Transportation in Chinese: Complete List of 73 + Vehicles in Mandarin

transportation in Chinese

If you are learning Mandarin Chinese and are planning to visit China for vacation, work or study, you will certainly need to learn the Chinese transportation vocabulary. After all, how else will you be able to get around without knowing how to say buses or trains in Chinese?

Luckily for you, we got this entire post dedicated to transportation in Chinese. Our guide will take you through 73 + means of transportation in the world starting from the most common vehicles used for daily commute leading up to bulldozers, helicopters, and submarines!

And we won’t stop there. Once you’ve known your way around vehicles, we’ll teach you a whole lot of phrases and expressions to be able to talk about transportation in Chinese, so that you’ll have everything you need for your next trip.

Sound good? Buckle up!

But first and foremost, let’s learn how to say “transportation” and “vehicle” in Chinese.

Transportation in Chinese

The word for transportation in Chinese, as a general term for transport facilities that take you from place to place, is:

  • 交通工具 (jiāotōng gōngjù)

If you break down the word into characters, 交 (jiāo) means “to transfer”, 通 (totōng) means “open” or “through”, and 工具 (gōngjù) stands for “tools”. Together, they express the idea of “transportation”.

However, when you are referring to the action of transporting in Chinese, you’ll need to use another word – 运输 (yùnshū).

You can use 交通工具 (jiāotōng gōngjù) and 运输 (yùnshū) as follows:

  • Cars are a common form of transportation.
    汽车是一种常见的交通工具
    Qìchē shì yì zhǒng chángjiàn de jiāotōng gōngjù.
  • the transportation of natural gas
    天然气的运输
    tiānránqì de yùnshū

In this guide, we’ll focus on the forms of transportation – 交通工具 (jiāotōng gōngjù) in Chinese.

Vehicle in Chinese

The word for vehicle in Chinese is 车辆 (chēliàng) if you are talking about self-propelled wheeled vehicles such as cars or trucks.

车辆 (chēliàng), as well as other types of vehicles, like trains, planes, and ships can be called 交通工具 (jiāotōng gōngjù) in Chinese.

A Grammar Note on Vehicles in Chinese

In Mandarin Chinese, all nouns require a measure word when counted. For instance, you wouldn’t just say “a car”, or “two boats” in Chinese, you would have to say “a [measure word] car” and “two [measure word] boats”.

Different vehicles require different measure words that speak to the feature of that specific mode of transportation. For example, for vehicles with wheels (e.g. car, bike, monocycle), you can generally go with the measure word 辆 (liàng) or 部 (bù), and for watercraft, 条 (tiáo) and 艘 (sōu) are the proper measure words to use.

Knowing the name of vehicles in Chinese is only half the battle. To help you fully master transportation vocabulary in Chinese, we include the corresponding measure word for each vehicle on our list.

If the concept of measure words sounds alien to you, we have this entire article dedicated to explaining how Chinese measure words work. If you don’t know how to count in Chinese yet, you might want to start with our Chinese number tutorial first.

Complete List of Transportation Vehicles in Chinese

vehicles in Chinese

There is a huge range of vehicles and they all perform different functions, so there’s a lot of ground to cover. To help you out, we’ll start with a list of the most common vehicles in Chinese that can serve as a starting point before moving on to specific modes of transportation.

Most Common Transportation in Chinese

Here’s a quick rundown of the 9 most common means of transportation in Mandarin Chinese to give you a foundation. The Pinyin version has been provided alongside the Chinese characters to help you pronounce the words. We’ve also included the corresponding measure word for each vehicle.

EnglishChinesePinyinMeasure Word
bike自行车zìxíngchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
motorcycle摩托车mótuōchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
car汽车qìchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
bus (public transport)公共汽车gōnggòng qìchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
taxi出租车chūzūchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
train火车huǒchē列 (liè)
subway (metro)地铁dìtiě列 (liè)
plane飞机fēijī架 (jià)
boatchuán条 (tiáo)/艘 (sōu)

These words are the basics of any transportation vocabulary lesson. They are used every day and everywhere.

