Chinese Travel-Related Words and Phrases
Traveling in a Chinese-speaking country can be confusing if you can’t read the signs or understand the instructions you’re given. Learning a few useful travel-related words and phrases in Chinese before you begin traveling can save you time and reduce your frustration level.
General travel vocabulary
Here are a few general travel-related terms that everyone should know before making the big trip.
hùzhào (hoo jaow) (passport)
xiāngzi (shyahng dzuh) (suitcase)
hăiguān (hi gwahn) (customs)
lǖyóu (lyew yoe) (tour)
lǖyóu shŏucè (lyew yoe show tsuh) (guidebook)
qiānzhèng (chyan juhng) (visa)
shŏutíxíngli (show tee sheeng lee) (carry-on luggage)
tuōyùn (twaw yewn) (to check in luggage)
xiāngzi (shyahng dzuh) (suitcase)
xíngli (sheeng lee) (luggage)
lǖxíng dàilĭrén (lyew sheeng dye lee run) (travel agent)
lǖxíngshè (lyew sheeng shuh) (travel agency)
guānguāng tuán (gwahn gwahng twahn) (tour group)
piào (pyaow) (ticket)
Remember that the Chinese commonly uses the 24-hour clock to list the times of planes, trains, buses, and tours. For every hour after 12 noon, just add an hour. So 1 p.m. becomes 13, and 8 p.m. becomes 20.
Traveling by plane
While traveling in a foreign country, you often need to make or change your travel arrangements. The following words can be helpful when making or changing flight arrangements.
dēngjīpái (boarding pass)
dānchéng piào (one-way ticket)
wáng făn piào (round-trip ticket)
tóudĕngcāng (first class)
shāngwù cāng (business class)
jīngjìcāng (economy class)
wŏ yào dìng yìzhāng fēijīpiào. (I would like to reserve a ticket.)
wŏ yào dìng yìzhāng cōng Bĕijīng dào Shànghăi de wăngfăn jīpiào. (I would like to buy a round-trip ticket from Beijing to Shanghai.)
wŏ yào măi liăngzhāng qf Niŭyuē de fēijīpiào. (I would like to purchase two tickets to New York.)
wŏ xiăngyào wănshang qīdiăn de hángbān. (I’d like the 7 p.m. flight.)
yào (want) and xiăngyào (want) are nearly the same, but xiăngyào has a softer sense to it. You can use them interchangeably.
wŏmen yŏu sāngè píxiāng hé liăngge shŏutíxiāng. (We have three suitcases and two handbags.)
wŏ méiyŏu tài duō de xíngli. (I do not have any excess baggage.)
zhè jiàn kĕyĭ suíshēn dài ma? (Can this be a carry-on?)
wŏ yīnggāi duōzăo dào? (How early should I arrive?)
Traveling by train
Train travel is the most common form of long distance transportation in China. If you’re going to travel by train, you’ll want to understand the different types of ticketing available:
Stand-up ticket (zhàn piào): This is the cheapest ticket, but as the name suggests, you don’t get a seat!
Hard seat (yìngzuò): This ticket allows you to use bench seats (kind of like school bus seats) facing each other with a small table.
Soft seat (ruănzuò): With this ticket, you get a lightly upholstered, individual seat.
Hard sleeper (yìngwò): A ticket in this class gives you access to a section that has open berths with two sets of hard bunks facing each other, three bunks high.
Soft sleeper (ruănwò): The berths in this private section have two softer bunks on each side, two bunks high, and a small table attached to the wall. There is also a flat overhead storage area.
The following phrases can help you when making arrangements to travel by train in a Chinese-speaking country.
wŏ yào măi yìzhāng qf Shànghăi de huŏchēpiào. (I would like to purchase a ticket to Shanghai.)
duì xuéshēng yŏu yōuhuì ma? (Do you have discounts for students?)
zhĭ yào dānchéng de. (Just one-way.)
duōshăoqián yìzhāngpiào? (How much does the ticket cost?)
Staying at a Hotel
Although many of the larger hotels in a Chinese-speaking country have English-speaking staff, you rarely find that in the smaller hotels and in the smaller towns. The following words can help you make or change your hotel reservations.
tuìfáng (tway fahng) (to check out of a room)
shuāngrén fángjiān (shwahng run fahng jyan) (double room)
tănzi (tahn dzuh) (blanket)
kōngtiáo (koong tyaow) (air conditioning)
kòngwèi (koong way) (vacant)
jīedàiyuán (jyeh deye yuan) (concierge)
lǖguăn (lyew gwahn) (hotel)
fàndiàn qiántái (fahn dyan chyan tye) (reception desk)
fángjiān (fahng jyan) (room)
dàtīng (dah teeng) (lobby)
Essential phrases to know:
nĭ yŏu shénme yàng de kòngfáng? (What rooms do you have available?)
duìbuqĭ, wŏmen méiyŏu kòngfáng le. (I’m sorry, we don’t have any available rooms.)
wŏmen xiăng qhxiāo wŏmen de yùdìng. (We want to cancel our room reservation.)
shénme shíjiān tuìfáng? (At what time is checkout?)
nĭ yào zài zhōngwŭ shíèr diăn tuìfáng. (You need to check out of your room by 12 o’clock.)
zhè shì nĭde fángjiān yàoshi. (Here’s the key to your room.)
wŏ yào kèfáng fúwù. (Room service, please.)