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%


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

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: 21%

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? https://imgur.com/a/kcwJRNZ

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 -ี -ื -ิ -ึ ; -ั -้ (https://imgur.com/a/fWR8uKP )

Artificial (10x) zooming shows the low-res: https://imgur.com/a/nJFYgZo -trust me, there are plenty of ambiguities!

Comparison of 4 apps: https://imgur.com/a/bg5Hh8x (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 https://www.osmap.asia for a map showing English labels (using transliteration if no English name labels are present in OSM data) or https://thaimap.osm-tools.org/ 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 OSM-Tools.org. 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 OpenStreetMap.org 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: 20%

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 https://www.osmap.asia (*). 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, https://www.osmap.us will be faster, and in Europe use https://www.osmap.uk.

Other language versions (Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Italian or Danish) can be found via https://www.osmap.info.

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answered 30 Apr '20, 08:13

Spiekerooger's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

edited 30 Apr '20, 08:14

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 ♦

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. Maps.me is a good app too.

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answered 18 May '18, 00:43

keithonearth's gravatar image

accept rate: 16%

From my point of view it's a technical problem with resources - we hardly deal with rendering just one style using OSMF servers. There's not easy way to add more of them, however migration to vector tiles gives hope to solve it and have multiple languages available:

This is how it's done by Wikimedia, although their Brighmed style is very simple and made from the ground up:


In the meantime you can try to deploy your own code with l10n fork or use this map for English names where possible:

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answered 23 May '18, 17:27

kocio's gravatar image

accept rate: 20%

edited 23 May '18, 19:30

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

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question asked: 08 Feb '15, 09:24

question was seen: 24,363 times

last updated: 04 May '20, 05:44

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