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Interested in teaching abroad in China, but not sure where to begin?

China beckons with a plethora of enticing destinations that offer an immersive cultural experience. From the vibrant metropolis of Shanghai to the ancient charm of Nanjing, explore the top teaching locations this vast country has to offer.

Read on to learn more about each teaching location, plus find out what the cost of living in China is to make the most of your budget and your adventure.

Top Teaching Locations in China

  1. Beijing
  2. Tianjin
  3. Nanjing
  4. Suzhou
  5. Shanghai
  6. Shenzhen
  7. Ningbo
  8. Hangzhou
  9. Chengdu
  10. Wuhan
  11. Guangzhou
  12. Cost of living in China

Teach in Beijing

Beijing is a modern city in every sense of the term. China’s capital city, Beijing is home to 25 million people and the third most populous city in the world. As one of the world’s oldest capitals, with a storied history stretching back over three millennia, over the past few decades Beijing has transformed into one of the most modern, dynamic and global cities in the world. As one of the busiest hub cities in Asia, Beijing is easily accessed by plane or high-speed trains that connect to other provinces. Beijing also offers an efficient Metro system, while taxis around the city are also affordable, with a starting fare of just 13 yuan.

The ideal starting point for exploring the rest of China, Beijing is also the educational and cultural center of China, famous for its art treasures and learning institutions. Beijing boasts many cultural sites – including the Forbidden City and the Great Wall – as well as a thriving modern art scene.

Countless natural and historical sites are a must-see in Beijing, including The Great Wall of China, the Ming Tombs, the Summer Palace and Hutong tours (rickshaws). Dining in Beijing is truly a gastronomical experience – be sure to try Peking Duck and the Imperial Court Food. For nightlife lovers, Beijing offers a wide array of options, from clubs, karaoke bars, teahouses and theaters. Teachers in Beijing, be sure to check out the latest trendy bar openings in Houhai neighborhood!

As one of China’s largest cities, Beijing offers a huge variety of teaching jobs with competitive salaries, including language schools and international schools with state-of-the-art amenities and teacher assistants in many classrooms. For teachers living in Beijing, it’s also a great city to learn Mandarin Chinese. Many hiring schools in Beijing even offer Mandarin classes as part of your benefits package!

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching English in Tianjin, China

Teach in Tianjin

Located a short 26-minute bullet train ride from Beijing, Tianjin is a coastal city on the Hai He River. With a population of 14 million, Tianjin is smaller than Beijing, but the city is fast expanding. With plenty of western amenities, a growing expat population, excellent public transport system and great shopping opportunities, Tianjin is fast growing in popularity with teachers looking for the benefits of living in a big city without the higher living costs associated with Beijing or Shanghai.

The northern part of the city is hilly and features the beautiful Jiushanding Peak. Tianjin features beautiful architecture, including a large number of western-style cathedrals, churches, and beautiful brick buildings. Thousands of stylish villas dot the city, thanks to the historical influence of European residents. The combination of traditional Chinese buildings and western style architecture has enhanced the beauty of the city.

Popular sightseeing spots include the Tianjin Eye (Ferris wheel), Tianjin Italian Town and Ancient Culture Street. The city is famous for its seafood, due to its proximity to the sea. The city is also well known for its stand-up comedy scene and locals are known for being both humorous and easygoing.

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching English in Nanjing, China

Teaching in Nanjing

Nanjing in Eastern China was one of the first cities established in China. With around 8.2 million people calling Nanjing home, the city is growing in popularity with many licensed and ESL teachers looking to teach in China due to the increased demand for English language instruction. Nanjing contains four major industrial zones, and as such, is developing steadily. As Nanjing is an ancient city and a major tourist destination, the city offers a number of different festivals throughout the year, including a Kite Festival and the International Plum Blossom Festival.

Nanjing has a humid subtropical climate and is surrounded by the Yangtze River and stunning mountains. Several natural lakes are found within the city – a welcome respite after a busy day at in the classroom. The city has lush hills, like Purple Mountain, which are covered with oak trees and evergreens. The area also boasts several natural hot springs for rest and relaxation.

Besides natural beauty, Nanjing has many cultural heritage and sites. Confucius Temple, Nanjing Museum and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Mausoleum are very popular attractions. For the shopper, Nanjing boasts fashionable shopping malls and markets that rival those of Beijing and Shanghai. Nanjing is the perfect mix of natural beauty and cosmopolitan amenities.

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching English in Suzhou, China

Teaching in Suzhou

Suzhou, sometimes called the Venice of China due to its canals and waterways, is a city of 6 million people located approximately 90 minutes west of Shanghai. Described as a naturally beautiful place, Suzhou is known for its silk industry. As part of the Yangtze River Delta region, Suzhou experiences a humid climate, with hot summers and damp winters.

Located in Eastern China, the city is renowned for its pagodas, intricate gardens, and old stone bridges. Pan Gate, a popular attraction, is part of the ancient city wall built in 514 BC that originally protected the city of Suzhou. A large number of Ming and Qing Dynasty preserved buildings are found within the city. 42% of the city is covered by water, and the waterways are dotted with traditional wooden boats carrying good and passengers. Beautiful, lush gardens are also very common in this mild climate. Locals refer to the city as “paradise on earth”, and this city is a peaceful and quiet alternative to bigger cities for those seeking teaching jobs in China.

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching Shanghai, China

Teaching in Shanghai

Shanghai is an enormous city comprised of over 23 million people. Located on the mouth of the Yangtze River, Shanghai is known one of China’s most international cities and is known globally as a cultural, financial and commercial hub. It boasts one of the fastest-growing public transportation systems in the world and a skyline that rivals that of Hong Kong, New York or Dubai. ESL teachers continue to flock to Shanghai to teach every year, due in large part to the high number of language schools around the city.

Beautiful churches, temples and shrines are scattered throughout the city. In addition, The Bund, which is located on the bank of the Huangpu River, hosts stunning early 20th-century architecture. Styles range from neoclassical to art deco, and will delight any architecture fan. Skyscrapers abound, but the city has retained traditional features, such as the Yuyuan Garden and Shikumen lanes. Shanghai also offers many green spaces, where expat teachers can escape the urban sprawl.

The city is a renowned fashion capital, and local designers creatively fuse western and traditional designs. Shanghai is home to several professional football teams, as well as several other professional sports teams. Like any major city, museums and galleries are numerous, and Shanghai residents are avid cinema and theater goers. Shanghai boasts some of the finest cuisine in China and offers both delectable local and international restaurants.

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching Shenzhen, China

Teaching in Shenzhen

Due to its proximity to Hong Kong, Shenzhen was established as the first so-called Special Economic Zone in China. From its humble beginnings as a remote fishing village just a few decades ago, Shenzhen has experienced explosive growth and has since become one of China’s biggest financial and industrial centers. As Shenzhen is a huge draw for expats, entrepreneurs and international business investment, demand for English teachers has dramatically increased over the past number of years.

With a population of over 12 million, Shenzhen is a truly international city, boasting more than its fair share of skyscrapers, shopping malls, restaurants, bars and clubs. With a subtropical climate, Shenzhen enjoys warm weather year-round – great for expat teachers looking to soak up some sunshine on one of Shenzhen’s many beaches!

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching in Ningbo, China

Teaching in Ningbo

Literally meaning “Serene Waves”, Ningbo is a beautiful seaside city with a population of 7.6 million and ranks among the top five most competitive cities in China. While the cost of living in Ningbo is relatively low in comparison to some of the bigger Chinese cities, there are plenty of western conveniences to be found in this modern, bustling city.

Ningbo is one of China’s oldest cities, with a history dating back to 4,800 BC. It was originally known as a trade city on the ancient Silk Road about 2,000 years ago. Located on the midpoint of the Chinese coastline, today it has a port second only in importance to Shanghai. The city’s best tourist attraction is definitely the Tianyi Pavilion Museum, which is the oldest surviving library building in China. Built in 1516, it houses precious Confucian classics and rare local histories.

The city center is bustling, and the demand for traditional handicrafts is booming. Screens and hand-plaited bamboo vases are popular local goods. The city also has strong Buddhist connections and boasts many temples. For example, the ancient Asoka Temple houses the Buddhist relics of Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. The weather is temperate year round and Ningbo offers hot spring resorts for winter weekend getaways.

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching in Hangzhou, China

Teaching in Hangzhou

With more than its fair share of private language schools and international schools, both ESL and licensed educators alike should have little trouble securing a teaching job in Hangzhou. Hangzhou is well-known for its natural beauty and is often cited as one of the top-10 most scenic cities in all of China. With many ancient relics, including temples and pagodas, Hangzhou attracts tourists and students of history alike. Located on the Hangzhou Bay, Hangzhou has been one of the most prosperous cities in China throughout history and has recently experienced its fair share of urban development and investment.

