Thailand Distance Formats

For most cases Thailand uses the metric system of centimeters, meters and kilometers to measure distances.

However a few traditional measurements are still in use today

Thailand Distances Converter

Use the tool below to easily convert Wa, Sen & Yot into common metric & imperial measurements.

Thai Imperial measurement system

Living in the 21st century we are all very aware of both the metric measuring system (cms, metres, kilometres) and the UK imperial measuring system (inches, feet, miles). However, I am sure there are very few who are familiar with the Thai Imperial measuring system.

The Thai Imperial measurement was used for many decades until the current metric system was introduced in the early years of the 20th century. However, it is still common to see the Thai system in use alongside the metric system in more rural areas even today. Incidentally, there are only four countries who still use Imperial measuring today, they are USA, Liberia, Myanmar and the UK, although the UK also uses the Metric system extensively.

As we know the Metric system uses evenly split and easy to understand numerics I.e 10mm = 1cm, 100cm = 1 metre, 1000 metres = 1 kilometre etc. However, the Thai system is a lot less structured and slightly confusing to understand, although it is presumably influenced by either body/limb measurements or by using ropes to gain distance measurements.

In Thai a “Wa” = 2 metres length, although many years ago the “Wa’ was equivalent to the span of two outstretched arms. Note; that even though they use the Thai name for the measurement, the measurement itself has now been converted into a metric measurement. One would assume that for those with a smaller body type this made measuring a lot more standardised. We then have the “Sen” which has been conveniently equated to 40 metres length, therefore making 20 “Wa” = 1 “Sen”. Finally, there is the Thai “Yot” and this is the equivalent of 16 kilometres (9.94 miles imperial). Therefore, 400 Sen is equal to 1 Yot. The heritage of the Thai Yot is still unknown.

So, how are these measurements used in modern day Thailand? Anyone, who knows the Thai language and who has looked into buying or leasing land may have enquired the size of a piece of land and been strangely surprised and confused to be told it’s “A Sen” long…meaning its 40 metres long. This would typically be used by older Thai people when referring to a piece of land that is one square “Rai”. Because a Rai of land which is square, measures 40 x 40 metres or “Sen” x “Sen”, in Thai this would be heard as Sen-kun-Sen.

Thai Imperial Distance Conversions

Wa วา

One Wa is now treated as 2 meters, but traditionally represented the span of outstretched arms.

Sen เส้น

One Sen is equivalent to 40 meters. 20 Wa make one Sen.

Yot โยชน์

One Yot is equivalent to 16 kilometers, or 400 sen.