It leads you back to the basics.
It reminds you why you fell in love with Chinese language in the first place.
Traveling can help you connect not only with Chinese, but also with the people. It gives meaning to everything you’ve learned so far. You’ll come out inspired and excited to further progress in your learning.
And do you know the best travel destinations for those of us who are passionate about the Chinese language? China, Taiwan or Hong Kong!
Nothing beats a weekend spent exploring a new city, immersed in its culture, tasting its food and conversing with random strangers in a language different from your mother tongue. So for all of you out there who are learning Chinese, what are you waiting for? If you have the time and the resources, book your ticket now.
And to prepare for this trip, or to inspire you to make it happen, here are 15 useful Chinese phrases to use during your travels!
15 Useful Chinese Travel Phrases Every Traveler Should Learn
As soon as your plane touches down on Chinese soil, you’ll be amazed at how fast your Chinese speaking and reading skills will be put into practice. And no one will wait for you to decipher what each character means, so these phrases will help you get through smoothly!
1. 公务舱柜台在哪儿? (gōng wù cāng guì taí zaì nǎ ér?)
Where is the business class check-in counter?
公务舱 is business class, but if you’re flying economy then use 经济舱 (jīng jì cāng), and 头等舱 (tóu dĕng cāng) for first class.
2. 十二号登机口往哪边走? (shí èr hào dēng jī kŏu wăng nă biān zŏu?)
Which way is boarding gate number 12?
3. 请帮我安排靠窗户的座位. (qǐng bāng wǒ ān pái kào chuāng hù de zuò wèi)
Please arrange a window seat for me.
If you prefer the aisle seat then, use 靠走廊 (kào zŏu láng) instead of 靠窗户.
4. 我现在到起飞的时间还有多久? (wǒ xiàn zài dào qǐ fēi de shí jiān hái yǒu duō jiǔ ?)
How long do I have until departure time?
Use 起飞 if you’re asking about departure time, and use 抵达 (dĭ dá) when asking about the arrival time.
5. 纪念品商店在哪儿? (jì niàn pǐn shāng diàn zài nǎ ér ?)
Where is the souvenir shop?
纪念 is a memory and 品 refers to an object, so if you place them together it becomes a memorable object, so 纪念品 logically refers to a souvenir.
Don’t think that once you have completed your online hotel reservations, everything will be fine. Although most hotels will have at least one staff member knowledgeable in English, it is still best to learn some useful terms instead of solely relying on your Chinese greetings. Trust me, it will definitely come in handy.
6. 我预订了两间标准房 (wǒ yù dìng le liǎng jiān biāo zhǔn fáng )
I have made a reservation for 2 standard rooms.
标准房 is a standard room. If you prefer a suite, then you can say 套房 (tào fáng).
7. 我想要单人房 (wǒ xiǎng yào dān rén fáng)
I want a single room.
单人房 refers to single room and 双人房 (shuāng rén fáng) is a double room.
8. 电梯在哪儿? (diàn tī zài nǎ ér ?)
Where is the elevator?
If you want to find the swimming pool, then you can use 游泳池 (yóu yŏng chí), or use 餐厅 (cān tīng) for restaurant. If you want to know on which floor they’re located, you can ask around saying 几楼 (jĭ lóu).
9. 早上有自助餐吗? (zǎo shàng yǒu zì zhù cān ma ?)
Do you serve a breakfast buffet?
10. 我们现在要退房了(wǒ men xiàn zài yào tuì fáng le)
We’re going to check out now.
And when you do so, make sure to check the breakdown of expenses on your bill or 帐单(zhàng dān).
Apart from shopping, the best way to test your Chinese skills is when you move around the city. You’ll have to read directions, look for stations, buy your ticket, exchange your money for smaller bills and force yourself to talk to strangers when you’re feeling lost. Major cities have English signs for tourists, but if you’re on a backpacking adventure through random provinces where English speaking citizens are hard to find, then it’s best to learn these phrases.
11. 的士站在哪儿? (di shì zhàn zài nǎ ér?)
Where is the taxi stand?
的士 refers to a taxi but there are several Chinese terms for taxi depending on which province/country you’re visiting. It can be called as 出租车 (chū zū chē) or 计程车 (jì chéng chē). When you do ride a taxi, make sure to ask what the fare (车费 chē feì) is first. There are many drivers who would shoot up the price when they see a foreigner. So it’s still best to ask around first to find out the normal fare for your destination.
12. 我们如果坐机场快线会几点到酒店 (wǒ men rú guǒ zuò jī chǎng kuài xiàn huì jǐ diǎn dào jiǔ diàn)
What time will we reach our hotel if we travel via the airport express?
酒店 refers to a hotel. It can be used interchangeably with 饭店 (fàn diàn) or 旅馆 (lǚ guǎn), but in some provinces 饭店 and 酒店 can be used to refer to a restaurant.
13. 地铁站在哪儿? (dì tiě zhàn zài nǎ ér ?)
Where is the train/MRT station?
14. 在哪里买票? (zài nǎ lǐ mǎi piào ?)
Where can I buy a ticket?
Make sure you have smaller bills in case you’re buying tickets from a machine! It’s better change your money first – 换钱 (huàn qián).
15. 我想租一辆车. (wŏ xiăng zū yí liàng chē)
I would like to rent a car.
In case you want to have your own car at your disposal during your time in China, you’ll want a 租车 or a rented car. You can also hire your own 司机 (sī jī), your own personal driver waiting for you at the 停车场 (tíng chē chǎng) or at the parking lot.
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