The most popular Chinese cities for English teachers

So, you’ve decided to make for the People’s Republic? Great choice. This is surely one of the most immersive and alluring and mysterious of all TEFL destinations on the menu today. From cascading rice paddies to ancient villages, there’s plenty to see in the backcountry. But what about Chinese cities for English teachers? Well, there are loads of those, too, from the bustling heart of the nation in Beijing to the leafy reaches of Guilin.


Chinese cities for English teachers
Skyline of Shanghai Pudong at sunset | © Stefan Fussan/Flickr




With its 25 million people and its UFO-like towers along Pudong, Shanghai is the most modern of all China’s uber-modern cityscapes. If you’re the sort who likes to trawl through endless electronics bazaars and tea markets and sizzling food courts once you’re done in the classroom, this could just be the place for you. You’ll watch the sun fade behind the soaring Oriental Pearl Tower and glow on the 1920s facades of the Bund’s old colonial buildings, all before delving into the buzzing nightlife scene of sleepless karaoke bars and microbreweries. Of course, being so large, Shanghai also has loads of EFL job opportunities with some of the highest pay in the country.


Beijing Hutong | © Roman Boed/Flickr
Beijing Hutong | © Roman Boed/Flickr




Beijing must be one of the most amazing fusions of the old and the new on the planet. Around one corner, the famous walks and Brutalist architecture of Tiananmen Square spread out. Around the next, you might be lost in the Forbidden City, gawping at priceless Ming-era vases and thrones. The buzzing capital is also a great jump-off point for visiting the bucket-list Great Wall of China, with countless viewing points available all around the peripheries. What’s more, teaching jobs are in abundance, but you’ll need to sit well with high air pollution and crowds.


Chinese cities for English teachers
Chengdu | © Toon Bronselaer/Flickr




Most people will know Chengdu as the home of the giant pandas, which is certainly one reason it’s such a hit on the line up of Chinese cities for English teachers. But there’s plenty else that enthrals and enchants in the capital of Sichuan, too. For a start, there are the earthy teahouses of Kuanzhaixiangzi, which each pour their own unique blend of local leaves, brewed in the age-old family tradition. There’s Jinli Ancient Street, laced with timber-built homes from the centuries of Chinese dynasties. Then there are the surrounding hills and plains, which rise to meet azure lakes and cascading farm terraces in the hidden Shangri-La of Jiuzhaigou.


Chinese cities for English teachers
Hangzhou | © Xiquinho Silva/Flickr




Handsome Hangzhou pops up on the edge of the Qiantang River some 45 minutes out of downtown Shanghai – at least by mega-fast Bullet Train. It straddles the stunning West Lake with its historic clutches of Buddhist shrines and Qing-dynasty pagodas, some with a fascinating history of more than 1,000 years. Arched bridges and winding walkways wiggle through the area, too, past bamboo and banyan groves and high green karst hills. But that’s just one side of the town. There’s also the beating, modern edge that comes with sizzling food stalls and steel-clad high-rises.


Chinese cities for English teachers
Guilin pagodas | © Daniel Duce/Flickr




Green and flowering Guilin swaps the seething traffic and the high skyscrapers of other Chinese cities for English teachers with avenues of gingko trees and sprawling parks. Cradled in a basin of gnarled karst peaks along the bends of the beautiful Li River, the town is spiked by the gabled roofs of the Moon and Sun Pagoda, which are both ringed by verdant botanical reserves laden with orchids and Zen gardens. It’s an altogether more relaxing setting to start your EFL adventure in the Far East, particularly with so many hiking paths and caves to explore in the vicinity.


Chinese cities for English teachers
Xi’an Market | © Ronnie Macdonald/Flickr




Xi’an is the fabled home of the UNESCO-tagged Terracotta Army and one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of the country. More than 3,000 years old, it has hosted over 70 individual emperors in its time, adding up to a place that’s bound to wow any history buff that comes its way. Starting in the amazing Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor and moving to the wide City Wall of Xi’an is a great way to get to grips with the sheer wealth of relics that still reside in the town. Meanwhile, the various museums here help to chronicle its prestigious place as the start of the Silk Road back in the 9th and 10th centuries.


Chinese cities for English teachers
Shenzhen | © Xiquinho Silva/Flickr




Shenzhen is a metropolis that packs in all sorts of good-time fun. As one of the fastest-growing cities in China, it’s certainly got its fair share of teaching jobs, with plenty more opportunities popping up year on year. Add to that a mix of intriguing theme parks – like the Window of the World, which has miniature recreations of iconic landmarks – and glowing beaches all over the nearby Dapeng Peninsula, and it’s easy to see why this one’s such a magnet. Meanwhile, proximity to the casino hub of Macau and the truly international megalopolis of Hong Kong can only add to the mix.



Of course, this is just a taster of the Chinese cities for English teachers that you can pick from once you’ve done that 120-hour TEFL course. If you can think of any more to add, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Alternatively, head over to our courses page to see how you can get qualified and applying for jobs.

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