What Do You Need to Carry in China?

Before you leave the house each day, what do you make sure you have? Phone, keys, wallet... anything else? It's mostly the same in China with a few differences. You can use the phrase 身手钥钱 (shēn shǒu yào qián) as a checklist to make sure you have your ID card (身份证 shēnfènzhèng), phone (手机 shǒujī), keys (钥匙 yàoshi), and money (钱包 qiánbāo). Although in the cities in China, sometimes all you need is a phone and tissues.


Many people in Chinese cities don't carry a wallet, cash, bank or credit cards, a transportation card, or even keys because their mobile phone can perform all these functions. Apps like WeChat and AliPay are used almost everywhere to pay or receive money. Many subways and buses also accept digital transportation cards through QR Codes or near field communication (NFC) technology. So who needs to carry a wallet when you don't need cash or credit cards?

There are still a number of items that it's helpful to have with you each day, like an umbrella (伞 sǎn) for both rain and the sun. Many Chinese people don't want to get a sunburn and using an umbrella is more convenient than putting on sunblock every day. Some people carry earphones (耳机 ěrjī) with them so they can watch TV or movies on their phone or listen to music. Although many people share their phone conversations and TV shows with everyone around them, not bothering to carry earphones.

Other popular items to carry every day are lip balm, makeup, eye glasses and sun glasses. Most important, however, are tissues (纸巾 zhǐjīn). China has public toilets everywhere but most of them don't have any toilet paper. Tissues can also be used to wipe down a seat before you sit, to clean your hands, or to wrap up any fruit pits, peels, bones, or other food trash as you eat.

This article is part of our new online Chinese course. An efficient way to learn Chinese language for working and living in China.