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The Most Helpful Chinese Words And Phrases For Traveling To China

If you’re planning a trip to China, it’s necessary to learn some essential Chinese words and phrases before going. Knowing some handy phrases helps you prevent getting lost, social awkwardness, and misunderstandings. It will also allow you to build great new connections with Chinese people and make your trip more memorable. 

This article will introduce you to the essential Chinese words and phrases you need to know before traveling to China. We’ve also divided them into the most basic categories, such as transportation-related, accommodation-related, and restaurant-related vocabulary lists for your convenience. 

Most commonly used Chinese words and phrases to know before you travel to China

One of the best ways to prepare for your trip is to start with a few simple phrases widely used in China. By mastering these indispensable sentences, you can literally start a conversation with Chinese native speakers and even make friends with the locals during your stay! 

ChinesePinyinEnglish
你好nǐ hǎoHi
早上好zǎo shàng hǎoGood morning
下午好xià wǔ hǎoGood afternoon
晚上好wǎn shàng hǎoGood evening
duìYes
No
也许吧yě xǔ baMaybe
qǐngPlease
不好意思bù hǎo yī siExcuse me
谢谢xiè xieThank you
不客气bú kè qiYou’re welcome
打扰一下,厕所在哪里?Dǎrǎo yīxià, cèsuǒ zài nǎlǐ?Excuse me, where’s the toilet?
这个多少钱?zhè geduō shǎo qián ?How much does it cost?
太贵了tài guì leToo expensive
便宜点pián yi diǎnMake it cheaper
可以便宜一点吗?Kěyǐ piányí yīdiǎn ma?Can you lower the price?
我可以打折吗?Wǒ kěyǐ dǎzhé ma?Can I have a discount?
One
èrTwo
sānThree
对不起duì bu qǐI’m sorry
你叫什么呢?nǐ jiào shén me ne?What’s your name?
我叫 。。。wò jiàoMy name is …
很高兴认识你hěn gāo xìng rèn shi nǐNice to meet you
你最近怎么样?nǐ zuì jìn zěn me yàng ?How are you?
我很好,谢谢wǒ hěn hǎo , xiè xieFine, thanks.
你是哪里人?nǐ shì nǎ lǐ rén ?Where are you from?
我来自(美国、英国、澳大利亚、加拿大。)Wǒ láizì (měiguó, yīngguó, àodàlìyǎ, jiānádà.)I am from (the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada.)
你会说英语吗?nǐ huì shuō yīng yǔ ma?Do you speak English?
我不会说汉语。wǒ bú huì shuō hàn yǔ .I don’t speak Chinese.
我会说一点汉语。wǒ huì shuō yì diǎn hàn yǔ .I speak a little Chinese.
我不明白。wǒ bù míng bái .I don’t understand.
请再说一遍。qǐng zài shuō yí biàn .Can you repeat that, please?
最近的取款机在哪里?zuì jìn de qǔ kuǎn jī zài nǎ lǐ ?Where is the nearest ATM?
拜拜bái báiGoodbye
再见zài jiànSee you later!

Chinese words and phrases for transportation

If you’re traveling independently instead of taking a tour, using public transport is a good way to get around. China’s public transportation is commonly inexpensive and convenient. Some is even extremely high-tech. (FYI: Trains in China are amongst the most modern – and fastest – trains in the world.) 

However, if you decide to travel by public transportation, it’s a good idea to note down some words and phrases to avoid missing your departure time or entering the wrong entrance. 