Before we add more words to this list, here are some technicalities to help you understand how and where to use these core transportation words in Chinese.

1. Bike in Chinese: 自行车 (zìxíngchē)

Some vehicles have different names depending on the region you find them. 

自行车 (zìxíngchē), 单车 (dānchē), and 脚踏车 (jiǎotàchē) – all of these three words mean bike in Chinese and are easily understood.

In Mainland China, a bike is generally referred to as 自行车 (zìxíngchē) – literally “self-moving vehicle”.

People in Taiwan and Cantonese-speaking regions prefer to name it 单车  (dānchē) -“narrow vehicle”.

脚踏车 (jiǎotàchē) – “foot pedal vehicle” is a slightly old-fashioned word for bike in standard Mandarin, but is the most common option in the version of Mandarin spoken in the Yangtze River Delta region of China, which includes Shanghai. (Read more on the language of Shanghai).

2. Motorcycle in Chinese: 摩托车 (mótuōchē)

摩托车 (mótuōchē) is what we call motorcycles in Mainland China, and 机车 (jīchē) is a motorcycle in Taiwan. Actually, 机车 (jīchē) in Chinese Mandarin means locomotive.

The word 摩托 (mótuō), you’ve guessed it, comes from the English word “motor”. 摩托 (mótuō) can also be used as the shorter form of 摩托车 (mótuōchē). The younger the people are, the more often they use the shorter form.

3. Car in Chinese: 汽车 (qìchē)

The word for car in Chinese is 汽车 (qìchē), literally “steam vehicle”. Well, the earliest cars were all powered by a steam engine, weren’t they?

In daily Chinese, it’s also very common to hear the colloquial versions – 车 (chē) or 车子 (chēzi) for cars though these words can also be used to refer to other land vehicles (e.g. motorcycles, buses, trucks, etc).

4. Bus in Chinese: 公共汽车 (gōnggòng qìchē)

The word for bus in Chinese – as a means of public transportation – is 公共汽车 (gōnggòng qìchē), meaning “public vehicle”. We also have the word 巴士 (bāshì), which is borrowed from the English word “bus”, for buses in general. An example of this would be 观光巴士 (guānguāng bāshì) – sightseeing bus.

Another common way of saying bus, particularly the inner-city bus in Chinese is 公交车 (gōngjiāochē) – “public transportation vehicle”. It can even be shortened to just 公交 (gōngjiāo) in spoken Chinese.

5. Taxi in Chinese: 出租车 (chūzūchē)

Taxi is another word that can be said in different ways depending on which part of the Chinese-speaking world you are traveling to.

In Mainland China “taxi” is 出租车 (chūzūchē), literally “(for) rent vehicle”, and 计程车 (jìchéngchē) – “taximeter vehicle” is a taxi in Taiwan.

In the Cantonese-speaking region (Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong Province of China), the favored word for car is 的士 (dīshì), coming from the English word “taxi”. The rest of China uses the word as well, but only for saying “take a taxi”: 打的 (dǎ dī) – 的 (dī) is the short form of 的士 (dīshì).

6. Train in Chinese: 火车 (huǒchē)

This is easy. 火车 (huǒchē) literally means “fire vehicle”!

But do you know how to say “railway” in Chinese? 铁路 (tiělù)! From 铁 (tiě) – “iron” and 路 (lù) – “track, road”.

7. Subway in Chinese: 地铁 (dìtiě)

Subway or underground is commonly referred to as 地铁 (dìtiě) in Mainland China, which is essentially the short version of 地下铁路 (dìxià tiělù) – “underground railway”.

In Taiwan and Singapore, the word 捷运 (jiéyùn) – “rapid transport” is used to mean subway.

8. Plane in Chinese: 飞机 (fēijī)

Well…easy: 飞机 (fēijī) – literally, “flying machine”, which is a word I inexplicably love!

9. Boat in Chinese: 船 (chuán)

The word for boat in Chinese is 船 (chuán).

