A Hostel for Punsters

Red Donkey Hostel (驴馆)

There’s a hotel on Shanghai’s West Zhongshan Road (中山西路) that I pass pretty often. Its Chinese name is 驴馆, or, literally, “Donkey Hostel.” Its English name is Red Donkey Hostel [website]. (Unsurprisingly, they passed on the opportunity for the similarly puntastic “Ass Hostel” English Translation.)

The Chinese name 驴馆 is a pun on the word 旅馆 (hostel). (donkey) and the in 旅馆 (hostel) are both pronounced . Even though is second tone (lǘ) and is third tone (lǚ), tone sandhi rules render their pronunciations identical in this case.

Here’s a (semi-fictional) image of what the hostel looks like:

Red Donkey Hostel (驴馆)

See also: other articles on Chinese puns


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Haha, cool. Actually 驴 is widely accepted by Chinese netizen as a pun for 旅, the most commonly used word is 驴友: (一起)旅行的朋友 (refer to backpackers though)
    see more

  2. Thanks, Kastner! I suspected something like that was going on, but I didn’t want to take the time to research it. Good to know.

  3. Matthias Says: April 11, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Hmm, why does the donkey remind me of a pink eddy Murphy. … Chinese and trademarks… rulez are there to be broken <(^-^<)

  4. Cool post. We also have a ‘donkey’ hostel in Chengdu, though the English name is Mix. I never got the donkey theme before.


  5. 驴友activities are getting popular not only among young people. They and economies related look promising to me.

  6. It’s a good name. 驴友 stays with 驴馆。

  7. I have never seen such a hostel. How funny is that? It looks very funny and a bit childish. I’m not sure what kind of image they are trying to aim at or what target group. It looks like it is a day care or something for younger children. But I think it is really an eye-catcher. So, if someone is looking for a hostel, this one is easy to find!

    As for the Chinese name, I think it’s a good one. Wouldn’t have come up with that one!

  8. But have you been inside the hostel? Is it any good?

  9. This is why all those Defranci-natics who want to get rid of characters are wrong. With only pinyin, this particular variety of pun wouldn’t exist and the world would be a poorer place.

  10. gmulliga Says: May 9, 2009 at 6:51 am

    These places are sometimes a lot of fun and you certainly meet people. Here is my favourite in Victoria B.C.

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