about. It’s time to take the next step and engage on a deeper level.

#7 Ask for help

Now that some time has passed, a good way to go deeper is to ask for some help with something. Maybe it’s as simple as asking where you can buy something. But be sensible, don’t ask someone who works in a restaurant where to buy something from a factory. Keep your request simple and easy for the person to answer without thinking too much or without them having to do any work.

Ask for help publicly too. This helps the person to “gain face” by doing some good in a public way.

If the person says they cannot do it, then don’t worry. There will always be another time.

#8 Should you give a gift?

No.

Thailand can be very superstitious sometimes. It’s easy to give the wrong kind of gift and get yourself into a lot of trouble. And the thing is, you might not even know that you’re in trouble. The person might just stop talking to you or give you the cold shoulder. So keep gifts to very simple everyday items. Not expensive, and useful.

#9  Asking someone out

So you’ve begun to know people a lot more and maybe you want to go have a drink or something. This does not have to be romantic or anything. The best way to do this, is ask them to join you and some friends for a meal or some drinks. If they ask you out, unless you really and truly cannot go, please accept the invitation and show up. Even if everyone is speaking Thai, they will be glad to have you. Trust me, you will have a great time and even make more friends when you’re there.

This is especially true if you are invited to a new friend’s home to meet their family.

The best gift to take in this case, is a bottle of alcohol like some wine, vodka or some kind of drink that Thai people like. If you’re in doubt, ask your friend!

#10 Special note for guys.

So finally, this is a special note for you guys. You are about 92% of the audience on our youtube channel, so here’s a little bit of a serious note for you.

Try to make friends with Thai guys. I’m serious!!! Sure, its good to make female friends too. But as a guy, you need to meet male Thai friends. 

Let’s be honest.

When you have female friends, there is always the possibility of some kind of romantic attachment. That’s just how the male brain works. However when you have guy friends, its a pure friendship. You can do things with other guys that you cannot do with girls. You can talk about things that you cannot talk about with women.

And most importantly, men and men everywhere you go. So as a man, your male friends will understand you in a way that no woman can -- not even your wife or girlfriend. Many studies around the world prove that man with good male friends are happier in life. That’s just how it is.

 

Making friends is so important guys. This is not something that just happens. You have to actually work at doing it. But the benefits are out of this world and well worth the work!

If you have more tips on making friends in Thailand or any other country, please let us know!

And if you have any questions about Thailand, please ask them here.

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