Home Hong Kong Travel Information Language in Hong Kong: Complete Cantonese Guide to Communicate with Local Hongkongers!

Language in Hong Kong: Complete Cantonese Guide to Communicate with Local Hongkongers!

by Ryu_C@Central Lion Rock

Language in Hong Kong: What language should you use when traveling in HK?

Hong Kong is a city located in southern China and was once one of the British territories in Asia. So many people think that Hong Kong is a very interesting place, because the urban design in Hong Kong, the language used by Hong Kong people, and even the way Hong Kong people speak are not very like China or the UK. It is a place that combines two different cultures.

When you travel to other countries, such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, you will know very clearly that they use Japanese, Korean, and Mandarin as their official languages. However, when you travel to Hong Kong, what language should you use? Is it English, Mandarin, or Cantonese?

To be honest, even those of us editors who have lived in Hong Kong for a long time often experience the impact of different languages when living in Hong Kong. For example, when traveling to popular tourist areas, you will find some shop assistants who speak fluent English, Mandarin, and even Japanese in some stores. But when you visit some restaurants located in residential areas and some attractions far away from the city center of Hong Kong, you will find that only Cantonese can express your thoughts to the staff. That may be because 95% people in Hong Kong speak Cantonese as their mother tongue, so as long as you know how to speak a few words of Cantonese, you can visit more different special attractions and try more different authentic restaurants in Hong Kong.

Of course, we are not saying that you must learn Cantonese in advance before traveling to Hong Kong. You can still speak English and Mandarin. Because in theory, more than half of the people in Hong Kong have learned these two languages and have certain coping skills. However, if you want to go to some restaurants that local Hong Kong people like to go to, or eat at the best restaurants at the cheapest prices, you must know how to speak a few words in Cantonese to get these experiences.

Because most Hong Kong people speak Cantonese as their mother tongue instead of English or Mandarin, in today’s article we will share with you some commonly used Cantonese phrases and Cantonese pronunciation during travel in Hong Kong. In this way, when you have the opportunity to follow local Hong Kong people, you can express your thoughts more effectively and order the authentic Hong Kong food you want to eat more quickly.

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Perfume Attractions Hong Kong Victoria Harbor
Hong Kong is a city that combines Eastern and Western languages and cultures. (Click on image to enlarge)
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Can I travel to Hong Kong without knowing how to speak Cantonese?

Many people have asked, if you don't know how to speak Cantonese, will you not be able to order the meals you want at restaurants or visit the scenic spots you want to visit during your trip to Hong Kong? Actually no. Because you can find bilingual information in Chinese and English on Hong Kong's transportation, street signs, and most restaurants in tourist areas. Basically, as long as you understand one of the languages, you can travel through Hong Kong's tourist areas, such as Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, Disneyland, etc.

However, if you plan to go to Monster Building, Sheung Wan, Yau Ma Tei, Wan Chai, etc., those restaurants and shops located in residential areas, you'd better know how to speak a few simple Cantonese, so that you can order food more easily. And buy the products you want. This is also one of the goals that this article hopes you can achieve most.

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Attractions in Central Wellington Street, Central
Bilingual street signs and bilingual radio broadcasts can be seen everywhere in Hong Kong. (Click on image to enlarge)
Ocean Park Hong Kong-Souvenir-Keychain
Almost all Hong Kong people speak Cantonese. It will be more convenient if you learn a few simple daily expressions. (Click on image to enlarge)
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Cantonese phrases commonly used when traveling in Hong Kong

When traveling in Hong Kong, you will have the opportunity to use different Cantonese phrases in different situations. Whether it is asking for directions, ordering food, shopping, etc., there are many commonly used Cantonese phrases. However, since our article does not intend to give you a very serious Cantonese course, the following part only contains the meaning and pronunciation of some Cantonese terms, and will not include any Cantonese grammar. Inside.

When using this article, you only need to remember the meaning of those Cantonese sentences, and then use the iPhone's voice function to have the iPhone read out the pronunciation of the Cantonese sentences. How to set up the voice function on iPhone: Go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content, open firstSpoken Content function, then openSpeak Selection function, the next step is to go to Settings > Siri & Search > Language, then select“Chinese (Cantonese – Hong Kong)”, and finally the iPhone can read the selected text in Cantonese.

