Nomhla Mahalia Macingwan

Teaching English in Asia allows you to have an exciting, unknown, mysterious, enticing and overall amazing experience. China is a place where you not only find and explore a new culture, but you get to find yourself and what you are truly made of.

If you are looking for a place filled with adventure, culture, heritage and everything in between – China is the place for you.

1. The Invitation Process

Does your friend/family member have a valid passport? Make sure it's not close to the expiration date and has enough pages for the tourist visa.

Write an invitation letter with the following information:

  • Who is coming to visit?

  • When will they arrive and leave?

  • Purpose of the visit.

  • My address in China.

Conclude the letter by saying, “I accept full immigration responsibility for the person coming to visit”. Attach a copy of your work visa and residence permit. Print the invitation letter out, sign and scan a copy to your friend or family member so he/she can apply for the relevant visa. Applying for a tourist visa to China can be done online through the Chinese Consulate or through an agent; my friend opted for the agent route.

2. Budget

I cannot emphasize the importance of budgeting together:

  • Take a look at the places you want to visit.

  • Do a rough estimate of how much you think you'll need for food, transportation and entertainment.

  • Be sure to include entry fees to parks plus souvenirs.

  • It's good to create the same expectation of what you'll be doing and how much you plan on spending.

3. What To Do While You're At Work

Don't forget to apply for annual leave so you'll actually have the time off to spend with your friend. Be sure to discuss this with your line manager in your center. However, if you leave this until the last minute and aren't able to get all the days off that you'd like, make sure to have a backup plan for your friends/family members to do/see while you're at work.

My work day starts at 14:00 and ends at 20:15, Wednesday to Friday. We had free time in the mornings to go explore various markets, restaurants, and museums. My friend would continue adventuring the city by herself while I was at work. She went to shopping malls and also partook in the Hop-on-Hop-off bus which showed you the hot spots of Shanghai, which gave me peace of mind that my friend wouldn't get lost!


4. Top Tourist Spots

Hot Springs Resort - We spent Christmas Eve relaxing at the resort. There were more than 10 hot spring pools, rich in minerals, that we soaked in. We tried every single one of them! The resort also had relaxation and quiet rooms.

Shanghai Disneyland - Who wouldn't want to spend Christmas Day at the happiest place on earth? We braved the cold and the long queues. We went on a few rides and had an amazing lunch at the Cheesecake Factory in Disney Town!

Suzhou – We booked a hotel room at Crowne Plaza and enjoyed all that they had to offer. Suzhou is a famous water town, so we cruised down the canals of the city and also explored the beautiful gardens there.

Beijing – We went with a group of friends and we all stayed at the International Hostel. It was great because the hostel organised trips to the Great Wall and other tourist destinations. Be sure not to miss out on the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

This was surely a holiday to remember. If you plan well in advance, follow my tips and tricks, and budget properly, you too can have the time of your life when you have friends and family visit you in China.

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