Adapting different languages into a romanticized alphabet can be tricky. Many places in Asia, especially countries with the more squiggly alphabets, are difficult to translate into English. Obviously something like”Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit” is a bit of a mouthful, but you can get into linguistic difficulty with far fewer syllables.
Here are five places more difficult to pronounce than you might guess.
Looks like: Hiss-pi-ah
Actual: See-Paw (or Tee-Bor) !!!
Myanmar has a lot of places that are tongue-twisters for most westerners, but Hspiaw with two distinctly different pronunciations is an easy choice.
Looks like: Oo-bud or Uh-bud
The culture capital of Bali, where you can pay good money for plenty of “authentic” dances is a little tricky to say for a four letter word.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Looks like: Fu-nom Pen or Pa-nom pen
Actual: Nom-pen or P’nom (one syallable, aspirated p) pen
This sexpat capital is full of middle age blokes adding needless p or f sounds, but at least their linguistic crimes are not as momentous as their moral ones.
Looks like: Si-han-ook-ville.
Actual: Say Hack nook wheel
Cambodia earns two entries with this dire seaside resort that few travelers know how to say. Most Cambodians will understand it’s the one that isn’t Siem Reap or Phnom Penh.
Looks like: Pie
Almost every westerner says “pie,” which fits because this little town is so sweet, but in the Thai langauge it is pronounced “bye.”