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Cantonese phrases you must learn during your trip to Hong Kong

What are the Cantonese phrases you must learn while traveling in Hong Kong? From the most basic making requests, thanking others for their help, to some numbers, dates, etc., you will definitely have the opportunity to use Cantonese phrases during your trip to Hong Kong.

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Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
Make a request to someone/Thank someone唔該m4 goi1
Express gratitude to others多謝do1ze6
Ask questions to others請問…cing2 man6
(more polite) to Make a request to someone唔好意思m4 hou2 ji3 si1
I don't know how to speak Cantonese我唔識講廣東話ngo5 m4 sik1 gong2 gwong2 dung1 waa6
Can you speak english?你識唔識講英文?nei5 sik1 m4 sik1 gong2 jing1 man4
Can you take pictures for me?可唔可以幫我影相?ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 bong1 ngo5 jing2 soeng1
Where are the restrooms?邊度有廁所?bin1 dou6 jau5 ci3 so2
I need to go to the hospital我想去醫院ngo5 soeng2 heoi3 ji1 jyun2
I'm lost我當失路ngo5 dong1 sat1 lou6
Yeshai6
No唔係m4 hai6
This one呢個nei4 go3
That one個個go3 go3
Today今日gam1jat6
Tomorrow聽日ting1 jat6
The day after tomorrow後日hau6 jat6
We我地ngo5 dei6
You你地nei5 dei6
Adult大人daai6 jan4
Child細路sai3 lou6
Please wait a moment唔該等一陣m4 goi1 dang2 jat1 zan6
Central Attractions Central Street Signs All Destinations
As long as you know how to speak a few simple words in Cantonese, you will have no problem traveling in Hong Kong. (Click on image to enlarge)
Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
One一 – (數字)jat1
Two二 – (數字)ji6
Three三 – (數字)saam1
Four四 – (數字)sei3
Five五 – (數字)ng5
Six 六 – (數字)luk6
Seven七 – (數字)cat1
Eight八 – (數字)baat3
Nine九 – (數字)gau2
Ten十 – (數字)sap6
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Almost all street signs in Hong Kong are bilingual. (Click on image to enlarge)
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Cantonese phrases commonly used when arriving at Hong Kong Airport

When you arrive at Hong Kong Airport, you will definitely want to take the bus to the hotel as early as possible. Here are some Cantonese phrases that you may find useful in Hong Kong Airport.

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Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
How to get to…(specify location)點樣去…(目的地)?dim2 joeng6 heoi3
I want to go to...(specify location)我想去…(目的地)ngo5 soeng2 heoi3
Double decker bus station巴士站 – (目的地)baa1 si6 zaam6
Taxi stand的士站 – (目的地)dik1 si6 zaam6
MTR station地鐵站 – (目的地)dei6 tit3 zaam6
Airport Express Station機場快綫 – (目的地)gei1 coeng4 faai3 sin3
Hong Kong Island香港島 – (目的地)hoeng1 gong2 dou2
Kowloon Peninsula九龍半島 – (目的地)gau2 lung4 bun3 dou2
Hotel酒店 – (目的地)zau2 dim3
Dining room餐廳 – (目的地)caan1 teng1
Gate for airplanes登機閘口 – (目的地)daap3 fei1 gei1
Where can I check in?邊度可以check-in?bin1 dou6 ho2 ji5 Check-in
Hong Kong International Airport airline counter
At Hong Kong Airport, it is equally convenient to speak English or Cantonese. (Click on image to enlarge)
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Cantonese phrases commonly used when checking into a hotel

The moment you arrive at the hotel, you may want to make a different request for a more comfortable stay. Here are some commonly used Cantonese phrases when staying at a hotel.

