First-Time Traveler’s Survival Phrases in Taiwanese That You Should Know

Taiwan is one of my all-time favorite places to visit on the planet. A journey to Survival Phrases in Taiwaneseusually guarantees a pleasant time, from the picturesque scenery and mesmerizing culture to the delicious street cuisine. However, my experience may have been impacted by the fact that, as a native speaker, I was able to converse in Taiwan using Mandarin phrases.

foreigners learning chinese

Mandarin, on the other hand, isn’t required for travel in Taiwan. The majority of tourist sites (particularly Taipei) are simple enough to traverse using only English. However, knowing a few simple words here and there isn’t a bad idea! Learning Mandarin and Survival Phrases in Taiwanese helped me connect with the people and truly appreciate their warmth, and I’m confident that knowing a few simple words will do the same for you!


Everyday Survival Phrases in Taiwanese

Taiwanese, also known as Hokkien or Minnan, is a widely spoken language in Taiwan. Knowing some basic survival phrases in Taiwanese can greatly enhance your experience when interacting with locals and navigating daily life. In this article, we will explore some essential survival phrases in Taiwanese that can assist you in various situations.

  1. Greetings and Polite Expressions:
  • “Li-ho” (你好): Hello
  • “Chiàu-páng bē” (謝謝): Thank you
  • “Bô i-ánn” (不客氣): You’re welcome
  • “Góa mā kā” (我們見過): Nice to meet you
  • “Liân-hūn kong-ann” (恭喜恭喜): Congratulations
  1. Asking for Help or Directions:
  • “Bē tsiánn-kiànn iánn-ê” (請問前面的): Excuse me, what’s in front?
  • “Kāng-khoeh bô iông-khoeh-á?” (警察局在哪兒): Where is the police station?
  • “Chiàu ê jiânn-á?” (謝謝的店仔): Where is the restroom?
  • “Bē tsiánn-khì iā?” (請問去哪裡): Can you tell me how to get there?
  1. Ordering Food and Drinks:
  • “Siánn lám-pa” (想喝茶): I would like some tea.
  • “Bīn kóe bīn tshìm” (麵糊煮熟): Cooked well-done.
  • “Kám bô hōo-chek iā” (咸不好吃的): I don’t like salty food.
  • “Liām siánn thâu-pún bô?” (唸喜歡頭焖煮): Do you have vegetarian options?
  1. Shopping and Bargaining:
  • “Bē tsiánn-khì guá ê ha-ánn-á?” (請問這是多少錢): How much does this cost?
  • “Lóng-ông m̄ khah khòaⁿ-ê” (老闆毋過難儂): Boss, don’t overcharge.
  • “I tshìm kā chē-á ko-khuân-á?” (這是車阿過關阿): Can you give me a discount for this?
  1. Emergency Situations:
  • “Lín iàu chiàu-khiáⁿ khah iánn-ê lāng-á?” (你有會救人的人嗎): Do you have someone who can help?
  • “I-āu 119 ho iánn-á” (有119去讓啊): Call 119 for emergency help.
  • “Bē tsiánn-khì iâ-khóo i-āu ê lāng-á?” (請問醫院有急救的人嗎): Is there a doctor available at the hospital?
  1. Basic Phrases for Conversation:
  • “Bē tsiánn-kiànn góa i-ánn iā” (請問我叫什麼): Can you tell me my name?
  • “Tō lín iâⁿ bô khuè tsa̍p-á” (倒你有無忘揣十下): Can you count to ten for me?
  • “Góa i̍t iāⁿ hōoⁿ-á” (我一定會的): I will definitely do it.

Remember to use a friendly tone and smile when interacting with locals. They will appreciate your effort to learn and communicate in their language.


Greeting someone for the first time- ni hao 你好

Non-Mandarin speakers are generally most familiar with the term “Ni hao.” The greeting word ni hao is recommended in most beginner Mandarin textbooks. However, it’s not entirely accurate.


While it’s entirely OK for use ni hao to welcome someone you’ve never met before, it’s strange to use it to say hello to someone you already know Survival Phrases in Taiwanese. When translated, it essentially translates to “I hope you’re well” or “How are you?” So when someone says ni hao to me, my first assumption is that they are trying to sell me something.


Following greetings Taiwanese

Taiwanese, also known as Hokkien or Minnan, is a widely spoken language in Taiwan. Greetings play a crucial role in Taiwanese culture, as they serve as a foundation for building connections and establishing rapport. In this article, we will explore some essential greetings in Taiwanese that can help you make a positive impression and connect with locals.

