Tue, 03 Dec 2019 03:21:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 5 Practical Tips to Find the Best Online Chinese Tutor Tue, 03 Dec 2019 03:12:00 +0000 A professional and experienced online Chinese tutor can help you learn the language faster and easier. Teaching Chinese requires special skills that many native speakers do not possess. An even higher level of skills is needed if the platform is…

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A professional and experienced online Chinese tutor can help you learn the language faster and easier. Teaching Chinese requires special skills that many native speakers do not possess. An even higher level of skills is needed if the platform is online since there is no face-to-face and regular interactions with the learners.

With an increasing number of people wanting to learn Chinese, there’s also a spike in the number of people claiming to be professional teachers. The challenge for learners now is to find a really good online Chinese tutor worth their time and money.

Before you go out and look for your online Chinese tutor, take a few moments to answer the following questions:

1. What is your goal?

When looking for an online Chinese tutor for your kid or yourself, we know that you have specific goals that you want to meet. Answering these questions can help your tutor understand your specific goals in learning Chinese:

  • What is your level of Chinese proficiency? Do you want to go up to the next level?
  • Do you want to learn Chinese for business, for test preparation, or to improve your conversational skills?
  • Are there specific topics or lessons that you want to focus on?
  • Are there specific books or materials that you want to go through?
  • What topics do you like and not like to be discussed?

It is important that your tutor fully understands what your goals are so that he or she can create a customized lesson plan based on what you want to achieve.

2. How much are you willing to spend?

It’s possible to find free Chinese lessons online, but if you want one-on-one customized classes, you really have to pay for it. The cost may vary depending on the topic and length of the class. On the average, you can expect to spend anywhere between $12 and $50 dollars for one hour.  

3. Do you have time to take lessons?

If you want to learn Chinese, you should be willing to commit your time. If you are always busy and you know you can hardly find time to attend class, you should think twice before looking for a tutor.

Most likely you’ll spend around30 to 60 minutes per lesson. You may have to pay even if you cancel or reschedule.

4. Do you have a stable internet connection?

Since all classes are online, you need to have a stable internet connection that can handle apps such as Skype or Zoom since many online classes use them to conduct lessons.

Now that you have answered those questions, here are our 5 tips to help you find the best online Chinese tutor:

#1. Get an online Chinese tutor from a legitimate and established e-learning platform or online Chinese school.

E-learning platform (like Italki)

Italki is one of the biggest e-learning platforms with over 10,000 teachers from around the world. Here, you can find tutors for just about any language including Chinese. You have to personally search and choose a tutor based on country of origin, price, availability, teacher type (whether professional teacher or community tutor), and category (general, business preparation, kids or conversation practice). Since you can view the profile of each teacher or tutor, you can easily choose one who meets your criteria.

  • Consultant – No consultant. You will have to search for a teacher on your own.
  • Price – italki teachers and tutors is charged per hour which ranges from as low as $7 per hour to as much as$30 per hour. You may also take advantage of trial lessons which cost lower than regular lessons. Other e-commerce platforms may also charge hourly or per lesson rate.
  • Set-up – One-on-one lessons are typically via the platform’s online app or through Skype or Zoom.
  • Options – Your options online are unlimited, which makes it possible to find a tutor that matches your needs and budget.
  • Teaching method – Independent or community tutors use informal teaching practices and textbooks. On the other hand, professional teachers are highly skilled and trained and they follow standard teaching practices.
  • Tests – With e-learning platforms, you don’t have to pass tests to be promoted to a higher proficiency level. 
  • Time – If you live in a different time zone where most Chinese teachers are, you may find it difficult to find a tutor who is available in your chosen schedule.

Online Mandarin Schools (like TouchChinese)

Online Mandarin schools such as TouchChinese generally focus on teaching Mandarin only. You can expect their teachers to be native speakers with years of teaching experience and training. Moreover, teachers from online Mandarin schools also generally pass the “Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language” requirement.

  • Consultant – A consultant will typically coordinate and help you look for an online Chinese tutor based on your criteria.
  • Price – The price is not cheap, but oftentimes these schools offer discounts if you book multiple classes.
  • Set-up – Skype is one of the most popular teaching platforms, but some schools may use their own app or any other similar service.
  • Options – Most Mandarin schools will choose a teacher for you. However, if your teacher is not available for some reason, they guarantee that they will provide a substitution.
  • Teaching methods – Mandarin schools will assess your proficiency level, and from there create a customized learning plan to help you master the language.
  • Tests – Some schools let you take a test to determine if you can proceed to the next Chinese proficiency level.
  • Time – Many online Mandarin schools employ native speakers from other parts of the world, so that time zone will not be a problem. This allows you to book a lesson at your most convenient time.

Here’s a summary of comparison between e-learning platform and online Chinese school.

    Platform Online School
Course Consultant   X
Are tutors interviewed face-to-face before being taken on by the company? X
Do tutors need to provide references before being taken on by the company? X
Are tutors offered continual training? X
Price $7 – $25 $15 – $50
Trial Lesson Free – 50% regular cost  Free
Native Chinese teacher
Minimum hours to buy  1  Usually starting 10
Weekly minimum classes  No Minimum  0 – 5

#2. Take advantage of trial classes before booking.

You are obviously looking for quality lessons and a competent tutor. While you can find many online Chinese tutors with outstanding credentials, they may not have the qualities, teaching method or style you are looking for. To know for sure, take advantage of trial classes.

Many online Chinese learning platforms and schools offer free trial classes to give prospective students a chance to get a feel of what it’s like to have a Chinese one-on-one lesson with them. Trial lessons can also help you assess if an online set-up is suitable for you or not. Since trial lessons are mostly free (or sometimes with minimal fee), you have nothing to lose if you take advantage of the opportunity.

#3. Check the booking policy before you commit.

Does the school allow for cancellation or rescheduling of classes? How many hours of prior notice do they need? Is there a fee? Also, do they have a refund policy? Those are just some of the important questions and information you need to know before booking a class.

Many of us have a busy schedule and you’ll never know when you may become unavailable to attend a scheduled class. It would be good to find an e-learning platform or online Chinese school that allows for cancellation or rescheduling on short notice and for free, and better yet if they have a good refund policy in case you cancel.

#4. Choose a platform or school that allows for flexibility of schedule.

We understand that you are looking for an online Chinese tutor because you want more flexibility of class schedule. However, in some cases, slots become limited especially if you are living in a different time zone than where the tutors are. Be sure to check the availability of tutors on your chosen time before you book with an institution.

#5. Find an institution that offers friendly customer support.

A reliable and friendly customer support team can make a big difference in your experience. Some Chinese schools or platforms are very limited when it comes to customer support. Customer support can help if you have questions or if you need assistance with a particular service.


There is no shortage of online Chinese tutors, but not all of them have the capability, skills and passion to teach. It is also hard to find an online language tutor who has the teaching style or method you are looking for. However, with the five 5 tips mentioned above, it should be easier for you now to find the best teacher who can help with your goals.

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Fun and Interesting Ways to Help Your Child Learn Chinese Sat, 02 Nov 2019 03:41:10 +0000 What if Chinese is not your native language? What are you going to do to help your child learn a second language? Why not learn Chinese with fun? Let’s do the Chinese chunk picture and phrase puzzle! When I began…

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What if Chinese is not your native language? What are you going to do to help your child learn a second language?

Why not learn Chinese with fun? Let’s do the Chinese chunk picture and phrase puzzle!

When I began to teach, I thought of using some fancy material to impress my students but I realize that there is a better way for my students to learn. I noticed that using simple pictures and phrases is an approach that makes complicated lessons easier. In fact, my students became less confused and less frustrated. Thus, learning Chinese could be as simple as doing puzzles!

Preschoolers tend to pick up a second language as naturally as they learn their mother tongue; but, what if Chinese is not your native language? How can you help your child learn a second language? 

No matter which language you are going to help them with, your child’s motivation and interest are key! We need to be passionate and enthusiastic to help children learn Chinese. We can vary our teaching styles by using catchy music, engaging dialogue, and fun picture books as well as related fun activities.

Why not learn Chinese with fun? Let’s do the Chinese chunk picture and phrase puzzle!

