We have teaching positions in numerous cities in China including:
 

 

Shanghai

Shanghai is an incredible city comprised of over 20 million people. The expat population numbers in the 100,000s with a large population of English language teachers dotted all over the city. Many English teachers we’ve talked to describe how they ‘fell in love’ with the city when they first moved there. They constantly mention the famous ‘French Concession’ area along with some of the famous nightlife spots.

 

In terms of geography, Shanghai is located on the mouth of the Yangtze River. It is recognised around the world as a cultural, financial, and commercial hub.  It has one of the fastest-growing public transportation systems in the world with excellent subway, bus and taxi services. The general road infrastructure is considered one of the best in the world. Also with its famous high speed ‘bullet trains’ servicing Shanghai stations from most parts of modern China, you are spoilt for choice for methods of travel. The Shanghai skyline is a popular sight, showing off incredible 21st century architecture which many consider to be unmatched around the world. This includes the famous  Oriental Pearl Tower and currently construction is underway for the ‘next tallest building’ which will fit in brilliantly to this impressive area.

 

In addition, the Bund, which is located on the bank of the Huangpu River across from the super modern Pudong district, hosts stunning early 20th century architecture. With French and British influence especially, the building styles range from neoclassical to art deco, and will wow any fan of architecture. Although Skyscrapers are everywhere in this enormous city, it has managed to retain traditional features, such as the Yuyuan Garden and Shikumen lanes. Shanghai also offers many green spaces where teachers can choose to escape the constant buzz of life in this big city. Currently, The Shanghai Disneyland Resort Project is under construction, and is expected to open sometime in 2013. Also another very impressive sight is where Shanghai held the ‘World Expo 2010’, it’s really worth checking out.

 

Shanghai city is a renowned fashion capital with a fantastic mix of western and traditional designs. Many English teachers love this aspect of life in Shanghai. Famous shopping areas, like Nanjing Road and all of its connecting streets, offer endless opportunities to find excellent bargains. You can find everything you can think of at these big markets. For example: shoes, bags, clothing, china, books, DVDs, pearls, silk, household goods and all the souvenirs you can imagine for family and friends back home. Also Shanghai is home to several professional football teams, as well as several other professional sports teams and offers any ESL teacher a multitude of options when it comes to playing sports or just watching.

 

Like any major city, museums and galleries are everywhere, and Shanghai residents love to go to the cinema and theatre. In terms of food options, Shanghai boasts some of the finest cuisine in the world, and offers a seemingly endless number of local and international restaurants. Even if you visited a different restaurant each day in Shanghai, it would take years and years to get to just a fraction of them!

 

Suzhou

Suzhou ranks highly among China’s most livable cities, largely because of its wealth and beauty, and was voted the best ‘tourist city’ in 2011. Whereas some other medium sized cities are known for their pollution and crowding, Suzhou is famous for its historic gardens and canals, as well as its place in Chinese art history.

 

Of course, like all cities, Suzhou has not gone untouched by modern developments. The Lonely Planet might try to sell you an ancient paradise, and indeed Suzhou has its peaceful parks and old architecture, but it has developed and grown along with the rest of the country. Its high-tech industrial parks are the envy of the world, and produce more laptop computers than any other place on earth. It seems that the old and new are always vying for attention.

 

Still, for tourists, there is plenty to do. The main attraction is the Classical Garden, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are dozens of other relatively well known gardens, too. The canals are also a big draw for tourists, as are the stunning Temples and beautiful Pagodas that are littered about the city. Fans of Chinese opera will be delighted to known that Suzhou has a huge Opera Museum that is extremely popular on weekends.

 

Suzhou also has a vibrant foreigner community, with plenty of information to be found online for the newcomer. There are several Western restaurants and foreigner bars in the city, and it is easy to meet up and join in activities with local expats.

Getting around is relatively simple too, although the city’s notoriously narrow sidewalks can be crowded and chaotic. It is possible, however, to walk around most of the tourist attractions as they are largely found within the downtown area. Taxis are cheaper than in Shanghai, but more expensive than in neighbouring provinces. As usual, make sure your destination is written in Chinese (ask one of your students or chinese colleague; they’re used to this) or else you won’t get far.

 

Suzhou is an easy city to visit. It doesn’t have an airport, but it lies halfway between Shanghai and Nanjing, and is served by numerous fast and slow train services. It is also close to Wuxi, which has a small airport. Its proximity to these great cities means that even once you have exhausted all the sights of Suzhou, you are never more than a few hours from another wonderful tourist attraction.

