Chinese signs contain mandarin characters for simplified chinese as well as English

Most signs in Yunnan and Guangxi contain both Chinese characters and English

While the Chinese language has hundreds of regional dialects and countless more unique languages spoken in the country, the official language of China is Mandarin (known as Putonghua, or “the common language”).  This is the language spoken in all schools and businesses, and can be spoken by almost every Chinese person, though sometimes in a limited way. Chinese is a character-based language making reading it very difficult if not impossible for travellers, though English signs are always present for tourism sites and businesses.

A Mandarin phrasebook can go a long way in China, even though many challenges will be faced with the proper pronunciation.

English is also commonly spoken in China, especially by students who begin learning the language early in their schooling.


Common Words and Phrases

These are some common phrases and words that will be helpful when traveling in China.  As mentioned before, Mandarin is a tonal language so pronunciation can be quite difficult.  However, in context you should be understood.

Hello – Ni Hao
Goodbye – Zai Jian
Thank You – Xie Xie
Please – Qing
You’re Welcome – Bu Ke Qi
I’m Sorry – Dui Bu Qi
What is your name? – Nin Gui Xing?
Good – Hao
Bad – Bu Hao
Like – Xi Huan
Don’t Like – Bu Xi Huan

Where is … ? – … Zai Nali?
Toilet – Ce Suo
Hotel – Bing Guan
Restaurant – Fan Dian
I Would Like – Wo Xiang Yao

I/Me – Wo
You – Ni
Him/her – Ta
Them – Ta Men

How Much? – Duo Shao Qian?
Too Expensive – Tai Gui Le!
Cheaper – Pian Yi Yi Dian


0 -Ling
1 – Yi, Yao
2 – Er, Liang Bai
3 – San
4 – Si
5 – Wu
6 – Liu
7 – Qi
8 – Ba
9 – Jiu
10 – Shi
11 – Shi Yi
12 – Shi Er
13 – Shi San
20 – Er Shi
21 – Er Shi Yi
22 – Er Shi Er
30 – San Shi
40 – Si Shi
50 – Wu Shi
60 – Lui Shi
70 – Qi Shi
80 – Ba Shi
90 – Jiu Shi
100 – Yi Bai