Let’s do the Chinese chunk picture Phrases puzzle!

How to Practice Chinese with the FlashCard?

Playing flashcards is a good way to memorize the Chinese phrases. This is an important and powerful tool for practice. There are many types of flashcards online, or you can use this ready-made flashcard to practice.

The purpose of using this Puzzle game is to practice a chunk of Chinese phrases.When you get familiar with the game,you can reuse the same chunks in different phrases and sentences in the future.

I created this infographic inspired flashcards “ 吃(chī)eat & 喝(hē)drink” below. Also, I added pictures with accompanying vocabulary and phrases. I hope this helps you understand simple Chinese grammar and be able to practice Chinese on your own and for your child as well.

Verb (吃 eat)  + Object (饭 rice/面 noodle/鱼肉 fish/鸡肉 chicken)

Below is the flashcard Eat template and eat flashcard.

Verb (喝 drink)  + Object (汤 soup/茶 tea/水 water/果汁 juice)

Below are the sample flashcard templates.

Let’s take the “喝 (drink)”as an example. The first template contains the verb “喝(hē)” and the second template contains four flashcards with different “types of beverages”.Print out the flashcards and you can start pairing the verb “drink(喝 hē)”with each of the “beverage” flashcards to make short sentences. Then, read aloud with your children.

You can also use these flashcards for other purposes. For example, you can play the “Drinks and Eat” flashcards as a memory game. It is a simple and fun game to help your children remember the object better. You might need to print out two sets of “Drinks or Eat “ flashcards. Put the cards on the table and have your children match them as quickly as possible.


Here is a RELATED fun game, if you and your children watched and learned the lesson, you are ready to play with your preschoolers of Chinese basic food vocabulary at home. Prepare various food and beverage.Then, cover your children’s eyes and let them smell. Ask your child to say the Chinese name of the food or beverage. Once they get familiar with the game, you can add a challenge by asking them to say a whole sentence.

Verbt Key words: Eat and drink.

Object Key words: (Soup, Tea, Water, Juice ; Rice,Fish,Chicken,Noodle )

Key phrase symbol  ( ‘eat rice…….’ ‘drink soup………’’)

Please note: You can replay this game after you and your child get familiar with the game. Only use Chinese during the game at first, adding one more challenge each time. After a period of time playing this game, the child can develop their knowledge and start speaking in complete sentences before they proceed to the next activities.

As a second language learner, it is best to teach your child the basic grammar concept and vocabulary in a simple and practical approach. This will ensure that your child does not only memorize the terms but also teaching them the practical application of the concept. Basically, if your child should appreciate the use of the learned concept, the faster their Chinese language learning will be. So make it fun, interesting and memorable!

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Topic-Oriented Method: The Most Efficient Way to Learn Hundreds of Chinese Characters Fri, 27 Sep 2019 06:08:26 +0000 The Chinese language has a reputation for its complex grammar and difficult writing system, not to mention its deep culture background. Only a few brave souls go and attempt to take on the challenge that is learning Mandarin. Fortunately, Pinyin,…

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The Chinese language has a reputation for its complex grammar and difficult writing system, not to mention its deep culture background. Only a few brave souls go and attempt to take on the challenge that is learning Mandarin. Fortunately, Pinyin, which is used to help with pronunciation, uses the English alphabet system. After knowing the basic rules of the grammar, people may find that it’s not too hard to master, and there are even many similarities between Chinese grammar and other languages. So far so good, right? Sadly, many of them are scared away by the square characters, so, countless learners come to me and say: “No Characters Please!”

Well, you can learn Chinese without learning characters. You can also have basic daily conversation with others, such as simple greetings and direct information exchange, generally that’s it. Plus, you have to learn all that by pure memorization. It’s impossible to go to next level without knowledge of Chinese characters, which is a primary and fundamental tool. You may wonder then, how can we learn these characters in a quick and easy way?

We have introduced many different approaches about Chinese character learning. There are also thousands of articles, books, and video lessons illustrating the basic of characters, such as Hands-on Writing Course: How to Write Chinese Characters. Regardless if you want to learn seriously or to have a basic understanding, you need a perfect beginning to learn the WHAT, WHY and HOW behind the Chinese writing system. It’s necessary to have a comprehensive guide that may show you that writing in Chinese can be quite easy and reasonable. The fundamental strokes and rules can easily show you the logic behind character construction.

The strokes and simple pictogram characters are most frequently mentioned in courses, such as “人” “大” “天” “日” “月” “水” “火”, etc. Very familiar and easy to understand, right? Many people find that courses generally don’t give an in-depth explanation to characters or go beyond teaching basic characters. The problem is trying to figure out what’s next. Besides the strokes and theoretical creation methods, how can we really learn and memorize the other Chinese characters? Only a few simple and easy to memorize characters are covered, how about the rest of the more complicated ones? No one prepares learners to learn and memorize the thousands of other characters.

How It Works

To help the learners who would like to learn more, the Topic-oriented Character learning method comes into play. If you have basic knowledge of characters, you can find that Chinese characters were created in categories. In ancient China, it was a systematic way to create characters. If we could memorize the characters with the same thoughts and logic, not only can we understand the WHY’s behind the culture, but also master all the characters in a more efficient way.

The course consists of 10 main common, daily topics, including: Numbers (数字), People(人), Position(地点),Nature(自然),Weather(天气),Description with Adjectives(形容词),Location(地点),Body(身体),Furniture & Home appliance(家具&家电)and Food(食物). Each of the topic contains related and commonly used characters.


Topic Oriented Key Characters

Under each topic, there are several key characters that are most commonly used. With the key characters, the most frequently used words and sentences are also presented. For individual characters, there is not only a simple translation, but also the origins of the character and the how/why it formed to its current form.

Components to Words

After the first section, there are two or three components derived from the key characters. These extended characters are made by the components. The corresponding words and sentences are also made and presented.

Practice & Review

To help the learners better understand, memorize, and use the characters, a practice & review section follows each lesson. Using content you have learned in previous and current lessons, you can practice creating new sentences and holding conversations. Even though the course is about character learning, the corresponding grammar and uses are provided.


While learning Chinese characters, writing is necessary and unavoidable. Som may say they just need to read or type, that writing is not that important. As a matter of fact, writing can help you memorize and recognize the characters much easier. We acknowledge the importance of writing, so we decided to include that in our video lessons. The characters are clustered section by section. The instructor will show you the whole writing process by hand, stroke by stroke. With the proper speed, you can easily follow and imitate the writing.


Learning to write characters is also a great way to learn Chinese language. From characters to words, from words to topic, and from topics to conversation, it’s all connected. If you understand the logic behind Chinese characters, the following process could not be easier. This topic-oriented Chinese character method provides you the route to learning.

This course contains about 240 Chinese characters and corresponding words, which ranges from HSK level 1 to level 3. It’s an ideal course for beginner to intermediate level learners.

Just learning by watching is not enough for sure. As a writing character course, there are also downloadable, stroke by stroke, writing sheets of each topic. All the key and extended characters are listed there for the learners to write and review. In addition, there is also a test in each lesson which helps the learners check if they have mastered and memorized the characters properly. As a character learning course, it fills the gap between beginner to intermediate level, especially after the fundamental stage, with quite a systematic and logic thought. Learners can easily access the course and begin their journey to Chinese character mastery.

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Learning Through the Screen: How Chinese TV can Become Your Chinese Teacher Sat, 07 Sep 2019 05:53:28 +0000 No matter how much I love learning Chinese, studying from a textbook can start to get boring after awhile. While the textbook’s explanations are clear, sometimes I just need to see a word used in a different context to gain…

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No matter how much I love learning Chinese, studying from a textbook can start to get boring after awhile. While the textbook’s explanations are clear, sometimes I just need to see a word used in a different context to gain a clear understanding of it. One thing that helps me to overcome these difficulties while continuing to improve my Chinese is watching Chinese TV shows.

Picture taken from, woman sitting on bed with Macbook on lap, Victoria Heath

Of course, this idea isn’t completely unheard of and is actually a relatively common practice amongst many language learners. Coming from someone who enjoyed watching Chinese TV shows in her free time, it isn’t as simple as just watching TV. There is a bit of planning and work that must happen for it to actually improve your Chinese.

