Thai Language Blog

Scary Thai for Halloween Posted by on Oct 29, 2015 in Culture

While Thailand is a country with many traditional festivals and holidays, Halloween is definitely not one of them. That being said, Thai people are all for an excuse to have a good time or a party – if something isn’t fun (สนุก – sà-nùk), it’s not worth doing after all! Plus, with so many foreigners living and traveling in Thailand, there are plenty of places that are happy to throw Halloween parties to bring in extra business. To get you in the Halloween spirit and learning a little Thai at the same time, here are 20 vocabulary words related to the holiday:

  • Halloween (วันฮาโลวีน – wan haa-loh-ween)

  • costume (เสื้อผ้า – sêua pâa)

  • party (ปาร์ตี้ – bpaa-dtêe)

  • trick-or-treat (ทริกออร์ทรีต – thrík-aaw-thríit)

  • candy (ลูกอม – lôok om)

  • haunted house (บ้านผีสิง – bâan pĕe sĭng)

  • pumpkin (ฟัก ทอง – fák tong)

  • jack-o-lantern (ฟักทองฮาโลวีน – fák tong haa-loh-ween)

  • spider (แมงมุม – maeng mum)

  • bat (ค้างคาว – káang kaao)

  • black cat (แมวดำ – maew dam)

  • ghost (ผี – pĕe)

  • witch (แม่ มด – mâe mót)

  • skeleton (โครงกระดูก – krohng grà-dòok)

  • werewolf (มนุษย์หมาป่า – má-nút măa bpàa)

  • mummy (มัมมี่ – mam-mêe)

  • vampire (ผีดูดเลือด – pĕe dòot lêuat)

  • monster (สัตว์ประหลาด – sàt bprà-làat)

  • Frankenstein (แฟรงเกนสไตน์ – fraeng-gayn-sà-dtai)

  • zombie (ผีดิบ – pĕe dìp)

Halloween is a scary holiday, but how can you express this in Thai? Here are a few useful words:

  • to be scared (กลัว – glua)

  • scary (น่ากลัว – nâa glua)

  • fear/fright (ความกลัว – kwaam glua)

  • fear of ghosts (กลัวผี – glua pĕe)

  • phobias (โรคกลัว – rôhk glua)

  • to horrify/terrify (กลัวลาน – glua laan)

A Thai spirit house in Bangkok.

A Thai spirit house in Bangkok.

Ghosts and spirits are big parts of Halloween, but do people in Thailand believe in all of that? If you’ve traveled around the country, you’ve probably noticed the spirit houses (ศาลพระภูมิ – săan prá-poom) in businesses and homes. These shrines function as alters, which people place offerings on to appease the spirits. It’s widely believed in Thai culture that those who do not respect or honor the spirits will be cursed with bad luck and even tragic accidents. Check out this advertisement that shows an upset spirit accosting the homeowner to buy new electronics:

There are plenty of ghost stories in Thai culture, such as that of Pret (เปรต – bpràyt). The name literally means “hungry ghost,” and it can be found in many cultures. They can come in many varieties, as it is a reincarnation of an awful person who is reborn as a disgusting beings with emaciated bellies and slender necks. They have an insatiable appetite for something repulsive, like feces or dead bodies, but cannot satisfy it. Here’s another funny look at Thai ghosts in this ad:

If you’re interested in learning about more Thai ghosts, you can check out this reading from the Bangkok Post which also has an MP3 you can listen along to. You’ll see some of these ghosts and many more in this hilarious video called “Shit Thai Ghosts Say”:

For those who get in a singing mood, why not try singing along to “This is Halloween” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in Thai?

Some of the best places to celebrate Halloween in Thailand are Bangkok and Phuket, where there’s always a big number of expats and tourists around to drum up excitement for the holiday. See what it looked like last year in one of Phuket’s biggest nightlife districts in this video:

For some reading practice, a great resource is this guide put together by the US Embassy in Bangkok to introduce Halloween. It’s in both English and Thai, so you can try reading them side by side.

สุขสันต์วันฮัลโลวีน – sùk-kà-săn wan haa-loh-ween

Happy Halloween!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.