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.


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’.

Chinese Lanterns, to Celebrate Their Peaceful Life

Paper lanterns originated in the eastern han dynasty (25-220) and were mainly used as lamps in ancient China. They use a variety of materials, such as bamboo, wood, wheat straw and metal. Paper and silk are the main materials.

Originally, monks used lanterns to worship Buddha on the 12th day of the first lunar month. During the eastern han dynasty, emperor liu zhuang was a buddhist and ordered the residents and citizens of his palace to light lanterns and worship Buddha like monks. Later, this custom gradually became a grand festival for the common people. In the tang dynasty (618-907), people made lanterns to celebrate their peaceful life, while bright colorful lanterns symbolised and celebrated the prosperity, strength and strength of the country. Since then, lighting has become popular in this country.

Before the use of gas and electricity, lanterns were once used for lighting, but now they are merely decorative or, more importantly, used during the Lantern Festival each year.

It was mainly used in palaces in ancient times. It is famous for its exquisite craftsmanship, elegant and dignified pictures and court features. When making palace lanterns, window frames are made of fine wood and covered with silk or glass. Various patterns are painted on the cover. These dragon and phoenix lanterns were not only used as lamps, but also as decorations for the palace. They come in many shapes, such as octagon, hexagon, and even diameter.

The lamp shade was covered with gauze. Bamboo used to be the frame, but now it’s made of wire, and candles are made of light bulbs. Of these lanterns, the red ones are believed to be the most in the world. It was made with red gauze. In Chinese culture, red lanterns are a symbol of booming life and prosperous career, so they are always hung on important festivals such as Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year and National Day in parks or main streets. In some famous chinatowns abroad, you can see red lanterns all year round. They have become the symbol of Chinese culture all over the world.