It is best to choose the right TV show – one that uses vocabulary that is appropriate for your level – and to use the right method, depending on what you want to achieve. Chinese TV shows can help improve your Chinese listening, speaking, reading and vocabulary if used appropriately.

In this article, we introduce how you can use Chinese TV shows to improve different areas of your Chinese learning.


Practicing listening can be quite difficult, especially considering the many dialects and accents that you can encounter when talking to native Chinese speaker. When practicing listening with strictly audio-based content, speed, accent, and lack of vocabulary all become obstacles to understanding and render the whole process inefficient and boring. The added visual aspect of TV shows helps to solve this problem.

To practice listening while watching TV shows, there are just a few things that you need to do.

First, I would recommend using a TV show that you have already seen and understood, or at the very least, one that you are familiar with. When you already understand what is happening, it makes it easier to concentrate on what you are hearing and infer what the characters are saying.

Second, I recommend excluding any kind of subtitles from the show when you are watching it. While Chinese subtitles may seem helpful, they become a crutch for practicing your listening. It is important for you to get used to only relying on your ears.

Last, make sure to stay focused. When re-watching a TV show, it can become easy to lose focus and stop paying full attention to the audio. So, make sure to pay consistent attention, even when the characters may be saying things you don’t understand.

The fact that TV shows are an audio-visual resource makes them more conducive to building your auditory capabilities. As humans, we have a natural ability to gain meaning from body movements and facial expressions, so having those added hints while practicing makes for a more natural and enjoyable process.

Speaking and Pronunciation

The optimal way to improve one’s Chinese speaking ability is to speak to a native Chinese speaker, but that does not mean there’s no way for you to practice by yourself. Using TV shows, you can practice your speaking and pronunciation without any added pressure.

To practice speaking, it is very important to use a TV show that contains vocabulary that is at your level. I would also recommend watching with Chinese subtitles on since that would make it easier to be sure of what is being said. 

Practicing speaking and pronunciation with TV shows is very easy. You simply watch the show and when you hear a sentence you understand, repeat that sentence out loud. Be sure to mimic the character’s speech and intonation as best as you can. It may feel silly to do this at first, but as you keep doing it, you will become more familiar with Chinese speech patterns and tones, and they will come out more naturally the next time you actually speak. It goes without saying that this practice should be done in a place where you will not disturb others and will feel comfortable.

Keep in mind that this is not a replacement for your conversation practice, it is simply a way for you to improve your pronunciation and get more familiar with speaking in Chinese.


Similar to speaking, reading is better practiced with more appropriate resources like books, articles and other such materials. The language that can be read from Chinese TV shows is generally colloquial spoken language, which differs from that used in written resources. However, using TV shows to practice reading can help you get better at recognizing Chinese characters at a faster rate.

To practice reading with Chinese TV shows, you must simply watch a show with Chinese subtitles which shouldn’t be too difficult since practically all Chinese audio-visual media include subtitles. As you are watching, be sure to read the subtitles while paying attention to the audio. This will train your brain to associate the sound and meaning of the characters with their appearance.

Practicing reading with simpler more stimulating material like TV shows allows the transition into reading longer written texts to be much smoother.


Acting as the building blocks of language, vocabulary can be acquired via practically every language resource. Of course, this also includes TV programs, but I would argue that TV media is one of the best resources to acquire vocabulary from. The audio-visual properties of the medium allow learners to receive visual, auditory and contextual references for every word they encounter.

When watching a TV show in Chinese, you are likely to come across many unknown words. There are a variety of practical ways to deal with such an abundance of vocabulary. I would like to offer a disclaimer that the method written below is one that I personally use and is not the only way to learn vocabulary from Chinese shows.

First, have a pen/pencil and notepad with you as you watch the show. Make sure that you have chosen a show that is appropriate for your level and only contains Chinese subtitles that you have already seen. This allows for maximum clarity with minimal distraction.

Then, enjoy the show while looking out for sentences where you understand all but one or two words. When you encounter such a sentence, write it down and look up the words you don’t understand. Doing it this way ensures that you understand the meaning of the context in and the usage of the new words, and increases the likelihood that you’ll remember them. It also allows you to enjoy the experience more rather than pausing the video at every second to write down words that you don’t know.

By the end of an episode, you’ll surely have a whole list of new words and example sentences noted down. Whether you choose to further study those words is completely up to you, but the process alone is already a good way to expand your vocabulary.

Now, having taken all of this in, I’m sure that your approach to watching Chinese audio-visual media will be at least a little bit different. While Chinese TV shows may be a versatile and practical tool for your Chinese learning journey, it’s important to keep in mind that the key point of using them for language learning is to have fun in the process. The methods listed above should be taken as informative guidelines of how a Chinese show can help you to improve your Chinese skills rather than strict rules to follow whenever you sit down to enjoy your favourite show. Just remember to have fun as you explore Chinese language and culture through television!

For a list of suggestions of Chinese TV shows (click here)

For many other Chinese learning resources (click here)

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How to Book Train Ticket in China Tue, 06 Aug 2019 10:49:45 +0000 When traveling to a new place, transportation within that new place must be taken into consideration. Nowadays, there are tons transportation methods: trains, airplanes, ships, taxis, buses and subways. All of these add a bit more convenience to our lives.…

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When traveling to a new place, transportation within that new place must be taken into consideration. Nowadays, there are tons transportation methods: trains, airplanes, ships, taxis, buses and subways. All of these add a bit more convenience to our lives. China is now leading the way in creating modern trains. It’s high-speed bullet train is known around the world, attracting global attention and foreign travelers. This article will demonstrate how to book a train ticket in China, step-by-step, as a foreigner.

1. Find and enter the official website

You will see the homepage shown below.

2. Register

Click 注册 (zhùcè, Register) on the top right corner and register with your Passport.


Username→ Password → Reconfirm → Certificate Type→ Your Real Name → Passport Number → Date of Birth → Gender → Country/Region → Email → Phone Number → Passenger Type → Mark → Submit


  • Username: use 6 – 30 letters, numbers or _ and start with alphabet. Once it’s done, it can’t be changed anymore.
  • Password: to use 6 – 20 letters, numbers or symbols.
  • Certificate Type: choose “护照” (hùzhào, Passport).
  • Your Real Name: copy your name from your passport.
  • Phone Number: only for Chinese Number. If you do not have a Chinese phone number, it is best to ask a friend to use their number.
  • Passenger Type: to choose “成人” (chéngrén, Adult) or “儿童”( értóng, Child) accordingly.

3. Login in

Once you registered, you can click “登录” (dēnglù, Login in) on the top right corner to enter.

When clicking 登录, you will enter a page similar to the one shown above. There are two ways for you to login in – scan a QR code or use your username and password. Usually, a QR code is easier for those who have downloaded the official APP. You can choose either of them to enter.

4. Begin booking your ticket

After logging in, you can begin booking your ticket. On the homepage, you can directly input your “出发地” (chūfā dì, Departure) and “到达地” (dàodá dì, Destination) in the corresponding blanks and choose your travel dates to search available tickets.


you can choose “单程” (dānchéng, One-way) or “往返” (wǎngfǎn, Round trip) according to your own situation. It will provide all available trains for you, similar to the picture shown above. If you’d like a more specific result, you can mark “车次类型” (chēcì lèixíng, Train Type), “出发车站” (chūfā chēzhàn, Departure Station) or “发车时间” (fā chē shíjiān, Departure Time) to narrow down your choices. However, sometimes there are not trains available on specific dates or times, or they are all booked up. Don’t worry, the website provides you with alternative ways. These alternative ways are the “接续换乘” (jiēxù huàn chéng, Transfer).

Click “接续换乘” and all the alternative routes are laid out for you.

5. Choose the train

Choose the train you want and click “预定” (yùdìng, Book). It will take you to an information and booking page. Click “提交订单” (tíjiāo dìngdān, Submit).


