Living and working in Hong Kong – Index
This guide is a collection of resources and practical advice for living in Hong Kong.
This guide is a collection of resources and practical advice for living in Hong Kong.
This article is a complete guide that is updated monthly on how to easily access Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, Youtube and other websites that are blocked in China, using a VPN.
The first part of this article explains what a VPN is, the simplest and most effective way to access the Internet without restrictions.
The second part is a comparative review of ExpressVPN, VyprVPN, NordVPN and VPN Area, in our opinion one of the best VPN providers for China. We compare the prices, functionality and performance of the four VPN.
We also give a short review of the most popular VPN in China and show the results of the survey of VPNs that our readers in China use. On top of that, you will find multiple sections to try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
Important: Many of the VPN services mentioned in the article have offered us exclusive deals for our readers. To get the discount, all you have to do is access the VPN service’s website via one of the links that you’ll find in this article.
Important: Due to the increased restrictions to VPN which came into effect in October 2017, you should always keep your VPN updated in order to make sure it works at its best.
As you probably already know, the internet doesn’t work like we would like it to in China and a large number of websites are blocked by the “Great Firewall.” Among the websites that you can’t access there are Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Twitter and Google+.
There are many other blocked websites, and depending on what you do, it may be virtually impossible for you to work in China without a VPN (Virtual Private Network). The most striking case is probably that of Google.com, which often returns an error message when used from within the Middle Kingdom.
In order to solve this problem, you can install a VPN, which masks your I.P. address so that your laptop appears to be connected from the U.S. or Japan even if you are in China [Read more…]
China is an enormous country full of diverse cultures, cuisines, dialects and living conditions. Travelling from place to place in China you could feel as if you are travelling through a variety of different countries.
The lifestyle in the largest cities differs significantly from that in the countryside, the western and eastern parts of the country feel like completely separate worlds and customs in the north can be totally out of place in the south (and vice-versa). One could easily spend a lifetime exploring China and sampling its massive variety.
That being said, there are some parts of China that are typically more attractive for living in than others. While many people who come from abroad to live in China gravitate towards Beijing and Shanghai, there are many other wonderful cities in which to live in.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to select where you want to live in China (a common perk of being an English teacher) it can seem a little daunting to try to choose which city would be ideal for you.
Therefore, we have gathered a list of 15 cities, which are in no particular order (because tastes truly do vary), that seem to be generally considered the most enjoyable places to live in China.
We have taken into consideration many factors such as cultural and historical significance, economic conditions, cleanliness, cuisine, climate, fashion and shopping, how cosmopolitan a city is and proximity to other areas of interest.
We hope you enjoy our list of the 15 most livable cities in China! [Read more…]
Having an account at a Chinese bank can be an advantage, even if your stay is only for a few weeks or months.
In this guide, you will find all of the information you need to know before opening a bank account as well as how to do it. Below are the main subjects that we will cover:
Even if you are in China for a short period of time, opening a bank account in China can make your life easier for multiple reasons: [Read more…]
One of the most frequently heard problems of those who move to an Asian country such as Hong Kong, Thailand or Vietnam is that of sending the necessary money for initial expenses to their new country, without getting fleeced by the banks, who can make you pay up to 5% commission.
5% may seem “acceptable”, but if you send 10.000 USD we’re talking about a bank commission of 500 USD!
This goes not just for those who move for work, but above all for students, who not having a salary need to send the necessary funds from home to survive in their new country, such as Hong Kong for example, for the entire length of study (even six months or a year).
How can you solve this problem? By using TranserWise!
Ps. I lost a ton of money transferring it via wire transfers up until last year. The reason is that, even if I was aware of the existence of TransferWise, I never tried it because I thought it might be complicated and, moreover, I didn’t understand how it worked.
This is why, at the end of this article, I will explain in detail both how to use the service and the strategy (all legal and safe) that TransferWise uses and similar platforms to lower costs.
Simplifying it to the extreme, TranserWise is an online platform that allows you to send money abroad that could save you up to 8 times what you would spend on bank commissions sending the same amount via wire transfer or credit card.
TransferWise’s commission is 0.5% for the majority of currencies; that commission can however increase depending on the currency.
To send USD from your bank account in US and receive Hong Kong Dollars in a Hong Kong bank account, for example, the commission is 0.5%. [Read more…]
This is a complete guide to rent an apartment, or just a room in a shared flat, in Shanghai.
