Travel Chinese: Phrases (Part I)

If you, your family or your friends are going to China this summer, make sure to remember these (19) ‘survival’ Chinese phrases to ensure that stress-free, enjoyable holiday you’ve been waiting for!

Phone, check. Wallet, check. Passport, check.

Everybody knows that this has become the pre-boarding ritual for whenever we jet off to our long-awaited destination. When all three are in our line of sight, a sigh of relief engulfs, not long before it gives way to that feeling of excitement.

Yet, this is all about to change.

Our language phrase books accompanied with the plethora of mobile translation apps available are taking centre stage as holiday necessities.

China’s tourism industry is continuing to develop healthily at a steady pace, helped by influx students, family getaways and backpackers all flocking to the likes of Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin and Hangzhou. Naturally then, a rise in western tourists must have led to the rise in English proficiency around China. However, the reality is that most Chinese people still do not understand English.

The language barrier is one of the greatest obstacles of them all when it comes to travelling abroad; I can ashamedly recall one of my first visits to China where my lack of Chinese caused me to overpay the airport driver by nearly 500 Yuan (the avg. price to my destination was 150, so you can do the math!).
Never again I told myself, would I let that happen to me or my fellow man and woman.

So if you want to become the ultimate tourist take a look and make sure to remember our basic ‘Greetings’ and ‘Asking Questions’ phrases below!


PHRASE Characters Pinyin Pronunciation
  GREETINGS: Online Mandarin class  

你好。 Nǐ hǎo


Nǐ hǎo [Nee-how]

再见 Zài-jiàn [Zai gee-en]

How are you? 

你好吗?Nǐ hǎo ma?

你好吗 Nǐ hǎo ma [Nee-how-ma]

Fine, thank you. 

很好, 谢谢。
Hěn hǎo, xiè-xie.

很好, 谢谢 Hěn hǎo, xiè-xie [Hen-how, sheh sheh]

May I please ask, what is your name? 

Qǐng-wèn nǐjiào shěn-me míngzi?

请问,你叫什么名字 Qǐng-wèn, nǐjiào shěn-me míng zi [Ching when, nee geow shen muh ming zeuh]

My name is ______ . 

我叫 _____ 。
Wǒ jiào ______

我叫 Wǒ jiào [Wuawr geow…]

Nice to meet you. 

Hěn gāo-xìng rèn-shì nǐ.

很高兴认识你 Hěn gāo-xìng rèn-shì nǐ [Hen gow shing ren sher nee]



Qǐng [Ching]

Thank you. 


谢谢 Xiè-xiè [Sheh-sheh]

You’re welcome. 

不客气。Bú kè-qi.

不客气 Bú kè-qi [Boo-ker-chee]

对不起 Duì-bù-qǐ [Dway-boo-chee]
  QUESTIONS: Blog 5_Lang5  

I can’t speakChinese. 

Wǒ bú huì shuō zhōng-wén.

我不会说中文 Wǒ bú huì shuō zhōng-wén. [Wawr boo hway shwoh jhong wen]

Do you speak English? 

Nǐ huì shuō Yīng-yǔ ma?

你会说英语吗 Nǐ huì shuō Yīng-yǔ ma [Nee hway shwoh ying you ma]

Where is the toilet? 

Cè-suǒ zài nǎli?

厕所在哪里 Cè-suǒ zài nǎli [Tse swoh zai nah lee]


Where is the bathroom (polite)? 

Xǐ-shǒu-jiān zài nǎli?

洗手间在哪里 Xǐ-shǒu-jiān zài nǎli [Shee show Gi-en zai nah lee]

Where is the police station?
Jǐng-chá jú zài nǎ-lǐ?

警察局在哪里 Jǐng-chá jú zài nǎ-lǐ [Jing cha zhu zai nah lee]

Where is the nearest hospital?
Zuì-jìn de yī-yuàn zài nǎ-lǐ?
最近的医院在哪里 Zuì-jìn duh
yī-yuàn zài nǎ-lǐ
Zway jin duh yee you-en zai nah lee]

What time is it?
Xiàn-zài jǐ diǎn?
现在几点 Xiàn-zài jǐ diǎn [Shee-an zai gee de-en]

How much is it?
Duō-shǎo qián?
多少钱 Duō-shǎo qián [Dwoh shouw chee-an]

Now that you have been equipped with these essential phrases, a daily glance before you arrive in China should do the trick. Maybe even ask a Chinese speaker to help you with pronunciation!

I also recommend downloading Google Translate, Pleco Dictionary and Learn Chinese: Travel on your android phone for instant results in any given situation.

Join us in three weeks where we revisit and learn new phrases in our Travel Chinese Part II post.
Enjoy the sun!

Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply