Learn Chinese online: 51 excellent free resources

Learn Chinese

This article contains a list of free resources to learn Chinese online. Click on one of the following links to “jump” directly to the section of the article that interests you most:

You’ll find a brief review and corresponding link to the web site of each resource cited.

Disclaimer: This article, which when it was first published in June 2012 contained 25 resources, is updated every 10-15 months with the best web sites and free apps (many of which were suggested to us by you readers) that we “discover” during the year. Our goal is not to list all the free resources dedicated to learning Chinese; rather it’s to present to you the best of each of the categories listed above. Enjoy! [Read more…]

Studying in China with a scholarship from the Confucius Institute: An interview with Chiara Romano

Confucio ScholarshipThe beachfront of Qinhuangdao

In today’s interview we’ll be talking with Chiara Romano, who is 22 years old and since last August has lived in Qinhuangdao, where she is studying Chinese thanks to a scholarship from the Confucius Institute.

What is necessary to obtain a scholarship

Chiara, what are the minimum requirements to obtain a scholarship from the Confucius Institute?

Hi Furio! Getting a scholarship from the Confucius Institute (which is actually promoted by Hanban, the “head office” of the Confucius Institutes worldwide) isn’t too difficult. First of all you have to choose what sort of experience you’re looking for: there are various scholarships, offering periods of study between six months and a year, as well as scholarships to graduate both with a three year degree or teaching degree in China, or still other scholarships centered on the teaching of Chinese.

All in all there are a lot of possibilities! To apply for any of these scholarships you must be between the ages of 16 and 35 and must pass the HSK (Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi, Knowledge of Chinese Language for Foreginers Test) exam and the HSKK (similar to the first one, without having to write Chinese characters).

Each scholarship requires different levels of mastery over the language, but as for the annual scholarship, the one that I received, you must as a minimum pass the HSK3 exam with at least 180 points and the HSKK成绩 (in other words the elementery level) with at least 60 points. [Read more…]

The Best Restaurants in West Beijing

best restaurants in beijing

This article is the third part in the series dedicated to share my “knowledge” about the city of Beijing. After suggesting 10 alternative plans and indicating the things you should avoid doing in Beijing, today, I wanted to do a review of, in my opinion, the best restaurants in the west part of the city, that is, the Haidan district (or university district).

This area is excellent for tasting ethnic Asian food and since I have lived here more than four years, I’m quite familiar with the district. So, just enjoy! [Read more…]

Life on Nanchang Lu, Shanghai – Interview with Fiona Reilly

Interview with Fiona Reilly

Today I’ve the honor to interview Fiona, the soul of Life on Nanchang Lu, the place where you shall go if you want to learn more about food – especially street food, – in Shanghai.


Fiona, you define yourself as a Foodie, Writer, Photographer and Expert dumpling taster. I want to start with the most important question: What is, in your opinion, the best dumpling’s fanguanr of Shanghai?

I have a soft spot for The Humble Room at 601 Nanchang Lu. Now it’s opposite the bright and shiny IAPM Mall so it looks even more humble, but it has some of the very tastiest (and cheapest) xiaolongbao in the city.

In your series about Shanghai Street Food, you list 36 different kind of street foods. Let’s say I’m in Shanghai only for a day and my goal is to learn as much as I can about the topic. Where should I go and what would you suggest me to taste?

The great thing about street food is that you can begin your education at any time of day! [Read more…]

Travel to North Korea: The Guide

travel to north korea

This guide contains almost all the information you need to prepare your trip to North Korea. Below, you’ll find all of the subjects which we cover in this guide. You can click on them to skip directly to the sections you’re interested in.

Can I travel to North Korea?

Yes, traveling to North Korea is possible, regardless of your nationality (unless you’re South Korean). However, just like with Tibet, unless you hold a Chinese passport, you will need to contract a tour agency to visit North Korea.

Keep in mind that on some occasions, there may be further restrictions for visitors from certain countries (normally Americans, Israelis and Japanese people).

