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I've a English speaker who resides in Thailand, who does not read Thai nor the languages of other Asia countries. My OSM language setting is "en-US,en" (w/o quote marks).

I need to have the OSM maps to be in English, as much as possible, yet my current language setting doesn't seem to accommodate this.

Help, please. Thanks!

asked 08 Feb '15, 09:24

grathiam's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

closed 01 Mar '22, 19:41

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦


Thanks for the replies, and now feeling somewhat embarrassed. I must admit that when I posted my query, I'd not zoomed in on the map which then revealed many details translated into English.

(09 Feb '15, 02:54) grathiam

As I understand it, you can only see the English on Thai maps if the person who added the item used English in the primary field. This is against the OSM recommendations for updating maps. Editors should enter the local language in the primary field. There are secondary (translation) fields where translations can also be added, but those aren't displayed on OSM maps. So, it is an 'error' if you are seeing the English.

(30 Apr '20, 04:58) JacksonMrsSippy

The question has been closed for the following reason "Problem is not reproducible or outdated" by SimonPoole 01 Mar '22, 19:41

12next »


OpenStreetMap is not just for English-language readers (or more broadly for those familiar with latin alphabets). The standard map on the main website is largely there to assist those who are actively contributing to the map, and as such it favours use of local names. Where non-local names have been used it is often a sign that we have failed to develop a strong local community.

Also the main map is created as a set of bitmaps (raster tiles) and the names are 'hard-baked' and not responsive to language settings. In the future it is anticipated that we will use vector tiles which will provide more flexibility, but for the reasons stated above the main map will still feature the name as used locally.

In your case the MapQuest Open map which is selectable from the layer icon on the right-hand side of the screen does show names of (at least some) places in thailand using a latin script and/or common names as used in english. However this is not likely to help you with respect to street names etc., as we discourage inclusion of transliterated names in the database.

So in summary, you can either learn to read the Thai alphabet, or develop a system to transliterate thai names and set up appropriate infrastructure to provide the map you want. I suspect the former might be quicker!

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answered 08 Feb '15, 11:01

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦
accept rate: 22%

edited 10 Feb '15, 20:01

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

..any news on vector tiles as a solution? I also want roman transliterations of Thai maps. I can read Thai, but the maps are useless as the Thai text is so small/low-res to be illegible.

Seriously, can anybody read this?

Thai has many similar-looking letters eg ชซ คศ บษ You cant differentiate these at low res. Superscripts (vowels) are even worse -only 2 px tall -ี -ื -ิ -ึ ; -ั -้ ( )

Artificial (10x) zooming shows the low-res: -trust me, there are plenty of ambiguities!

Comparison of 4 apps: (HD 14" PC/ 5"phone) ..only MapsMe is readable (but they are bad at importing updates (my (Thai) updates still arent there after 2 map-update cycles)

Roman transliterations would help me and 10M tourists.

I tried everything on this page - only 1 delivers consistently [OSMAnd w/ bilingual overlay] & then only online.

It is reasonable for foreign tourists to want useable maps. As-is, there is no translit'n & even the Thai is unusable.

Any solution to this, yet? Or soon? I have updates to make (Thai + translit'n), but I'd like to know that the effort will be useable.

(30 Apr '20, 05:04) JacksonMrsSippy

Try for a map showing English labels (using transliteration if no English name labels are present in OSM data) or for a map of Thailand that shows English and Thai labels.

(30 Apr '20, 07:32) Spiekerooger

thanks very much - those are both great for providing legible (size-wise) transliterations. I don't suppose you know of an offline/downloadable, android one, do you? (OSMAnd transliteration doesn't work on Thai, as far as I can tell).

Also, I'd still be interested to know the status of developments with vector tiles, if possible.

(30 Apr '20, 08:12) JacksonMrsSippy

just another thought - in the short-term, to make the Thai language maps more readable - maybe someone there could write a subroutine for Thailand tiles, to (a) use a bigger font and (b) run tiles through an unsharp mask (before the tiles are baked/uploaded). :)

(04 May '20, 05:44) JacksonMrsSippy

You could give the Android version OsmAnd a try. It gives an option to display names in the local language or transliterated into your preferred language.