Actually, 船 (chuán) can be both a boat or ship depending on the context, but the measure word to collaborate with it differs – 条 (tiáo) is reserved for small boats while 艘 (sōu) is used for bigger boats and ships.

Watch out, because 船 (chuán) sounds somewhat like 床 (chuáng), meaning “bed” in Chinese. You don’t want to mispronounce the word and confuse people. (If you want to make Chinese people laugh, try these instead)

Here are some pictures to help you visualize these core transportation vocabulary.

bike in Chinese

自行车

zìxíngchē
bike
motorcycle in Chinese

摩托车

mótuōchē
motorcycle
car in Chinese

汽车

qìchē
car
bus in Chinese

公共汽车

gōnggòng qìchē
bus
taxi in Chinese

出租车

chūzūchē
taxi
train in Chinese

火车

huǒchē
train
subway in Chinese

地铁

dìtiě
subway
plane in Chinese

飞机

fēijī
plane
boat in Chinese

chuán
boat

Road Transportation in Chinese

Road transportation is an essential part of day-to-day life. In this section, you will be able to learn how to name the different vehicles on the road in Chinese. Enjoy your ride!

EnglishChinesePinyinMeasure Word
ambulance救护车jiùhùchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
bike自行车zìxíngchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
bus (generic)巴士bāshì辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
bus (public transport)公共汽车gōnggòng qìchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
camper房车fángchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
carriage马车mǎchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
coach (long distance)长途汽车chángtú qìchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
double-decker bus双层巴士shuāngcéng bāshì辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
electric car电动汽车diàndòng qìchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
electric scooter电瓶车diànpíngchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
fire engine消防车xiāofángchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
garbage truck垃圾车lājīchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
limousine豪华轿车háohuá jiàochē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
monocycle独轮车dúlúnchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
motorcycle摩托车mótuōchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
off-road vehicle越野车yuèyěchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
police car警车jǐngchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
racing car赛车sàichē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
school bus校车xiàochē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
sedan轿车jiàochē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
shared bike共享单车gòngxiǎng dānchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
shuttle班车bānchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
sports car跑车pǎochē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
taxi出租车chūzūchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
tricycle三轮车sānlúnchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
trolleybus无轨电车wúguǐ diànchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
truck卡车/货车kǎchē/huòchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
van面包车miànbāochē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)

Both the measure words 辆 (liàng) and 部 (bù) are used for land vehicles with wheels in Chinese, however, 辆 (liàng) is the more common option, and 部 (bù) sounds more formal and often appears in the written language.

transportation in Mandarin
bus

公共汽车

gōnggòng qìchē

1 of 11
pedestrian

行人

xíngrén

 

2 of 11
bike

自行车

zìxíngchē

 

3 of 11
bus stop

车站

chēzhàn

 

4 of 11
crosswalk

斑马线

bānmǎ xiàn

5 of 11
car

汽车

qìchē

6 of 11
traffic light

红绿灯

hónglǜdēng

7 of 11
crossroad

路口

lùkǒu

8 of 11
sidewalk

人行道

rénxíngdào

9 of 11
truck

货车

huòchē

 

10 of 11
parking lot

停车场

tíngchēchǎng

 

11 of 11

Rail Transportation in Chinese

China has probably the most-developed rail network in the world. I am sure you will need some rail transportation vocabulary when traveling to China, so this section will be useful.

Here’s how you name the wheeled vehicles running on rail track in Chinese.

EnglishChinesePinyinMeasure Word
elevated rail轻轨qīngguǐ列 (liè)
intercity train城际列车chéngjì lièchē列 (liè)
high-speed rail高铁gāotiě列 (liè)
monorail单轨dānguǐ列 (liè)
subway地铁dìtiě列 (liè)
train火车huǒchē列 (liè)
tram有轨电车yǒuguǐ diànchē列 (liè)

Notice the measure word has changed to 列 (liè) for trains and the like. That’s the proper measure word for a line or row of things in Chinese.

Air Transportation in Chinese

Traveling does not necessarily mean you have to fly, but if you are planning to visit China, it is more than likely that you will be traveling by air.