 

For many of the foreign teachers in Suzhou, a weekend trip to Shanghai is a common event. Go on the ‘bullet train’ travelling at speeds of over 350km/h, you will get into Shanghai main train station within 25 minutes. It’s a world class system, very impressive indeed. And this only costs approximately $5US so it’s extremely good value. Living in Suzhou gives you the best of both worlds, cheaper cost of living and more relaxed surroundings during the week with the option of visiting Shanghai for fun and games at the weekends.

 

Beijing

Beijing is the political, cultural and historical capital of China. Shanghai is where the tourists flock to see China’s modern face, but Beijing is certainly number one for a glimpse at an older, more traditional Chinese city. It’s a city that is well served by its international airport from destinations across the globe. It is also linked to cities around China by an extensive and rapidly growing rail network that has become the envy of the world. The city itself can be explored by bus, taxi, or even better, the subway system. But be warned: Beijing’s subway can be incredibly crowded, especially during rush hour.

 

Beijing has more to see than most Chinese cities, and it’s easy to spend a week just sightseeing without getting bored. There are several world renowned locations within the city, such as the Forbidden Palace, Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven. Outside the city, of course, there is the Great Wall of China – one of the most recognizable landmarks on earth. Getting there is easy, with numerous tours available from throughout the city. There are also a number of museums for a uniquely Chinese perspective on history.

 

The capital is well known for its great choice of food. Whereas some of the southern parts of the country are famous for spicy fare, Beijing is better known for more gentle flavours. Perhaps the best known dish of them all is Peking Duck. Prices range from around 40rmb to 200 rmb for a duck, and some of the restaurants are very upscale, with the chef coming from the kitchen to cut the duck as you eat it.

 

For drinking there are several popular areas littered around the city. Alcohol is not particularly expensive by Western standards, but in the nightclubs and bars – especially in areas frequented by foreigners – drinks can be a bit pricey, and certainly more so than throughout China. Some of the better known areas are Sanlitun in Chaoyuan district and Wudaokou in Haidian district. However, be prepared – if a man on the street tries to lure you in, you can haggle the price of a beer; otherwise just stick to what’s on the menu.

 

Although there are many reasons to visit Beijing, it draws a number of workers partly because it is so much cheaper than the next big city, Shanghai. Whereas Shanghai is seen as more expensive (but still cheap compared to internationally), Beijing is closer to the rest of China in price. The touristy areas are still prime territory for being ripped off (be careful when dealing with anyone selling anything on the street), but generally in Beijing you can make your money go a long way.

 

 

Guangzhou

Guangzhou is China’s fastest growing city, and whilst it is currently just behind Beijing and Shanghai in terms of population, it looks set to one day eclipse both of them. In fact, counting some of the surrounding areas, its population is already second only to Tokyo! Guangzhou is growing so fast mainly because of its location. China’s history has shaped the country so that Beijing and Shanghai have been handed the power, but nowadays it’s shifting south, to Guangzhou, which has a fantastic business location between Macau and Hong Kong, and close to South-East Asia. Guangzhou will likely take Shanghai’s role as the business centre of the country within a few generations.

 

Not only is Guangzhou in a great location for business, it’s well connected by major transport links both by rail and by air. You can fly all around Asia from the international airport, and the railway lines connecting Guangzhou to other parts of China are among the fastest in the world. It’s also a very short distance from China’s beaches – in particular the growing tourist mecca of Hainan.

 

Another reason for the city’s popularity is its weather. Guangzhou is warm all year round – with mild winters and a summer that lacks the oppressive heat of some other cities. It can, however, get a bit humid in the summer, as it is a sub-tropical region. Because of Guangzhou’s location, the people here have been exposed to foreigners more than the rest of China. Foreign traders and businesspeople have been visiting this area of China for centuries, thanks to its proximity to both Macao and Hong Kong, and so it is easier to find Western products and to get around without being stared at as much as elsewhere.

 

It’s not only traders and businesspeople who flock to Guangzhou, it’s also rising up as a tourist destination for travelers to Asia. It is also becoming known as a great place to teach English. Guangzhou is producing more ESL jobs than either Beijing or Shanghai, with wages to match and a cost of living that’s much lower. Many jobs in Guangzhou are currently offering salaries to match Beijing and Shanghai (12,000-14,000rmb) in a city where it’s still possible to eat dinner for only 7rmb!

 

If you’ve never heard of “Guangzhou” before, then perhaps you know it better by the name given to it by traders of years gone by – Canton. As you may have guessed, this is the region of China where Cantonese is most commonly spoken, so beware – those “Learn Chinese” tapes and books may not be of much use down here. Cantonese is a different language to Mandarin.