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Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
I want to check in the room我想Check-inngo5 soeng2 Check-in
I want to check out我想Check-outngo5 soeng2 Check-out
I want to order breakfast我想訂早餐ngo5 soeng2 ding3 zou2 caan1
I want to book a taxi我想Book 的士ngo5 soeng2 Book dik1 si6
The room is not very clean房間唔乾淨fong4 gaan1 m4 gon1 zing6
I need an extra bed我想加床ngo5 soeng2 gaa1 cong4
I need to store my suitcase我想寄存行李ngo5 soeng2 gei3 cyun4 hang4 lei5
I need to go to the airport我想去機場ngo5 soeng2 heoi3 gei1 coeng4
What restaurants are available nearby?附近有咩餐廳?fu6 gan6 jau5 me1 caan1 teng1
Can I pay by credit card?收唔收信用卡?sau1 m4 sau1 seon3 jung6 kaa1
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Compared with ordinary hotels, high-end hotels usually have more staff who can speak multiple languages. (Click on image to enlarge)
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Commonly used Cantonese phrases when taking public transportation

Every subway station in Hong Kong is equipped with a bilingual announcement system. As long as you understand Cantonese or English, you can basically visit most of Hong Kong's attractions. However, if you plan to take a minibus to some attractions outside the city center of Hong Kong, you must prepare the following Cantonese phrases before departure.

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Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
Where is the subway station?地鐵站係邊度?dei6 tit3 zaam6 hai6 bin1 dou6
(When taking a minibus) Please stop in front前面有落cin4 min6 jau5 lok6
How much does the fare cost?車費幾多錢?ce1 fai3 gei2 do1 cin4
I need to take the tram我想搭電車ngo5 soeng2 daap3 din6 ce1
I need to take the cable car我想搭纜車ngo5 soeng2 daap3 laam6 ce1
I need to take a ferry我想搭船ngo5 soeng2 daap3 syun4
Where will this car go?架車會去邊度?gaa3 ce1 wui6 heoi3 bin1 dou6
Please remind me to get off before arriving at the station唔該到站提我落車m4 goi1 dou3 zaam6 tai4 ngo5 lok6 ce1
I need to top up my Octopus card我想增值八達通ngo5 soeng2 zang1 zik6 baat3 daat6 tung1
How long will it take to wait for the next bus?下一班車要等幾耐?haa6 jat1 baan1 ce1 jiu3 dang2 gei2 noi6
As long as you know how to speak a few simple words in Cantonese, it will be easier to travel to different attractions. (Click on image to enlarge)
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Cantonese phrases commonly used when dining in restaurants

In most restaurants located in tourist areas, since the waiters have received basic language training, you can order food in Cantonese, English, and Mandarin without any big problems. However, if you plan to try some restaurants located in residential areas or some restaurants run by individuals, the following Cantonese phrases will definitely help you have a smoother meal.

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Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
I need menu我想要menungo5 soeng2 jiu3
Please place an order for me唔該落單m4 goi1 lok6 daan1
How much is this?呢個幾多錢?nei4 go3 gei2 do1 cin4
What kind of food can you recommend?有咩好介紹?jau5 me1 hou2 gaai3 siu6
I have a food allergy and can't eat...(certain food)我有食物敏感,唔食得…(食物)ngo5 jau5 sik6 mat6 man5 gam2 m4 sik6 dak1
I need a fork我想要一隻叉ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 jat1 zek3 caa1
I need a beer我想要一杯啤酒ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 jat1 bui1 be1 zau2
I need a glass of water我想要一杯水ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 jat1 bui1 seoi2
I need a coke我想要一杯可樂ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 jat1 bui1 ho2 lok6
I need a pair of chopsticks我要想一對筷子ngo5 jiu3 soeng2 jat1 deoi3 faai3 zi2
Is this vegetarian?呢個係唔係素食?nei4 go3 hai6 m4 hai6 sou3 sik6
Where are the restrooms?邊度有廁所?bin1 dou6 jau5 ci3 so2
What is this?呢個係咩黎?nei4 go3 hai6 me1 lai4
I need to pay for checkout我想埋單ngo5 soeng2 maai4 daan1
I need takeout我想拎走ngo5 soeng2 ling1 zau2
This is delicious呢個好好味nei4 go3 hou2 hou2 mei6
What time do you open?你地幾點開門?nei5 dei6 gei2 dim2 hoi1 mun4
I want one more...(specific object)我想要多一個…(物件)ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 do1 jat1 go3
Eat breakfast食早餐sik6 zou2 caan1
Eat lunch食午餐sik6 ng5 caan1
Have afternoon tea食下午茶sik6 haa6 ng5 caa4
Have supper食晚餐sik6 maan5 caan1
Hong Kong Style Tea Restaurant茶餐廳caa4 caan1 teng1
Hong Kong style teahouse茶樓caa4 lau4
Hong Kong Tea Restaurant Chain Tai Hing Tea Restaurant Man Wah Ice Room Tsui Wah Restaurant Black Tea Ice Room
When you walk into some Hong Kong residential areas, you will find many restaurant waiters who only speak Cantonese. (Click on image to enlarge)

