16 Best Books to Learn Thai for Beginners and Beyond

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As travelers and Thai learners, we may get confused when ordering a Thai dish to be pet noi or mai pet, or we may mistake ‘near’ and ‘far’ when asking for directions. (Near and far in Thai are both pronounced as glai but with different tones.) But don’t worry – we are here to help you!

Mastering and learning Thai will take time, and what better way to learn the Thai language than through Thai learning books? Here, we have compiled some of the best grammar books, textbooks, and practice books to learn Thai.

temples in thailand

Editor’s note: To reach fluency faster, combine these books with popular apps like Mondly and Drops, and tune in to the famous Pimsleur audio course. And consider hiring an affordable online tutor on italki. All these and more in this list of 30+ Thai learning resources, including FREE ones.

Best Thai books for beginners

Who says you can’t start learning Thai with books? Indeed, it may seem intimidating; you may be self-learning Thai, dipping your toe in the water, or just a bit rusty in your Thai language skills.

Fret not! Here are some starter books which serve as resources for an easy way to learn Thai.

1. Thai for Beginners

Firstly, you cannot go wrong with this Thai for Beginners book. Many learners begin with this book and then continue with their intermediate and advanced books.

In the 10 lessons, you will not only learn how to read and write basic Thai but also speak and listen in Thai too. At the end of the book, you will enjoy an index with 1000 English to Thai words.

Tip: The provided audio CD is essential for the full learning experience.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Beginners who are in a class or want to teach themselves
  • Learning the essentials of Thai pronunciation and its variations and types

2. Teach Yourself Thai

Travelling to Thailand and need to pick up some useful phrases and words? This book will be more than sufficient for that!

You will learn the Thai language basics, such as the five tones and conversational skills. Moreover, the pairing audio would be great for you to listen to at your own pace and at repetitions to grasp Thai dialogues.

Eventually, you will learn how to speak Thai on your own.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Beginners who are up to self-study
  • Learners looking for an in-depth and fast-paced structure
  • An excellent foundation to further your Thai skills

3. Read Thai in 10 Days

Absolutely, language books may seem daunting and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you are going to be diligently studying this book, you could read Thai in 10 days. If not, take your time to appreciate the well-thought-out simplicity of this book and learn at your own pace.

Not to forget, the accompanying audio is free to download.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Hands-on exercises and memorization drills to learn the Thai language
  • Simple and organized layout 
  • Digestible learning content

4. My Thai Book

This series is a book with accompanying free video lessons that can be found on YouTube or Amazon Prime Video. It’s designed with thought and care by a Thai language learning center in Chiang Mai.

For example, they have created over sixty 20-30 mins videos on YouTube, each simulating a real-life language course. Instead of being out, you can learn at the comfort of your home.

Additionally, if you enjoyed this book, there is a second book you can check out too!

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Learners who want to accompany the book with video lessons
  • First-time Thai learners who want a fun approach to learning
  • Teaching yourself Thai at your own pace
  • Learners looking for an eBook alternative to learn Thai (available in both Paper and eBook)

5. Easy Thai

If you are learning how to read Thai, you should probably learn how to speak Thai too! This book covers all of the topics you would need to know as a traveler in Thailand.

Instructions are in English, accompanied by the Thai script and romanization of the phrases. You will also enjoy a relatively comprehensive Thai-English glossary at the end of the book.

In short, this book is a definite bang for your buck.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • A simple and comprehensive guide for beginners
  • Interactive speaking and written exercises
  • Memorizing phrases and words through repetition
  • Learning materials which include cultural notes and advice (e.g. opening a bank account in Thailand)

Best grammar books to learn Thai

You will be glad to know that Thai grammar is much easier than English grammar. While they have their similarities, Thai grammar has lesser rules.

Maybe learning grammar could be fun, after all. Once you know a few rules, you will be able to construct grammatical sentences like a native.

Here are three books that are often thought of as the trinity to Thai learners and teachers.

6. Thai: An Essential Grammar

A digestible and friendly reference book for learning Thai grammar. Without being too overwhelming for beginners, the chapters are straight to the point and cover all the necessary materials you need.

Additionally, this book would be best paired with other materials as its concise and clear structure discounts you of more examples. 

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Beginners and intermediate learners
  • A clear and comprehensive guide to grammatical rules
  • Independent learning and classroom learning

7. Thai Reference Grammar

Secondly, take it up a notch from the previous guide and pick up this reference book. I recommend this for serious or seasoned learners who want to gain in-depth knowledge of the Thai language.

Filled with practices and examples of different grammatical rules, this book will be your companion for your whole Thai learning journey.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Advanced or experienced Thai learners
  • Formal and informal uses of the Thai language 
  • Supplementing other learning materials 

8. A Reference Grammar of Thai

Finally, interested in understanding the different functions of the Thai language? Want a book with orthographic spelling in Thai and IPA?

Look no further, this book was designed with those in mind. This Thai grammar book will be best for seasoned learners and linguists interested in studying Thai grammar in depth.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Advanced learners looking to polish their Thai grammatical rules
  • Linguists and teachers of intermediate-advanced students
  • Clear and extensive chapters on grammar rules

Best textbooks to learn Thai

Sometimes the word ‘textbook’ reminds us of school and its long and boring lessons. In short, textbooks get a bad rep. When instead, textbooks can give us clarity and structure when learning a new language. Here are some of the best Thai language textbooks you can check out.

9. AUA Language Center Thai Course: Book 1

Developed by one of the most prestigious and oldest learning centers of the Thai Language. This book is no stranger to Thai language schools and teachers. This course has 20 lessons specifically designed for students in a classroom setting.