  • The first rectangle in picture 1 gives the information of the train, including destination, type of seat, price and tickets left.
  • The second rectangle in picture 2 asks for the Passenger’s Information. You should input yours or your passenger’s information, mark passengers who need tickets, and then choose type (成人 or 儿童) and seat.
  • After clicking “提交订单”, the page will take you to picture 2, to reconfirm your information and choose your preferred seat. Once you are finished, you just click “确认” (quèrèn, Confirm).

6. Payment

you should pay within 30 mins with either one of the bank cards shown below or a Third-Party Payment Platform (支付宝Zhīfù bǎo, Alipay / 微信支付 Wēixìn zhīfù, Wechat Pay). Just click “网上支付” (wǎngshàng zhīfù, Online Payment).

7. Booking successful

when finished, it will take you to a page saying that the order was successful, Like this:

At the same time, the system will send you an email confirmation and a short message including all the relevant information, like this:

8. Notes

  • Foreigners can pick up their tickets at a Ticket Counter with a valid passport.
  • Available time for online booking is 6:00 – 23:00.
  • Usually, 5 mins before driving, the High-speed Train will stop checking tickets. Passengers should arrive at least 60 mins before take-off. (Editor notes: from personal experience, I think if someone is going to a train station for the first time, they should arrive 1-2 hours before the train takes off, depening on time of year and the size of the station. at Hongqiao Station in Shanghai, I would say they should arrive probably 1.5-2 hours early in case they get lost.)
  • In the entrance, the staff will need your valid passport and ticket for checking. You should put all your bags or luggage on the machine for the security check. At the same time, they will also check the passenger.
  • Usually, as it gets close to departure time, the system will send a reminder message to you.
  • Want to book or interested in information? Then download the official app and add the official account! Here are the relevant QR codes from the official website.

9. Practical Usage

Here are some sentences you may need.

– Getting ticket:

1) 您好!请问售票大厅怎么走?
(Nínhǎo! Qǐngwèn shòupiào dàtīng zěnme zǒu?)
Hi! Do you where the ticket office is?

2) 您好!我要取票。
(Nínhǎo! Wǒ yào qǔ piào.)
Hi, I’d like to pick up my ticket.

3) 这是我的护照。
(Zhè shì wǒ de hùzhào.)
Here is my passport.

4) 谢谢!

– In the Waiting Hall

1) 您好!请问洗手间在哪儿?
(Nínhǎo! Qǐng wèn xǐ shǒu jiān zài nǎ’r ?)
Hi! Do you know where the bathroom is?

2) 请问哪里可以充电?
(Qǐng wèn nǎlǐ kěyǐ chōngdiàn?)
Is there a place to charge my phone?

3) 请问XXXX的检票口在哪儿?
(Qǐng wèn XXXX de jiǎn piào kǒu zài nǎ’r?)
Do you know where the check-in entrance is?

4) 请问什么时候开始检票?
(Qǐng wèn shénme shíhou kāishǐ jiǎn piào?)
When will check-in start?

5) 请问13号车厢往哪边走?
(Qǐng wèn shí sān hào chēxiāng wǎng nǎ biān zǒu?)
Do you know where carriage 13 is?

Do you feel more confident in booking a ticket now? It looks like so easy, right? If you really want to experience the true nature of the High-Speed Train, you should open the web or download the 12306 APP to book a ticket! Besides the official website, there are also some third-party booking sites that was also super helpful and responsive, such as travelchinaguide.  You could also check the 16 Essential Apps to Survive While Staying in China. Of course, learning at least some Mandarin can help you overcome some of the problems you may face. So, before you come to China, you should start, or continue your Mandarin learning journey. Knowing basic Mandarin will help you more in practical situations than articles every will, plus it will give you a richer understanding of Chinese culture (click here to know more). Hope this article was helpful for you and may you start planning your trip right away!

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How to Address People Properly You Meet in China Fri, 05 Jul 2019 08:34:27 +0000 I bet “老师”( lǎoshī), “先生”( xiānsheng), “女士”( nǚshì) or “小姐”( xiǎojiě) are familiar to all Chinese language learners, because you have most likely used these terms in introductory courses; these are the common honorifics to address people in China with…

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I bet “老师”( lǎoshī), “先生”( xiānsheng), “女士”( nǚshì) or “小姐”( xiǎojiě) are familiar to all Chinese language learners, because you have most likely used these terms in introductory courses; these are the common honorifics to address people in China with the exception of “小姐”, due to its connotation of prostitution nowadays. If you only follow the limited scenarios in your textbook, you won’t go very far in interacting with Chinese people. The terms presented above are really not enough to know how to address Chinese people you will meet in real life!

In China, various forms of honorifics will be used in different situations. To some degree, choosing the appropriate term will show your wit, politeness, literacy and respect to others. Here we are going to briefly introduce various forms of honorifics Chinese people use daily:


There will be a diverse group of people you’ll meet daily in public areas, such as: a supermarket, park, airport, railway station, etc. Most of them will not be acquainted with you –possibly meeting each other for the first time. Under these circumstances, how do the Chinese address each other?

Addressing THE ELDERLY

When you meet an elder, someone who is clearly as old as your grandparents, you can address them as “大爷”( dà yé) or “老爷爷”( lǎo yéye) for a man, and  “大妈”( dà mā) or “老奶奶” (lǎo nǎinai) for a woman. To use a neutral form, use “老人家”( lǎo rén jiā) to address an elderly male or female. If their age is similar to your parents, you can use “叔叔”( shū shu) or “大叔”( dà shū) for a man or “阿姨”( ā’yí) for a woman. Sometimes, you can also use “大哥”( dà gē)/ “哥”(gē) or “大姐”( dà jiě)/ “姐”( jiě) for people who are not much older than you, in which the speaker wants to make a close relationship or show respect to the person being addressed.  However, one thing you should pay attention to is that some women may become upset when  called “大妈”, because nowadays this word can be used in a derogatory sense for old woman, so use it with reasonable care.

Addressing THE YOUNG

When you are older than someone, you can address them as “小伙子” (xiǎo huǒzi) for a young man and “小姑娘”( xiǎo gūniang) or “小妹妹” (xiǎo mèimei) for a young girl. When you are at in the same generation, you can call them using an informal, but very popular, form of “帅哥”( shuài gē) or “美女”( měi nǚ)  which is “小哥哥”( xiǎo gē ge) or “小姐姐”( xiǎo jiějie), similar to lad or lass in English. By using “小哥哥” or “小姐姐” you get rid of the embarrassment and awkwardness of starting up a conversation, as the other person won’t feel as uncomfortable. This type of honorific also has a connotation of being young and beautiful.


When talking about acquaintances, there are different terms that should be used.

Addressing THE ELDERS

For older people that are your relatives, Chinese people will address them according to the position in the family hierarchy. For instance,爷爷(yéye)/奶奶(nǎinai) (parents of your father), 外公(wài gōng)/外婆(wài pó) (parents of your mother), 舅舅(jiùjiu)/舅妈(jiù mā) (your mother’s brother and his wife), (yí)/姨夫(yí fù) (your mother’s sister and her husband) and so on and so forth. One thing you should know is that there are tons of different forms used to address people in a Chinese family, as these are just a few examples.

There is another group of people who don’t have direct kinship but get along well with your family. They can be addressed with the form “Family name + 爷爷/奶奶” or “Family name + 叔叔/阿姨”, such as 李爷爷(Lǐ yéye), 赵奶奶(Zhào nǎinai), 马叔叔(Mǎ shūshu), 郭阿姨(Guō ā’yí), etc.

Addressing THE YOUNG

For younger people in the same generation, forms of greeting will be much more relaxed and will occur multiple times a day. You can use a person’s given name or nickname that the person has previously acknowledged. Take 张六一(Zhāng Liùyī) as an example. If you are friends, you can call him 六一,小一,一一,小六 or any of the other familiar names that have been previously used.

If you are not in same generation (if you are older than them), then you can address a young person with their full name, or a nickname. It is important to note that for some Chinese people, using their full name usually means something serious happened.

