Chinese culture is often surrounded by an air of mystery with Chinese proverbs sometimes baffling western brains.

Chinese proverbs are an amazing insight into the Chinese way of thinking and offer guidance that can help in your day to day life.

Announcing a few Chinese proverbs when enjoying a meal with family and friends is a great conversation starter and opens up the gateway for more meaningful discussions than what’s going on in Coronation Street or Celebrity Big Brother.

Chung Ying top tip: attempt saying the proverb in Chinese when the table is silent to really grab people’s attention


Dú wàn juǎn shū bùrú xíng wànlǐ lù

“Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as travelling ten thousand miles”

Experience is more important than theory.


Fú wú zhòng zhì, huòbùdānxíng

“Fortune does not come twice. Misfortune does not come alone”

A bit like the western saying “bad luck comes in threes”, it means misery is often coupled with further misfortune.


Sān gè héshàng méi shuǐ hē

“Three monks have no water to drink”

The same as the English saying “too many cooks spoil the broth”.


Shī fu lǐng jìn mén, xiū xíng zài gè rén

“Teachers open doors. You enter by yourself”

The same as the English saying “you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”.