  1. “Li-ho” (你好): “Li-ho” is the standard way to say “hello” in Taiwanese. It is a versatile greeting that can be used in both formal and informal settings. This simple phrase expresses friendliness and openness, inviting positive interactions.
  2. “Chit-ê li-ho khì” (最近好緊): This greeting, meaning “How have you been recently?”, demonstrates genuine interest in the well-being of the person you’re speaking to. It allows for a more personal connection and shows that you care about their current state.
  3. “Thâu-khah sī siáⁿ-lâng tsē-lí” (頭家是先生姊妹): When addressing someone in a position of authority or seniority, such as a boss or an elder, it is respectful to use this greeting, which means “Hello, Sir/Madam.” It acknowledges their status and emphasizes respect.
  4. “Hoan-gī sī chit-thâu lâng” (歡迎是一刀人): This phrase, meaning “Welcome,” is commonly used to greet visitors or guests. It creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, making individuals feel appreciated and valued.
  5. “Chhit-pún kiàn-kong” (日本經過): When passing by someone or briefly interacting with a stranger, you can use this polite greeting, which means “Excuse me.” It shows respect for personal space and acknowledges the presence of others.
  6. “Siáⁿ-tàng kóng kiaⁿ” (先講聽): This phrase, meaning “Please go ahead and speak,” is often used to encourage others to express their thoughts or opinions first. It demonstrates attentiveness and a willingness to listen.
  7. “Lín khòaⁿ-ê guá ē-sái-tī” (你會的我一定): When someone compliments you or expresses confidence in your abilities, you can respond with this phrase, which means “I will definitely do it.” It conveys determination and a commitment to fulfilling expectations.
  8. “Kāng-sī sī beh i-ánn” (警司是欲恁): In more formal settings, when addressing someone of higher rank or status, such as a police officer or a government official, it is respectful to use this phrase, meaning “Hello, Officer.” It acknowledges their authority and position.
  9. “M̄-sī iōng-siáⁿ, pō͘-siōng ē-sī” (無事唔照顧, 保重會著): When saying goodbye or parting ways, you can use this phrase, which means “Take care and stay well.” It expresses concern for the other person’s well-being and shows that you


Using pleasantries related to the time of day, rather than ni hao, is a better approach to meet someone (particularly if you’ve already met them). There are several options, but here’s the simplest:


Say zao in the morning (drag it a little like you would say “morning” to someone); Xia wu hao in the Survival Phrases in Taiwanese afternoon; and wan shang hao in the nights! If all of that is too much for you to remember, say “hey” or “hello.” “Ha-llo” if you genuinely want to do it the Taiwanese way!


Thank you – xie xie 谢谢


Because Taiwanese people are incredibly courteous, you’ll probably hear this statement a lot, especially if you go to the night market to buy food. If someone does something for you in Taiwan, make sure to thank them; otherwise, you’ll come off as a rude personSurvival Phrases in Taiwanese!


Please excuse me – bu hao yi si


It’s worth noting that “pardon me” is frequently used in this situation when you need someone’s aid or want to apologize for anything. Please do not say bu hao yi si to a food cart vendor who is already gazing at you before ordering. You could, but it would be pretty strange.


Making a food order


Is there a menu in English?

Most restaurants, especially in Taipei, include English translation Survival Phrases in Taiwaneseand menus by default. However, if you ever find yourself in a position where you can’t find an English menu, respectfully request one using the words mentioned earlier.


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Do you have… – you mei you…? 有没有

When communicating in Mandarin Chinese, knowing useful phrases can greatly enhance your ability to express yourself and navigate daily life. One such phrase is “You mei you…?” (有没有—?), which translates to “Do you have…?” in English. In this article, we will explore the meaning, usage, and practical applications of this versatile phrase.

  1. Definition and Usage: “You mei you…?” is a common phrase used to inquire about the availability or possession of something. It allows you to ask if someone has a particular item, service, or information that you are seeking.
  2. Examples of Usage:
  • “You mei you shuijiao?” (有没有睡觉?) – Do you have a pillow?
  • “You mei you cai?” (有没有菜?) – Do you have vegetables?
  • “You mei you zhongwen cidian?” (有没有中文词典?) – Do you have a Chinese dictionary?
  1. Practical Applications: The phrase “You mei you…?” can be used in various contexts, including:

a. Shopping: When looking for specific items in a store or market, you can use this phrase to inquire about their availability. For example, “You mei you t-shirt?” (有没有T恤?) – Do you have T-shirts?

b. Ordering Food: When dining at a restaurant or food stall, you can use this phrase to inquire about the availability of certain dishes or ingredients. For instance, “You mei you doufu?” (有没有豆腐?) – Do you have tofu?

c. Services: If you need assistance or a particular service, such as a taxi or a tour guide, you can use this phrase to ask if it is available. For example, “You mei you di taxi?” (有没有的士?) – Do you have a taxi?

