The Sinology Institute offers the ultimate crash course in Mandarin for travelers. In just two hours, you'll learn basic phrases and run through some sample conversations, like speaking to a taxi driver. You'll learn how to read pinyin, plus a few "survival characters" that you might encounter on signs. All this, and you get a survival Chinese handbook to take with you.
It's hard to believe such a useful class can be so inexpensive. You may be tempted to stay and take the institute's longer classes. Their intensive Chinese course aims to get you to HSK (standard Mandarin Chinese) level 5 in just a year. What a bargain!