#3 Addressing According to IDENTIFICATIONS

General addressing

In China, one common way of addressing is “Surname/Full name+ Title”, which is suitable both for casual greetings as well as more formal greetings. For example: 吴经理(Wú jīnglǐ / Manager Wu), 祝老师(Zhù lǎoshī / Teacher Zhu), 李警官(Lǐ jǐngguān / Li Sir), 刘主任(Liú zhǔrèn / Director Liu), 杨博士(Yáng bóshì / Dr.Yang), 王医生(Wáng yīsheng / Doctor Wang) and so on and so forth.

Addressing in workplace

People can also use a surname, but only proceeded by an informal title “” or “” to indicate the age. This usually happens in workplace settings. For example, 老贺(Lǎo Hè), 小舒(Xiǎo Shū) and so on.

In a workplace, there is a popular form frequently used to refer to the head boss and executives; “Bosss Last Name + (zǒng)”. For example, 王总(Wáng Zǒng), 徐总(Xú Zǒng) etc.. Thus, if you work for a Chinese company, it would be best to use this structure to address your boss. Depending on the atmosphere and culture of your company though, more and more clerks at in individual enterprises are calling their boss “老大” to create a more amiable relationship among the bosses and the employees.

As we mentioned above, we can use “Bosss Last Name + in the workplace. However, there is an informal term used as well: “老板”. When talking about “老板”, it can’t only be used in office settings but also used as a respectful term for shopkeeper. For instance,  if you shop in a private store or eat in a restaurant, it would be suitable to call the owner “老板”. By the way, the wife of the shopkeeper or the female proprietor is called “老板娘”.

师傅 is originally reserved more for people who work with their hands, like handicraftsman and technicians. It can also be used to call the driver of a taxi, bus, coach, or online car-hailing.

Addressing the service guys

In the service industry, especially in the food industry, we use “服务员(Fúwù yuán)” to refer to “waiter” and “waitress”. With the logistic industry booming in China, there is one term used for a delivery driver:  “快递小哥(Kuàidì xiǎo gē)”. At the same time, since the take-out industry has sharply risen, a new term was been created to call the food delivery driver: “外卖小哥(Wàimài xiǎo gē)”. One thing I must point out is that “快递小哥” or “外卖小哥” can’t directly be used to call a specific person. Instead, when face-to-face with a driver, it is best to use one of ways mentioned before.

Well, honorifics are extremely varied across the world. In China, these various terms of address have changed and adapted to modern times. How to address the people you will meet in China is not an easy task, even for the Chinese! Honorifics should be consistent with local culture and social customs, but above all, they should still reflect the respect and care of the person being addressed. In conclusion, I hope this short introduction will provide helpful information for your Chinese language growth or an upcoming trip to China, and hopefully, you can feel much more local when addressing people in Chinese.

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How to Express “React Quickly” in Chinese — 连忙 vs 急忙 vs 匆忙 Wed, 29 May 2019 06:50:00 +0000 When you approach higher language levels, it`s unavoidable to try and use more complex words to express more specific and detailed meanings. That`s why after you pass the beginning phase, more and more synonyms you are taught. It`s can be…

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When you approach higher language levels, it`s unavoidable to try and use more complex words to express more specific and detailed meanings. That`s why after you pass the beginning phase, more and more synonyms you are taught. It`s can be troublesome to deal with such a situation. So, to help you, we are now going to distinguish between three synonyms 连忙, 急忙, and 匆忙 which are all usually translated as “to react quickly” in English.

连忙 (liánmáng)

连忙 means “to react quickly just as something happens.” It is an adverb which usually serves as an adverbial modifier, and you are not allowed to add “地” after it.

This word is usually used to state facts and situations. But it cannot be used in sentences which indicate requirements, demands, or questions.



(Wǒ kànjiàn tā láile, liánmáng qù kāimén.)

I saw him coming and quickly went to open the door.



(Nǐ liánmáng qù kāimén.)

You are quick to open the door.


你连忙去哪儿 ?(X)

(Nǐ liánmáng qù nǎr?)

Where are you going so hurriedly?



(Tīng shuō tā zhùyuànle, tā nǚ péngyǒu liánmáng qù kàn tā.)

I heard that he was hospitalized and his girlfriend went to see him in a hurry.



(Nǐ liánmáng qù yīyuàn kàn nǐ nán péngyǒu ba!)

Go quickly to the hospital to see your boyfriend!



(Nǐ liánmáng qù yīyuàn kàn shéi?)

Who are you going to see in the hospital so quickly?

急忙 (jímáng)

Similar to 连忙,急忙is an adverb serving as an adverbial modifier. Also, we cannot add 地 after it.

急忙 can be directly translated as “in a hurry”, “ hurriedly”, or “hastily”. This is used to indicate that something is urgent or someone is worried about something.

We can double the word 急忙following the pattern “AABB”,which is 急急忙忙.



(Tā fāxiàn tā wùhuìle, yúshì jímáng qù jiěshì.)

He found that she misunderstood, so he rushed to explain.



(Bié jí jí máng máng de, zài xiūxí huìr ba!)

Don’t hurry, take a break!



(Zǎoshang dàjiā dōu jí jí máng máng qù shàngbān.)

Everyone was rushing to work in the morning.



(Wǒ zuì hǎo de péngyǒu lái wǒ de chéngshì kàn wǒ, wǒ jímáng qù chēzhàn jiē tā.)

My best friend came to see me in my city. I rushed to pick her up at the station.

匆忙 (cōngmáng)

匆忙 means “in a hurry”. But it is different from 连忙and 急忙,匆忙 is an adjective, which can be modified by adverbs of degree, like “很”, “非常”, “特别”, “太”,  etc. It can serve as a predicate, attribute, complement, and adverbial modifier. We can also double the word into the “AABB” pattern, 匆匆忙忙.

匆忙 emphasizes time that is urgent.



(Nǐ zuótiān zǒu de hěn cōngmáng, wèishéme?)

You were rushing yesterday, why?


(Bùyào cōngmáng zuò juédìng.)

Don’t rush to make a decision.



(Zuò shìqíng bùyào zǒng shì cōngcōng máng máng de, huì chū wèntí de.)

Do not always do things in a hurry, there will be problems.



(Wǒmen měi cì jiànmiàn dōu cōngcōng máng máng.)

Every time we meet in a hurry.

Today’s modern digital world, with the internet and mobile phones, requires fast reactions. Everyone is often in a rush to get somewhere or to finish something. Master these Chinese synonyms for how to “react quickly” and you’ll be able to express yourself about how fast life can be nowadays. Check more HSK 5 grammar video lessons here.

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A Handy and Practical Survival guide to Visiting China Thu, 11 Apr 2019 06:30:15 +0000 Are you one of those people who has been studying Mandarin for some time now, but the only Chinese person you know is your teacher? Why not visit China and check if all 1.3 billion people living there are the…

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Are you one of those people who has been studying Mandarin for some time now, but the only Chinese person you know is your teacher? Why not visit China and check if all 1.3 billion people living there are the same as him/her?

Before you buy the airline tickets though, do spend a moment reading the article below. It might save you some trouble (e.g. getting stuck at the airport after landing, not being able to pay for transportation, suddenly losing access to all your applications or websites, or trying to understand where you are after you get off at an unexpected place).

Here is a survival guide to China – based on my experiences during a trip to Chengdu in May 2018 (with the help of some online research).


  1. Money – dollars, ATMs, Alipay, and WeChat pay
  2. Communication – internet, phone (local SIM card/VPN)
  3. Meeting people – Couchsurfing, WeChat
  4. Medical
  5. Food
  6. Moving around
    1. Timing
    2. Flying
    3. Train
    4. Bus
    5. Metro
    6. Didi/taxi
  7. Safety
  8. Miscellaneous (electricity, toilets)

1.     Money

When I travel somewhere within Europe or America I have just 3 things I need to remember to take: 1. Passport 2. Debit card 3. Contact lenses with solution. That’s it. If I have these – anything else can be bought (providing the card has money in it).

It’s a bit different in China though. The main difference for me was that I could have forgotten my debit cards and the result would have been exactly the same. So, for me, rule number one to survive in China is – “take cash”, probably USD is best so you can exchange it easily before you figure out which cash machine will cooperate with you. The thing is – it does not seem possible to pay with debit nor credit cards anywhere… it’s either WeChat Pay, Alipay or cash.