Here you have some words related to air transportation in Chinese.

EnglishChinesePinyinMeasure Word
blimp飞艇fēitǐng艘 (sōu)
cable car缆车  lǎnchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
drone无人机wúrénjī架 (jià)
glider滑翔机  huáxiángjī架 (jià)
helicopter直升飞机  zhíshēng fēijī架 (jià)
hot air balloon热气球  rè qìqiú个 (gè)
jet喷气式飞机  pēnqì shì fēijī架 (jià)
parachute降落伞jiàngluòsǎn顶 (dǐng)
paraglider滑翔伞huáxiángsǎn顶 (dǐng)
plane飞机fēijī架 (jià)
rocket火箭   huǒjiàn枚 (méi)
spaceplane航天飞船  hángtiān fēichuán艘 (sōu)

Water Transportation in Chinese

Time to hit the water and discover waterborne transportation in Chinese.

Here’s how you name boats, ships, and other vessels in Chinese. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice the measure word 条 (tiáo) is used for small vessels while 艘 (sōu) is favored for bigger ones.

EnglishChinesePinyinMeasure Word
barge驳船bóchuán艘 (sōu)
boat船  chuán条 (tiáo)/艘 (sōu)
canoe独木舟dúmùzhōu条 (tiáo)
cargo ship货轮huòlún艘 (sōu)
cruise ship邮轮yóulún艘 (sōu)
dragon boat龙舟lóngzhōu条 (tiáo)
ferry渡轮  dùlún艘 (sōu)
fishing boat渔船yúchuán条 (tiáo)/艘 (sōu)
hovercraft气垫船qìdiànchuán条 (tiáo)/艘 (sōu)
kayak皮划艇  píhuátǐng条 (tiáo)
motorboat摩托艇mótuōtǐng条 (tiáo)/艘 (sōu)
ocean liner远洋轮船yuǎnyáng lúnchuán艘 (sōu)
sailboat帆船fānchuán条 (tiáo)/艘 (sōu)
ship轮船  lúnchuán艘 (sōu)
speedboat快艇  kuàitǐng条 (tiáo)/艘 (sōu)
submarine潜水艇  qiánshuǐtǐng艘 (sōu)
yacht游艇yóutǐng条 (tiáo)/艘 (sōu)

Construction Vehicles in Chinese

Construction has a big impact on jobs, livelihood, and the economy. Here are the names of common construction vehicles in Chinese.  

EnglishChinesePinyinMeasure Word
bulldozer推土机tuītǔjī部 (bù)/台 (tái)
concrete mixer混凝土车hùnníngtǔchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
crane吊车diàochē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
dump truck土方车tǔfāngchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
excavator挖掘机wājuéjī部 (bù)/台 (tái)
forklift叉车  chāchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
road roller压路机yālùjī部 (bù)/台 (tái)
tanker truck油罐车yóuguànchē辆 (liàng)/部 (bù)
tractor拖拉机tuōlājī部 (bù)/台 (tái)

General Transportation-related Vocabulary in Chinese

You would not travel too far by memorizing just the names of vehicles in Chinese. It is time to learn a few useful words regarding transportation in general. They will help you find your way around when you go to China!

ChinesePinyinEnglish
马路mǎlùroad
公路gōnglùhighway
高速公路gāosù gōnglùhigh-speed road
高架gāojiàelevated highway
jiēstreet
qiáobridge
目的地mùdìdìdestination
地址dìzhǐaddress
路线lùxiànroute
导航dǎohángnavigation
入口rùkǒuentry
出口chūkǒuexit
路口lùkǒucrossroad
红绿灯hónglǜdēngtraffic light
交通标志jiāotōng biāozhìtraffic sign
交警jiāojǐngtraffic police
堵车dǔchētraffic jam
迷路mí lùlose one’s way
zhànstation/stop
加油站jiāyóu zhàngas station
汽车站qìchē zhànbus station/stop
地铁站dìtiě zhànsubway station
火车站huǒchē zhànrailway station
停车场tíngchēchǎngparking lot
车票chē piàobus/train ticket
单程dānchéngone way
往返wǎngfǎnreturn
机票jī piàoplane ticket
机场jīchǎngairport
航班hángbānflight
出发chūfādepart
抵达dǐdáarrive
中转zhōngzhuǎntransfer
地图dìtúmap
旅行lǚxíngtravel
乘客chéngkèpassenger

Talking About Transportation in Chinese

transport in Chinese

Learning transportation vocabulary is necessary, but you cannot just utter individual words and expect others to understand you!

