Does this sound like you? You have been learning Mandarin for a few years now. Perhaps you began your studies in about 2019 or 2020. Or maybe you are one of the many people who used the time of the pandemic to learn Chinese. Of course, you always planned to travel one day to China to be able to practice your Chinese conversation skills in real-world situations. But the pandemic has made travelling to China extremely restricted, arduous and expensive and so far, it has been out of your reach.
Until now. Now, China is opening up again: Covid testing requirements have been currently dropped, visa requirements have returned to pre-Covid conditions, and flights are no longer exorbitantly expensive. Students of Chinese can now finally plan a sightseeing journey or perhaps even a longer stay at a study-abroad program or an immersion school.
Since your goal is perfecting your Mandarin conversation, you won’t want to be relying on technology too much. As convenient as translation programs are, your target will be real conversations in Chinese, not simply shoving your phone’s translation into people’s faces every time you need to communicate. Yet, if this is your first time in China, the prospect of actually using your Chinese conversation skills in real situations might seem a big daunting even if you have been studying really hard.
That’s why I have created the following list of Chinese dialogues for you to memorize. I’ve also added some bonus vocabulary which you can mix and match in the Mandarin dialogues to fit many situations. This should give you confidence and help you with Chinese conversations in a variety of situations. While no situation you encounter will proceed exactly as these Mandarin dialogues have been written, memorizing entire phrases will grease the wheels of your communication. Soon you will be adapting the dialogues and improvising language to fit many new situations. Before you know it, you will feel at more ease and will be communicating in Chinese freely.
Chinese dialogues for your trip to China
1. Four all-purpose phrases for a variety of Chinese conversations
First of all, learn the following four phrases to assist you in a multitude of Mandarin conversations at shops, museums, restaurants, markets … the list goes on and on. They are:
我要 (Wǒ yào) = I want. Example: 我要一个. (Wǒ yào yīgè) I want one.
这个 (Zhège) = This one. Example: 我要这个. (Wǒ yào zhège) I want this one.
你有没有 (nǐ yǒu méiyǒu) = Do you have any…? Example: 你有没有香蕉? (Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu xiāngjiāo) Do you have any bananas?
请给我 (Qǐng gěi wǒ) = Please give me. Example: 请给我一个馒头(Qǐng gěi wǒ yīgè mántou). Please give me a steamed bun.
2. Chinese dialogue for the airport arrival, going through passport and visa checks:
机场边防官员 （Jīchǎng biānfáng guānyuán）：欢迎来到北京。请出示您的护照和签证。(Huānyíng lái dào běijīng. Qǐng chūshì nín de hùzhào hé qiānzhèng）
Airport Border Officer: Welcome to Beijing. Please show me your passport and visa.
旅客：当然, 这是我的护照。我的签证在这儿。 (Dāngrán. Zhè shì wǒ de hùzhào. Wǒ de
qiānzhèng zài zhè’er.)
This is my passport. My visa is here.
官员：谢谢。请您站在黄线后面，注视摄像头。(Xièxiè. Qǐng nín zhàn zài huáng xiàn hòumiàn, zhùshì shèxiàngtóu.)
Thank you. Please stand behind the yellow line and look at the camera.
旅客：好的。没问题。(Hǎo de. Méi wèntí.)
OK, no problem.
官员：好的，您可以进入中国了。祝您在中国过得愉快。(Hǎo de, nín kěyǐ jìnrù zhōngguóle. Zhù nín zài zhōngguó guòdé yúkuài.)
Fine. You may enter China. Have a good time in China.
Bonus phrases for airport arrival
- 你来北京的目的是什么？(Nǐ lái Běijīng de mùdì shì shénme?)
What is the purpose of your visit to Beijing?
- 你计划在北京停留多长时间？(Nǐ jìhuà zài Běijīng tíngliú duō cháng shíjiān?)
How long do you plan to stay in Beijing?
- 你在北京会住在哪里？(Nǐ zài Běijīng huì zhù zài nǎlǐ?)
Where will you be staying in Beijing?
3. Asking directions to a restroom in Chinese
你：请问，卫生间在哪里？（Qǐngwèn, wèishēngjiān zài nǎlǐ?）
You: Excuse me, where is the restroom?
当地人 (Dāngdì rén)：卫生间在这个角落的右边。(Wèishēngjiān zài zhège jiǎoluò de yòubiān.)
Local: The restroom is on the corner over there on the right.