If you are just landed to China and you don’t know anybody, the fastest way to find an apartment is probably to check the websites in English language. I recommend Flat in China, Smart Shanghai, Craigs List and Inter Shanghai.
The pros are that you won’t have to hunt for an agency on the street and most luckily you will deal with a landlord (or an agent) that can speak decent English.
Also, if you are in a tight budget (less than 3,000 RMB per month, that is about 500 USD) and you don’t want to live too far away from downtown, getting a room in a shared flat will be your only choice. [Read more…]
In this article I’ll explain how to use the job search engine of SDC, which is specifically tuned to only returns results relevant for who is looking a job in China.
This guide contains pretty much all the info that you’ll need to prepare your trip to China: Visa requirements, travel insurance, vaccinations, guidebooks, planes and trains, hotels, internet and phone cards.
Also, you’ll find tips on where to eat, what to bring to China, when to travel to China, how to avoid the most common scams and how to bargain.
Finally, note that in this article we don’t go into detail about any tourist destination or itinerary. If you’d like to learn more about a particular destination, The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu, for example, click here to access our collection of tourist guides. If you want to learn more about a particular touristic itinerary, click here.
If you can’t apply for a visa in your country of residence because you already live in Asia or you’re traveling, Hong Kong is still the best place to get one.
In the first part of this article we’ll explain where you can apply for a visa in Hong Kong (you can use an agency or go directly to the CVASC), and which documents are necessary for getting a visa.
In the second part of this article we’ll explain how to travel from China to Hong Kong in the quickest and cheapest way in order to get a visa.
Note that all the information that you’ll find in this article is the result of our own personal experience, since we’ve applied for many visas in Hong Kong, starting way back in 2012.
For more general information on Chinese Visa, I suggest you read Chinese Visa application: A complete guide.
Today we’re interviewing Luca Stanga, who has a rather interesting story to tell us since he teaches English in China on a work visa, which shows that such an objective is not impossible for those who aren’t born into an English-speaking country so long as they have the right skills!
Luca, what work do you do in China and when did you get there?
I work at an English private school for children in Xi’an. The school is a franchise run by the company Education First. I work in the afternoons and on weekends since in the mornings the students attend public school. My work can be subdivided into three areas: lesson planning, teaching and extra activities to promote the institute.
Planning lessons takes time and imagination, but supplementary material is provided and you can always ask for advice from colleagues or the director of studies. There are about 12 to 14 students in a class, and in my case, the ages vary between 3 and 10 years old. Since the students are so young, each class is assigned a Chinese national teacher who gives support.
I’ve been working here for six months and am very happy with the professional experience that I’m developing, also thanks to the fact both the director and vice-director are professionals in their field and know their trade well. My contract expires in September but I’m thinking about signing on for another year because there are many elements of this company that I consider to be positive.
How did you find this job, and what is your educational background? [Read more…]
This article is a quick guide to everything you need to know to prepare before moving to China and how to take your first steps once you have arrived. Keep in mind that many of the subjects included here have been covered in much more detail in other articles.
In this article, I will discuss the following aspects (you can click on any of them to skip directly to the section that interests you):
One of the most important things you need to consider before moving to China to live is whether you need to take out health insurance or not, and what type of policy to choose.
This article is intended to help you understand what you will find in China, and to provide the information necessary for you to be able to decide whether to take out a health insurance policy and how to choose it.
To do so, we are going to cover the following topics (you can click on the index below to skip directly to the section that you are most interested in).
Today we’re interviewing Gessica Cipriano, a classical dance teacher in Jishou, a city located in Hunan Province.
If you’d like to learn more about Gessica and her adventures in China, take a look at her YouTube channel.
Gessica, first of all thanks for agreeing to answer my questions. Many people ask us how to find a job in China, so let’s start there. How did you get them to take you on as a classical dance teacher at a Chinese university?
Since 2015 I traveled throughout the United States and a little bit in Germany to learn what type of work opportunities can be found abroad in my field, and I dreamed a lot about these two possible destinations. I never actually thought of China and knew nothing about it.
In Spring of 2017, the university’s own international office saw my professional profile online and contacted me about the classical dance teacher position that was open, asking me if I was interested in applying.