Well, don’t worry. We’ll cover all the language bases in this section to help you solve any problem or doubt you can have when talking about transportation in Mandarin Chinese.

We have divided this section into two parts: essential Chinese transportation verbs, and useful example sentences to use in simple conversation.

Chinese Verbs for Using Transportation

First, verbs. They are perhaps the most important part of Chinese learning for beginners. Let’s explore the key Chinese verbs and verb phrases associated with using transportation.

坐 (zuò)

The verb 坐 (zuò) is essential for talking about transportation in Chinese. To say “take” or “go by” a mode of transportation, for the most part, the pattern is 坐 (zuò) + transportation. 坐  (zuò) means to sit or take transportation.

Let’s look at some examples.

  • 班车
    zuò bānchē
    take the shuttle/by shuttle
  • 地铁
    zuò dìtiě
    take the subway/by subway
  • 飞机
    zuò bānchē
    take the plane/by plane
  • 轮船
    zuò lúnchuán
    take the ship/by ship

If you want to talk about going somewhere on foot, then the verb 走 (zǒu) is used instead.


  • zǒu lù
    walk/on foot

乘 (chéng)

Similarly to the verb 坐 (zuò), the verb 乘 (chéng) can be used to say “take” or “go by” as well.

Examples:

  • 班车
    chéng bānchē
    take the shuttle/by shuttle
  • 地铁
    chéng dìtiě
    take the subway/by subway
  • 飞机
    chéng bānchē
    take the plane/by plane
  • 轮船
    chéng lúnchuán
    take the ship/by ship

Both words mean the same in general (when talking about transportation), but 乘 (chéng) is more formal than 坐 (zuò). Hence the word 乘客 (chéngkè) – “passenger”. (There is no 坐客 zuòkè!)

打 (dǎ)

打 (dǎ) is one of the most versatile verbs in Mandarin Chinese and can be used for talking about transportation as well. Specifically, you can use 打的 (dǎ dī) or 打车 (dǎ chē) to mean “take a taxi”.

的 (dī) – watch out for the pronunciation – is the short form of 的士 (dīshì), which is one of the ways of saying “taxi” in Mandarin, coming from Cantonese. 打出租车 (dǎ chūzūchē) is also fine for “take a taxi” but is less commonly said.

 (kāi)

The word 开 (kāi) can have different meanings, but when it comes to transportation, it means to drive, steer or fly.

Examples:

  • 出租车
    kāi chūzūchē
    drive a taxi
  • 拖拉机
    kāi tuōlājī
    drive a tractor
  • 快艇
    kāi kuàitǐng
    steer a speedboat
  • 直升飞机
    kāi zhíshēng fēijī
    fly a helicopter

骑 ()

The Chinese verb 骑 (qí) translates to “ride” and refers to sitting on and propelling a bicycle or similar vehicle.

Examples:

  • 自行车
     zìxíngchē
    ride a bike
  • 共享单车
     gòngxiǎng dānchē
    ride a shared bike
  • 电瓶车
     diànpíngchē
    ride a electric scooter
  • 摩托车
     mótuōchē
    ride a motorcycle

And of course, 骑 (qí) can be used for the action of riding an animal such as a horse – 骑马 (qí mǎ).

上 (shàng)/下 (xià)

These two verbs have many different meanings, and they can be used when referring to almost every means of transportation. While 上 (shàng) means “get on, get in, get aboard,” 下 (xià) means the opposite: “get off, get out of, disembark.”

