Travelling around a foreign country might be daunting, especially when you speak a different language from the locals. But you’d be pleasantly surprised to know that although the locals in Hong Kong mostly speak Cantonese, many can understand and converse in basic English – especially those working in the city’s main attractions!
That said, we would still recommend arming yourself with some basic Cantonese phrases before heading to Hong Kong! It will reduce the language barrier even further and you might even score some brownie points with the locals 😉 We’ve included some useful phrases specifically for Muslim travellers to refer to, from the basic greetings to queries on food items and even shopping:
Before we get started, it’s important to note that some tourist spots in Hong Kong would be generally okay with some basic English phrases. But it’s always good to equip yourself with some of these greetings:
- Hello – Nei hou (你好)
- Thank you – Mm goy / Doh jeh (唔該/ 多謝)
- Good morning – Zou san (早晨)
- Excuse me (to get past someone) – Mm goy (唔該)
- Do you speak English? – Nei sik gong ying man ma? (你識講英文嗎?)
- Sorry – Dui mm jyu (對唔住)
- Where is the restroom? Qi sor hai bin dou? (廁所喺邊度?)
Hong Kong is filled with good food and the best part is – Muslim travellers can find halal food as well! While most places in tourist hot spots (such as Central, Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui) have an English menu, placing an order can be challenging especially if you’d like to know more about the food. Fret not, we’ve got you covered with these phrases:
- Is there pork (alcohol) in this? – Yi gor yao chwee yok (jau) mou (呢個有猪肉（酒）冇)
- I can’t eat pork (drink alcohol) – Ngor mm sek chwee yok (mm yam jau) (我唔食猪肉（唔喝酒))
- Is this vegetarian? – Yi gor hai mm hai zaai? (呢個喺唔喺齋?)
- Bill/check please – Mai dan, mmm goy (买單，唔該)
For a list of halal eateries in Hong Kong, check out our picks!
You’d probably know by now that Hong Kong is a shopping paradise, you’ll spend a lot of time in shops and street markets. Some shopping malls may come with a Visitor Information Centre, so the staff can assist you. However, if you go to the street markets, that’s when you need to turn your Cantonese skills on full speed as most vendors may not be as well-versed in English. Some of these phrases are really helpful if you’re hunting for bargains, but do note that they’re only welcomed at street markets:
- How much is this? – Gey do-chin?（幾多錢？）
- Too expensive – Ho gwaiah (好贵啊)
- Cheaper please – Peng di la (平啲啦)
Ready to shop? We’ve rounded up top 15 shopping spots that you can find in Hong Kong!
Getting around/finding directions
Getting around Hong Kong is pretty easy with the MTR but if you’re heading somewhere further out, you might need to grab a taxi! However, most of the drivers may not be as well-versed in English, so it might be a little difficult to communicate with them. Hence, we came up with some phrases you can use for ease of travel:
- Where’s the nearest MTR station? – Zui kan ge dei tit zham hai bin dou ah? (最近的地鐵站喺邊度啊？)
- How do I get to (this place)? – Heui ______ you dim heui ah? (去 (_____) 要點去啊？)
- Can you take me here? (more for taxi) – Mm goy, joi ngor heui _____. (唔該，載我去_____)
HHWT Tip: Preparing the address of your destination (in Cantonese) to show the driver will save lots of time and avoid communication barriers!
See, that wasn’t so hard after all. It would be awesome if you could remember all these phrases at the back of your head. Or…just bookmark this page for easy reference while you explore Hong Kong! It’s time to go forth and conquer this amazing city.
This article was brought to you by Hong Kong Tourism Board.