50+ Chinese Words and Phrases You’ll Need to Travel in China

Traveling to China and trying to find the right Chinese words to say what you need it probably the most intimidating part of taking your trip. But it doesn’t have to be! The confusing part that we are all trying to figure out is, what Chinese words and phrases should we know when we go to China? There are so many, it impossible to know. There is knowing what foods to eat, how much things cost, and so on an so forth.

Are you getting all sweaty and nervous yet thinking about it? No worries. I’ve put together the pinyin and the words for you so that you can speak to people during your trip and sound like you know what you’re saying. You may not be able to read, but it’s worth a shot!

I learned Chinese this way when I was in Peace Corps and found that it works really well. They teach you the things you are likely to ask for or say while you’re developing your Chinese. I’m going to teach you basic survival Chinese. If you want to extend your Chinese learning, I recommend watching OMG Mei Yu or Yoyo Chinese, both fantastic YouTube Channel that teaches English and Chinese. You can also get tips on learning Chinese from Irish Polyglot, Benny, who runs his own website Fluent in 3 Months.

Before we get to the nitty-gritty, I’m going to have you watch a little video on tones from Yoyo Chinese to help you get started. If you don’t watch the video, trying to read these words by yourself will be difficult. Feel free to use this whenever you need to and follow some of her other videos to learn pronunciation. Below is also an interactive chart by Pin Pin Chinese (They also have an App) to utilize along with the video so you can visually see the pronunciations.

50+ Chinese Words and Phrases

If you would like a free download to bring you, please email me at kelly@travelbranyik.com. Also! Don’t skip out on my blog post about the super useful Chinese apps you should be using while traveling in China. If you ahve questions about pronouncing anything, please feel free to ask in the comments below!

Basic Chinese Words You Should Know

  • Ma – Particle added to the end of the sentence to ask a question
  • Shi de – Yes
  • Bu – No
  • Hao de – Okay
  • Yao – Want
  • Bu Yao – Don’t want
  • You – Have
  • Mei You – Don’t have
  • He – Drink
  • Chi – Eat
  • Hao He – Delicious (For Drinks)
  • Hao Chi – Delicious (For Food)
  • Chi Bao le – I’m Full
  • Bu Yao La – Don’t want spicy
  • Bu La – A little spicy
  • Ce Suo – Bathroom
  • Zai Nar – Where
  • Ting bu dong – I don’t understand
  • Xie Xie – Thank You
  • Bu Ke Qi – You’re Welcome

Saying Numbers in Chinese

  • Yi – One
  • Er – Two
  • San – Three
  • Si – Four
  • Wu – Five
  • Liu – Six
  • Qi – Seven
  • Ba – Eight
  • Jiu – Nine
  • Shi – Ten
  • Shi yi – Eleven
  • Shi er – Twelve
  • Er Shi – Twenty
  • Er Shi yi – Twenty-one
  • San Shi yi – Thirty-one

You Get the Idea…

Foreign Friendly Foods and Drinks To Know

  • Bao zi – Steamed Buns
  • Jiao zi – Dumplings
  • Niu Rou Mian – Beef Noodles
  • Dan Dan Mian – Street Noodles with spice
  • Dao Shao Mian – Knife Shaved Noodles
  • Fanqie Ji Dan – Tomato and Egg
  • Gong Bao Ji Ding – Kung Pao Chicken
  • Yu Xiang Qie zi – Eggplant in Fish Sauce
  • Yu Xiang Rou se – Pork in Fish Sauce
  • Hui Guo Rou – Twice Cooked Pork
  • Huo Guo – Hot Pot
  • Shao Kao – Barbecue
  • Pi Jiu – Beer
  • Bai Jiu – Liquor (Equivalent to Everclear)
  • Shui – Water
  • Cha – Tea
  • Kafei – Coffee
  • Niu nai – Milk

Chinese Words and Phrases for Shopping

  • Duo Shao Qian – How much?
  • Zhege – This
  • Nage – That
  • Tai Gui le – Too Expensive
  • Pian Yi Dianr – Can we go cheaper?
  • Yao Mai – Will buy
  • Bu Yao Mai – Won’t buy

Hotel Chinese Words and Phrases

  • Yao Shi Ka – Key Card
  • Fang jian – Room
  • Yi ge Ren – One Person
  • Liang ge ren – Two People
  • Zao fan zai nar? – Where is breakfast located?
  • Ma tong – Toilet
  • Shou Zhi – Toilet Paper
  • Leng – Cold
  • Tang – Scalding hot

Chinese Words for Transportation

**Traveling is intimidating for new travelers in China, so I recommend using the Ctrip English App so you can book your tickets ahead of time and avoid trying to order your seats at local train stations or ticket booths.

  • Huo Che – Train
  • Dong Che – Fast Train
  • Huo Zhe Piao – Train Ticket
  • Fei Ji – Plane
  • Fei Ji Piao – Plane Ticket
  • Chu Zu Che – Taxi Cab
  • Wo Pu – Sleeper seats (For a train)
  • Ying Zuo – Hard seat (For a train)
  • Ruan Zuo – Soft Seat (For a train)
  • Hu Zhao – Passport

If you like this blog post, but feel something is missing or want to know how to say something during your travels, leave a comment below and I would be happy to help! If you want to know more about China, read some of my blogs on China here! Safe travels everyone!