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answered 10 Feb '15, 18:21

NZGraham's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

Consider this alternative as well: the web-based Thailand bilingual map from It retains the style being used in the main OSM slippy map (Mapnik).

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answered 16 Feb '15, 13:53

AkuAnakTimur's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%

AFAIK, this is not possible on the website. The standard rendering is the same for all visitors, irregardless of their browser language. It uses the name field stored on the object.

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answered 08 Feb '15, 10:59

escada's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

Try SK53's suggestion.

If you want even more, there are OSM-based maps with automatic transliteration of names: For example try this (although it has a preference for German names, but that will be easier for you).

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answered 08 Feb '15, 12:08

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦
accept rate: 18%

edited 10 Feb '15, 16:31

As this old question comes up again and again.

There is now an English only map based on OpenStreetMap data at (*). It uses the English labels instead of the local language labels or automatic phoentic transscription if no labels in English are present in the OSM data.

(*) If you live in North America, will be faster, and in Europe use

Other language versions (Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Italian or Danish) can be found via

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answered 30 Apr '20, 08:13

Spiekerooger's gravatar image

accept rate: 16%

edited 30 Apr '20, 08:14

The "Transport Map" layer seems to have bilingual labels (local + latin) for major map features. You can select this layer from the layers icon. Thanks @SomeoneElse for pointing this out.

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answered 01 Nov '18, 11:16

votsalo's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

You should use the test implementation of the Multi Lingual Map by Jochen Topf.
(And have fun mapping English names :) )

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answered 17 Feb '15, 19:39

malenki's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%


This map does not have automatic transliteration, apparently. So it needs to have name:en tags or similar to show latinized names. Still useful!

(17 Feb '15, 21:53) aseerel4c26 ♦

Open Street Map’s priorities are their own, but it seems a little strange it hasn’t yet included a worldwide Latin map at the very least, considering about a third of world’s population use that script.

I can understand why, as explained in the first reply above, the current web map is the way it is. But at the same time this “global map” really behaves more like a collection of national maps, considering very few people if anyone can read all the world’s scripts and languages. I was also of the impression that many people use other software, apps or specialist editors to edit the map, rather than the main web viewer. It seems, ideally, this global-local map should be the primary map for editing and not the standard map for general use. Other versions of the map with a consistent script could be used as the default Standard map for viewing, with the map used dependent upon the nation or territory from where it’s accessed.

I do believe, that without globally-consistent labelling by script or language it’s precluding wider adoption of Open Street Map compared with other services, and this in turn probably limits the size of the community and the number of active editors. I wonder if this is ever considered or factored in discussions regarding priorities. I’d love to replace all other mapping services with Open Street Map, but given its current design I can’t.

I like Open Street Map and it’s improved a lot since I first explored it several years ago. In particular, the local-level cartography (at least in the Standard map) is sublime and probably beats all the competition (including Google). For my uses and needs however, I have to consider it an effectively incomplete global map and useful only in nations and territories that use Latin, since other scripts are unintelligible with it.

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answered 17 May '18, 16:09

SimonMetcalf's gravatar image

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edited 17 May '18, 16:13


but it seems a little strange it hasn’t yet included a worldwide Latin map at the very least

You mean apart from the 2 of the 4 maps on that DO include Latin names? Sorry if this comes across as tetchy but we do hear this sort of stuff a lot - you can see in the answers above that there are lots of maps that present OSM data using latin characters. Perhaps if we knew what your "uses and needs" were we'd be able to comment further...

(17 May '18, 16:12) SomeoneElse ♦

Can you elaborate further? I, the original poster, and many others have had trouble finding this global Latin or English map.

(17 May '18, 16:16) SimonMetcalf

There are a shedload of links above to other maps. On itself, there is for example .

(17 May '18, 16:18) SomeoneElse ♦

I was also of the impression that many people use other software, apps or specialist editors to edit the map, rather than the main web viewer.

