Work and Travel in China

Help us grow. Share what you know about getting work in China for travellers.


China is a country opening up to the world. There are hundreds of different opportunities open for travellers all over this giant country. And now you can work in China whether you have a lot of experience, a little experience, or no experience it all.

This traditionally closed country is more open than you might think and there are volunteer and paid work opportunities in China for travellers open now. Travel guides for China reveal it to be a place where you can work in a completely different culture and experience some of the top cultural spots in the world at the same time.

Here are some of the fantastic volunteer opportunities in China now from some of the foremost work and travel programmes in the world.

1. Working in an Orphanage

China suffers from a serious problem with parentless children. Volunteer in China and you could work in an orphanage. These foster care homes involve providing childcare and other care giving work to children. Your only goal is to make the lives of the children more enjoyable.

Most orphans you work with when you volunteer in China will be between three months and six-years-old.

2. Care for Giant Pandas

Giant pandas are endangered and need specialist care to maintain their health in captivity. Join an animal care programme and you can interact with these wonderful creatures as you volunteer in China and experience the wildlife of the country.

3. Teach English in China

If you want to teach English in China you can either volunteer or be paid. But for paid work you will be asked to show that you have a qualification like the TEFL plus a university degree. The good thing is there are English-teaching opportunities all over the country.

And China is different to other parts of the world in that demand is so high that schools are searching for volunteers throughout the year.

4. World Heritage Volunteers

China is filled with wonders, but tourism is putting them under pressure. Become a world heritage volunteer and you could be cleaning the Great Wall itself, or an ancient temple in the middle of the mountains.


Take note that a working holiday visa for China is required by every major nationality. The system if you want to apply for a Chinese working holiday visa is, thankfully, the same for all major nationalities, including Europeans, Russians, Americans, South Africans, and Australians.

There’s no difference between nationalities as all have to go through the same system. You may be given extra scrutiny if you come from a poorer country, but as long as you can prove that you can support yourself, such as via bank statements, you should have no problems if you have a genuine position ready for you.

You must apply for the F-visa. This visa is for non-tourist purposes and lasts for up to six months. For longer stays, you will need a Z-visa.

To apply for the F-visa, you must complete the application form supplied by the Chinese embassy in your country, whilst providing a passport photograph, blank pages in your passport, as well as a formal invitation from the government, company, or institution operating in the country.

Acquiring the visa can take a lot of time, so make sure you apply at least a few months in advance of your unpaid or paid volunteer work. Due to the complexity, it may be worth enlisting professional visa help for this.



China has no real seasonal work in spring for volunteers. Farming work is typically taken on by the locals, and no foreign help is required, so unless you’re volunteering as part of a homestay you should refer to the general year-round volunteering opportunities above.


The growth of Chinese football means that soccer is hugely popular. Soccer schools for young people are opening up all over the country and they need volunteers. As long as you know your way around the field you’re already qualified for this work and travel program.

This takes place all over the country as Chinese parents often send their children away to sports camps during the holidays.


Another of the seasonal volunteer opportunities in China is to work in a kindergarten as an assistant. This could involve helping out with arts and crafts, supervising the children, or helping out with games in places like Chong Ming Island, Suzhou, and Shanghai.

It’s best to apply during the autumn because this is the beginning of the first school year and is when most schools are searching for fresh volunteers.


Chinese ski resorts are little known to foreigners, but locals and expats in China regularly spend their winter holiday time here. These ski resorts are within easy reach of many major cities, such as Yinqixing in Minhang District and Nanshang close to Beijing. This is one of the few great volunteer opportunities in China in winter.


Working in the Chinese cities is similar to working in any other major city in the world. The Chinese are more than used to foreign tourists, volunteers, and expats. You won’t notice a single raised eyebrow if you happen to have chosen a work and travel program here.

In the rural areas you’re bound to get a lot of attention. Remember that in rural areas the local people will have rarely encountered a Westerner, so expect to be stopped to take pictures. This goes doubly if you’re tall and/or have blonde hair. You’ll elicit more curiosity than anything else.

In general, the Chinese are extremely friendly and welcoming towards foreigners working in the country. The majority of work and travel in China programmes are there to plug the gaps that can’t be plugged using ordinary Chinese people, so they’re happy for the help.

Do you have any experiences you’d like to share from your work in China?

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