Accompany this structured book with other learning materials, and you will not be missing out on any learning.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • A comprehensive guide for beginners taking Thai lessons
  • Pairing with a workbook for writing and reading practice

10. Thai Language and Culture for Beginners Book 1

Commonly used in schools and teachers, this textbook is highly recommended for students who want to build on their existing Thai knowledge.

In the two-part series, you will learn about daily topics and situations and develop your Thai comprehension skills.  

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Building a strong foundation for learning the everyday Thai language
  • Intertwining learning the Thai language and the Thai culture 
  • Learning Thai with the accompanying audio

11. Cracking Thai Fundamentals

This book is not your average Thai language learning book. The polyglot author describes this book as a Thai operating system for your mind.

Its approach to learning is a unique one – instead of just telling you the Thai language components, the author explains the features through different concepts and depth.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Serious learners of any proficiency!
  • Learners looking for an exciting style to learn Thai
  • Linguists and learners who appreciate the depth of the Thai language

12. Learn Thai with Maanee 

Also known as ‘Maanii books.’ The 12 books in the series were initially used to teach Thai primary school students how to read and write Thai.

Mia, a Thai language teacher, and her love of Maanee books have translated 5/12 of the books to English for all learners.

In other words, you can now learn Thai for free with English translated and original Thai language Maanee books. Thank you, Mia!

learn thai with maanee

Click to: Download the books

This book is best for:

  • Beginner learners 
  • Both younger learners and kids
  • Learners who want to learn how to read Thai from a 100% Thai textbook

Best practice books to learn Thai

Sure, scribbling and diligently writing Thai words will help improve your Thai writing skills. There’s absolutely no shame in needing some practice books to perfect your Thai skills from the very basics. Here are some of the best Thai learning practice books.

13. Master the Thai Alphabet

Without breaking the bank, you can invest in a quality and effective workbook to practice your Thai handwriting.

You will expect the classic tracing of alphabet exercises to increase your memory and familiarity as well as learning the different variations of the Thai alphabet that you will encounter.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Learners who need ample space to practice their writing
  • Teachers, students, or self-taught learners who want to photocopy exercises (the author has kindly granted non-commercial use rights)

14. Khian Thai: Thai Writing Workbook

If you are confident in conversing in Thai, take it to the next level by getting a book to learn how to write Thai! Considering the Thai alphabet is not your standard ABCs, this book will certainly make learning how to write the Thai alphabet easy and straightforward.

Note that this Thai book focuses solely on writing, so it’s not a stand-alone guide to learning Thai. 

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Learners looking for Thai alphabet writing practices
  • Learners who are interested in the transliteration of Thai scriptures 

15. Thai Alphabets Practice Book

Last but not least, who knew a former Muay Thai fighter would turn into a passionate Thai language instructor?

Kru Chom has created this exercise book filled with handwriting exercises on the Thai alphabet. For instance, the topics cover the 44 consonants and the vowels in the Thai alphabet.

This is indeed simplified one-stop-all learning of the Thai alphabet.

tha alphabets practice book
Image credit: ThaiByChom

Click to: Buy on website

This book is best for:

  • Beginner learners on a budget
  • Simple and straight to the point exercises for learning the Thai alphabets
  • A printable eBook formatted in PDF

Finally, here is a little something different. A storybook in Thai!

16. Am I small? ฉันตัวเล็กหรือ?

Bilingual Thai-English books are hard to find, but here’s a simple one you can enjoy!

Part of the campaign, “A World Children’s Book for Every Child on the Planet.” The book has been translated into over 180 languages—a reliable illustrative picture book for learners learning Thai.

Click to: Buy on Amazon / Buy on Book Depository

This book is best for:

  • Young learners
  • Practicing reading in Thai 
train in thailand

Motivational facts to help you learn Thai

Congratulations on reaching the end of this article! You must really want to learn Thai, and we hope these book recommendations will help you on your journey. Here are some motivational facts that you can treat yourself to. Of course, this will be just a pinch of what you’ll learn in your Thai learning journey.

  • 555 – In Thai, the number 5 is ห้า and pronounced as hâa. So if you see 555 in texts or social media posts, they are saying hahaha. You can say it is a sort of slang equivalent to a laugh, LOL, or ROFL. Hence, the next time you see 5555, you will not be wondering why there are random numbers in the text.
  • ใครขายไข่ไก่ [krai kǎi kài gài] – To perfect your Thai pronunciation, here’s a Thai tongue twister for a little bit of fun. ใครขายไข่ไก่ pronounced as krai kǎi kài gài. It directly translates to “who sell egg chicken.” Try it with a local and have a good laugh. 
  • The longest ceremonial name in the world – Bangkok is famous for a lot of things. But, did you know Bangkok is also called Krung Thep? It means the City of Angels. However, that is just the simplified version. Bangkok’s full ceremonial name is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. So, put your Thai knowledge to the test, find out what it means, and share it with us.

In conclusion, I hope this article on finding the best books to learn Thai has been helpful. 

If you are looking for more useful resources to learn Thai, check out our article on the best apps to learn Thai and also the 30+ best books, podcasts, websites, and more to learn Thai.

Also, let us know what Thai books and other resources you found useful in your Thai learning journey!

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1 thought on “16 Best Books to Learn Thai for Beginners and Beyond”

  1. This article is so well written, and comes as one of the best in terms of book recommendations I have ever read. Thank you so much for the time taken to find all theses and for sharing them !

    Reply

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