Travel in Mandarin – Connect With Locals and Navigate Your Travels

Traveling in Shanghai or hiking the mountains? Use this easy list of Mandarin words to connect with locals and navigate your travels more smoothly. Each item includes pinyin (a system that romanizes Chinese using Latin characters and intonation markers) so that you can practice pronunciation.

Additionally, you’ll discover useful measure words and tips on how to negotiate in China.


For anyone traveling to China or any country where Mandarin is spoken, learning basic phrases of the language is invaluable in terms of making travel simpler and reducing stress levels. Furthermore, learning some Mandarin will show locals that you respect their language while showing that you respect it too!

FluentU is an excellent way to practice your pronunciation by offering hundreds of authentic Mandarin clips that have been marked up with pinyin, so that you can hear how syllables should be pronounced. There is also a number written over each syllable that indicates tone (first tone, rising tone, falling tone or neutral). Tone training is important because using incorrect tones will cause words to sound completely different!

Download an e-Book or app containing a list of common travel words and phrases, particularly when on the go and need to refresh your memory quickly. Some apps offer recordings in both Chinese and English for your reference; it is also helpful if you record yourself saying these phrases out loud so you can check for pronunciation issues.


Practice makes perfect, and listening to as much Chinese as you can is key to improving it. Reading allows learners to slow down or pause at will; conversely, listening requires you to rely on speakers’ language alone and can make comprehension very challenging.

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There are many excellent resources available to you for practicing listening skills. Listening to short clips containing simple dialogues and vocabulary is helpful, particularly if the content was specifically produced for learners, such as Learning Chinese through Stories podcast. Each episode in this series is entirely in Chinese with full transcripts, vocabulary annotations and additional situational dialogues available on their website.

Listening to songs sung in Chinese can also help enhance your Mandarin listening, especially paying close attention to how the lyrics use certain syllables. This can help you better comprehend their meaning as well as where to place them for correct pronunciation.

Listening is a vital skill, so investing time and effort to practice listening will benefit other aspects of your language skills immensely. Making listening part of your daily routine is the best way to develop this key ability, which will in turn benefit all other areas.


Learning basic travel phrases in Mandarin Chinese is essential if you wish to travel freely without being dependent on their English abilities alone. Knowing just a few key words and phrases will make the trip more manageable, especially if traveling solo or with another individual.

Travel is represented by the character (lu). Many words that refer to travel contain this character, including yi ge mian bao or yi guo luxing. Other useful vocabulary when travelling in China includes nan nao and nu nu, which are used to indicate gender-specific rooms such as male versus female rooms in hotels – for instance nan is designated for men and nu for women respectively.

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Pinyin, or romanization Chinese that uses alphabet to write out words, will also be necessary as Mandarin is a tonal language in which meaning can vary depending on how a word is pronounced. This information will come in handy since Chinese is known for being highly tonalized when speaking it!

If you want to learn Mandarin, there are various online resources that can be helpful in doing so. I particularly recommend the Mandarin Blueprint Course which promises to teach basic words within two months and progress to reading graded books and stories within six months – they even offer a free trial so it may be worth your while to give it a go!


Chinese is a tonal language, making accurate writing skills essential. Pinyin provides an easy way of romanizing Chinese by placing tone markers over each syllable to indicate whether its tone should rise, fall, flatten out or remain neutral – much easier than writing traditional characters! In Mandarin the character Lu is associated with travel or trip.

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