If you are in China for the first time and for a short period – cash is the answer. If you are staying for longer, it might be worth investigating other ways of paying. Even though it is now possible to link your foreign credit/debit card to WeChat or Alipay, you have to understand that it’s still not possible to pay with these all the time. There are lots of discussions and troubleshooting tips available on the internet, which tells me this is not something you would want to spend time on if you are just visiting China for a short period of time.

Another option is to open a Chinese bank account and only then link this to WeChat or Alipay.

Again, there is so much advice online how to do it and which documents you will need (passport, proof of residence, proof of employment or student status or work permit, initial deposit – depending on the bank).

So, let’s come back to cash. Since it’s not really possible to buy RMB outside China, I would recommend bringing some USD. 5000 USD is the maximum limit, beyond which you need to declare and perhaps even have some documentation to explain why you are bringing so much money.

The easiest way for me was to (1) check if the ATMs at the airport give out cash (they didn’t), (2) exchange enough at the airport kiosk to pay for my hostel on arrival, pay for the metro trip to the hostel, and to be able to buy food. Yes, the exchange rate is not great, and there is a high fee to be paid too, but when you compare this with being tired after 15 hours of flying, not knowing your way around and actually needing to get out of the airport– it seems there is no other way…

Once I reached my hostel (which, despite advertising that they accepted Visa – did not accept Visa or any other card known in Europe.) and after sleeping for many hours, I was ready to walk around and find an ATM which would actually give me more cash. The only one working for my Czech debit card was Bank of China – which is absolutely fine, since the ATMs of this bank are everywhere.

It is worth checking before coming to China what fees your bank charges for taking cash from others banks’ ATMs; for Bank of China, there was a fee for each withdrawal. If I remember correctly, I had to choose an option of withdrawing from a Credit account, even though I only had a Debit account. You need to know your PIN for the card you are using with the ATM (less obvious for some). Maximum withdrawal is 2000-3000 RMB, but also check what you have set as a daily limit on your own cards.

Make sure you call your bank in advance to inform them that you will be withdrawing money in China so they don’t block your card. Despite that, they still might, so you really have to make sure you have some cash in the first place.

(3) It is possible to exchange money in the banks and get an exchange rate 10-20% better than at the airport, but apparently the waiting time might not be worth it (1-3 hours).

2.     Communication

Make sure to download a VPN app before you go to China. Since China blocks lots of sites and services you are used to, you will need a VPN to access them. I used a free one and it worked. There are also paid ones. I’m not sure what the difference is between free and paid.

There is Wifi in many public places so you can survive until you manage to get to a Mobile Phone shop to buy a local SIM card. Check beforehand if your phone can accept any other SIM cards than the ones you have. If you can’t unlock your phone for other SIM cards, then you might want to buy a new phone for use in China.

If your phone can accept other SIM cards, then (1) you can either buy a Chinese SIM card online thru Amazon before you come to China or (2) when you are in China, you should visit one of the providers e.g. China Mobile and China Unicom, and ask for a SIM card with Internet for your stay in in China. Only China Mobile was able to sell me such a SIM, the other one didn’t have such a service or maybe they didn’t understand what I needed. I paid around 80 RMB and it worked for a month. Didn’t need to cancel anything when leaving the country. No top up was needed.

What I did was I showed them a piece of paper with this sentence written in Chinese characters and then I was directed to the teller who spoke English. It took more than an hour, but I walked out with the new SIM card installed and working in my phone. You also have to show your passport. This means that your SIM is tied to your passport, which allows the Chinese government to know what you write in WeChat…

It’s also good to have a phone which has dual SIM capabilities so if you get an SMS from your regular phone number, you can actually accept it and also check your contacts from the original SIM. You might not see your contacts if you replace this card with another Chinese phone.

3.     Meeting people

I would like to recommend two ways to meet people – Couchsurfing and WeChat. I was lucky to meet some friendly Chinese through Couchsurfing by advertising the dates of my trip to China and then also by inviting some Couchsurfing members to meet me for beer/coffee via private messages through this app. Quite a number of young Chinese use VPN so they have access to various Western apps.

Couchsurfing enthusiasts also organize meetups – free for anyone to join. These are advertised in the Events section of the app. The meetups are really good to get some local information, e.g. people might share with you which WeChat groups they belong to and send you an invitation to the groups you are interested in. Otherwise WeChat is good for contacting new friends – basically, it has all the same features as Whatsapp, and more.

There might be visitors interested in “other kinds of meetings” with Chinese people – so just for the record and for those speaking Mandarin – the Tinder equivalent of China is Tantan.

4.     Medical/hygiene

All I can say is: take care of yourself and make sure you don’t get sick! Fortunately, I didn’t get sick on my visit to China, which means that I can’t give an account of how it is to use medical services in that country. What I found on the internet tells me that either the experience will be unacceptable by Western standards, expensive, or both.

If I were to get sick, my instinct would be to find the nearest international clinic – so make sure you check beforehand where they are. It is a good idea to always have with you a list of things you are allergic to or medicines you take – translated into Chinese. Also – do consult your new Chinese friends that you met through Couchsurfing or other means when you need to go to the doctors.

Before you go to China – get medical insurance and figure out how it works and what it covers. Despite that, I understand you will have to pay for everything anyway (visits, prescriptions, etc.).

5.     Food

I personally trust street food more than restaurants. I ate street food in India, and I ate street food in China – nothing happened to me. Either I am lucky or the rule of thumb works – “only eat in places where lots of people eat”. This should at least guarantee that food is fresh. Menus of small variety is an advantage as well – the ingredients will be stored for a very short time only if all customers eat the same thing. And small variety is a good thing, because even if the menu is long, when you read it, it’s just a combinations of 4 kinds of meat with different kinds of noodles.

Learn to use chopsticks, e.g. study Youtube videos.   When reusable chopsticks are offered – I saw people first pour hot water on them (keeping the tips in a small bowl) to disinfect them.

Learn basic characters for kinds of meat, noodles, vegetables – since many small hole-in-the-walls don’t have picture menus.

Ask your new Chinese friends to take you to places where they like to eat. Let them order so you can try new things. I would say it is a challenge to eat some things – I was trying to convince myself that even in Eastern Europe, where I come from, not long ago people also almost always ate all the parts of animals. I guess we stopped when we started to go to the shops and now we keep asking for the same parts while ignoring the others. In China, the tradition to eat all parts goes on so either don’t ask what you are eating or ask afterwards.

Do go to a tea house. You will get a thermos of hot water and tea leaves with a cup. You can sit there for hours topping up the cup with hot water.

Drinking and asking for hot water is common so I would ask for it at my hostel and mix it with instant coffee to have my morning drink before I set off for the day.

Drinking unboiled tap water is not recommended, so ask for hot water or buy bottled.

6.     Moving around

a)      Timing

If you are visiting China for a short time, mind the public holidays (check the calendar here), especially before and after Spring Festival (New Year). This is when the whole of China travels and it’s not easy (maybe even impossible) to get seats on planes/trains/etc., and prices will be high. On the other hand – during the Spring festival days itself, it should be easy to get tickets at good prices, since the Chinese would be spending time with the families they have travelled so far to see.

The second day to avoid is National Day – a week in October.

Other 3-day public holidays periods not recommended to visit China are the Western New Year period (30 Dec-1st Jan), Tomb Sweeping Day around April, Labor Day 29th April-1st May, Dragon Boat Festival around June, and Mid-Autumn Festival around September. That is, unless you want to actually see how it looks like when 1.3 billion people move around. If yo do, make sure that you plan well in advance and be prepared to pay more.

If you are planning to visit Tibet – check first if the region is not closed to tourists. This could happen around February and March.

Consider the timing also due to climate (temperature, humidity, rain, etc.). Generally, spring and autumn are recommended as the most favourable conditions, but of course there might be advantages for certain regions to be visited at other times (e.g. fewer tourists, cheaper prices, easier to get permits).

b)     Flights

Consider using the Chinese online services below for booking flight/train/hotels – they have websites and/or apps in English, prices can be cheaper (even moreso if you use their Chinese version), especially on in-China connections, than other international services of this type. They usually enable booking 3 months in advance.