Originally I didn’t think I’d want to consider the offer, because even though I’m inclined to traveling and moving around, I never considered Asia, other than a far off fantasy of Japan, but only as a tourist.
However I believe that China literally “called” me in some inexplicable metaphysical way, because, despite my rational side’s unwillingness to accept the idea, my subconscious began suddenly experiencing sleepless nights, almost unwitting daydreams and fantasies about this far off and mysterious world.
So, during yet another sleepless night, I started looking online for more information about this University, in Jishou in Hunan Province. There wasn’t much information available, but despite that I decided to start the application process. [Read more…]
Note: If you are only interested on getting a free quotation for a travel agency, then we recommend World Nomads (click here to get your free quotation).
When I decided to go to China for the first time, finding an affordable and comprehensive health insurance was one of my first concerns, as I knew that, while in my country I was covered by the welfare system, in China I was on my own. This also applies for short-term travelers: unless you have international insurance, you won’t be covered while traveling around Asia.
Health insurance isn’t compulsory when you travel, so you can still go to Asia without any insurance and hope to never get sick, have an accident, lose your luggage or having your flight canceled by a storm.
However I won’t do it myself. It’s too risky. Especially when you consider that a good travel insurance only costs you a couple of USD per day.
Chinese hospitals are business oriented and they won’t help you unless you can pay cash in advance or they can verify that you’re covered by an adequate medical insurance.
I repeat, if you can’t pay nobody will help you. Also, the international hospitals in China (where doctors and nurses can speak English) are often more expensive than hospitals in the U.S.
I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of western tourists or expats that were left to die or lose a foot in an Asian hospital because, after being a victim of an accident or bad food poisoning, they didn’t have insurance or enough cash to pay for the emergency treatments they needed. Can you afford to pay 5,000 or 10,000 USD cash? [Read more…]
The old commercial visa (F visa), now called M visa
The business visa (or M visa) is issued to those coming to China for commercial activity.
If you’re interested in finding out more about tourist, student or work visas, click here to read our guide to Chinese visas. If instead you’re interested in a visa to visit relatives (your husband, son, etc) then click here. If you’re interested in obtaining a visa for Taiwan, click here. [Read more…]
Do you dream of setting up your own online shop or import business? In both cases, the best way is to begin your research on the internet.
But how to get started?
I asked my friend and business partner Fredrik, who’s been helping Western companies import from China since 2009, to write this article for my website. Here is what he has to say!
Alibaba.com and Aliexpress.com are well known among importing businesses worldwide. Both websites are owned by the Alibaba Group, based in Hangzhou, China. The difference between the two websites can be hard to spot at a first glance, but they have two very different business models with different strengths and weaknesses. This article will help you choose which one to use.
In this article I will explain the main reasons to choose to do an internship in China (instead of the United States, for example) and the primary options for those thinking about doing an internship in China (mainly scholarships and agencies). Moreover I will list the principal requirements of an honest and capable agency. First, however, I would like to tell you my experience!
When, in 2009, I turned down three permanent job offers—the first from a well-known multinational company and the other two from universities—in order to have an adventure in China by means of a scholarship that didn’t guarantee me even a scrap of a retirement contribution, the majority of my colleagues openly declared me as being insane.
I already thought I had made the right choice back in 2009, but the final confirmation came in September 2011, when I was invited to hold a seminar at the Universidad Javeriana of Bogota, Columbia. The first day of the conference the chancellor invited the organizers and speakers to dinner. It mainly consisted of internationally famous professors that had worked in universities for over thirty years, published books and started businesses with immense potential.
Being 29 years old at the time, I was a bit of a crasher, as I was invited more for being friends with the conference chairman than for professional merit. I didn’t expect any attention. Rather, to be honest I was a little “intimidated” by such a formal occasion. [Read more…]
More than one year ago, we published the first version of our comprehensive guide for obtaining a Chinese Visa (which we update every year). Since then we received hundreds of questions and suggestions for improving it (thousands, if you consider the Spanish and Italian version of this website).
We actualized the article several times according to the feedback we received and the new laws that ruled out. However, it seems that there is still a point that isn’t clear at all.
This article will explain what type of Visa you shall apply for and what documents you need when you want to visit (or accompany) your family members or friends in China. [Read more…]