It's not just many people use other software to edit the map, no one uses the main web viewer to edit the map. It simply does not have that functionality. You cannot edit the map with it.

You may be understanding the iD editor as part of the main web viewer, but it is a separate bit of tech, and does in fact display the names in Latin script (for me, with my web-browser set to English).

(17 May '18, 20:07) keithonearth

So this basically renders null the main argument in the first reply above where they state: “The standard map on the main website is largely there to assist those who are actively contributing to the map” i.e. editing it. So if the Standard web map is not used to edit the map, why would it need to be a version that’s targeted to editors by favouring local country-specific scripts?

The standard rendered map at is the public face of Open Street Map, and seems to have the best cartography, yet it doesn’t seem targeted or particularly well suited for general use — unless you’re only interested in your own country I suppose (and that’s just boring). This I find odd. It displays by default a global map with zoom (in my case) set at a national scale, which just invites you to explore other countries.

I looked for the links to other rendered maps with alternative labelling via the main web portal (as the OP likely did) but couldn’t find them, and I’m sure most casual visitors won’t either; while most of the other web viewers seem to have different (and inferior) rendering/cartography than the mostly excellent Standard map.

(23 May '18, 13:22) SimonMetcalf

Just a bit more (because it went over the character limit):

I find this all interesting how certain projects organise themselves and determine their priorities. I see no reason why Open Street Map can’t be the premier global mapping service the way Wikipedia is for general knowledge. Goodness knows it’s so much better than Apple Maps, and unlike Apple Maps if something is wrong you don’t have to submit a report to them (and wait forever for them to do nothing) but you can actually edit it yourself! I just feel that with the Standard map at the main web portal the way it is, it’s probably turning away a lot of people on their very first visit.

(23 May '18, 13:24) SimonMetcalf

@SimonMetcalf This has been done to death over the years. This is a help site not one to discuss the design of the Carto-CSS map nor of the OSM website.

(23 May '18, 13:50) SK53 ♦

(I probably shouldn't feed the troll, but)

why would it need to be a version that’s targeted to editors by favouring local country-specific scripts?

Why do you think it should favour you over people who actually live in a particular country and are more likely to want a map of it?

(23 May '18, 14:08) SomeoneElse ♦
This has been done to death over the years
...we do hear this sort of stuff a lot...

These quotes (among others) simply highlight the need. If so many have asked, over such a period of time, then something is amiss; leading naturally onto a discussion of project design & goals.

This is a help site...

That's the apparent intention although retorting that users learn a multitude of languages generally isn't.

(27 Feb '22, 15:38) xanda-escuyer

@xanda-escuyer: OSM is a database and the map shown on just one of many examples (you may also try switching layers at to see some other examples as said in some of the answers here). An English derivative with English labels globally is also available at for quite some time. So the need you assume is taken care of many times over.

(27 Feb '22, 18:56) Spiekerooger

@xanda-escuyer the help site is neither a wish list nor a discussion platform. There are more than enough suitable venues for discussion, pls take your comments there.

(01 Mar '22, 10:13) SimonPoole ♦
showing 5 of 11 show 6 more comments

Each country has a different community policy regarding what language the default name will be in, this is usually the local language, but not always. The default name is shown by default on the OSM website.

An example of a country that does not use local names by default is India, which uses Latin script for the default name. Local language names are also added to the database, and may be shown by some programs.

You see some names in the Latin script in Thailand when you zoom in, not by design, but because some editors are not following the proper practices when editing those things. This generally goes unnoticed if it's the sort of small features that show up when you zoom in.

Keep in mind that the default layer on the OSM website is just one version, created from the underlying data. When travelling I really like OsmAnd for my smart phone. It displays maps based on OSM data, and will allow you to choose what language to render the names in. is a good app too.

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answered 18 May '18, 00:43

keithonearth's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

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question asked: 08 Feb '15, 09:24

question was seen: 29,840 times

last updated: 01 Mar '22, 19:41

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum