Summer is a great time to learn Chinese! Want to know why?
It’s the perfect opportunity to learn and use all sorts of Chinese phrases and vocabulary relating to summertime activities, travel and play.
Learn a few things, and bring them with you to the beach, poolside, mountaintop or ice cream parlor!
Are you ready? Let’s go!
What’s Summer Like in China?
Summer for most places in China is one word: Sweltering. China is known to experience heat waves reaching 40 degrees Celsius. Certain super hot cities are nicknamed “furnace cities,” for example, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Hangzhou and Nanchang.
With weather fit to be labeled as a furnace, people gripe against the heat. Let’s learn a few ways to complain:
a. 今天天气好热！(jīn tiān tiān qì hǎo rè)
The weather today is so hot!
b. 真的太热了！(zhēn de tài rè le)
Man, it’s too hot!
c. 热死人啦！(rè sǐ rén la)
Man, this heat is killing me!
These phrases are great for whenever the temperature is baking. Although the weather may not change, at least you can vent about it.
Interested in learning more phrases and vocabulary about the summer and all seasons in Chinese? Then check out FluentU!
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
And don’t worry—in addition to talking about the weather, there are many more interesting summertime phrases we can learn in Chinese.
Learn Chinese Through Your Favorite Summer Activities
1. 去海滩游泳 (qù hăi tān yóu yŏng) – Going to the Beach
What’s everyone dying to do in the summer? Hit the beaches! Here’s how we say it:
我要去海滩游泳。(wǒ yào qù hǎi tān yóu yǒng)
I’m going to the beach for a swim.
海滩 (hǎi tān) is beach. 游泳 (yóu yǒng) is swimming. Want to know where the best beaches are in China? Try Hainan Island in Southern China. It’s a gorgeous tropical island sometimes called “China’s Hawaii.” Here, one of the prettiest beaches is Bo’ao Yudai Beach, which means “Jade Belt Beach.”
How should we get ready for going to the beaches in China? Bring some sunscreen—防晒 (fáng shài)—as well as a massive sun umbrella or 伞 (sǎn). For something nice to lie down on, bring a towel, 毛巾(máo jīn).
Chinese essential oil, known by the brand White Flower, is really handy for light headaches or dizziness some may experience from being in the sun or heat too long.
At the beach, perhaps you’d like to 玩沙 (wàn shā) or build a sandcastle. If you’re lucky, you may find a 海星 (hǎi xīng), a starfish.
2. 去游泳池游泳 (qù yóu yŏng chí yóu yŏng) – Going Swimming at the Pool
If you’re nowhere near the ocean, going swimming at the pool is the next best thing. Here’s how we say it:
我要去游泳池游泳。(wǒ yào qù yóu yǒng chí yóu yǒng)
I want to go swimming at the pool.
Some pools in China are extremely, ridiculously crowded, to the extent that they make hilarious videos. And it’s not certain why, but Chinese love to use flotation devices, like the doughnut-shaped ones.
When going to the pool, you’d want to bring your swimsuit, 泳衣 (yǒng yī), your goggles, 泳镜 (yǒng jìng), and your flip flops, 拖鞋 (tuō xié). Once you’re at the pool, check in to the 更衣室 (gēng yī shì) changing room. Upon coming out, check that there’s a 救生员 (jiù shēng yuán) lifeguard on duty, and you’re good to go!
3. 吃冰淇淋 (chī bīng qí lín) – Eating Ice Cream
Who doesn’t want to have something cool and sweet when it’s hot and sunny out? Let’s say it:
我要吃冰淇淋! (wǒ yào chī bīng qí lín)
I want to eat ice cream!
Let’s also learn Chinese through the names of popular ice cream flavors. What’s your favorite? Is it vanilla 香草 (xiāng cǎo)? Strawberry 草莓 (cǎo méi)? How about chocolate 巧克力 (qiǎo kè lì), Neapolitan 那不勒斯 (nà bù lè sī), mint 薄荷 (bó hé) or green tea 绿茶 (lǜ chá)?
Thinking of all those flavors makes one hungry for ice cream. But first let’s take a trip…
4. 去爬山 (qù pá shān) – Going Hiking
A good way to burn calories before and after ice cream would be to go hiking. We can say:
我们去爬山吧！(wǒ men qù pá shān ba)
Let’s go hiking!
There are many amazing places to hike in China. Zhang Jia Jie has incredible, narrowly-shaped natural formations that look like tall green fingers reaching to the sky. They resemble some of the mountains and formations seen in traditional Chinese paintings. Some of these formations are shaped interestingly and look like people or animals. Many of these special ones have specific names like “phoenix” or “goddess.”
Another cool place to hike is the Great Wall of China or 长城 (cháng chéng). The Great Wall stretches over 5,000 miles and would take 18 months to walk the entire length. But don’t worry, only sections of the wall are commonly visited by tourists.
If you’re up for something really new and different, you might like night hiking in Hong Kong. A group called MoonTrekker organizes after-dark hikes on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and Lantau Island. During night hikes you can see fireflies and city lights.
When hiking, we need proper footwear 运动鞋 (yùn dòng xié), a walking stick 拐棍 (guǎi gùn), a water bottle 水瓶 (shuǐ píng) and a hat 帽子 (mào zi).
5. 去商场逛街 (qù shāng cháng guàng jiē) – Going to the Mall
It may sound weird, but Chinese love going to the malls during the summer. That’s because it’s sweltering outside and the shopping centers have wonderful air conditioning. Also, due to high heat and lack of open spaces in the city, there’s limited outdoor activities to enjoy. So, shopping? Let’s go!
我们去商场逛街吧！(wǒ men qù shāng chǎng guàng jiē ba)
Let’s hit the malls!
If you’re in Shanghai, you might want to see Global Harbor, a multi-story luxury mall. Also see the very new World Daimaru Department Store in Shanghai, which features the world’s largest spiral escalator. Something cool to check out!
When shopping in smaller stores or street retailers in China, you commonly barter or 讲价 (jiǎng jià). However, many department stores or larger chain stores inside of shopping centers don’t accept bartering. Yet salespeople may still give out other incentives or bonuses such as free gifts or samples.
Here’s some things commonly bought at the mall: clothing 衣服 (yī fú), gift items 礼品 (lǐ pǐn), books 书籍 (shū jí), food 食物 (shí wù), sports equipment 运动器材 (yùn dòng qì cái) and makeup 化妆品 (huà zhuāng pǐn).
6. 去夜市 (qù yè shì) – Visiting the Night Market
Another really cool thing to do on a Chinese summer night is to visit a night market. Night markets are outdoor marketplaces that come to life when the sun goes down and people are off work. Vendors begin to set up their tents early evening, and by night time, the streets are filled with hawkers selling curried snacks, fruit on sticks and fake Rolexes, Ray-Bans, Uggs, Nike sneakers, hi-low skirts and whatever else may be trendy. So, ready to go?
我们去夜市吧 。(wǒ men qù yè shì ba)
Let’s go check out the night market.
In China, one of the biggest night markets is the Shenyang Night Market in Liaoning. Stretching 1.2 miles, it has something for everyone. In Hong Kong, the Temple Street Night Market in Jordan and Yau Ma Tai area is very popular.
Things to do at the night market include trying street food 吃小吃 (chī xiǎo chī), drinking bubble tea 喝珍珠奶茶 (hē zhēn zhū nǎi chá), buying clothes 买衣服 (mǎi yī fú) and buying jewelry买装饰品 (mǎi zhuāng shì pǐn).
On a beautiful night, shoppers and vendors are not the only people out there. Night markets are also known for pickpockets, so you’ve got to be careful—注意小偷 (zhù yì xiǎo tōu) watch out for pickpockets.
How many other fun summer activities can you think of? Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing this summer, it’s always a good opportunity to teach yourself Chinese and expand your horizons.
祝您夏天愉快！(zhù nín xià tiān yú kuài) Have a great summer!