Asia offers some amazing opportunities for teachers. For years, it attracted thousands of would-be teachers armed with little more than a TESOL certificate, a backpack, and a working visa. These days, the expectations are a little higher. While you don't necessarily need a teaching degree if you plan on teaching English, most Asian countries now require that you hold at least a bachelor's degree in addition to that TESOL. Even so, the demand for teachers in many places still far exceeds the supply, putting you in a great position to find your ideal teaching position. If you're ready to experience a new culture and put those teaching skills to the test, here are the 20 best places for teachers to live in Asia.
20. Xiamen, China
If you want to experience a different culture, see the world from a new perspective, and earn a little money in the process, China is a great place to head. Depending on the teaching setup, there's the possibility to earn a decent enough income to live the good life and amass some savings at the same time. Although there's no shortage of demand for teachers almost anywhere you go in China, Xiamen is widely considered to be one of its most livable cities. Located in the Fujian province on the southeast coast of China, the city is blessed with warm, sunny weather, a teeming student population, and a wide variety of shopping, dining, and cultural opportunities.
19. Taipei, Taiwan
Described by jimmyesl.com as 'China’s cheaper, more democratic cousin,' Taiwan is an excellent destination for teachers looking to make the most of their skills. The cost of living is low enough to afford a decent lifestyle, and the salaries are high enough to make it easy to travel around and enjoy the unique beauty of the country. The opportunities for teachers are boundless, making it relatively easy to find a good position if you already have some teaching experience under your belt. For those looking to enjoy the city vibe, the capital city of Taipei is a good choice. Big, diverse, and blessed with endless opportunities for fun and recreation, it's a great place to call home.
18. Phuket, Thailand
As teflcourse.net notes, while you're unlikely to get rich teaching in Thailand, the salaries are relatively high by local standards, allowing you to live a very comfortable lifestyle. If you want to top up your salary, there are plenty of opportunities for teaching private lessons outside of school. For those who want to enjoy the beach lifestyle without heading too far off the beaten path, the popular tourist destination of Phuket is a great choice. With its stunning beaches, hidden temples, fascinating local markets, and nonstop club scene, the town offers a little something for everyone.
17. Malacca, Malaysia
Set in a scenic position on the Southwest coast of peninsular Malaysia, Malacca is a big city with a small-town vibe. Home to around 850,000 people, the city's Portuguese, Dutch and British influence can be seen in the varied architecture and enticing food scene. With plenty of riverside cafes, local markets, and cultural sights to explore, the city offers plenty of opportunities for rest and recreation outside the classroom. The demand for teachers is high and while salaries vary considerably by school, you can expect to make a very comfortable income.
16. Fujisawa, Japan
With high salaries, attractive benefits, and very decent end-of-year bonuses, Japan is a great place for teachers. Although the cost of living is relatively high, you should still be able to afford a very comfortable lifestyle, particularly outside of Tokyo. The coastal town of Fujisawa makes a great base for teachers looking to combine a relaxed way of life with excellent job prospects. With gorgeous beaches, a laid-back vibe, and plenty of natural beauty to enjoy, it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city, despite being just 30 minutes away by train.
15. Busan, South Korea
Competition for teaching positions in South Korea is high but so are the benefits. While the teaching salaries in most Asian countries will afford you a decent lifestyle, the salaries in South Korea are in another league, letting you save just as much as you spend. Paid vacation, furnished accommodation, and even airfare reimbursement are all part of the package for ESOL teachers, with the result that most of your salary (which typically averages $1600 per month) can be used for enjoyment rather than essentials. Seoul has long been on the teaching community's radar, but there's far more to South Korea than its capital city. As the economic, cultural, and educational center of southeastern South Korea, Busan is a great place to get your teaching career off to a flying start.
14. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
If you have a bachelor's degree and a TEFL/TESOL certificate, you'll find no shortage of job opportunities in Vietnam - and no shortage of reasons to take advantage of them. With gorgeous landscapes, charming cities, and culture and history for miles, Vietnam is a fascinating, rewarding country to live and explore. Most teaching positions are in the private sector, with Ho Chi Minh offering the lion's share of opportunities. Most teachers can expect to earn $1,100-$1,700 per month. With the cost of living coming in at around $650-$900, you shouldn't have any problem affording a comfortable lifestyle.
13. Siem Reap, Cambodia
If friendly locals, glorious weather, spectacular scenery, and amazing cuisine ticks your boxes, you'll love Cambodia. Teachers are in high demand, and while most job opportunities are based around the capital city of Phnom Penh, you shouldn't have too many problems in finding something a little further afield. Siem Reap, for example, offers plenty of positions, not to mention a unique opportunity to experience the rich culture of Northwestern Cambodia. Packed with museums, theatres, handicraft shops, temples, and gardens, it's an amazing place to call home.
12. Chiang Mai, Thailand
Thailand has long been one of the most popular places for ESOL teachers, and for good reason. With relaxed work requirements, a laid-back lifestyle, and gorgeous landscapes, it's unquestionably one of the best places to teach in Asia. If you prefer the city to the beach, Chiang Mai makes a great base, combining a rich, diverse cultural scene with plenty of job opportunities in both the private and public sectors.
