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Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are just few of the cities that people living outside of China are familiar with. While these cities are known for being economic powerhouses, experts believe that the future of China is in its rising second and third tier cities.

In this article, we are going to feature some of the rising cities in China and provide some inspiration for English teachers looking for exciting locations that offer the balance of being a large city while retaining some of the exotic elements of discovery.

1. Qingdao

heather-main-600Heather of Grand High School: “I am currently teaching in Qingdao. I love Qingdao, people say it is a gem of China. I have found that to be true. Qingdao has
the big city perks, like expat restaurants, stores and coffee shops, but also the small city perks, like a small community and less traffic. Qingdao is also very beautiful. We have mountains and beaches in our back yard.”

The city is famous for its fresh and delicious seafood and China’s most well-known brand of beer – Tsingtao. The city is also abundant with natural beauty and business centers as the city continues to attract tourists as well as business people from all over the world. It has colorful panorama of red-roofed houses and green trees overlooking the city. It also has plenty of parklands and forest areas close to the Lao Shan Scenic Area.

Other popular attractions are Zhanshan Temple, Saint Michael’s Cathedral, Zhongshan Park, Tsingtao Beer Museum, May Fourth Square and beaches within easy reach of the city. Qingdao is also well-known for its European architecture.


Laoshan-Jufeng-Scenic-AreaJustin of Grand High School: Qingdao is a beautiful city. I come from the hills and flat part of Texas, so to live next to mountains is really cool for me. Another perk is that Qingdao is on the coast, so we get to enjoy the ocean as well. Not many cities can boast about having the ocean and mountains in their city. My favorite thing about living here is that it is convenient to travel from. My wife and I do a lot of traveling and Qingdao has a train station that goes to Beijing and Shanghai, and also an International Airport, which we use to visit countries nearby.

2. Tianjin

Jolene Perkins of EF Tianjin: “Within my first week of arriving, I was already on the speed train to Beijing, Travel…I love to travel, so on my off days and in-between work, I hop around Tianjin. I was overwhelmed by all the lights and the bigness of the city when I first arrived, but now I am embracing the parts within the city, visiting Ancient Cultural Street, I have already found my rhythm to participate in learning art.

Confucius Temple was first on my list, I enjoyed studying about him in philosophy, so I made much effort to go see the temple.“

As the city is so close to Beijing, Tianjin has close links with its neighbor city which is just a half an hour ride by fast train. These two prominent cities have prospered and developed over the years and Tianjin plays an important role to this progress since it is close to a port.

Tianjin has large rural areas and farmland with a great number of tourist attractions and monuments spread all over the city. Panshan Scenery Area, The Park on the Water, The Garden of Tranquility, The Palace of Heavenly Empress and even a section of The Great Wall of China at Huangya Pass are just some of the best known scenic spots to take a look at when in the city.

Other attractions that are also worth visiting are Haihe River, Ancient Culture Street and The Tianjin Opera Museum. The city also has a rich history as it has witnessed many important events and evidence of its mark on the world is still visible in the old British and Italian concessions, the port and European architectures.


Paul-Orlowicz-photo-2Paul Orlowicz of EF Tianjin: “Tianjin is a wonderful city to live in! Tianjin has nearly everything I could want in a city. As I am an avid cyclist, the most important thing for me is how bicycle friendly Tianjin is. In my opinion, it’s the best way to get around town!

The Hai River is beautiful, full of unique experiences just walking alongside it.
The city lights up in the evenings and becomes a playground for me wanting to explore.
I have also been to a nightclub, ‘Sitong’. It was a very fun experience, so many different people and I loved the band which performed that night.”

3. Shijiazhuang

Kerry Miller of EF Shijiazhuang: “Although not a lot of people seem to have heard of Shijiazhuang (or at least I hadn’t before I was sent details of the job), it is a huge city. It’s busy but not manic like places such as Beijing. It has a really friendly, safe atmosphere. It didn’t take me very long at all to settle in and feel comfortable. I love the fact that there aren’t a lot of Westerners here so I feel like I’m getting to see what the ‘real’ China is all about.”

