Signboards in China – The Funniest Translations


Maybe it’s not fair to laugh: we all make mistakes, especially in languages that aren’t our first. And, every once in a while we did come across an attempt to make us foreigners understand what they would like to say. In a country where we can’t read the signs and have a hard time getting ourselves understood, we do appreciate that effort.

With that in mind, do enjoy some of the funniest signs we came across our journeys in China (Xinjiang Province, Yunnan Province, and Tibet).

More on Language

Some of the signs are just so intriguing. Some clearly depict different languages, but I have no clue which language they are. I just look at them and are in awe of the people who manage to learn these characters.


While in off-the-beaten-track regions we came across nothing we could read, in tourist areas we did find explanatory panels in English (sometimes).

Signs of Prosperity

In one place you could go up a mountain hill with a cable car. If I remember correctly, the top was at about 5,000 meters. For us this was a first: you could buy oxygen. Mind you. You couldn’t just buy oxygen, but healthy oxygen at that.

It is not so much the sign that is intriguing (although it is a creative clock), but what you see behind the glass wall. Imagine being at the dentist’s at full view of people walking passed?

Coen’s Favorites

An Apple Store and a Patatje Oorlog – Coen has landed in heaven.

To continue with weird translations:

Patatje Oorlog in English = Small French Fries War. If you would see that on a sign in the Netherlands, you would probably wonder what the writer of that sign had been drinking (or smoking), right? Well, just to explain, so you know: the ‘war’ element promises you that the French Fries are covered with peanut sauce and mayonnaise.

For more on Asia, check out these articles:

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Thank you for your support — Karin-Marijke & Coen

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