Ctrip(携程) or Fliggy (飞猪) – flight, train, hotel, car, tours

Qunar– flight, train, hotel, car (app in English, they don’t accept foreign bank cards)

You can also check the low-cost Chinese airlines (mind extra charges for baggage etc.)

Spring Airlines – flight and hotel

West Air – flight only

If you check in your luggage, I would advise you to take a set of clothes and toiletries in your hand carry, just in case something happens with the checked-in one.

c)       Train

Usually you can book train tickets around 30 days before your travel date.

You can do it online – via Ctrip or Chinahighlights for a fee of $5-6 – and pick up the tickets at the station (show booking number sent to you and passports for all travellers) or go to the station directly.

At the station you can’t use the self-service kiosks if you don’t have a Chinese ID. You have to queue. What I did was I first checked online what train number I needed to get to my destination and wrote it down neatly on a piece of paper with the times and destination (you can include the class of the seat); I did the same for the return trip. I even managed to change tickets I already purchased twice at the station – using the same method of writing it down on a piece of paper (since my Chinese speaking skills still needs lots of improvement). If you go to the station on the same day as you want to travel. you might not get tickets  because they might all be sold-out (happened to me).

There are also Ticket Offices in different parts of the cities where you can buy tickets but not pick up the ones you booked online.

Have passports for all people travelling and have cash to pay for all the tickets (if you only have foreign cards) – for both train station and ticket offices.

d)     Bus

I used local buses in Chengdu and Leshan (from station to the big Buddha) and from the Train station in Emeishan to the Emeishan National Park. For these, I bought tickets in the bus or at the Train station in Emeishan.

For the city buses the routes are in Chinese characters and once on the bus they say what the next stop is, but even if they annouced it loud enough, I would not know anyway. So the workaround I figured out was to look out from the bus at every stop and identify on the route table at the stop the characters which were in red – this was the name of the stop. Then I looked at the route table inside my bus and checked where I am compared to my destination.

For the bus from the Train station Emeishan to Emeishan National Park, I showed the map to the lady in the ticket office and she gave me the ticket. Then I walked outside the station to the bus stop and showed the ticket and map to people who looked like drivers and they showed me which bus I should take.

I found out that there is a service you can use to book tickets online – Etrip China – which accepts foreign cards. As always, you need passports for all travellers and you can pick up the tickets at the bus station.

e)      Metro

Many cities have metro services. Use the Matroman app to check connections.

My experience from Chengdu was that metro is super-easy to use to move around. Tickets are bought in a ticket kiosk showing the map of metro lines. You can change the language to English. You choose your stop on the screen, the machine tells you how much the ticket is, and you pay – cash, Alipay or WeChat pay.

f) Didi/taxi

Didi is the Uber of China. I understand you can also hail a taxi thru the Didi app. It can also be linked to foreign bank cards and is also offered in English. There are some standard messages to choose from should you need to communicate with the driver who usually will not speak English.

7.     Safety

After entering any country it is always good practice to register yourself with the embassy of your country. Keep the copies of your documents in a safe place, separate from the documents themselves, of course. Leave your itinerary with addresses where you can be found on each day with your friends or family back home. Even when you meet new people locally, it is good to let someone know where you will be.

Before you go, also check the nearest hospitals, note down emergency numbers, so that when something happens it will be too late to look for these.

8.     Miscellaneous

a)      Toilets

Be prepared for squatty toilets. Carry wet wipes since toilet paper is rarely available.

b)     Electricity

China generally uses 220V, 50HZ, AC (Hong Kong is 200V; Taiwan is 110V). If your electric devices use 110/220 volts and your plugs have two flat prongs – then you don’t need an adapter (for prongs) nor a converter (for Volts). Otherwise you will need an adapter.

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13 Commonly Used Chinese Idioms With NUMBERS Mon, 25 Mar 2019 15:56:33 +0000 In this article, we are going to explore some special Chinese idioms or figures of speech that involve numbers. Numbers can be used to express a lot of things, not just to count, and when they are used as idioms,…

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In this article, we are going to explore some special Chinese idioms or figures of speech that involve numbers. Numbers can be used to express a lot of things, not just to count, and when they are used as idioms, they can mean something different. These figures of speech can express thoughts and ideas even more clearly than by just stating the meaning directly. Let’s take a look at thirteen of these idioms with numbers below:

1. 一心一意 (yì xīn yí yì)

to do something whole-heartedly

This literally means “one heart, one idea.” It is used to express a state of doing something intently,and can also be translated as “to do something whole-heartedly”.

For example:

         做事情应该要一心一意。(Zuò shìqing yīnggāi yào yì xīn yí yì.)

          We should do things whole-heartedly.

         他一心一意想见你,你就见他一面吧。 (Tā yì xīn yí yì xiǎng jiàn nǐ, nǐ jiù jiàn tā yí miàn ba.)

          He wants to see you intently, just give him a few minutes.

Since “一心一意” expresses doing something whole-heartedly,  what about the opposite? HOW TO EXPRESS DOING SOMETHING “UN WHOLE-HEARTEDLY?”  Here we point to the second idiom “三心二意” which is the opposite of “一心一意”.

2. 三心二意 (sān xīn’ èr yì)

to be of two minds

This literally means “three hearts, two ideas”. It is used to indicate the state of wanting to do several things at the same time, but ending up with nothing done well usually, and can also be translated as “be of two minds” or “half-heartedly”.

For example:
写作业就不要玩游戏,不要三心二意!(Xiě zuòyè jiù bú yào wán yóuxì, bú yào sān xīn’èr yì.)
When you’re doing your homework, you can’t be of two minds with playing games at the same time.

他又想准备考研,又想出去旅游,整天三心二意的。(Tā yòu xiǎng zhǔnbèi kǎoyán, yòu xiǎng chūqù lǚyóu, zhěngtiān sān xīn’ èr yì de.)
He wants to travel while preparing for the entrance exams for postgraduate schools, which results in doing things half-heartedly all day.

Let’s have a look at an idiom with the number “two” below, namely “两全其美”.

3. 两全其美 (liǎng quán qí měi)

to be perfect in both respectsto satisfy both sides

This literally means “two sides are both good”. It implies a state of satisfying both related sides with the same matter, and can plainly be translated as “be perfect in both respects” or “to satisfy both sides.”

For example:


        (Zhè gè fángzi yòu dà yòu lí wǒ de gōngsī hěn jìn, zhēnde shì liǎng quán qí měi.)

        The house is perfect because it’s big and near my company.


       (Jìyào gōngzuò yòu yào zhàogù háizi, wǒ dě xiǎng gè liǎng quán qí měi de bànfǎ cái xíng.)

       I need to think of a way to balance working and taking care of children.

4. 四通八达 (sì tōng bā dá)

to be accessible from all directions

This is usually used to describe a communication network which is accessible from all directions.

For example:

        铁路网四通八达。 (Tiělù wǎng sì tōng bā dá.)

        Railways radiate in all directions.


     (Sì tōng bā dá de jiāotōng wèi zhè gè dìfang dàilái le hěn duō hǎochù.)

       Good rail connections bring great advantages to this place.

5. 五体投地 (wǔ tǐ tóu dì)

extremely admireadmire somebody completely

This literally means “five body parts are thrown down.” It evolved from an ancient religious ritual involving groveling with your two feet, two hands, and your head down, to show your respect and worship. Now, it can loosely be translated as “extremely admire” or “admire somebody completely.”

For example:


     (Nǐ zhēn de tài lìhài le, zhème nán de tí nǐ dōu huì, wǒ duì nǐ pèifú de wǔ tǐ tóu dì.)

        You’re awesome for solving such a difficult question, and I extremely admire you.


      (Nà jǐ gè nǚshēng duì tā de wàimào hé cáihuá chóngbài de wǔ tǐ tóu dì.

         Those girls really admire his appearance and talent.