Cantonese phrases for Hong Kong specialty food

Now that you are in Hong Kong, of course you can’t miss any opportunity to taste Hong Kong’s special food. The following are the Cantonese pronunciations of some common specialty foods in Hong Kong. If you don’t want to order other foods by mistake, you must remember them carefully.

More Hong Kong specialty food information: The latest Hong Kong food recommendation list

Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
Pineapple Bun菠蘿包 – (食物)bo1 lo4 baau1
Egg tart蛋撻 – (食物)daan6 taat3
Hong Kong Style Milk Tea奶茶 – (食物)naai5 caa4
Hong Kong style lemon tea檸檬茶 – (食物)ning4 mung1 caa4
West Toast西多士 – (食物)sai1 do1 si6
Fish Ball魚蛋 – (食物)jyu4 daan6
Hong Kong style dim sum點心 – (食物)dim2 sam1
Shrimp dumplings蝦餃 – (食物)haa1 gaau2
Siu Mai燒賣 – (食物)siu1 maai6
Chicken feet鳳爪 – (食物)fung6 zaau2
Barbecue pork buns叉燒包 – (食物)caa1 siu1 baau1
Egg Waffles雞蛋仔 – (食物)gai1 daan6 zai2
Pork豬肉 – (食物)zyu1 juk6
Beef牛肉– (食物)ngau4 juk6
Chicken雞肉 – (食物)gai1 juk6
Mutton羊肉 – (食物)joeng4 juk6
FishFish – (food) jyu4
Fried rice炒飯 – (食物)caau2 faan6
Fried noodles炒麵 – (食物)caau2 min6
Porridge粥 – (食物)zuk1
Claypot rice煲仔飯 – (食物)bou1 zai2 faan6
Cake蛋糕 – (食物)daan6 gou1
Bread麵包 – (食物)min6 baau1
Ice cream雪糕 – (食物)syut3 gou1
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When you know how to order food in Cantonese, you can try more different types of food. (Click on image to enlarge)
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Commonly used Cantonese phrases when visiting attractions

What are some commonly used Cantonese phrases when visiting tourist attractions? Ask others to help you take commemorative photos, check the location of the ticket office, or need to go to the bathroom, or your phone suddenly loses power, etc. You will definitely need help from others. Here are some Cantonese phrases that you may have the opportunity to use while visiting tourist attractions.

