Common Chinese Phrases for Asking Directions and More

Most people have experienced getting lost and not knowing what to do in a foreign place. It’s a normal thing!


Still, it’s better to be a savvy traveler and know the right words for asking for directions and assistance.


Here are some common Chinese phrases you could use to better navigate your surroundings in China.


Chinese Phrases for Traveling or Commuting

China is a very busy place. And in very busy places, it’s very important to know your way around public transportation.
In China, options for public transport are never scarce—you have buses, bullet trains, and air travel for longer distances. 
As with navigating any unfamiliar place, it’s essential to make yourself understood when you get lost.
Here are some common Chinese phrases you can use:
  • I want to go to ___ – Wŏ xiăng qù (我想去)
  • Excuse me, do you know where ____ is? –  Qĭng wèn, nĭ zhī daò ____ zài nă lĭ mā? (请问,你知道 ____ 在那里吗)
  • Where are we? – Wǒmen zài nǎlǐ? (我们在哪里?)
  • Can you tell me the way to the train station? – Qǐng nǐ gào​sù wǒ qù huǒ​chē​zhàn zěn​me zǒu? (请你告诉我去火车站怎么走?)
  • Where does the bus go? – Zhè bān​chē wǎng nǎ​lǐ? (这班车往哪里?)


Good to Know:

If you’re not fluent in Chinese and need to hail a taxi, consider writing down your destination in Chinese to show to your cab driver.
If you’re staying at a hotel, for instance, you can show them your hotel’s brochure or business card.
It would also be good to remember some common Chinese phrases for travelers in need of assistance. 
For example, “Nǐ néng bāng wǒ ma?” (你能帮我吗?), or “Can you help me?” and “Qǐng chóngfù” (请重复), or “Please repeat.”


Common Chinese phrases to use for traveling, commuting, or asking for help.

Chinese Phrases for Hotels

From reserving your accommodation to settling your bill, you need to communicate your needs to your accommodation with ease and confidence.

Let’s look at some key phrases you can use.

  • Do you have a room available? – Nǐ men yǒu kòng fáng jiān ma? (你们有空房间吗?)
  • I have a reservation – Wǒ yùdìng le (我預定了)
  • Do you have ____? – Yǒu méi yǒu? (有没有 ___?)
  • I would like a room with a ___ – Wǒ xiǎng yào yǒu ____ de fángjiān. (我想要有____的房間。)
  • ___ is broken – ____  shì huài le ( ____ 坏了)
  • I would like to check out – Wǒ yào tuì fáng (我要退房)
  • May I see the room? – Wŏ kĕ yĭ kān yī xià fáng jiān mā? (我可以看一下房间吗?)
  • How much does it cost per night? – Fáng jiān yī wăn duō shao qián (房间一晚多少钱?)
  • Where is the elevator? – Diàn tī zài nă lĭ? (电梯在哪里?)
  • I would like a wake-up call for [time] – Qǐng [time] jiào xǐng wǒ (請 [time] 叫醒我)
Common Chinese phrases to use when booking, checking out, or communicating your needs to hotel staff.

Chinese Phrases for Restaurants

Food is one of the biggest aspects of China that makes this country unique. 

Aside from knowing proper dining etiquette, it’s also essential to remember a few important phrases.

From ordering your favorite dishes to expressing dietary preferences, these common Chinese phrases will help you relay your needs to staff—and elevate your dining experience.

  • I want ____ – Wŏ yào ___ (我要 ____)
  • I don’t eat ___ –  Wŏ bǜ chī ___  (我不吃 ___)
  • (I want to) pay the bill – Măi dān (埋单)
  • Waiter, order please – Fúwùyuán, diǎn cài (服务员,点菜.)
  • May I have the menu? – Qǐng gěi wǒ càidān (请给我菜单.)
  • Is there a restroom nearby? – Nǐ men fù jìn yǒu méi yǒu xǐ shǒu jiān? (你们附近有没有洗手间?)
  • Cheers! – Gānbēi! (干杯)
Common Chinese phrases to use when dining out.

Chinese Phrases for Shopping

Whether you want to negotiate prices or inquire about wares, you need to make sure that your retail adventures in China remain seamless and enjoyable.

Remember these key phrases:

  • How much? – Duō shăo qián (多少钱)
  • Can I try it on? – Wǒ kěyǐ shì yī shì ma? (我可以试一试吗?)
  • Can you help me find ____? – Nǐ néng bāng wǒ zhǎo ____ ma? (你能帮我找 ___ 吗?)
  • Can it be cheaper? –  Kěyǐ piányixiē ma? (可以便宜些吗?)
  • Deal – Chéngjiāo (成交)
  • Does this come in different sizes? – Zhè yǒu bùtóng de dàxiǎo ma? (这有不同的大小吗?)
  • I’ll take this one – Jiù yào zhège (就要这个)
  • I’m paying with my card – Wǒ yào shuā kǎ (我要刷卡)


Don’t Forget: Shopping in China

It’s typical to negotiate prices in China, especially when you’re shopping at marketplaces and small establishments. 

So while you’re there, you may want to brush up on your haggling skills!

Chinese locals also prefer virtual payment channels. Even street stalls have their own QR codes ready for payments! 

So while it’s standard practice to bring local currency with you in a foreign country, you may want to set up other methods of payment as well.

Common Chinese phrases for shopping.

Tips for Asking Directions and Instructions in China

  • Learn the basics. Again, it’s easier to get help when you know some common Chinese phrases!
  • Be straightforward and clear with your questions. Make use of gestures and simple words.
  • Write down your questions, destinations, and other vital information. It’s inevitable that verbal communication will hit some roadblocks. Consider writing down—in Chinese characters—information such as your destination, hotel, allergies, etc.
  • Be patient and respectful. Don’t forget to be polite and understanding with others. Patience is a virtue, and language barriers can take time to overcome.

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