6. 六神无主 (liù shén wú zhǔ)

to be in a state of stupefaction (from emotional shock)

  • This idiom actually has something to do with Taoism. In Taoism, our heart, lung, liver, kidneys, spleen, and gallbladder are controlled by six separate gods. As a result, “六神无主” literally means “six gods lost their mind.” Actually, in daily life, it’s used to describe someone who is “in a state of stupefaction (from emotional shock).”
  • You could use it when something scares you. For instance:


        (Wǒ bèi zhè jiàn shì xià de liù shén wú zhǔ.)

        I was scared and felt shocked because of this thing.

Another one


        (Jiēdào bèi kāichú de diànhuà, tā dùnshí juéde liù shén wú zhǔ.)

        Getting the news of being dismissed through the phone, he suddenly felt stupefied.

7. 七嘴八舌 (qī zuǐ bā shé)

all talk at the same time

this literally means “seven mouths, eight tongues”. It’s used to indicate that everyone is trying to say what they want to say in a discussion (a clash of opinions). Thus, it can plainly be translated as “all talk at the same time.”

For example:


       (Huì shàng dàjiā zhēnduì zhè gè jìhuà qī zuǐ bā shé de tǎolùn le qǐlái.)

         Everyone talks at the same time on this project in the meeting.


       (Yī tīngdào tā bèi kāichú de xiāoxī, suǒyǒu rén dōu qī zuǐ bā shé de tǎolùn le qǐlái.)

            Once hearing that he was fired, all start talking in confusion.

8. 八面玲珑 (bā miàn líng long)

all things to all people

This originally means “the window is spacious and well-lighted.” Now, it’s used to describe a person who is smooth and slick in establishing social relations, capable of pleasing all people. Hence, it can appropriately be translated as “all things to all people”.

For example:


        (Mǎlì hé suǒyǒu rén dōu hěn hǎo, shì gè bā miàn líng lóng de rén.)

        Mary gets well along with all people. She is slick in establishing social relations.


       (Bā miàn líng lóng gùrán yǒu hǎochù, dànshì wǒ gèng yuànyì zuò zìjǐ.)

       It’s advisable to be all things to all people, but I’d like to be myself.

9. 九牛一毛 (jiǔ niú yì máo)

to be comparatively small

This literally means “a single hair out of nine ox hides.” It can be translated to mean that something is “comparatively small” in comparison to something else.

For example:


       (Zhè diǎn’r sǔnshī duì tā lái shuō shì jiǔ niú yì máo.)

       The loss is comparatively small for him.


       (Bǐ qǐ tā fùchū de, wǒ zhèxiē shì dōushì jiǔ niú yī máo.)

       Compared to what he paid, what I’ve done is small.

10. 十全十美 (shí quán shí měi)

to be perfect in every way

How do we express “A PERFECT 10” in Chinese? Well, that’s the No. 10 idiom we are going to talk about here – “十全十美”, and it is used in a real conversation to describe something as perfect in every way.

For example:


      (Zhè bù diànyǐng yǒu yī gè shí quán shí měi de jiéjú.)

      The movie has a perfect ending.


      (Suǒyǒu zhìdù zài gāng tuīchū de shíhou dōu búshì shí quán shí měi de.)

      Not all rules were perfect when they were first carried out.

11. 百发百中 (bǎi fā bǎi zhòng)

every shot hits the target; about a person who does things with full confidence

This literally means “a hundred shots, a hundred hits. Plainly speaking, it’s used to express “every shot hits the target,” and its extended meaning is describing a person who does things confidently.

Take playing basketball as an example:

        他投篮百发百中。(Tā tóulán bǎi fā bǎi zhòng.)

        He always makes a basket without a single miss.

One more:


       (Zhècì kǎoshì de suǒyǒu wèntí, wǒ kěndìng huì bǎi fā bǎi zhòng.)

         I’m sure that I can handle all the questions in the test.

12. 千钧一发 (qiān jūn yí fà)

to describe a situation that is in imminent peril

“钧” is an ancient measure classifier for weight, thus literally the idiom means “a thousand jun hangs by a single hair,” Usually in real life, it’s applied to describe “a situation that is in imminent peril.”

For example:


         (Zài zhè qiān jūn yí fà de shíkè, tā háo bù yóuyù de tiào xiàqù jiù ré.)

         At the imminent moment, he dived into the river to save the drowned man without hesitation.


        (Bú dào qiān jūn yí fà zhī jì, yīngxióng jué bú huì chūxiàn.)

          (Heroes never appear until the moment of extreme peril.)

13. 万众一心 (wàn zhòng yì xīn)

all the people of one mind

This literally means “ten thousand people, one heart.” The extended meaning of this idiom is describing unity, equivalent to “all the people of one mind” in English.

For example:

       万众一心,抵抗敌人。(Wàn zhòng yì xīn, dǐkàng dírén.)

        To unite as one group to defend against the enemy.


        (Zài huánbǎo zhè jiàn shì shàng, quán shìjiè rénmín wàn zhòng yì xīn.)

        All the people are of one mind on the environmental protection of the world.

The use of idioms in any language shows that you are able to express yourself better because it means that you understand more about the culture behind that language. This holds true also for Chinese. By understanding and using these 13 idioms with numbers, you can not only express yourself more clearly to other Chinese speakers, but you can show that you know the culture behind these idioms also. Practice using them, and for sure, people will be impressed with your deeper knowledge of Chinese.

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The Words and Structures to Express “Sometimes” in Chinese Wed, 13 Mar 2019 14:34:12 +0000 Early in their studies, almost all Chinese learners are taught“有时候”(yǒu shíhou), which means “Sometimes”. However, when you go deeper into learning Chinese, you’ll find that it cannot be used in all cases. Besides “有时候”, there are other words for “Sometimes”…

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Early in their studies, almost all Chinese learners are taught“有时候”(yǒu shíhou), which means “Sometimes”. However, when you go deeper into learning Chinese, you’ll find that it cannot be used in all cases. Besides “有时候”, there are other words for “Sometimes” that can be used in daily life. In this article, we are going to share two more commonly used ways to say “Sometimes,” and to demonstrate the ways to use each one.

时而 is an adverb which is normally used in written Chinese. When using this word, it indicates something happens repeatedly and not regularly. There are mainly two sentence structures for this word.

1) 时而 …… 时而 ……

When the word is used repeatedly, it is to show alternating situations or different phenomena in a certain period of time. For example:


(Zuìjìn tā yǒudiǎn qíguài, shí’ér kū, shí’ér fādāi, bù ài shuōhuàle.)

Recently, she has been a bit strange, sometimes crying, sometimes dazed, not talking any more.



(Nàgè rén shí’ér kàn wàimiàn, shí’ér kàn shǒubiǎo, kěnéng zài děng rén.)

The man sometimes looks outside, and sometimes looks at his watch. Maybe he is waiting for someone.



(Shí’ér kāixīn, shí’ér nánguò, shí’ér píngjìng, zhè jiùshì shēnghuó.)

Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes peaceful, this is life.



(Jīntiān shí’ér chū tàiyáng, shí’ér xià yǔ, zhège bǐsài bùnéng zài hùwài jìnxíngle.)

Sometimes the sun comes out, sometimes it rains, this game can’t be held outdoors.


2) 时而 + verbal phrase / adjective phrase ……

When the word is followed by a verbal phrase or an adjective phrase, it`s not allowed to be used repeatedly. For example:


(Zhè duàn shíjiān shí’ér huì xià hěn dà de yǔ.)

At this period of time, there would be heavy rains sometimes.



(Shēngbìng yǐhòu, tóngshìmen shí’ér lái wǒjiā kàn wǒ.)

After getting ill, colleagues sometimes come to visit me at my home.



(Wǒ shí’ér tīng dào línjū chǎojià de shēngyīn.)

I sometimes heard the sound of neighbors quarreling.



(Suīrán tā zài kāihuì, dàn yě shí’ér kàn kàn shǒujī.)

Although he is in a meeting, he also sometimes looks at his phone.

In addition to the word 时而,we can also use 不时 to express the same meaning. When “时而” is not used repeatedly, 不时 can be used to replace 时而 in the second sentence structure. However,  in the first structure of “时而……时而……”,it cannot be replaced by 不时.

For more detailed illustration and more grammar points explanations, you can check Chinese Grammar Course – HSK.

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