A Gap Year in China

Why go backpacking in China?

A gap year in China is an awesome idea; the country is packed full of backpacker must-see landmarks like Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and The Great Wall of China.

China is home to the world’s largest population, and its mind-boggling landscapes range from the wide open, empty tundra of Tibet to the hustle and bustle of Shanghai’s futuristic streets; from’ beer by the bag’ in seaside Quingdao to the volcanic craters of Sichuan. Wherever you go, you’ll find cheap accommodation, affordable transport options, and budget-friendly things to do.

Many backpackers visit China to work teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) and earn more money for their travels, or to volunteer with native wildlife – including pandas!

There are huge variations in culture, language, economic levels and customs in China. Even though most major cities are very wealthy and modern, over half the population continue to live in rural areas and still farm with draft animals and use manual labour. This means there’s huge variety on offer when you’re backpacking in China.

Things to do in China

Check out our current top picks


International Arts Internship In China

from £1,240.00

60 - 180 days

China is a country that carries a lot of rich history, culture, and tradition, which shows tremendously in their arts...

Panda Conservation in Chengdu, China

from £995.00

7 days

The Giant Panda is among the world's most adored and loved animals. There are only 1,600 left. They are listed...

Journalism Internships in Shanghai

from £2,470.00

28 - 180 days

Get ahead in the competitive world of journalism and media by pursuing an internship in one of China’s most important...

Homestay Programme in China

from £550.00

30 - 90 days

Placements in Beijing, Tianjin, Chengdu, or Shenzhen, gain tutoring experience & live with a Chinese family, learn Mandarin.

In-Class TEFL Course in Chongqing

from £1,055.00

20 days

Join our 4-week TEFL in-class course in Chongqing and become a TEFL/TESOL certified teacher of English as a foreign language.

China to Singapore Group Tour

from £2,375.00

73 days

Travel like a local and experience the wonders of South East Asia, from the hustel and bustle of its chaotic...

International Law Internship In China

from £1,240.00

60 - 180 days

A system of rules that are created and enforced through social/governmental institutions to regulate behavior: law. It is very important,...

26 Week Teaching Adventure

from £2,795.00

182 days

Start in Beijing with a group of like-minded participants and embark upon a 4 week TEFL qualification with added classroom...

International Engineering Internship In China

from £1,240.00

60 - 180 days

China maintains one of the world's largest economies and is showing a tremendous amount of growth in the country's infrastructure.

In-Class TEFL Course in Shanghai

from £1,290.00

20 days

Join our 4-week TEFL in-class course in Shanghai and become a TEFL/TESOL certified teacher of English as a foreign language.

Latest advice and inspiration for China

Check out what our writers have been up to in China


The Cities

Well heck, where to start? Chances are your gap year in China will kick off in Beijing, a city that feels quintessentially Chinese while also welcoming to visitors who might be feeling overwhelmed by the shift in culture. In Beijing you’ll find Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, as well as easy access to various sections of the Great Wall. It’s packed with easy transport links, amazing restaurants, and vibrant nightlife – just be careful when you’re negotiating traffic!

Elsewhere there’s Shanghai, which feels like a futuristic interpretation of western culture and full of shops, bars, and clubs; Hong Kong, almost a country unto itself with an incredible skyline and atmosphere; Hangzhou, known for it’s beauty; Nanjing and its sad history; Chengdu and its pandas. Your list of must-see Chinese cities is going to be pretty lengthy.

The Scenery

Yeah, so China is pretty big, and home to a ludicrous range of landscapes. The south is characterised by mountains and hills, such as Daxue Mountain, Tianmen Mountain, and Mount Emei, all of which host walking trails with jaw-dropping vistas. If you’re really into your hiking, try and climb China’s Five Great Mountains: Tai Shan, Hua Shan, Heng Shan, Beiyue Heng Shan, and Song Shan.

The Himalayas are to the west, while to the north you’ll find the arid expanse of the Gobi desert. Head south and you’ll find the island of Hainan, which is crammed with beach resorts. Think Hawaii, but in China.

You could easily spend an entire gap year in China. So get going!

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