Bonus vocabulary – other words for restroom:
洗手间 (xǐshǒujiān) = lavatory (literally means hand washing room)
厕所(cèsuǒ) = toilet
4. Dialogue for taking a taxi in China
你：你好，我要去[hotel name], 可以坐你的出租车吗? （Nǐ hǎo, wǒ yào qù [Hotel Name], kěyǐ zuò nǐde chūzū chē ma?）
Hello, I want to go to [hotel name], may I take your taxi?
出租车司机(Chūzū chē sījī): 当然可以，上车吧！(Dāngrán kěyǐ, shàng chē ba)
Taxi djriver: Of course, please get in!
Driver: We’ve arrived
你：这是 [Fare Amount] 钱. 可以给我一张发票吗？” (Zhè shì [Fare Amount] qián, kěyǐ gěi wǒ yī zhāng fāpiào ma?)
You: Here is [Fare Amount]. Can you give me a receipt?
司机：当然可以 (Dāngrán kěyǐ).
Driver: Of course.
Bonus vocabulary for taxis:
师傅 (Shīfu) = Polite way to address taxi drivers (and other skilled workers) in China. Literally means “Master”
Other places you might want to take a taxi
火车站 (huǒchē zhàn) = train station
机场 (jīchǎng) = airport
5. Asking directions to the subway in Chinese
你：你好，请问附近有地铁站吗？(Nǐ hǎo, qǐngwèn fùjìn yǒu dìtiězhàn ma?)
Hello, is there a subway station nearby?
当地人(local): 有, 您往前走两个街区, 然后左转, [subway station name] 地铁站就在那儿. (Yǒu, nín wǎng qián zǒu liǎng gè jiēkuài, ránhòu zuǒzhuǎn, [Subway Station Name] dìtiězhàn jiù zài nàr.)
Local: Yes, there is. Walk two blocks ahead, then turn left, and [Subway Station Name] subway station is right there.
You: Thank you!
当地人: 不客气，祝您旅途愉快！(Bù kèqì, zhù nín lǚtú yúkuài!)
Local: You’re welcome, have a pleasant journey!
Bonus vocabulary for asking directions in Mandarin:
右转 (Yòu zhuǎn) = Turn right
左转 (Zuǒ zhuǎn) = Turn left
直走 (Zhí zǒu) = Go straight
十字路口 (Shízì lùkǒu) = Intersection
红绿灯 (Hónglǜdēng) = Traffic light
斑马线 (Bānmǎ xiàn) = Zebra crossing
6. Dialogue for checking into a Chinese hotel
酒店前台 (Jiǔdiàn qiántái): 欢迎光临! (Huānyíng guānglín!)
Hotel front desk: Welcome!
你: 你好，我有一个预订。我的名字是 [your name]. (Nǐ hǎo, wǒ yǒu yīgè yùdìng. Wǒ de míngzì shì [Your Name].)
You: Hello, I have a reservation. My name is [your name].
酒店前台 (Jiǔdiàn qiántái):请问您的预订信息是什么？(Nǐ hǎo, huānyíng guānglín. Qǐngwèn nín de yùdìng xìnxī shì shénme)
Front desk: Hello, welcome. May I have your reservation details, please?
你: 预订是使用了 [confirmation number] 这个确认号码。(Yùdìng shì shǐyòngle [Confirmation Number] zhège quèrèn hàomǎ).
The reservation used the confirmation number [confirmation number].
酒店前台: 好的，让我查一下… 对. 您预订的是 3 晚的单人间. 这里是您的房间钥匙卡。 (Hǎo de, ràng wǒ chá yīxià… Duì. Nín yùdìng de shì 3 wǎn de dān rénjiān. Zhèlǐ shì nín de fángjiān yàoshi kǎ)
Alright, let me check… Yes, your reservation is for 3 nights, a single room. Here is your room key card.
你: 谢谢！房间在几楼？(Xièxiè! Fángjiān zài jǐ lóu?)
Thank you! Which floor is the room on?
酒店前台: 您的房间在五楼，电梯在大堂的右边。 (Nín de fángjiān zài wǔ lóu, diàntī zài dàtáng de yòubian.)
Your room is on the fifth floor, and the elevator is on the right side of the lobby.
Bonus Vocabulary for other Mandarin dialogues in hotels
双人间(Shuāng rénjiān) = Double Room
退房时间 (Tuì fáng shíjiān) = Check-out time
7. Dialogue for taking a bus in Chengdu
你: 请问这辆公交车去不去大熊猫研究基地？(Qǐngwèn zhè liàng gōngjiāochē qù bù qù dà xióngmāo yánjiū jīdì?)
Hello, does this bus go to the Giant Panda Research Base?
公交车司机 (Gōngjiāochē sījī): 是的，去大熊猫研究基地。请上车。 (Shì de, qù dà xióngmāo yánjiū jīdì. Qǐng shàng chē.)
Yes, it goes to the Giant Panda Research Base. Please get on.
你: 请给我一张去大熊猫研究基地的车票。 (Qǐng gěi wǒ yī zhāng qù dà xióngmāo yánjiū jīdì de chēpiào.)
Please give me a ticket to the Giant Panda Research Base.
司机: 好的，请付车费。 (Hǎo de, qǐng fù chē fèi.)
Alright, please pay the fare.
8. Going to a hotpot restaurant in Chengdu
服务员(Fúwùyuán): 请跟我来，这边有一个空桌子。你们想吃什么口味的火锅？(Qǐng gēn wǒ lái, zhè biān yǒu yīgè kòng zhuōzi. Nǐmen xiǎng chī shénme kǒuwèi de huǒguō?)
Waiter: Please follow me. There’s an available table over here. What flavor of hotpot would you like?
顾客1 (Gùkè 1): 我们想吃麻辣口味的火锅。 (Wǒmen xiǎng chī málà kǒuwèi de huǒguō.) – We’d like the spicy hotpot, please.
服务员 (Fúwùyuán): 好的，麻辣口味是我们的特色。 (Hǎo de, málà kǒuwèi shì wǒmen de tèsè.
Waiter: Sure, the spicy flavor is our specialty.
顾客2 (Gùkè 2): 我们还要一些牛肉、蘑菇、和蔬菜。 (Wǒmen hái yào yīxiē niúròu, mógū, hé shūcài.)
Customer 2: We’d also like some beef, mushrooms and vegetables, please.
顾客3 (Gùkè 3): 我们还要点一些冷饮，有什么推荐吗？(Wǒmen hái yào diǎn yīxiē lěngyǐn, yǒu shé me tuījiàn ma?)
We’d like to order some cold drinks as well. Any recommendations?
服务员: 我们有冰鲜柠檬水和冷啤酒，都很受欢迎 (Wǒmen yǒu bīng xiān níngméng shuǐ hé lěng píjiǔ, dōu hěn shòu huānyíng.)
We have iced fresh lemon water and cold beer, both are very popular.
顾客2 – Gùkè 2: 我们来一些冰鲜柠檬水吧，谢谢！(Wǒmen lái yīxiē bīng xiān níngméng shuǐ ba, xièxiè!)
Let’s have some iced fresh lemon water, thank you!
Bonus restaurant vocabulary:
我不吃辣的! (Wǒ bù chī là de) = I don’t eat spicy food!
买单 (mǎidān) = pay a restaurant bill
信用卡 (xìnyòngkǎ) = credit card
So, sit down and learn these dialogues in Chinese and you will immediately gain confidence in your Mandarin conversation skills. Practice them with your classmates or even teach them to your friends or partner. If you memorize all these phrases in context, I guarantee that you will have rewarding and successful conversations in Chinese from your very first day in China. Soon, you will be able to mix and match the phrases to adapt to any situation and before you know it, you will be communicating in Chinese like a local yourself.
Meta description: Master Mandarin Conversations: Learn Essential Chinese Dialogues for Your First Trip to China! Unlock your Chinese communication skills with these practical Mandarin dialogues for real-world situations. From ordering at restaurants to navigating public transport, these phrases will make your trip a breeze. Get ready for an immersive experience as China reopens in 2023. Say goodbye to language barriers and hello to confident Mandarin conversations
An unashamed language nerd from Anchorage, Alaska, Heather’s life has led her to a degree in German and International Studies from Willamette University and a three-year stay in Taiwan with her German husband at the end of the eighties. In Taipei she took intensive Chinese courses at the Mandarin Training Center of Taiwan Normal University and also taught English at the Taipei Language Institute. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, she became intrigued by the life in a former East Bloc country and finally decided to relocate to Leipzig, Germany in 1991. There she and her husband established the FAE Fachinstitut für Angewandtes Englisch, a private English institute focusing on teaching adults, translations and language coaching. This has been a successful venture for over 30 years.