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Asking and Understanding Directions in Chinese: Everything You Need to Find Your Way

If you’re going to travel to China, odds are that you will feel a little lost at some point.

This is why it’s so important to know a few key terms that will help you ask for assistance in Chinese!

In this blog post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about asking and understanding directions in Chinese ( 方向 fāng xiàng), including new words for places to go, basic phrases and more.


How to Ask for Directions in Chinese

First, let’s take a look at a few phrases that’ll be critical in helping you form sentences related to placement, locations and directions in Chinese.

...在哪里? zài nǎ lǐ?Where is...?
...离这里远吗? ...lí zhé lì yuǎn ma?Is... far from here?
...离这里近吗? ...lí zhé lì jìn ma?Is... close to here?
从...到...要多长时间? cóng... dào... yào duō cháng shí jiān?How long does it take to get from... to...?
去...怎么走? qù... zěn me zǒu?How do I get to ...?
坐... zuò take...

Here are some example sentences to help you practice:

(chāo shì zài nǎ lǐ?)
Where is the supermarket?

(yín háng lí zhè lǐ yuǎn ma?)
Is the bank far from here?

(cóng dà xué dào tú shū guǎn yào duō cháng shí jiān?)
How long does it take to get from the university to the library?

Vocabulary for Directions in Chinese

Now that you know how to form basic sentences when it comes to asking for directions, let’s look at specific vocabulary terms that may come up:

指路 zhǐ lùTo give directions
问路 wèn lùTo ask for directions
地图 dì túMap
迷路 mí lùTo get lost
走路 zǒu lùTo go by foot
坐火车 zuò huǒ chēTo take the train
开车 kāi chēTo drive
坐飞机 zuò fēi jīTo take an airplane
在路上 zài lù shàngOn the way


(kě yǐ zǒu lù dào chāo shì ma?)
Can you go to the supermarket by foot?

(nǐ xū yào cóng běi jīng zuò fēi jī dào shàng hǎi.)
You need to fly from Beijing to Shanghai.

不用担心, 我在路上!
(bú yòng dān xīn, wǒ zài lù shàng!)
Don’t worry, I’m on the way!

Places to Go in Chinese

Here are some of the most common locations you might need to tell someone you’re going to:

银行 yín hángBank
医院 yī yuànHospital
火车站 huǒ chē zhànTrain station
地铁站 dì tiě zhànSubway station
超市 chāo shìGrocery store / supermarket
商场 shāng chǎngShopping mall
博物馆 bó wù guǎnMuseum
图书馆 tú shū guǎnLibrary
餐厅 cān tīngRestaurant (casual)
酒吧 jiǔ bāBar
公园 gōng yuánPark
机场 jī chǎngAirport
电影院 diàn yǐng yuànMovie theater


(nǐ hái zài huǒ chē zhàn ma? wǒ zhǎo bú dào nǐ.)
Are you still at the train station? I can’t find you.

(qǐng wèn, nǐ kě yǐ bāng wǒ zhǎo bó wù guǎn ma?)
Excuse me, can you help me find the museum?

(nà ge yī yuàn zài lìng yì tiáo jiē.)
That hospital is on the other street.

Location Words in Chinese

When someone is giving you directions or you need to ask where things are in relation to other places, here are some location-based vocabulary that you may need:

前面 / 前边 qián miàn / qián biānIn front of
后面 / 后边 hòu miàn / hòu biānBehind
外面 / 外边 wài miàn / wài biānOutside
里面 / 里边 lǐ miàn / lǐ biānInside
右边 yòu biānTo the right of
左边 zuǒ biānTo the left of
一直 yì zhíStraight
旁边 páng biānNext to
北方 běi fāngNorth
南方 nán fāngSouth
西方 xī fāngWest
东方 dōng fāngEast


(tú shū guǎn zài dà xué de qián miàn.)
The library is in front of the university.

(yī yuàn zài cān tīng de yòu biān.)
The hospital is to the right of the restaurant.

(wǒ hái zài huǒ chē zhàn. zài rù kǒu de páng biān.)
I’m still at the trains station. (I’m) next to the entrance.


So, what’s next now that you know how to talk about, ask for and give directions in Chinese?

It’s time to hit the streets!

For good practice, look out for these phrases when watching Chinese media. Using a resource like FluentU gives you an extra advantage since you can spot and click on direction words and phrases in the interactive subtitles.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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Get out there and start asking your way around. You may look like a lost foreigner, but you’re on your way to sounding like a lost local!

And One More Thing...

If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.

FluentU naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.

The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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