  1. Politeness and Context: When using the phrase “You mei you…?” it is important to remember to include the appropriate measure word for the item you are inquiring about. For example, “You mei you yi kuai qian?” (有没有一块钱?) – Do you have one yuan? The measure word “yi kuai” is used to specify the currency unit.
  2. Tone and Manner: While the phrase “You mei you…?” is a straightforward inquiry, using a polite and respectful tone is important to ensure effective communication. Remember to add “qing wen” (请问) at the beginning of the sentence to make it more polite. For example, “Qing wen, you mei you yinhang zhan?” (请问,有没有银行站?) – Excuse me, do you have a bank nearby?
  3. Variations: In informal conversations, the phrase “You mei you…?” can be shortened to “You…?” For instance, “You keyi ba?” (有可以吧?) – Do you have it?


You may already know what you want and would want to be able to place an order fast. In this scenario, inquire whether they have what you’re looking for using the language as mentioned earlier. It’s also a good idea to look out for the Chinese pronunciation of the thing you’re looking for Survival Phrases in Taiwaneseahead of time!


I desire this/that – wo yao zhe ge/na ge

In Mandarin Chinese, being able to express your desires and preferences is essential for effective communication. One useful phrase for conveying your desires is “Wo yao zhe ge/na ge” (我要这个/那个), which translates to “I desire this/that” in English. In this article, we will explore the meaning, usage, and practical applications of this phrase.

  1. Definition and Usage: “Wo yao zhe ge/na ge” is a commonly used phrase to express a specific desire for a particular item or object. It allows you to indicate your preference for something you want or wish to have.
  2. Examples of Usage:
  • “Wo yao zhe ge shu” (我要这个书) – I want this book.
  • “Wo yao na ge tishi” (我要那个提示) – I want that hint.
  • “Wo yao zhe ge yanse” (我要这个颜色) – I want this color.
  1. Practical Applications: The phrase “Wo yao zhe ge/na ge” can be used in various contexts, including:

a. Shopping: When browsing or selecting items in a store, you can use this phrase to express your desire for a particular product. For example, “Wo yao zhe ge xie” (我要这个鞋) – I want these shoes.

b. Ordering Food: When dining at a restaurant or food stall, you can use this phrase to express your preference for a specific dish or menu item. For instance, “Wo yao na ge mian” (我要那个面) – I want that noodles.

c. Making Choices: When presented with options, you can use this phrase to indicate your preference. For example, “Wo yao zhe ge” (我要这个) – I want this one.

  1. Politeness and Tone: While “Wo yao zhe ge/na ge” is a direct expression of desire, using a polite and respectful tone is important to ensure effective communication. Adding “qing” (请) before the phrase can make it more polite. For example, “Qing gei wo zhe ge” (请给我这个) – Please give me this one.korean to english translation
  2. Variations: To express desire for multiple items, you can modify the phrase by using “yao” (要) with the appropriate measure word. For instance, “Wo yao liang ge pingguo” (我要两个苹果) – I want two apples.
  3. Clarifying Pronouns: To specify whether you desire something close to you or farther away, you can use “zhe” (这) for objects close to you and “na” (那) for objects farther away. For example, “Wo yao zhe ge” (我要这个) – I want this one (near me) and “Wo yao na ge” (我要那个) – I want that one (farther away).
  4. Non-Verbal Cues: Accompanying your desire with non-verbal cues such as pointing or gesturing can further clarify your preference. This can facilitate understanding and ensure that the desired item is correctly identified.


Because there isn’t generally a menu at night markets, you’ll have to rely on points to find what you want. When buying at Taiwan’s night markets, use the Mandarin mentioned earlier to emphasize your message instead of quietly pointing and frightening the vendor.


What is this? – zhe shi shen me? 这是什么


You can come upon something unusual that you want to try but aren’t sure what it is. Point to it and ask zhe shi shen me a question. For example, to find out what kind of meat you’re eating, play a fun game of charadesSurvival Phrases in Taiwanese!


How much? – duo shao qian? 多少


Ah, yes, the all-important query! Most restaurants, in my experience, publicly show their pricing. If you’re uncertain, ask, then unwillingly part with your money while silently considering how much you’ve spent on meals in Taiwan.


Say jie zhang, which indicates “I want to pay the bill,” in a restaurant.


Is it spicy? – la ma?


Just in case any of you are allergic to spicy cuisineSurvival Phrases in Taiwanese. A word of warning: make sure you’re pointing at the meal when you ask this inquiry because the same pronunciation (different characters) might also signify “hot mother”! Ah, the charm of Taiwanese Mandarin expressions!


Adding a personal touch to your bubble tea order


Bubble tea is another prominent component of Taiwanese culture. After all, it’s the birthplace of the global bubble tea craze! So, of course, if you like to personalize your bubble tea, keep the following words in mindSurvival Phrases in Taiwanese:


Quan tang translates to “whole sugar,” “shao tang” to “less sugar,” and “ban tang” to “half sugar.” So you can ask for less ice (shao bing) or even a warm cup of tea (wen de) when it comes to ice. But what makes you think you’d do something like that?


You must first place an order before diving into the beautiful embrace of Taiwanese gastronomy. If you’re in a restaurant, say hello to get the waiter’s attentionSurvival Phrases in Taiwanese.


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