Chinese Hospitality Customs

How to Say "Welcome" and Other Greetings in Chinese

Serving Chinese tea into ceramic tea cups
Getty Images/Leren Lu

Chinese culture is very much centered on the concept of respect. The concept is pervasive in ways of conduct from special traditions to everyday lives. Most Asian cultures share this strong association with respect, particularly in greetings.

Whether you're a tourist passing through or looking to make a business partnership, be sure to know hospitality customs in China so that you don't accidentally seem disrespectful.


Unlike in Japan, bowing to one another as a greeting or parting is no longer necessary in modern Chinese culture. Bowing in China is generally an act reserved as a sign of respect for elders and ancestors.

Personal Bubble

As in most Asian cultures, physical contact is considered extremely familiar or casual in Chinese culture. Therefore, physical contact with strangers or acquaintances is considered disrespectful. It is generally reserved only for those with whom you are close. A similar sentiment is expressed when it comes to exchanging greetings with strangers, which is not a common practice.


In line with Chinese beliefs surrounding physical contact, shaking hands when meeting or being introduced in a casual setting is not common, but has grown more acceptable in recent years. But in business circles, handshakes are given without hesitation especially when meeting with Westerners or other foreigners. The firmness of a handshake is still reflective of their culture as it is much weaker than the traditional Western handshake to demonstrate humility.


The Chinese belief in respect is only further demonstrated in their hospitality customs. In the West, it is commonplace for the guest to show respect for his or her host with the emphasis placed on proper guest etiquette. In China, it is very much the opposite with the burden of politeness placed on the host, whose main duty it is to welcome their guest and treat them with great respect and kindness. In fact, guests are generally encouraged to make themselves at home and do as they please, though of course, a guest would not engage in any socially unacceptable behavior.

Saying Welcome in Chinese

In Mandarin-speaking countries, guests or customers are welcomed into the home or business with the phrase 歡迎, also written in the simplified form as 欢迎. The phrase is pronounced ► huān yíng (click the link to hear a recording of the phrase).

歡迎 / 欢迎 (huān yíng) translates to “welcome” and is made up of two Chinese characters: 歡 / 欢 and 迎. The first character, 歡 / 欢 (huān), means “joyous,” or “pleased,” and the second character 迎 (yíng) means “to welcome,” making the literal translation of the phrase, “we are pleased to welcome you.”

There are also variations on this phrase that are worth learning as a gracious host. The first fulfills one of the primary hospitality customs, which is offering your guests a seat once they are inside. You can welcome your guests with this phrase: 歡迎歡迎 請坐 (traditional form) or 欢迎欢迎 请坐 (simplified form). The phrase is pronounced ►Huān yíng huān yíng, qǐng zuò and translates to “Welcome, welcome! Please have a seat.” Should your guests have bags or a coat, you should offer them an additional seat for their belongings, as placing things on the floor is considered unclean. After guests have been seating, it is customary to offer food and beverage, along with pleasant conversation.

When it is time to go, hosts often see the guests off well beyond the front door. The host might accompany his or her guest to the street while they wait for a bus or taxi, and will go as far as waiting on a train platform until the train leaves. 我們隨時歡迎你 (traditional form) / 我们随时欢迎你 (simplified form) ►Wǒ men suí shí huān yíng nǐ can be said when exchanging final goodbyes. The phrase means “We welcome you anytime." 

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Su, Qiu Gui. "Chinese Hospitality Customs." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Su, Qiu Gui. (2023, April 5). Chinese Hospitality Customs. Retrieved from Su, Qiu Gui. "Chinese Hospitality Customs." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 3, 2023).