How to convert UTF-8 (hex) value to Unicode Character?. Trying for > a week, pls help

UTF-8 (hex) -> Unicode Character ?.

Unicode Character = “ a”
UTF-8 (hex) = “efbd81”

Unicode Character = “ 黪 “
UTF-8 (hex) = “e9bbaa”

I have a mySql database containing 7000+ records. In a particular column they stored all the hex values represent its respective Unicode Character like above example. I need to search the database by passing hexvalue as my search string in order to get the above Unicode Character.

Check out both and According to those, efbd81 & e9bbaa aren’t valid hex representations of a UTF-8 character (nor a UTF-16 character, for that matter).

But overall, I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. If you’re trying to convert efbd81 to a unicode character, then you’re having problems because efbd81 isn’t a valid hex representation of a UTF-8 character. EF, BD and 81 are representations of three separate UTF-8 characters. EFB & D81 are valid hex representations of a UTF-8 character as well. If you need to convert EF, BD, 81, EFB or D81 to a unicode character, you would need to convert it to decimal first ( and then you could use this function to convert it to a unicode character:

Thanks for your reply. following two are unicode characters “ a” and “ 黪 “ Reference, pls take a look under Encodings. it is UTF-8 (hex) 0xE9 0xBB 0xAA (e9bbaa).

How & Where i got those two hex values?

In MySql Database, they 've a builtin function HEX(“ 黪 “). I use this functions to genarate hex value, For every unicode characters which is stored in varchar column collation utf8_unicode_ci. so i have an unique UTF-8 (hex) values for all the unicodes.

So i am looking for a function where by it can convert my input unicode characters to this format UTF-8 (hex) 0xEF 0xBD 0x81 (efbd81). so i would able to search any unicode character which is stored in the DB.

I apologize, I was wrong. However, I can’t find a way to do this using PHP. My only suggestion is to use MySQL itself for the conversion:

// if you're using PDO or mysqli, change the function names
$result = mysql_query('SELECT HEX(“ 黪 “)');
$row = mysql_fetch_row($result);
$hex = $row[0];

This is not a pretty or efficient solution, in my opinion. Maybe someone else has a better idea?

Check the comments of or for what you need.

Thanks for everyone help. Done, Finally. Let me share with what I have. Following PHP functions works great for MySQL utf8_unicode_ci data conversion to UTF-8 (hex)


  1. Using JavaScript “encodeURI” to post value to php
  2. In PHP request the above-submitted value with out any conversion.
  3. Use the following functions to convert the request value
  4. This will return UTF-8 (hex), that is the unique reference for the value in DATABASE

function hex_chars($data) {
    $hex = '';
    for ($i=0; $i<strlen($data); $i++) {
        $c = substr($data, $i, 1);
        //$hex .= '{'. hex_format(ord($c)). '}';
        $hex .= hex_format(ord($c));
    return $hex;

function hex_format($o) {
    $h = strtoupper(dechex($o));
    $len = strlen($h);
    if ($len % 2 == 1)
        $h = "0$h";
    return $h;