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“驴友(lǘyŏu)” – What It Means and Why They Are Popular

Apr. 5, 2015
Popular Chinese word -'驴友(lǘyŏu)'

“驴友(lǘyŏu)” literally means “donkey friend,” but translates as “backpackers” or “travel buddies.” It is a homophone of “旅游(lǚyóu),” the Chinese word for tour. “驴友(lǘyŏu)” refers to people who like off-the-beaten-path travel or outdoor sports, especially those who enjoy adventures, climbing, hiking, etc. “驴友(lǘyŏu)” are people who are proud to be compared to donkeys since these animals, capable of carrying heavy loads on their backs, are traditionally considered to be extremely tough and strong-minded.

“驴友(lǘyŏu)” are also tourists who aim to explore and appreciate local life, cultural heritage, and natural beauty. Rather than just travel for relaxation, they might make an extra effort to learn about local history and folk arts. They are also resourceful travelers, often carrying materials to help them along their journey like tents, cooking utensils, and wilderness survival tools. With an aim to experience and explore nature, they often seek out beautiful and unique places which are seldom visited by other tourists. This kind of travel, being a more free and independent way of travel compared with package tours, has gradually become popular among people from different walks of life. The west of Sichuan Province, Yunnan Province and Tibet have become paradises for “驴友(lǘyŏu).” For example, the area of Lijiang (a famous scenic zone in Yunnan Province) is a very popular destination for its suitable altitude, high oxygen content and picturesque landscapes.

'驴友(lǘyŏu)' is a kind of tourist who enjoy to experience natural life

Example 1

Yún’nán fēngjǐng yōu’měi, shì lǘyŏumen fēicháng xǐhuan qù de dìfang.
云南          风景     优美, 是    驴友们     非常       喜欢   去 的  地方。
Yunnan, endowed with beautiful scenery, is a popular destination for backpackers.

Example 2

Lǐbóbo fēicháng xǐhuan lǚyóu, tuìxiū hòu gèngshì chéngwéile yìmíng shíshàngde lǘyŏu.
李伯伯   非常      喜欢   旅游,退休   后      更是       成为了    一名       时尚的     驴友。
Uncle Li loves travelling so much that after he retired he became a hip backpack traveler.

Example 3

Wáng Yáng: Lǐmíng, zhèige wǔyì huángjīnzhōu nǐ dăsuàn gānshénme?
王        阳: 李明,    这个 五一      黄金周      你  打算       干什么?
Wang Ming: Li Ming, what’s your plan for the coming 7-day Labor Day holiday?

Lǐ Míng: Wŏ dăsuàn yuē jǐgè lǘyŏu yìqǐ qíchē qù lìjiāng!
李  明: 我     打算    约 几个 驴友 一起 骑车 去 丽江!
Li Ming: I plan to ride bike to Lijiang with some travel buddies!

As mentioned, “驴友(lǘyŏu)” can refer to “背包客(bēibāokè)) backpackers” who carry big backpacks with tents, sleeping bags, and so on, to travel around or go camping. They advocate traveling far on as little money as possible and exploring landscapes rarely seen by others. Certainly, besides seeking out enchanting beauty in the places they go, “驴友(lǘyŏu)” tend to encounter many unique obstacles along the way. Many of them may have had the experience of failing to buy train or bus tickets or to find available hotels. Sometimes they have to change their plans or route temporarily because of unforeseen circumstances, forcing them to adapt and get by on limited resources.

驴友(lǘyŏu) can refer to 背包客(bēibāokè) backpackers

Example 4

Lăowáng shì gè zhuānyède lǘyŏu, chūxíngde zhuāngbèi yàngyàng qíquán.
老王        是  个     专业的   驴友,   出行的         装备        样样      齐全。
Old Wang is a professional backpacker with all the necessary travel equipment.

Example 5

Dìyīcì dāng bēibāokè jiù yùdào èliè tiānqì, zhēn ràng rén yìnxiàng shēnkè!
第一次 当     背包客  就  遇到  恶劣 天气,真     让    人   印象      深刻!
I faced terrible weather on my first backpacking trip. Such an impressing experience!

Example 6

Lǐ jiàn de bókè lǐ quánshì tā dāng bēibāokè de jīngcăi jīnglì,   xīyǐn le hěnduō fěnsī.
李 健  的 博客 里  全是    他  当     背包客   的  精彩  经历,吸引 了  很多    粉丝。
Li Jian’s blog, which attracts many fans, is all about his wonderful experiences as a backpacker.

Generally speaking, “驴友(lǘyŏu)” are lovers of outdoor activities including hiking, mountaineering, rock climbing, rafting, mountain biking, and so on. These kinds of activities are becoming more and more popular among young people since they offer opportunities to explore nature, challenge oneself, bond with friends, and improve survival skills in the wild.


1. Why are “驴友(lǘyŏu) donkey friends” proud to be compared to donkeys?
A. Because donkeys are believed to be honest.
B. Because donkeys are believed to be loyal.
C. Because donkeys are believed to be tough.

2. What do“驴友(lǘyŏu)” usually not do during their trips?
A. Find a tour guide.
B. Camp out at night.
C. Explore new places.

3. If you are a “驴友(lǘyŏu)” planning to travel to Lijiang, how will you most likely get there?
A. By bus.
B. By train.
C. By bike.

See Answers

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