About North Thailand Birding

Koh Phratong Streaked Wren-Babbler




Place Names and Transliteration

Due to the size and complexities of the Thai alphabet, the transliteration of Thai place names into the Roman alphabet is not straightforward. Furthermore, signs around the country will vary the spelling for the same names. For example Nakhon is often rendered as Nakorn.

An official transliteration system does exist, but is not always followed. Further confusion arises with several of the Thai characters being substituted with what would appear to be the incorrect equivalent. For example the Thai 'g' sound is usually transliterated as the letter 'k', or the Thai 'w' sound replaced with 'v', even though Thai has no 'v' sound. For example 'Phuket' is written whereas the Thai pronunciation is much closer to Phuget. An 'h' after a consonant is silent - so 'Thai' is pronounced 'tie', not 'thigh", and 'Phuket' is pronounced 'pooget' not 'fooget'.

The Thai tones, so important in the language, are not transliterated, and neither are the long forms of vowels - a long 'a' and a short 'a' in Thai are different vowels, but will both be written 'a'. It is not surprising that visitors can have problems communicating. By preference, place names used on this website are those most likely to be found on road signs or, if not available, the official transliteration. A further, more detailed, explanation and history of Thai transliteration can be found here.


Many people have provided help in the production of North Thailand Birding; having given feedback, identification assistance, information and support in many different ways on many subjects. The following are acknowledged and thanked for their contributions and assistance: Gerry Brett, Paul Carter (Phuket), Mick Davies (Chiang Saen), Les Day (Samui), Ian Dugdale (Phuket), Peter Ericsson (Bangkok), Dave Gandy (Bangkok), John Moore (Chiang Mai), Andy Pierce (Bangkok), Games Punjapa Phetsri (Phuket), Phil Round (Bangkok), Ike Suriwong (Phuket) and Nick Upton (Bangkok).