Published 7th May 2019


One of the biggest drawcards of a career teaching English as a Foreign Language is the travel opportunities it brings with it. Being a TEFL teacher allows you not only to travel but also to live in a foreign destination, allowing you to observe and absorb a different culture. It will broaden your horizons and open your mind to other ideas and belief systems, while you get to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a new country. The only question is, where do you want to go?

Many people daydream about the exotic locations their career as an English teacher will take them. Faraway places where gentle waves lap white, sandy beaches and palm trees sway in a tropical breeze. For some reason, most people’s idea of paradise is intrinsically linked to some far-flung island destination.

Read more: The Most Instagrammable Beaches in Greece

What you might not realise is that while many TEFL positions may take you to the tropical island you’ve been dreaming of, others will take you to the hustle and bustle of a cosmopolitan city. The bright lights, nightlife, and wining and dining are just some of the things that draw people to city living. And there are many cities around the world that offer you a great lifestyle and also a good TEFL job.

Since Asia is seeing a surge in popularity with TEFL teachers, if you’re thinking about your next teaching destination, here are our top six cities in Asia for your to consider:


Thailand, or the Land of Smiles, as it’s affectionately known, is a favourite with TEFL teachers. With friendly people, picturesque beaches and delicious food, Thailand is also home to one of the most vibrant capital cities in the world.

Bangkok is a treat for the senses, where skyscrapers tower above centuries-old temples, the smells of local delicacies linger in the air of bustling night markets, and one of the largest shopping malls in Asia will defeat even the most hardcore of shopaholics. Bangkok is easy to navigate with taxis, tuk-tuks, motorbikes, buses and even a sky train for public transport. Though traffic congestion can cause frustration (and health issues!), no matter where you live you are likely not far from the action.

Things to note:

  • In Bangkok you can either teach in a primary or high school, a language school or a university.
  • In schools the classroom sizes can be quite large.
  • The salary relative to the low cost of living means you can afford a comfortable lifestyle.

Read more: What Makes Teaching English in Thailand So Popular?



China remains one of the main destinations in the world where TEFL teachers will often find themselves. There are plenty of small villages and towns where you can find a TEFL job, but if you’re after a bustling metropolis you need look no further than Shanghai.

While Beijing draws crowds for its historical tourist attractions, Shanghai’s appeal lies in its interesting mix of Chinese and French traditions and architecture – and food! With a rich sense of history juxtaposed by the modernity of skyscrapers and new business, Shanghai is a city where you will want nothing.

Things to note:

  • In Shanghai you are likely to teach in a primary or high school.
  • There are a number of language schools in the city too.
  • There is a huge community of TEFL teachers all over China.

Read more: The Benefits of Teaching English in China


South Korea has become an increasingly popular destination with TEFL teachers. From the picturesque beaches and volcanoes of Jeju island to the capital of Seoul, where Buddhist temples meet high-tech subways and pop culture, there are jobs aplenty.

Seoul is an eclectic mix of old and new and this city features some of the most interesting and futuristic architecture in Asia with a vibrant nightlife and exciting up-and-coming pop culture. If you’re looking for a city that’ll keep you on your toes, then Seoul is for you.

Things to note:

  • In Seoul you can find work through a government programme like EPIK, which will place you in a public school.
  • It’s also possible to find work in a private cram school, or hagwon.
  • South Korea is known for its generous packages, which usually include flight remuneration, accommodation and health insurance.


This city tops many travellers’ bucket lists and for TEFL teachers the opportunity to work here is a dream come true. The Japanese capital is rich in culture and history blended with all the modern comforts you could wish for. With a myriad of attractions and activities to keep you occupied during your downtime, if the opportunity to teach English in this enigmatic city arises, take it!

Things to note:

  • In Tokyo, many TEFL teachers find work as teaching assistants through the JET programme.
  • If you are more experienced and qualified you can also work in a Japanese university.
  • The cost of living in Japan is high but your salary is more than enough to live comfortably.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in Japan


The capital of Taiwan provides plenty of teaching opportunities for TEFL teachers. Two of the most widely spoken languages in the world, English and Mandarin, come into contact here. With a bustling nightlife, contemporary buildings and a lively street-food and night market scene, it’s a great city for ex-pats to congregate over a bowl of noodles in a street café after a long day of teaching.

Things to note:

  • Though there are language schools in Taipei, you are likely to find a job in a mainstream school.
  • Most jobs in Taiwan involve teaching Young Learners.
  • Taiwanese students are known for being very friendly.
Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh City

One of the most highly sought after destinations in Southeast Asia in which to teach English, Ho Chi Minh City is a great place to live. With a strong colonial history, this beautiful city was ravaged by war but has come back with a vengeance with one of the fastest-growing economies in the last two decades, increasing the demand for English teachers substantially. With a French quarter nestled amongst beautiful Vietnamese architecture, this city has an energy like no other with a thriving job market for TEFL teachers.

Things to note:

  • Ho Chi Minh has a vast number of language schools, which is where you are likely to find a teaching job.
  • Teaching in Vietnam often means teaching split shifts – in the morning and again in the evening.
  • Many TEFL teachers in Vietnam share accommodation with other teachers.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Teaching English in Vietnam

If you’re choosing a destination in which to teach English, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. While you might daydream about sunbathing on a gorgeous beach but living in a city means you can work hard, play hard and take a well-deserved break on your nearest tropical island.