ChinesePinyinEnglish
飞机fēijīAirplane
飞机场fēijī chǎngAirport
护照hùzhàoPassport
登机卡dēng jī kǎBoarding pass
piàoTicket
单程票dānchéng piàoOne-way ticket
往返票wǎngfǎn piàoRound-trip ticket
头等舱tóuděng cāngFirst class
商务课程shāngwù kèchéngBusiness class
经济舱jīngjì cāngEconomy class
手提箱shǒutí xiāngSuitcase
旅游lǚyóuTour
指南zhǐnánGuidebook
签证qiānzhèngVisa
行李xínglǐLuggage
随身行李suíshēn háng lǐCarry-on luggage
托运行李tuōyùn xínglǐCheck-in luggage
旅行社lǚxíngshèTravel agent

You can also try to remember a few handy sentences to make your trip easier: 

  • 我想订票。(wǒ xiǎng dìng piào.) – I would like to reserve a ticket.
  • 我想买一张从上海到北京的往返机票。(wǒ xiǎng mǎi yī zhāng cóng shànghǎi dào běijīng de wǎngfǎn jīpiào.) – I would like to buy a round-trip ticket from Beijing to Shanghai.
  • 我想买一张去纽约的机票。(wǒ xiǎng mǎi yī zhāng qù niǔyuē de jīpiào.) – I would like to buy a ticket to New York.
  • 我想要晚上七点的航班。(wǒ xiǎng yào wǎnshàng qī diǎn de hángbān.) – I would like the 7 PM flight.
  • 请问,这个平台合适吗?(qǐngwèn, zhège píngtái héshì ma?) – Excuse me, is this the right platform?
  • 我应该在哪里下车?(wǒ yīnggāi zài nǎlǐ xià chē?) – Where should I get off?
  • 火车几点出发?(huǒ chē jǐ diǎn chū fā?) – What time does the train leave?
  • 火车几点到达?(huǒ chē jǐ diǎn dào dá?) – What time does the train arrive?
  • 我们在哪里?(wǒ men zài nǎ lǐ?) – Where are we?

Chinese words and phrases for accommodation

These Chinese words and phrases help you communicate effectively when finding a hotel or getting the necessary information.  

ChinesePinyinEnglish
哪里有宾馆?nǎ lǐ yǒu bīn guǎnWhere can I find a hotel?
我想检查一下,拜托。wǒ xiǎng jiǎnchá yīxià, bàituō.I would like to check in, please.
我想检查一下,请wǒ xiǎng jiǎnchá yīxià, qǐngI would like to check out, please
我需要几点钟退房?wǒ xū yào jǐ diǎn zhōng tuì fáng?What time do I need to check out?
我预定了一个房间wǒ yù dìng le yí gè fáng jiānI have a room booked.
单人间dān rén jiānSingle room
双人间shuāng rén jiānDouble room
标准间biāo zhǔn jiānTwin room
房间一晚多少钱?fángjiān yī wǎn duōshǎo qián?How much does the room cost per night?
我可以看一下房间吗?wǒ kě yǐ kàn yí xià fáng jiān ma?Can I see the room?
包含早饭吗?bāo hán zǎo fàn ma?Is breakfast included?
早饭几点钟?zǎo fàn jǐ diǎn zhōng?What time is breakfast?
行李放在哪里?xíng lǐ fàng zài nǎ lǐ?Where can I leave my luggage?

Chinese words and phrases for restaurant

Knowing some restaurant and food-related vocabulary and phrases will definitely come in handy when ordering food in a restaurant in Chinese. We’ve listed the most common words and phrases to order regular food and vegetarian or vegan food, and even explain food allergies! 

