So you’ve heard of the Great Wall and you get the deal with chopsticks, but I can bet you had no idea you could spend a day at the beach or see the Eiffel Tower in this country.
Our ILP China volunteers are pretty lucky — they’ll have time during their semester to do alllllllll the things in China, and not just the ones you’ve heard of before that all the tourists who visit for a week do. You probably won’t be surprised to hear about the pretty pagodas and the panda bears but what about taking a trip to Disneyland? Or handing out on sandy beaches? Or hiking to some of the world's most amazing mountains?
Dying to see China for yourself?
All About Volunteering In China
Yep, do all that and more when you actually live in China for a semester! The thing we might love the most is all there is to do here — who would have thought you could do all this in one country?
Vacation On An Island
Sandy beaches and blue waves don’t really sound like China, but that’s exactly what you’ll find if you travel to the right place.
Fringed with a coconut forest, you’ll find soft sand, calm waves, and your idyllic beach vacation on Sanya Bay on Hainan island. It’s huge crescent beach (about 10 miles long) that’s very popular with all kinds of tourists. It’s found just west of the city making it a very accessible spot to lounge on the sand and soak up the sun. The water here is clear and calm, and makes for a perfect swimming beach. One major perk of this beach? There are so many things happening here at night — think live music along the coastline, people dancing, restaurants open late, and the best people watching around.
Get more on Hainan Island here (with more pictures of course).
Go To Disneyland
Calling all Disney fans! China has not one, but two Disneyland parks! (Get the details on both of those and couple more foreign Disney parks right here) Our volunteers loooooooove putting on those Mickey Ears and flashing the classic Chinese peace signs here.
It's obviously one of the coolest ways to spend one of your weekends in China, for obvious reasons. We're here for all the Disneyland treats, your favorite rides, and just soaking up Shanghai's version of the happiest place on earth. To help your trip go as smooth as can be you'll want to make sure to get our insider tips. We have info on how to get the cheapest tickets, how to get there, and a list of our favorite treats.
Go To Church
Yep! You probably know that China is a communist country, but religion is allowed for foreigners (like you!). There are several churches (including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) in China if you want to attend.
Going to church in this country might be a little different than at home, depending on where you are living. You may have a short commute, a long commute or might not even need to leave your apartment to go to to church. Lots of members live far, far away from each other, so church is held via Skype or maybe in another member’s home so that everyone can connect, no matter how remote they are.
You can get a little more info about religion in China right here, but just know you can still go to church, even in China.
Hike Movie-Inspiring Mountains
Calling all hikers, photographers and adventurers! China may be famous for the history and the Great Wall, but I think this country should be famous for mountains. I've had my fair share of hiking adventures, but nothing really tops the sites I was able to see while volunteering in China.
China has some rad mountains — they are seriously cool and crazy beautiful. It’s nearly impossible to pick favorites but if we had to choose, we’d say the jungly Dr. Seuss mountains in Guilin and Yangshuo … and the Avatar Mountains in Zhangjiajie (the mountains that inspired the Avatar Movie).
Also Huangshan, nicknamed the "Yellow Mountains" have beautiful views that are all over Pinterest. All are jawdroppingly amazing and a crowd favorite every semester so come see them for yourself!
Seriously, this place is kinda trippy. Outside of Hangzhou is a suburb called Tianducheng that you might recognize if you’ve been to Paris even though you’re still in China. Complete with an Eiffel Tower replica and rows of those classic gray and white apartment buildings you may have a hard time deciding which picture is from your semester in China and which one is from your trip to France.
Get more on Tianducheng: China's Parisian city, right here.
Get Around Without Speaking Mandarin
Don't speak Chinese? No problem. Volunteers have been spending a semester in China without speaking a bit of Mandarin for years and years, we promise it's fine. If you're in a major city you'll likely find some locals who speak English, but maybe not when you head into the more remote parts of China.
So how do you communicate? Well, charades works pretty well! At a restaurant you might just point to picture on the menu of what you want. When you're buying a cute souvenir they'll pull out a calculator so you can see the price. Buy your train tickets ahead of time online so you can choose the English version. Also, try to learn the basics!
There are free apps that will teach you words like, "hello" and "toilet" - you know, the necessities.
We also have opportunities for you to take a few Mandarin classes with your group while you live in China and that helps, too! Either way - it will be an adventure but you can absolutely make it work. It's very rare that we have a volunteer who speaks Mandarin before traveling to China.
Get some help navigating China with these apps.
Ready to do all these things for yourself?