Chengdu – China’s panda capital is often regarded as the most enjoyable Tier 2 teaching city in the country. An aesthetically beautiful city with laid-back atmosphere, gorgeous parks, excellent cuisine, exceptionally friendly locals and oodles of attractions, Chengdu can be an absolute dream place to teach English. Modern and bustling enough to not feel like you’re in the back of beyond, Chengdu also offers plenty of glimpses of a more traditional Chinese life and you’ll find this to be an immensely interesting cultural place to call home. Read more about Teaching in Chengdu and you’ll understand why we love the place so much.
Xi’an – Home to the world-famous Terracotta Army and a phenomenal historical destination, Xi’an is a fascinating place to discover at length. This eclectic city showcases a mix of old and new that is intoxicating and offers an abundance of options for those who love to spend their weekends visiting world-class museums or exploring a more rural countryside. With a temperate climate, a great flow of tourists, a central location, one of China’s most diverse foodie scenes and fantastic nearby mountains, Xi’an suits the teacher who’s searching for more than just the neon-lights of the big city.
Dalian – Founded by Russians just over a century ago, occupied by Japan for over four decades and just a few strides away from Korea, Dalian is ideal for expats who love a multi-cultural, tight-knit community. In this sense, it is the antipode of Tier 1 cities. Nestled in north-eastern China on the Liaodong Peninsula, Dalian is home to friendly locals who are used to sharing their city with foreigners so if you’re apprehensive about choosing a Tier 3 city because you don’t want to stand out of the crowds, this lovely city will suit you well. With the gorgeous array of seaside leisure spots, gardens, parks and fountains, Dalian stands apart thanks to the “Green Storm” environmental campaign spearheaded by the city’s former mayor.
Qingdao – Home of the famous Tsingtao Beer and a city that boasts a glorious seaside location right across from South Korea, Qingdao offers a multi-cultural vibe, much like Dalian. A scenic city with amazing and varied architecture, great beaches, a surprisingly European flair (due to German occupation) and outstanding seafood-based cuisine, Qingdao can make for a very rewarding teaching experience. The cost of living here is enviable and you’ll find a wealth of international and prominent teaching establishments that offer competitive salaries. Qingdao was voted one of China’s most livable cities and many foreign teachers certainly agree.
Hangzhou – A surprisingly clean city and one that boasts perhaps the best public transport system in China, Hangzhou has made tremendous strides forward in recent years. This stunning riverside hub sits at the mouth of the bay that frames Shanghai (just 200km northeast) but showcasing a drastically different vibe. Revered for being home to ancient silk-making and tea-farming traditions, as well as housing the headquarters of Alibaba, Hangzhou is very much a hybrid of old and new. With its UNESCO-listed West Lake, penchant for impossibly beautiful parks and obsession for bicycle riding, Hangzhou can be an ideal New Tier 1 teaching destination.
Chongqing – Although all Chinese cities seem to be evolving at breakneck speed, some are doing it faster than others – Chongqing is one such hub. Yet it’s also one of the most underrated teaching cities of all, probably because it’s so close to both Chengdu and Xi’an that it’s easily overlooked, especially as it boasts neither pandas nor outstanding tourist attractions. In many ways, however, this can work in your favour – superbly located close to the Yangtze River, Chongqing offers exceptional travel options to almost anywhere of any relevance in China: from Yunnan’s mountainous minorities to the western Tibetan Plateau, those adorable pandas and a wealth of varying cuisines – there’s an array of highlights no matter which direction you look.
Suzhou – Just 100km west from Shanghai, nestled on the banks of Lake Tai, Suzhou is that ’Chinese Venice’ you never knew you had to live in. Characterised by its many canals, delightful architecture and glorious gardens, this multi-cultural hub is an absolute hit with teachers, even though it seems to have risen in ranks rather quietly. Not many have even heard of Suzhou although it is now, obviously, one of the top 10 richest cities in all of China, although this prominence isn’t yet reflected in the living costs. Living here still costs far less than in Shanghai and, to be honest, the only thing you’d be giving up is a bustling nightlife, which may suit you just fine. An abundance of luscious parks, a quieter and slower pace of life, still abundant Western amenities, a historic core, oodles of charm…and all that at a fraction of Shanghai’s prices? Sign us up!
Ningbo – Another new addition to the Tier 1 family is lovely Ningbo, another coastal hub (this time south of Shanghai) that offers a superb value-for-money lifestyle. With fantastic food, awesome public transport, a chilled-out vibe and much more compact community that embraces foreigners, Ningbo has been one of our most popular teaching destinations for years now. Glorious temples and pagodas can fill your touristy days, the city boasting a fascinating history that goes back more than 7,000 years, Yes, you read that right! Although modernity is slowly (but surely) changing the way Ningbo looks, traditional architecture, crafts and arts are still hugely prominent. Get here whilst that lasts!