ChinesePinyinEnglish
请给我一张两人桌。qǐng gěi wǒ yī zhāng liǎng rén zhuō.I would like a table for two, please.
我可以看看菜单吗?wǒ kěyǐ kàn kàn càidān ma?Can I see the menu?
这里吃zhè lǐ chīTo eat in
带走dài zǒuTo take away
我是素食者wǒ shì sù shǐ zhěI am vegetarian
我们是素食主义者Wǒmen shì sùshí zhǔyì zhěWe are vegetarian
我是全素食者wǒ shì quán sù shí zhěI am vegan
我们是全素食者wǒ men shì quán sù shí zhěWe are vegan
我不吃任何动物产品。wǒ bù chī rèn hē dòng wù chǎn pǐnI don’t eat any animal products.
肉,鱼,鸡蛋,奶制品我都不吃。ròu,yú, jī dàn, nǎi zhì pǐn wǒ dōu bù chīI don’t eat meat, fish, eggs or dairy products.
我吃蔬菜,谷物,豆类,坚果,水果,什么的。wǒ chī shū cài, liáng shí, dòu lèi, jiān guǒ, shuǐ guǐ shén me de.I eat vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, fruit, etc.
我不喝酒。wǒ bù hē jiǔI don’t drink alcohol.
里面有没有【鸡蛋,奶制品,什么的】?lǐ miàn yǒu méi yǒu (jī dàn, nǎi zhì pǐn shén me de)?Does this contain (eggs, dairy products etc.)?
可以不放【肉,鸡蛋,什么的】吗?kě yǐ bú fàng (ròu, jī dàn shén me de) ma?Can you leave out (meat, eggs, etc.)?
可以用【豆,豆腐 什么的】代替吗?kě yǐ yòng (dòu ,dòu fǔ shén me de) dài tì ma?Can you replace it with (beans, tofu, etc.)?
这是什么?zhè shì shén me?What’s this?
有没有【豆浆, 豆腐,素汉堡什么的】?yǒu méi yǒu (dòu jiāng, dòu fǔ, sù hàn bǎo shén me de?)Do you have (soy milk, tofu, veggie burger, etc.)?
我要 。。。wǒ yào …I want …
一瓶啤酒yī píng pí jiǔA beer
一杯咖啡yī bēi kā fēiA cup of coffee
一瓶水yī píng shuǐA bottle of water
我不要 。。。wǒ bú yào …I don’t want …
我对虾过敏Wǒ (duìxiā) guòmǐnI’m allergic to (shrimp)
鸡肉jī ròuChicken
猪肉zhū ròuPork
鸡蛋jī dànEggs
奶制品nǎi zhì pǐnDairy products
牛奶niú nǎiMilk
奶酪nǎi làoCheese
奶油nǎi yóuButter
牛肉汤niú ròu tāngBeef broth
鸡汤jī tāngChicken broth
蔬菜汤shū cài tāngVegetable broth
蛋黄酱dàn huáng jiàngMayonnaise
suànGarlic
洋葱yáng cōngOnion
贝类bèi lèiShellfish
坚果jiān guǒNuts
芥末jiè moMustard
豆浆dòu jiāngSoy milk
蜂蜜fēngmìHoney
账单,请。谢谢你。Zhàngdān, qǐng. Xièxiè nǐ.The bill, please. Thank you.

Important notes when traveling in China 

  • One great thing about Chinese culture is that haggling is normal and almost always part of the shopping experience. If you explore the nearby market stalls, you can always ask if the price can be lowered.
  • The Chinese commonly use the 24-hour clock to list the times of planes, trains, buses, and tours. For every hour after 12 PM, just add an hour. So 1 PM becomes 13, and 8 PM becomes 20.
  • Try to remember the names of some landmarks close to where you’re staying. For example, you can rely on banks, parks, restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, shopping malls, hotels, and schools as points of identification.
  • If you get lost and can’t handle all the directions you were given, we suggest you find a place to regroup. Many local and Western places in China, like Starbucks or McDonald’s, offer free WiFi. This can be useful if you’re using an online map app or if you need to contact a friend. 
  • When you travel in China, pronunciation is far more crucial than grammar. Don’t worry about how to structure your “How do I get there?” question correctly! Pronouncing the name of your destination is enough for you there.
  • Conversational Chinese is fairly simple because you don’t necessarily need to use complete sentences. For example, if a taxi driver asks you, “Is it okay if I take the highway?” you can reply “sure” instead of a textbook, “yes, you may take the highway.” Don’t worry too much about full sentences when trying to get around.

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The bottom line

Traveling in a Chinese-speaking country can be confusing if you can’t communicate in their language. However, a little preparation can go a long way. Just keep our Chinese travel vocabulary list in mind, and enjoy your Chinese experience to the fullest! 

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