The Meaning of Thai Time — Time Frames are Different in Thailand


When you first get to Thailand and figure out that Thais look at time differently than the rest of us, it’s confusing. But once you get used to it, Thai Time is actually quite simple.

If someone tells you “I’ll see you at Cafe du Lac” at 5pm, add on another 30 minutes. Showing up at 5:30 should give you ample opportunity to purchase your latte, have a nice long sip of it, and have read a few pages of the novel you always carry around with you before your Thai friend shows up.

If someone tells you “We’ll reimburse your 10,000 baht next week, and have you sign a new school contract at the same time”, add on another 3-4 weeks to that estimate before you get your 10,000 baht and then presume you’ll be signing the new school contract for this semester at the beginning of next semester.

If someone tells you “New student come class tomorrow. He good English speak”, presume he’ll actually show up next week, and won’t even be able to answer the English question “What is your name?”

If someone tells you, “I ordered audio tapes for your textbooks today. You will get them next week.” Add about 8 weeks onto that estimate, and understand that by the time the tapes get to you, you won’t need them anymore.

If you know you have to be at Suvarnabhumi Airport for your flight to Malaysia at 7am and you need to order a taxi for 4:30am, order a taxi for 4am and be down there at 3:30 – because Thai Time can sometimes go either way. My friend recently ordered her 4am taxi, arrived downstairs in our apartment building to wait for it at 3:50am, only to discover he’d arrived at 3:30 and left 10 minutes later.

See. Thai Time. Once it’s explained to you. It’s easy!