One of the main factors pushing so many people to teach ESL in China is the opportunity for travel. For one thing, China occupies a huge chunk of Asia, so it’s a great starting-off point for seeing other countries, such as Japan or Thailand.
However, China itself is a vast land full of history and culture that is just waiting to be discovered. What other country can boast as many world-class destinations as the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, Tiger-Leaping Gorge and myriad others? So when the holidays come around, just grab your guidebook and hit the road…
Getting Around China
China’s rapid development in recent decades has brought with it one of the world’s most advanced railway systems, and traveling around China has become fast and cheap. Not long ago, it used to take days to make a trip from one city to another, but now you can virtually fly across the landscape at speeds of over 300km/hour on the bullet trains. These are comfortable and relatively clean, not to mention very affordable. Tickets do tend to sell out, so try to book at least one day in advance.
China also has a number of domestic airlines, and many of them offer reasonably-priced flights around the country. If you’re too short on time for even a bullet train journey, flying might be the right option. If you use websites like Ctrip.com, you can often find incredible deals that make a flight as cheap as a train!
If you’re teaching ESL, you’ll almost certainly be working in a big city. The rail and flight options connecting these places mean that you’re never short of places to visit. The obvious ones are Shanghai and Beijing, but China has huge numbers of cities with fascinating sights and attractions. From Qingdao’s German colonial history to Chengdu’s pandas, from Harbin’s ice festivals to the monasteries of Lhasa, from the gardens and canals of Suzhou to the Terracotta Army in Xi’an; there are so many choices.
In the cities you’ll find familiar options for staying overnight. China has countless hotel chains, such as Green Tree and Hanting, as well as international chains such as Hilton and Holiday Inn. Near the bigger tourist destinations, you’ll also find hostels.
Due to its immense size, China has a destination for every taste. One popular place to visit is Hainan – a tropical island in the South China Sea, which is reminiscent of the beaches found throughout South-East Asia. Then there’s Guilin, with some of the most incredible mountain scenery to be found anywhere in the world. The views here are used in Chinese art, including on some of the country’s currency. The lesser-known Huangshan in Anhui Province also offers spectacular views and bamboo forests, while the mighty Mount Everest, which straddles both China and Nepal, can also be visited from the Chinese side. The province Yunnan, which borders Vietnam and Myanmar, is another popular location, with its sleepy culture proving very different from the rest of the nation. Here, cities like Lijiang and Dali draw tourists from throughout China and abroad.