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


Finance Internships in Shanghai

from £3100

28 - 180 days


Get ahead in the competitive world of finance by pursuing a leading internship in Shanghai.

Homestay Programme in China

from £550

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 Shanghai

from £1

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.

Au Pair/Homestay Tutor Adventure in China

from £100

90 - 365 days


Seeking 18-30 yr olds to tutor English to Chinese kids. Live with a Chinese family, learn Mandarin & experience a...

Jobs in China with TEFL training

from £549

120 - 330 days


Positions all over China, including in Shanghai & Beijing, Monthly salary of £650-£1650 depending on location, Online TEFL course &...

5 Months TEFL in China

from £400

120 days


Teach in a Chinese state school for one term and get a taste of what life is like in this...

In-Class TEFL Course in Beijing

from £1

20 days


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

Teach English in China

from £1120

28 - 180 days


Live, work and play in one of China's most exciting and vibrant cities!

Backpacking Tour of China

from £1015

16 - 25 days


Backpack to the most populated and vibrant cities in the world and explore untouched countryside. Travel with a group and...

China to Singapore Group Tour

from £2375

73 days

Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thaila...

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

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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