Forty Useful Chinese Phrases Every Backpacker Should Use While Visiting China

If it’s your first time going to China, then learning how to speak their language is definitely a must. Some of the locals are still incapable of speaking the English language despite of the country having English language as their teaching profession in some parts. A study also shows that only 1% of China can speak English.

Learning a whole language just for a holiday vacation can be a lot of work to do. Although you don’t have to worry when you’re in big cities in China since most of their street signs and menus are in English for easy access to tourists. Unless you’re in rural areas, where the English language is not really prominent.

In this article, we listed some situations that you might encounter in China and some phrases to help you out. You have to remember that the Chinese language is worlds different to the English language and you might find yourself having trouble pronouncing it correctly. But you don’t have to worry as long as you practice hard enough. So before flying to China, check out and learn these few phrases we’ve listed down below.

Chinese Phrases for Introducing Yourself

  • The first thing you want to learn is how to introduce yourself in Chinese. This is very important especially in China. Learning how to introduce yourself will give the Chinese people that you really tried and they’ll likely appreciate your effort.
  • Nǐ hǎo – Hello!
  • Wǒ jiào… – My Name is…
  • wǒ shì yī gè (Country) – I am a (country person)
  • yīng guó rén (English) měi guó rén (American) bō lán rén (Polish)

Chinese Phrases for Conversation Replies

  • Now that you’re done introducing yourself, you may want to spark up the conversation but you don’t know what to say next. These phrases down below will help you out. Combine this with hand gestures to make you look like you really know what you’re talking about.
  • Nǐ huì shuō yīngyǔ ma? – Can you speak English?
  • Nǐ huì shuō zhōngwén ma? – Can you speak Chinese?
  • Wǒ hànyǔ shuō dé bù hǎo – I don’t speak Chinese well
  • Tīng bù dǒng – I don’t understand
  • Wǒ zhīdào – I understand
  • Bù hǎoyìsi – Sorry
  • Wǒ bù zhīdào – I don’t know
  • Zàijiàn – Goodbye

Chinese Phrases for Navigation Purposes

  • China is a big country and there’s a high probability that you’ll get lost if you don’t aid yourself with a map or something. Now all that’s left to do is approach the locals and ask for directions. Here are a few phrases to help you out.
  • Zài nǎ’er? – Where is….
  • Wǒ mílùle – I’m lost
  • Yòubiān – Right
  • zuǒbiān – Left
  • zhí zǒu – Straight
  • Wèishēngjiān zài nǎ’er? – Where is the toilet?

Chinese Phrases to Use in Eateries

  • In China, you’ll find various stores for you to dine out. Saying these few simple phrases will help you to dine as much as you can.
  • Wǒ yào chīfàn – I want to eat
  • wǒ hěn è – I’m really hungry
  • zhè shì shénme? – What is this?
  • wǒ bù chī ròu – I don’t eat meat
  • wǒ hěn kě – I’m really thirsty
  • Wǒ yào tā chī de – I want what they are eating

Chinese Phrases for Shopping and Bargaining

  • Of course, what’s the point of traveling if you aren’t going to buy anything right? China has a lot of malls and shops to buy anything such as foods, cloths, drinks, items, and among others. Make sure to put the best bargaining face as you can when shopping at Chinese markets to get ahead of ruthless Chinese sellers. These Chinese phrases will help you to get the best bargain as possible.
  • Duōshǎo qián? – How much is it?
  • Wǒ yào zhège – I want this one
  • Wǒ kěbù kěyǐ shì – Can I try this on?
  • Qǐng gěi wǒ dà hào de – Can you give me a bigger one?
  • Tài gui le! – Too expensive!
  • Kěyǐ piányí yīdiǎn ma? – Can you go a little cheaper?

Chinese Phrases for Accommodation Purposes

  • When we travel, finding the best hotel to stay for the night is really important. These few Chinese phrases will help you out to get yourself checked in and get that much needed relaxation time after a long day of touring and exploring.
  • Jiǔdiàn zài nǎ’er? – Where is a hotel?
  • Wàiguó rén kěyǐ rùzhù ma? – Can foreigners stay here?
  • Duōshǎo qián yī wǎn – How much for one night?
  • Wǒ yào bànlǐ rùzhù – I want to check in.
  • Qǐngwèn, zhè li yǒu wifi ma? – Does this place have wifi?

Chinese Numbers

  • You think that numbers aren’t important? Well think again. You’ll be surprised that you’ll have to use them more often in China when negotiating with things. Before we start, speaking numbers in Chinese is vastly different from other countries. For example, if you want to say 20, you need to say the number 2 first then say 10 thereafter. The same goes for all numbers above 10.
  • Yī, èr, sān – 1, 2, 3
  • sì, wǔ, liù – 4, 5, 6
  • qī, bā, jiǔ, shí – 7, 8, 9
  • Èr shí – 20
  • Èr shí yī – 21