The Essential Phrases for Tourists in China, What You Can Say

Tourists in China usually speak Chinese for three things: being cordial, buying something, and asking directions. So here are 10 essential expressions that will allow you do these essential things.

How are you?

Chinese: Nǐ hǎo ma? (Nee-haoww-mah?) 你好吗

Wèi (/way/ 喂), mostly used on the ‘phone, is the closest Chinese to “hello” or “hi ” Nowadays most Chinese speakers know the English word “hello” and might use it even when meeting Chinese people. It has become an English loanword in the Chinese language, written 哈啰, and pronounced hāluo (haa-lwor), so it may sound odd when Chinese-speakers try to say “hello”.

“Nǐ hǎo ma?” literally means “You good?” (nǐ = you, hǎo = good, ma = ?). Similar to “How are you?”, it can mean “Are you ok?”

“Nǐhǎo” is said frequently. It might mean “Nǐ hǎo ma?”, but it typically means something like ‘It’s you — good.” or “Nice to see you.” It’s the most basic and standard Chinese greeting.

Good or bad?

Chinese: Hǎobùhǎo? (haoww-boo-haoww) 好不好

Hǎo means ‘good’. Hǎo also means “ok”.

Bùhǎo means ‘not good’. (“Bu” means ‘no’ or ‘not’.) Chinese speakers use “hǎo” and “buhao” to say something is good or bad, and to signal agreement or disagreement.

Combining “hǎo” and “bùhǎo” gives “Hǎobùhǎo?”, which is a question. It means ‘Good or not good?’ or ‘Is it ok?’ After this or “Nǐ hǎo ma?” you can reply “hǎo” or “bùhǎo”.

Thank you

Chinese: Xièxie. (sshyeah-sshyeah) 谢 谢

This is the basic and simple way to say thank you.

I’m sorry

Chinese: Duìbuqǐ. (dway-boo-chee) 对不起

This phrase can be used both to apologize and to ask for repetition. It literally means “I didn’t begin correctly.” or “You’re right, that isn’t upright.”

“Duì” means ‘correct’. It is often repeated two or three times to indicate agreement (Duì duì duì).

Asking What Something Is

Chinese: Zhè shì shénme? (Jer shrr shnn-muh?) 这是什么?

Here is a good way to both indicate your interest in an item and to learn a lot of new words.

The three important words are: Zhè (this), shì (is), and shénme (what). Combined with pointing, “Zhè shì shénme?” can be used to find out what things are called.

Shì (all forms of the verb “to be”) is also used to mean “yes”, like “duì” and “hǎo”, and can also be combined with bù for “it’s not” (bùshì).

Do you have …?

Chinese: Yǒuméiyǒu …? (Yoh-may-yoh …?) 有没有 …?

Yǒu means ‘have’, and méiyǒu means “to not have”. The word méi means lack. So the phrase “yǒuméiyǒu …” literally means “have or not have …?”

How much money?

Chinese: Duōshao qián? 多少钱 (Dwor-sshaoww chyen?)

The phrase “duōshao?” is composed of the words duō (much) and shǎo (few), and means “how much?” or “how many?” Qián means ‘money’.

Where is …?

Chinese: … zài nǎlǐ? (… dzeye naa-lee?) …在哪里

The three words are: zài (on or in), nǎ (where or which), and lǐ (inside or very roughly the word “place”). Put the name of the place or object you want to find before zài nǎlǐ.

I want to go to …

Chinese: Wǒ xiǎng qù… (Wor sshyang chyoo …) 我想去 …

The three words are: wǒ (I), xiǎng (want), and qù (to go). Then add the name of the place. This is useful for buying train tickets, taking a taxi, etc.

Toilet

Chinese: Cèsuǒ. (tser-swor) 厕所

As in English, there are several words and phrases used to mean bathroom. The most common word for public toilets, or a room with a toilet in, is “cèsuǒ.” “Cè” means ‘toilet’. “Suǒ” means ‘place’.

Teahouse Culture in China, History of Tea Culture

As is known to all, China is one of the oldest countries in the world. Through the long river of the history, a lot of majestic traditional culture has been passed on, and the tea culture is among that.

History

The teahouse culture has gone through a complicated process of development. The teahouse first appeared during Tang dynasty. At that time, people mainly go there to exchange their views about poem. But soon on, as the spread of the teahouses, more ordinary people formed the habit of going to the teahouse. Then the teahouses was developed largely in Song Dynasty. By Qing Dynasty, there has been several kinds of teahouses aiming at customers from different class of society. For instance, some special teahouses were for people to play Chinese chess, and some teahouses became popular among businessmen. Also, some teahouses were especially for scholars, which could be much more quiet. Besides serving tea, the teahouses also served snacks, and some teahouses provided musical performances.

Beijing Teahouses

There is a great variety of teahouses in Beijing, including Big Teahouse, Qing Teahouse, Storytelling Teahouse and Wild Teahouse. In the ancient times in Beijing, there were a number of storytelling teahouses, where listening to the storytelling is the main purpose. The famed teahouses in Beijing are arranged and decorated fastidiously, creating the atmosphere for listening to storytelling.

In Qing teahouses of Beijing, pergolas are built outside the gate, where customers can chat and enjoy tea in every season except winter. Qing teahouses are deeply fond of by the old. In addition, in Beijing, there are also Chess Teahouses suitable for playing chess.

Hangzhou Teahouses

The teahouse culture in Hangzhou originated from the Southern Song Dynasty. Though there are not so many teahouses in Hangzhou as that of Sichuan, the culture atmosphere of teahouses in Hangzhou is full-bodied. Hangzhou teahouses are particular about culture, environment, internationalization and marketization. People in Hangzhou mainly drink West Lake Longjing Tea. According to the present condition, Hangzhou is universally acknowledged as the city managing teahouses best. Every year, during the National Tea Expo Fair and The West Lake International Tea Party held in Hangzhou, participants from everywhere speak highly of Hangzhou teahouses.

According to statistics, there are more than 700 teahouses in Hangzhou at present. Some boast tea ceremony, such as Tai Chi Teahouse; some feature tea cakes and relaxation, such as Qingteng Teahouse; some boast ecological environment; some integrate aesthetic enjoyment and tea-tasting, such as Ziyige Teahouse and Heji Teahouse.

Tianjin Teahouses

The teahouses of Tianjin are just like the teahouse of Beijing, containing tea, snacks, singing opera arias (without makeup and acting) and storytelling. However, its culture atmosphere is not outstanding. In China, the famous cross talk, which is deeply loved by many Chinese people, was originated from teahouses of Tianjin. These years, listening to a cross talk in a teahouse of Tianjin has become a fashion and unmissable experience. Audiences burst their sides with laughter at the cross talk. A number of audiences from other areas flock to Tianjin to listening to teahouse cross talk, spending a day of relaxation in peals of laughter.

Guangdong Teahouses

The teahouses of Guangdong feature magnificent appearance and they are decorated gorgeously, with rich cultural atmosphere. There are thousands of teahouses in Guangzhou, including professional teahouses and hotel teahouses. Guangdong teahouses are also served as the restaurants for having meals. There are over 60 varieties of delicate refreshments. In Guangzhou, people having a date, holding family reunion parties and having business negotiations are all usually held in teahouses.

Chengdu Teahouses

People of Sichuan Province have been keeping the habit of drinking tea. Drinking tea in teahouses is the typical tea activity of Sichuan. In Chengdu, teahouses and tearooms of different sizes spread all over cities. Some are decorated with calligraphy, painting, flowers and miniascape, creating a beautiful and quiet environment.