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Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
Can you take a photo for me?可唔可以幫我影相?ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 bong1 ngo5 jing2 soeng1
Where can I buy tickets?邊度可以買飛?bin1 dou6 ho2 ji5 maai5 fei1
Where should I line up?應該去邊度排隊?jing3 goi1 heoi3 bin1 dou6 paai4 deoi6
I need to go to...(specified place)我想去…(指定地點)ngo5 soeng2 heoi3
How to get to...(attraction)?點樣去…(景點)?dim2 joeng6 heoi3
Where are the restrooms?邊度有廁所?bin1 dou6 jau5 ci3 so2
Where can I buy drinking water?邊度有水賣?bin1 dou6 jau5 seoi2 maai6
Where are the shopping malls?邊度有商場?bin1 dou6 jau5 soeng1 coeng4
Where are the ATMs?邊度有ATM?bin1 dou6 jau5 ATM
Where are the restaurants?邊度有餐廳?bin1 dou6 jau5 caan1 teng1
Where are the charging facilities?邊度有得叉電?bin1 dou6 jau5 dak1 caa1 din6
Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
Tsim Sha Tsui 尖沙咀 – (地方名)zim1 saa1 zeoi2
Mong Kok旺角 – (地方名)wong6 gok3
Yau Ma Tei油麻地 – (地方名)jau4 maa4 dei6
Ladies' Market女人街 – (景點)neoi5 jan4 gaai1
Temple street廟街 – (地方名)miu6 gaai1
Tsim Sha Tsui Pier尖沙咀碼頭 – (景點)zim1 saa1 zeoi2 maa5 tau4
Victoria Harbor維多利亞港 – (景點)wai4 do1 lei6 aa3 gong2
Central中環 – (地方名)zung1 waan4
Victoria Peak山頂 – (景點)saan1 ding2
Causeway bay銅鑼灣 – (地方名)tung4 lo4 waan1
Monster Mansion怪獸大廈 – (景點)gwaai3 sau3 daai6 haa6
Peak Tram山頂纜車 – (交通工具)saan1 ding2 laam6 ce1
ding ding car叮叮車 – (交通工具)ding1 ding1 ce1
Star ferry天星小輪 – (交通工具)tin1 sing1 siu2 leon4
Disneyland迪士尼樂園 – (主題樂園)dik6 si6 nei4 lok6 jyun4
Ocean Park海洋公園 – (主題樂園)hoi2 joeng4 gung1 jyun4
Hong Kong Attractions Hong Kong Disneyland
As long as you learn the Cantonese pronunciation of a few scenic spots, it will be easier to ask passers-by for directions. (Click on image to enlarge)
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Cantonese phrases commonly used during shopping trips

The staff of most large shopping malls in Hong Kong can speak Cantonese, English, and Mandarin, but there are also a small number of elderly staff who may only speak Cantonese. Therefore, the following Cantonese phrases can help you cope with certain situations.

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Cantonese sentence meaningCantonese sentencesCantonese pronunciation
I need plastic bags我想要膠袋ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 gaau1 doi6
How much does this cost?呢個幾錢?nei4 go3 gei2 cin4
Can I pay by credit card?收唔收信用卡?sau1 m4 sau1 seon3 jung6 kaa1
Can I pay with Octopus card?收唔收八達通?sau1 m4 sau1 baat3 daat6 tung1
I want to pay by cash我想俾現金ngo5 soeng2 bei2 jin6 gam1
Are there any discounts?有冇Discount?jau5 mou5 Discount
Where are the ATMs?邊度有ATM?bin1 dou6 jau5 ATM
I need this one我想要呢個ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 nei4 go3
I need that one我想要個個ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 go3 go3
I need one more我想要多一個ngo5 soeng2 jiu3 do1 jat1 go3
I don't need this呢個我唔要nei4 go3 ngo5 m4 jiu3
Hong Kong Shopping Mall-Lee Gardens
Even in some large shopping malls, store staff usually greet customers in Cantonese first. (Click on image to enlarge)

Summarize

Although Cantonese has been voted one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn, we definitely disagree. Because as long as you spend a little time trying to communicate with local Hong Kong people, you will definitely find that Cantonese is not as difficult as it seems. In particular, there are some Cantonese phrases that are suitable for use during travel in Hong Kong. It turns out that as long as you speak a few more words, you will naturally start to communicate with them in Cantonese. Learning basic Cantonese phrases, just like you learn basic phrases in other languages, will give you the opportunity to explore each city in depth. Because Hong Kong really has many scenic spots worth visiting and authentic culture worth experiencing, we have prepared this article for you, hoping that you can experience a different Hong Kong.

On the other hand, if you are also preparing to travel to Hong Kong, we have actually prepared more attraction information, itinerary recommendations, ticket discounts, and hotel discounts in different areas of Hong Kong for you. If you also want to be able to explore in depth some attractions that only locals in Hong Kong know about, just like the local Hong Kong people, as long as you openHong Kong Travel Information Classification, you can find practical articles related to Hong Kong travel!

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