Asking for directions is an important and very practical skill, useful for tourists and business people alike. Successfully finding your way to somewhere not only includes being able to ask questions, it also requires you to understand the answer.
Basic vocabulary and sentence requirements
There are a few basic words that you simply have to know:
一直 / 直-yī zhí / zhí, straight ahead; continuously
一直走 / 直走- yī zhí zǒu / zhí zǒu, go straight ahead
往右转-wáng yòu zhuàn, turn right
往左转-wáng zuǒ zhuàn, turn left
到-dào, to a place
快到了-kuài dào le, almost arrived
到了-dào le, have arrived
好 / 好的-hǎo / hǎo de, Okay
红绿灯-hóng lǜ dēng, traffic lights
路口-lù kǒu, intersection
公园-gōng yuán, public park
火车站-huǒ chē zhàn, train station
车站- chē zhàn, bus station
旅馆-lǚ guǎn, hotel
Here are some sentences than include most of the common vocabulary:
yìzhí wǎngqián zǒu
Keep walking straight forward.
jīngguò shūdiàn wǎng yòuzhuǎn
When you have passed the bookshop, turn right.
dào dìtiězhàn zuǒzhuǎn
When you arrive at the subway station, turn left.
zài dì'èr gè lùkǒu wǎngqián zǒu
At the second intersection, walk straight forward.
zài dì sān gè hónglǜdēng tíng
Stop at the third traffic light.
lǚdiàn jiù zài nǐ de zuǒcè
The hotel will then be on your left.
Practice makes perfect
These simple expressions make them look easy, but the truth is that practising this for half an hour won't be enough. It's hard to learn to understand spoken Chinese and the only strategy that really works is to do it a lot.
Asking and receiving directions in Chinese is harder than it looks; don't think you know how to do it just because you've covered that chapter in your book. Go out there and practice! Get lost on purpose, ask the way to places you already know where they are and, most importantly, don't use a GPS and a map, use the Chinese you know to ask real people. It won't be as quick, but you'll learn more Chinese that way!