Useful information on Chinese culture and basic Chinese phrases

Culture and customs

Living in a new country comes with its own set of challenges, including adapting to a new culture and customs. Here are some tips that might help you navigate your new environment in China:

Greetings: Common greetings include a slight nod or a small bow. Handshakes are also common in urban areas but might vary in firmness. In more formal settings, it’s common to address someone by their title followed by their last name.

Respect for Elders: Chinese culture places a strong emphasis on respecting and honoring elders. It’s common to address older individuals with proper titles and to show deference in your interactions with them.

Language and Communication: Learning basic Mandarin phrases can be helpful for daily interactions. Politeness is valued in communication, so using honorifics and appropriate titles is important.

Public Behavior: Maintain a level of decorum in public spaces. Loud or aggressive behavior might be seen as disrespectful or disruptive.

Religious Awareness: China has a diverse range of religious practices, including Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianity, among others. While these practices are often tolerated, it’s important to be respectful and aware of local customs.

Dress Modestly: Dressing modestly and conservatively is generally appreciated in China, particularly in more traditional or rural areas.

Cultural Sensitivity: Be open-minded and willing to learn about the various cultures and ethnicities within China. The country is incredibly diverse, and people from different regions might have distinct customs and traditions.

Legal Awareness: Familiarize yourself with China’s laws and regulations to ensure you are abiding by them.

Chinese New Year: Also known as Spring Festival, this is the most important traditional holiday in China. It involves family reunions, feasting, giving and receiving red packets, and celebrating with fireworks and dragon dances.

Mid-Autumn Festival: Also known as the Moon Festival, it’s a time for family gatherings and moon-watching. Mooncakes, a traditional pastry, are often given and shared.

Footwear Etiquette: Remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or certain indoor spaces. It’s customary to provide slippers for guests.

Remember that adapting to a new culture takes time, and it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you are willing to learn and adjust. Observing and respecting local customs and practices will go a long way in building positive relationships into your local community.

Basic Chinese

Learning some basic Chinese phrases will greatly assist you in your daily interactions and help you navigate your life in China. Here are some essential phrases to consider learning:


你好 (Nǐ hǎo) – Hello

您好 (Nín hǎo) – Formal Hello

再见 (Zàijiàn) – Goodbye

Basic Courtesies:

谢谢 (Xièxiè) – Thank you

不客气 (Bù kèqì) – You’re welcome

对不起 (Duìbùqǐ) – Sorry / Excuse me


我叫 [Your Name] (Wǒ jiào [Your Name]) – My name is [Your Name]

你叫什么名字?(Nǐ jiào shénme míngzi?) – What is your name?


一 (Yī) – One

二 (Èr) – Two

三 (Sān) – Three

十 (Shí) – Ten

百 (Bǎi) – Hundred

Asking for Help:

请问 (Qǐngwèn) – Excuse me / May I ask…

我需要帮助 (Wǒ xūyào Bāngzhù) – I need some help.


这里 (Zhèlǐ) – Here

那里 (Nàlǐ) – There

左转 (Zuǒ zhuǎn) – Turn left

右转 (Yòu zhuǎn) – Turn right

直走 (Zhí zǒu) – Go straight

Buying and Bargaining:

多少钱?(Duōshǎo qián?) – How much does it cost?

太贵了 (Tài guìle) – Too expensive

可以便宜点吗?(Kěyǐ piányí diǎn ma?) – Can you make it cheaper?

Emergency Phrases:

救命 (Jiùmìng) – Help / Save me

医院在哪里?(Yīyuàn zài nǎlǐ?) – Where is the hospital?

我需要救护车。(Wǒ xūyào jiùhùchē) – I need an ambulance.

Obtaining a police registration form

请问去派出所怎么走?(Qǐngwèn qù pàichūsuǒ zěnme zǒu?) – Excuse me, how do I get to the police station?

您好,请您帮我办理临时住宿登记。(Nín hǎo, qǐng nín bāng wǒ bànlǐ línshí zhùsù dēngjì) – Could I register myself please?

这是我的租房合同。(Zhè shì wǒ de zūfáng hétóng) – This is my lease contract.

这是我的难民证件/寻求庇护者证件。(Zhè shì wǒ de nànmín zhèngjiàn / xúnqiú bìhù zhě zhèngjiàn) – This is my refugee ID card/ asylum-seeker ID card.

Remember, pronunciation is key when learning a new language. Practice the tones and sounds of each word as accurately as possible. Learning these basic phrases will not only help you communicate your needs and understand basic information, but it will also show your respect for the local culture and willingness to engage with your local community.