11. Kerala, India
Described by Lonely Planet as South India's most serenely beautiful state, Kerala is a magical place of beaches and spice plantations, tree-covered hills and huge wildlife reserves. If you want to combine excellent job opportunities with a calm, relaxing lifestyle, Kerala makes a great base.
10. Penang, Malaysia
Malaysia is a great place for teachers, with plenty of opportunities to teach in schools, to business professionals, or in private classes. In Penang, you'll find a good selection of positions along with a relaxed way of life, amazing food, and gorgeous botanical gardens and beaches. Located around 3 hours by train from Kuala Lumpur, the island may be small, but it's rich in opportunity.
9. Kyoto, Japan
Japan has long been a favorite destination for teachers. Its ESOL program, JET, is one of the most rigorous and competitive around, but as Panda Buddy notes, the benefits far outweigh the uncertainty of entry. There's also the opportunity to engage in corporate training or take a position as an Assistant Language teacher, both of which offer very decent remuneration. Although Tokyo is the most popular destination for teachers, Kyoto has a unique charm that shouldn't be overlooked. As the cultural capital of the country, it boasts endless opportunities to enjoy the theatre, music, and arts. As an added benefit, it's one of the most affordable cities in Japan.
8. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Cambodia might not be as popular a destination as the likes of Thailand or South Korea, but those that take a chance on the country will be well rewarded. Although the average teaching salary won't be enough to make you rich, it'll still get you a very comfortable lifestyle. In Phnom Penh, there's no shortage of teaching opportunities to choose between, nor a lack of things to do and see outside the classroom. Big, busy, and bristling with culture, it's the ideal base for teachers looking to experience Cambodia's unique charm.
7. Taichung, Taiwan
As Inside Tale notes, many people regard Taichung as the best city to live in Taiwan. Loaded with charm and with a superb balance of the traditional and the modern, it encapsulates everything there is to love about Taiwan. Competition for jobs is fierce, and new teachers will be expected to earn their stripes at an academy before qualifying for better positions. If you have the experience and the right connections, you can expect a good selection of very well-paid opportunities to choose between. Classroom numbers tend to be small and easy to manage, while the high student engagement makes lessons a joy.
6. Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi is a fascinating, diverse city with an exciting arts scene, colorful markets, and amazing food. Cultural, historical, and quickly becoming one of Southeast Asia's hottest destinations, it's a great place to live and work. Teaching opportunities are plentiful, decently paid, and flexible enough to give you enough time away from the classroom to explore the country.
5. Singapore, Singapore
If incredible food, amazing weather, low crime, and awe-inspiring architecture float your boat, you're going to love Singapore. Although the competition at public schools is quite fierce, there are enough positions at the city's numerous international schools to go around. Wages are extremely decent, and most positions come with a very generous benefits package. Just be aware that turning up with a TESOL certificate and hoping for the best is unlikely to get you far. The academic standards in the city are high, and most schools demand an MA from their teachers. If you lack the necessary credentials, you might still be able to pick up some private tutoring, but this really is a place where the more qualified you are, the better.
4. Mumbai, India
Mumbai is a huge, vibrant city that offers some fantastic opportunities for teachers, mostly at the many international schools dotted around the city. Thanks to decent wages and a low cost of living, you won't have any problem making ends meet. The cuisine is amazing, the culture is intriguing, and although the city can feel hectic at times, there are plenty of parks and quiet spots to escape to.
3. Seoul, South Korea
It's not hard to make a comfortable living teaching in Asia, but if you want to put aside some serious savings, Seoul is unquestionably one of the best places to head. With numerous opportunities in both the private and public sectors, the city is rich in career prospects. The average salary is head and shoulders above what you can expect in many other parts of Asia, with the added advantage that most positions come with accommodation, paid vacation, and even airfares included in the benefits package. Seoul itself is a joy, with a vibrant nightlife, incredible shopping opportunities, amazing food, and endless ways to spend your free time.
2. Shanghai, China
China is bursting with job opportunities. Regardless of where you go in the country, you'll find no shortage of schools ready and willing to take you on. If you want to combine those great opportunities with a top-notch lifestyle, Shanghai is where it's at. This huge, lively city is crammed with attractions, shops, bars, restaurants and every type of entertainment imaginable. It's not necessarily the cheapest place in China to live, but the high costs are offset by some of the best teaching salaries in the country. If you want to experience some of the finest cultural attractions in China, one of the liveliest entertainment scenes, and some incredible food, Shanghai is a no-brainer.
1. Tokyo, Japan
As Go Overseas notes, Japan is an incredible place to live and work. Although the cost of living in Tokyo is high, the teaching salaries are equally so, allowing you the rare opportunity to save and spend in equal measure. The city itself is a delight, with endless opportunities for fun and recreation, countless historical sights and a culture that's all it's own.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn