Essential Vocabulary for your First Trip to China

Today, we’re going to explore a unique experience – your first-ever 北京běijīng之旅zhī lǚ – trip to Beijing. Flying into a new country, especially when faced with a language barrier, can seem daunting. But don’t worry! We’re here to equip you with the essential phrases and vocabulary for a seamless experience, right from the moment you step into the 机场jīchǎng – airport to ordering your in-flight meal.

Upon entering the 机场jīchǎng, you’ll see numerous 标志biāozhì – signs that direct you to the 登机dēngjīkǒu – boarding gate,行李xínglǐ领取lǐngqǔ – baggage claim, and 转机zhuǎnjī – transfer area. Having a basic understanding of these terms can help navigate the vast expanse of the airport more efficiently. Below are some essential vocabulary words for you to get around the airport:

  • dēngpái – Boarding pass
  • shòupiàochù – Ticket counter
  • ānjiǎn – Security check
  • fēi – Takeoff
  • jiàngluò – Landing
  • hòushì – Waiting lounge
  • xíng – Luggage
  • tuōyùnxíng – Checked Luggage
  • suíshēnxíng – Carry-on items/luggage
  • zhuǎn – Transfer/Connecting flight

Before fēi – takeoff, ensure you’re settled in your seat, with your seatbelt ānquándài fastened. Your chéngyuán – flight attendant will be the main point of contact for all your in-flight needs. Once settled in, they will approach you with the question, “nínxiǎngdiǎn什么shénme?” (What would you like to drink?). This is your golden opportunity to practice your Chinese language skills. Below are some beverage choices that you might find on your flight:

  • chá – Tea
  • 咖啡kāfēi – Coffee
  • shuǐ – Water
  • 可乐kělè – Cola
  • 果汁guǒzhī – Fruit Juice
  • 红酒hóngjiǔ/白酒báijiǔ – Red/White Wine
  • 啤酒 píjiǔ – Beer

When it’s time for 点餐diǎncān – ordering food, the menu could vary depending on the airline. However, here are some common options:

  • 牛肉niúròufàn – Beef Rice
  • 鸡肉jīròumiàn – Chicken Noodles
  • 炒虾chǎo xiā – Stir-Fried Shrimp
  • 宫保gōngbǎo鸡丁jīdīng – Kung Pao Chicken
  • sān文鱼wényú – Salmon
  • 蔬菜shūcài沙拉shālā – Vegetable Salad
  • 青豆qīngdòu蒸饭zhēngfàn – Steamed Rice with Green Peas

Before you land, there might be some questions that you want to ask.

If you’re anticipating a potential zhuǎn, you could ask, “yàozhuǎnma?” (Do I need to transfer flights?).

As you cross time zones, you might wish to 询问xúnwèn about the 当地dāngdìde时间shíjiān . For instance, “我们wǒmendào北京Běijīngshí, shì当地dāngdì时间shíjiāndiǎnne?” (When we arrive in Beijing, what will be the local time?).

Check out our Elementary Course: Amy’s Trip to Beijing to learn practical vocabulary that you can use when traveling in China. Remember this vocabulary for your next trip and don’t forget to share your experiences with us! Safe travels! 

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