Hangzhou is located in the Yangtze River Delta and has a population of 9.2 million people. Beautiful West Lake enhances the natural scenery of the city, and most of Hangzhou’s famous historic and scenic places are found surrounding the lake. Weather-wise, Hangzhou is neither too hot in winter nor too cold in winter, which makes it very comfortable year round.

One important aspect of Hangzhou culture is tea, notably green tea. In addition, the local cuisine is touted as the best in China – make sure to try the pork wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed rice flower!. Teahouses and pubs are popular destinations for dinner, and overlooking West Lake with a cool drink in summer is the epitome of relaxation.

For shopping, both locals and tourists visit Qing He Fang Street, which is a historic area showcasing luxurious silks, teas, parasols and fans. The city also has an international airport and numerous domestic routes. The new Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed train takes only 45 minutes between the cities. Hangzhou is truly a natural paradise with the conveniences of a modern city.

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching in Chengdu, China

Teaching in Chengdu

Chengdu is an ancient city in Southwest China, with a population of over 14 million people. The city enjoys a mild, humid climate. In contrast to the mild weather, Chengdu is famous for its incredibly spicy food. In Chengdu, flavorful cuisine is ubiquitous – the city features a high number of restaurants and bars.
Home to some of the largest companies in China, Chengdu’s economy is booming. With an extensive rapid transit network and its own international airport, Chengdu is easily accessible from other major cities in China. Though Chengdu’s downtown core is expansive and devoted mostly to business and commerce, shops, amenities and nightlife are still easily found within the city limits.

The city continues to grow, but is still well known as an enjoyable place to call home. In addition to ranking high for liveability, the people in Chengdu are known to be extremely laidback and friendly, and the city is also a popular destination for university students, offering some of the most prestigious programs in the continent.

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching in Wuhan, China

Teaching in Wuhan

As the most populated city in central China, Wuhan is home to over 10 million people. Wuhan is a major hub for transportation, making it easily accessible from other cities, and a gateway to other large cities throughout the country. Wuhan has a less temperate climate than other surrounding cities – Wuhan’s hot, humid summer means that most tourists frequent the city in the spring and fall.

Wuhan offers plenty of attractions, such as historic temples and gorgeous botanical gardens, but also offers some particularly quirky delights for visitors. Teachers in Wuhan will get to enjoy the city’s infamous breakfast foods, including the treats available in “breakfast alley”. Teachers in Wuhan will also delight in visiting Jiqing Street, an area of the city known for coming alive at night with buskers and amazing street side dining options.

The most popular attraction is the Yellow Crane Tower, considered one of the great towers of China. Sightseers will see almost the entire city of Wuhan from the top of the tower on a clear day and can spend time exploring the various sights of the park surrounding the foot of the Tower. With plenty to see and do, Wuhan is definitely a city for teachers eager to explore their surroundings and learn more about life in China.

ESL teachers can visit all of China's sites and cities while teaching in Guangzhou, China

Teaching in Guangzhou

As the largest city in southern China, Guangzhou’s greater metropolitan area is the second biggest urban setting in the world. This scenic city is located on the Pearl River, less than two hours away from Hong Kong by public transportation. With an impressive transit network, Guangzhou is a large city that is very accessible.

Though Guangzhou is an important trade city, it is also known for handmade sculptures, carvings, pottery, and embroidery. Artisans are a large part of Guangzhou’s cultural identity. The city’s lingual identity is evenly split, with half of the population speaking Cantonese, and half speaking Mandarin.

The city experiences a mild, humid climate that makes exploring the city’s numerous parks and historical gardens easy and enjoyable. Located next to Baiyun Mountain, and close to the South China Sea, Guangzhou is a scenic and sprawling city with plenty to see, do and experience.

Cost of living in China

Most teachers are thrilled to find out that the cost of living in China is substantially cheaper than in their home country. Despite a lower monthly salary, your income is likely to stretch much further living in China. You’ll be able to leave aside plenty of disposable income for weekend activities, travel and savings. Even in bigger cities like Shanghai and Beijing, which tend to be popular with ex-pat teachers, the cost of living is still cheaper compared to western countries.

Living ExpenseAverage Cost
Food & DrinksRestaurant lunch/dinner: 25 – 80 yuan ($3 – 12 USD) Drinks 2 – 10 yuan ($0.30 – $1.50 USD)
Activities30-minute massage: 40 yuan ($6 USD) Monthly fitness membership: 150 yuan ($22 USD)
TransportOne-way metro fare: 3 yuan ($0.45 USD) 20-minute taxi fare: 25 yuan ($3.70 USD)
Utilities200 yuan ($30 USD)
Phone and Internet300 yuan ($44 USD)

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