Canto-not: The only phrases you need to know as a tourist to HK
Think you can come to Hong Kong without speaking Cantonese? You certainly Can-to! However, there are certain phrases that you kinda need, and let’s be honest, it’s only respectable to actually speak a small bit of the local lingo when you are visiting. To the untrained ear, Cantonese is brute, rude and very direct. But it’s Hong Kong people! ‘Aint nobody got time for pleasantries in this town. So here’s our low-down on phrases for us Gweilos (foreigners), what they mean and when you would need to use them.
Wei (pronounced: whyyyyy?) – Hello
Obviously this is the first word you need when landing in Hong Kong. If you live here; Instead of saying “hello” when you pick up the phone, say “wei” to pass off as a local on the phone. But if an annoying telemarketer calls you, stick to “hello” and then speak really fast in English to scare them off and prevent them from calling again. Good trick there.
Jo san (pronounced: Joe Sun!) – Good Morning
You’ll hear this a lot as a visitor to Hong Kong, mainly from your security guard and hotel staff. Always answer back “Jo san” – Good morning as a sign of respect. And, it’s always a good morning in Hong Kong, so you sing that loud and proud!
Hai Lido ting (pronounced Hi Lee-Dough Ting) – Right here or just “Lido” – here
The ultimate taxi lingo! Hong Kong is a maze of roads, you may know where you’re going, but not how to get there, so a quick “lido” (here) often comes in handy. Maybe say it twice just for added effect! ‘Here, here’
Mm goi – Thank you
Mai daan mm goi – Bill please
Most restaurant staff will speak English, but if you are at a Dai pai dong or a Cha Tsaan Tang, you may need to use this phrase. Remember the “Mm goi” to!
Na – Here you go
Luckily the Cantonese term for “here you go” only consists of one word, which is “na”. But be aware of how you pronounce this word, do it with a simple downward inflection, or you can easily sound inconsiderate or sarcastic in a slightly different tone.
Lei yao mou beh zau ah? (pronounced: Lay Yeow Moe Bay Jow Ahh) ? – Do you have any beer?
Do you though? I’m sure this will come handy by Friday ;-)
Sarah Richard is a 26 year old professional world wanderer. 4 years ago she left the UK and everything that offered her security and routine in exchange for a constant life of excitement and adventure. And she is still living it now. Through out working as a Dive Master, freelance writer,running her blog (coffeewithasliceoflife.com) and working along the way she now leads a life as a full time digital nomad. So follow her in her travels, in which ever country in the world she choses, and learn how you can do it too.