Examples:


  • shàng chē
    get in the car
  • 地铁
    shàng dìtiě
    get on the subway
  • 飞机
    shàng fēijī
    get on the plane
  • 公交
    xià gōngjiāo
    get off the bus

  • xià chuán
    get off the ship

Simple Conversations Regarding Transportation in Chinese

Now is the time to use the Chinese transportation vocabulary and expressions in context. Practice the following sentences and you will be able to get the information you need whenever you need it. Plus, you’ll develop your knowledge of Chinese grammar and gain confidence in speaking Chinese in real conversations.

  • 你平时怎么去上班?
    Nǐ píngshí zěnme qù shàngbān?
    How do you go to work usually?

    我每天开车上班。
    Wǒ měitiān kāi chē shàngbān.
    I drive to work every day.
  • 你喜欢坐飞机吗?
    Nǐ xǐhuan zuò fēijī ma?
    Do you like flying in planes?

    不喜欢,我怕死。
    Bù xǐhuan, wǒ pà sǐ.
    No, I am scared of death.
  • 你们的城市有地铁吗?
    Nǐmen de chéngshì yǒu dìtiě ma?
    Is there a subway in your city?

    没有,但是我们有轻轨。
    Méiyǒu, dànshì wǒmen yǒu qīngguǐ.
    No, we got light rail though.
  • 你打算怎么去火车站?
    Nǐ dǎsuàn zěnme qù huǒchēzhàn?
    How do you plan to go to the railway station?

    坐公交/坐地铁/打的。
    Zuò gōngjiāo/Zuò dìtiě/Dǎ dī.
    By bus/subway/taxi.
  • 你到了吗?
    Nǐ dào le ma?
    Have you arrived?

    马上,还有两站地铁。
    Mǎshàng, háiyǒu liǎng zhàn dìtiě.
    In a moment. Two more stops on the subway.
  • 这辆车到机场吗?
    Zhè liàng chē dào jīchǎng ma?
    Does this bus go to the airport?

    不到,你要去那个车站坐机场巴士。
    Bú dào, nǐ yào qù nàge chēzhàn zuò jīchǎng bāshì.
    No. You need to take the airport shuttle at the stop over there.
  • 下一班去上海的火车几点出发?
    Xià yì bān qù Shànghǎi de huǒchē jǐ diǎn chūfā?
    When does the next train to Shanghai depart?

    今晚九点半。
    Jīnwǎn jiǔ diǎn bàn.
    9:30 tonight.
  • 请问在哪里买车票?
    Qǐngwèn zài nǎlǐ mǎi chēpiào?
    Excuse me, where do I buy the ticket?

    上楼左转售票口。
    Shàng lóu zuǒ zhuǎn shòupiàokǒu.
    Go upstairs, turn left, at the ticket window.  
  • 我买两张去南京的长途汽车票。
    Wǒ mǎi liǎng zhāng qù Nánjīng de chángtú qìchē piào.
    I need two bus tickets to Nanjing.

    单程是吗?一百二十元一张。
    Dānchéng shì ma? Yì bǎi èr shí yuán yì zhāng.
    One way, right? That’ll be one hundred twenty Yuan each.
  • 我要去市政大厅,应该在哪站下车?
    Wǒ yào qù shìzhèng dàtīng, yīnggāi zài nǎ zhàn xià chē?
    I am going to the city hall. Which stop should I get off?

    到了我会告诉你。
    Dào le wǒ huì gàosù nǐ.
    I’ll let you know when we are there.

Want to Learn More Chinese?

There you go: all the useful transportation words and expressions you can use when traveling to a Chinese-speaking country, planning your holidays, talking to your Chinese friends about your last trip, etc. 

Now, if you’re learning Chinese, you should make the best out of ImproveMandarin.com, one of the world’s largest sites dedicated to Mandarin learning.

We also recommend you take a structured course online to 3X your Chinese learning success. We’ve taken the time to try out dozens of Chinese courses on the internet, some are fabulous while others are a complete waste of time. Here are the best online Chinese courses we found in 2022.

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