Travelling to Hong Kong? Here’s a Crash Course in Cantonese

Most locals speak English fairly well, but hey, learning a new language is one of the best things about travelling to any destination. Most of the population in Hong Kong speak Cantonese and English, whilst Mandarin is not as popular as you might hope. So while it’s not a huge disadvantage not to know your yat from your bat in Hong Kong (Read: you can still bag a bargain at the Lady’s Market in English) it could be fun to sneak in a phrase or two where you please. Ready for your crash course in Cantonese?

#1 Be Nice!

Taxi, please!

Hello – nei hou

Good morning – zhou san

Good evening / night — zhou tao

How are you? – lei hou mah

What’s your name? – nei giu me mengh

My name is… — ngor giu…

Thank you — mm goi

Goodbye – zhoi geen

#2 Getting Touristy

Man Mo Temple

Where is (destination name)? – (Destination name) hai bin ah?

Excuse me, how do I get to (destination)? – cheng man, dim yong hui (destination)?

How long is the trip? – yiu gei loi sin tou ah?

Where do I get off? – bin doh lok cher

#3 Let’s Hit the Shops

One place not to practice your bargaining skills

How much is this? – cheng mun, yee kor kei daw chin?

Can I try this? – hor mm hor yee see har?

I want this one – ngo oi yee gor

I want that one – ngo oi kor chek

Cheaper, please – peng dit, mm goi

Do you have any…? — lei yow mo…?

#4 How to Order Food like a Pro

Sichuan style noodles — yummy!

Menu, please – mm goi, chan pai

What’s the signature dish here? – lei do tchil phai choy hai mut ah?

I want what he is having – ngo oi tong hui ke yet yeung

Do you have beer here? —  leedo yow mo bair tsow yum ah?

Yes we do — yow ah!

No we don’t — mo ah!

Still raw – mei sook

Tissue, please –  zhi ghan, mm goi

Cheque, please? —  mai dan, mm goi

Tasty — hou sek

#5 Good to Know

Tsing Ma bridge

Yes – hai

No — mm hai

I know — zhi doh

I don’t know – mm zhi doh

Let’s see what you’ve got. 

Photo credits: Main, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Diandra Soliano

Our resident Wander Woman with a passion for languages, big cities and bronzer. When she's not listening to The Smiths a little too loudly at the office (after hours!), she can be found singing along to the soundtrack of Les Miserables with her two cats for an audience.

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