[Read more…]

This is not your grandmother’s Tai Chi – A trip to deepest China in search of the original Taiji Quan

Taijiquan in Chenjiagou

This article was written by Luca Magnabosco who, with a degree in sociology from Trento, lives and works in the remote province of Vicenza. His interests are Chinese culture, folklore, martial arts and social sciences, sometimes simultaneously. When time and money permit, he reads and travels. On his blog, Cambaluq, among other things you will find a more detailed version of his adventures in China.

Once upon a time in China

Take a group of old people, the sleepiest you can find, bring them to a public park and make them do exercises of, um, synchronized gymnastics or something of that sort. I recommend: sloooow! This is the image of Tai Chi popular in the west, where it has been widespread now for decades. Some will tell you it is similar to Yoga, others that it is a form of meditation, the rashest that it is an exotic form of dance.

This is because Tai Chi is the victim of a long series of misunderstandings, starting with its name itself: the most correct transcription would be “Taiji Quan”, generally translated as ”boxing of extreme polarity”. The most important word in this translation is actually Quan, which reminds us how Taiji Quan might be considered a martial art and have self-defense among its original principal purposes, the modern and politically correct way of defining the ability to give somebody a beating. Those elegant circles your grandmother traces in the air with her hands while she’s trying to keep up with the rhythm of her Tai Chi group? It’s really a series of hooks, leverages, thrusts, and blows to the throat and scrotum. [Read more…]

10 things that you should avoid doing in Beijing

shouldn't do in beijing

Today I am continuing with my series of articles dedicated to Beijing, my “second home.” As opposed to my last article, in this article, I want to list the things that you should avoid doing in Beijing.

For those of you who know the city a little, many of these things may seem obvious to you (or maybe not so much). For those of you who are visiting the city for the first time, I recommend that you read this article thoroughly.

That’s enough rambling for now, so, here’s WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO IN BEIJING: [Read more…]

Driving in China: How can I get my license?

drive in china get license

In this article you will find a summary of all the information you need to be able to drive in mainland China. You can click on the links below to skip directly to the section you’re interested in.

Getting a temporary permit in mainland China (maximum 3 months)

Getting a Chinese driver’s license if you already have one from another country

Getting a driver’s license for the first time

Web pages and apps to study for the written test

But before starting, here are some general things to consider…

  • This article is based on the laws of the province of Beijing, and as usually is the case in China, the requirements may vary slightly depending on the city in which they apply.
  • Written exams can be done in English or Chinese. Nonetheless, in some small cities, you may be forced to do them in Chinese (sometimes they may authorize you to bring a translator). On the other hand, in some of the main cities of the country, you may even find exams in other languages (such as Spanish, French, German or Arabic).

[Read more…]

The top 20 tourist attractions of Hong Kong


In view of the success of our “Complete guide for traveling in China“, I thought I’d write a similar guide about traveling to Hong Kong (visas, transport, hotels, etc).

But then I thought of how, before arriving in Hong Kong for the first time, I didn’t even know what there was to see. So I decided to publish, first of all, an article introducing the main attractions of Hong Kong. Enjoy!

p.s. The MTR (Mass Transit Railway) is Hong Kong’s subway system. Click here for an interactive map.

Hong Kong Island

1. Watch the show “A Symphony of Lights” on the Avenue of Stars

We’re not just talking about any light show: A Symphony of Lights is entered in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest permanent light show on the planet. In fact, 45 buildings along the Skyline of Hong Kong Island “shoot” laser lights toward Victoria Harbor in time to music. [Read more…]

Journalism Internship in Shanghai: Interview with Anna

journalism internship shanghaiAnna at  Di Jing’An Temple

Today we’re speaking with Anna Pisaniello, who at the moment is in Shanghai for a journalism internship with the magazine Imetro.

How to find an internship in China

Anna, how and when did you manage to find an internship as a journalist with Imetro, a Shanghai magazine?

I was wandering around on the internet and I found the site Projects Abroad. When I discovered that through them I could do an internship with a Chinese newspaper, I decided to go. I wound up at Imetro, in reality without any choice. I simply sent a resume and test article in English to Projects Abroad. The partner companies make the selections, based on experience and qualifications. [Read more…]