Shijiazhuang, translated literally as “the village of Shi family” in Chinese, is a city grown out of a village. A hundred years ago, it used to be a village which consists of six streets, six temples, four wells, 150 households and 600 people. During the past one hundred years, however, the city has become a regional center of politics, economy, technology, information and cultural center.

Kelly-with-students-350-300x209The city has been well-developed with a lot of its places of interest have been included in the Guinness World Records. To name one, the largest Chinese inscription, “Gui” (Chinese for “returning home”), can be found in the city. It measures 97.7 meters high and 49 meters wide and was placed to commemorate the historic event of Hong Kong’s return to its motherland in 1997. Aside from its growing economy, Shijiazhuang has also developed very well in terms of tourism. It boasts in natural scenery as well as its historical position in China’s revolutionary history.

Other wonders to see in and around the city are Zhaozhou bridge, the oldest bridge in China at 1,400 years old, which is also listed as a world heritage site.

Andrew-Ho-Lung-3Andrew Ho- Lung of EF Shijiazhuang: “My first impression of Shijiazhuang was general awe. The city is 10 times bigger than any city I’ve ever lived in! The city is very different from where I come from but that is the whole point of seeing the world. To me, Shijiazhuang is the real China. What you see in this city is what the everyday Chinese sees. The cost of living is very affordable, especially on English teaching wages. I have the opportunity to experience the city to the fullest and save a little money on the side.”


4. Fuzhou

Amanda-Sinclair-TeachersAmanda Sinclair of York School of Foreign Languages: “The word I hear myself saying, and hear others say the most, is ‘interesting’. This word covers all aspects of living in Fuzhou. The food is interesting (especially as I am a vegetarian), the customs are interesting, the people are interesting, and the city itself is interesting. Every day, there is something new and unexpected that will prick your intrigue. Many restaurants will find new ways of cooking tofu and making it look like meat, which to most people is interesting. The city itself is so diverse. You look one way and there is XiHu lake, but look the other way and there are tower blocks of apartments.


What I love the most about living in Fuzhou is that if you want to live life in a busy city, you can. You can hit the bars, and the restaurants, the clubs, and be surrounded by people, and live that cosmopolitan lifestyle. But on the other hand if you want to explore the nature, see what Fuzhou has to offer, the city, the temples, the mountains, it is equally as easy to do so.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith a history of over two thousand and one hundred years old, Fuzhou is both a historic and cultural city. A birthplace of heroes and many celebrated figures from Chinese history bring such glory to this city. There are many arts and related industries represented in the city because of its long and flourishing history.

One example is the Three Treasures of Fuzhou which are lacquer work, stone sculpting and cork cutting. Fuzhou also a featured dining culture and traditiona
l arts which includes Min Opera which all still take an important role in China’s culture today.

Fuzhou has a lot of scenic spots and places of historic interest and one of them is Drum Hill, well-known for its fine caves, temples and forests of stone inscriptions. It has a library which ranks as one of the most important in the Tao religion.

Fuzhou is also equidistant from both Shanghai and Hong Kong which makes it a pivotal point many large Chinese businesses and convenient for weekend getaways.


5. Shenyang

Shenyang is considered to be the most prosperous metropolis in the Northeast Region of China. Shenyang is renowned internationally as a cultural and historical city. Shenyang has developed really fast in terms of education, technology and industry and is now considered as the cradle of construction of the Modern China.

With its developed highway system and its daily coach connections to Beijing, Tianjin, Changchun and Harbin, it is now considered to be the largest traffic center and the most important transportation hub in the region. Internationally, it is also a gateway to North Korea and Russia as it also has the biggest airport in the Northeast.

The city has literally thousands of restaurants where you can enjoy anything from street barbecued kebabs to a luxurious five-starred banquets. If you love the night life, Shenyang also has a great number of bars, clubs and KTV spots. Other well-know places to visit are Qi Pan Shan (Cheeseboard Mountain) and Shan Hai Guan – where the Great Wall meets the sea.

Of course, there are plenty more exciting Chinese cities on the rise, the 5 cities above hopefully provide some fresh ideas for those looking to start their next teaching adventure. Put in an application with us today, mentioning any preferences you have for cities and we’ll be pleased to send you details of current teaching jobs holding interviews right now. Apply here.

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