Volunteer Abroad in China

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A Guide to Volunteering Abroad in China

Volunteer in China, a vast country filled with modern skyscrapers, rural farmlands, and palaces from ancient dynasties. Explore one of the only man made landmarks that can be seen from space, the Great Wall of China, and practice Mandarin, the most spoken language in the world. With a great need for volunteers in the fields of education, childcare, and wildlife conservation, China has a volunteer placement for everyone. Combine ancient cultural exploration with fulfilling community service, and you have volunteering in China, the trip of a lifetime.


Shanghai, the most populous city in the world, is located in east China on the mouth of the Yangtze River Delta. Originally a fishing village, Shanghai is now a popular tourist destination, known for its modern skyline, historical and cultural landmarks such as the Yu Garden, and as the global finance center. Popular placements in Shanghai include working in orphanages, teaching English, or volunteering with children with disabilities.

Beijing is China’s capital city located in the north. Volunteering in Beijing gives volunteers the chance to visit the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. Full of historical buildings and landmarks from ancient Chinese dynasties, Beijing is a city that allows travelers to immerse themselves in China’s extensive history. Placements in Beijing are similar to Shanghai - working with children with disabilities and orphanages are both very popular. There are also plenty of opportunities to teach English in Beijing.

Another popular location for volunteering in China is Xi’an. Located in the northwest of China in the center of the Guanzhong Plain, Xi’an is home to the Terracotta Warriors and is one of the oldest cities in the country. Volunteers can visit sites such as the Shaanxi Grand Opera House, the Xi’an mosque, or take a dip in the Huaqing Hot Springs. Popular volunteer placements in Xi’an include teaching English and helping with childcare. 

Chengdu is a city located in southwest China and is known as the “country of heaven” or “the land of abundance”. Home to to Panda Research and Breeding center, Chengdu is a popular place for volunteers seeking to work with pandas.

Volunteer Programs in China

Unfortunately, China’s one-child policy and its value of male babies in society has caused child abandonment to become a prevalent issue. Consequently, there’s a great need for volunteer work in orphanages in China. In orphanages, volunteers may assist orphanage staff in daily chores, care of children, spending time playing with the kids, or helping them with homework. There are many orphanage placements, for those who choose to volunteer in China, throughout the country.

Panda conservation is an important and popular volunteer project in China. In the past, panda populations were declining and their survival was being threatened. Although still an endangered species, conservation efforts have allowed these population issues to be resolved. Volunteers are needed to be apart of these panda conservation efforts; activities may include preparing food for the Pandas, cleaning enclosures, or doing some observations and research.

English teaching volunteers are in high demand in China - as a growing global economic powerhouse, the Chinese government is pushing for citizens to learn English. Consequently, teaching English is one of the most popular projects for volunteering in China. As an English teacher, volunteers can work in schools with Chinese students practicing English conversational skills. The main requirement for these programs is being a native English speaker.

Program lengths vary from a couple of weeks to a couple of years. English teaching placements tend to have more options for longer length programs, while orphanage and panda conservation placements typically last no longer than a couple of months. Most programs’ only language requirement is English. 

Costs & Affordability

China is a relatively inexpensive country to live in. Although plane tickets to China are pricey, restaurants and souvenir shops are very affordable (though you may need to haggle with souvenir shop owners to get prices down). When it comes to transportation within the city, trains and buses are the cheapest options, while taxis fares will be more costly.

Luckily, many volunteer programs in China include food, accommodation, and even in-country transportation in program prices! This means that many travelers don’t need to worry about anything but personal expenses while they are volunteering in China.

One thing to note is that although it’s cheap to eat out in China, volunteers shouldn’t eat food from the street vendors - street vendors often use cooking oil that is recycled from street gutters, which can be incredibly harmful to humans. When eating out, it’s important to stick to safe, well known restaurants.

Accommodation & Visas

Accommodation varies for volunteers in China, depending on the program provider and type. Housing options include apartments, flats, hostels, and shared volunteer housing. Some programs also offer the opportunity to live with a local host family, which helps volunteers integrate into the local community and experience cultural immersion.

US citizens are required to obtain a visa before volunteering in China. To apply for a visa, volunteers need to go to a Chinese Embassy or Consulate to turn in required documents (Find one nearest you in GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory). Volunteers will need a valid passport and should turn in their application at least a month before leaving for China.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Individuals embarking on a volunteer program in China should be aware that pollution is a serious issue in China, especially in cities like Beijing. Some days, the pollution is so bad that it’s recommended to not even be outside. It’s important to check the pollution level daily to know if certain activities, such as exercising (or even being outside), should be avoided. Masks that filter pollution particles can be worn to avoid inhaling harmful substances.

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A Guide To
Volunteering Abroad in China


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Affordable and Trusted Volunteering in China with IVHQ

International Volunteer HQ offers a range of volunteer opportunities within one of China’s oldest cities, Xi’an. Participants get a glimpse of 3100 years worth of cultural history and are encouraged to explore the area in their free time. The Teaching and Special Needs/Childcare projects offer rewarding opportunities to directly give back and contribute to the communities in and around Xi’an.

A volunteer teaching English in a classroom in China

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Volunteer in China with Projects Abroad

Experience life in China through Projects Abroad volunteer placements and gain fulfillment in helping others. International participants can stay in Chengdu or Shanghai for a couple of weeks and make a difference in the lives of children. This program offers a wide variety of placement options including Health Sciences, Sports, and Legal Aide.


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NGO and Community Service Internship in China

Undertake worthwhile work experience relevant to your studies or future career and take part in this NGO and Community Service Internship in China through Kaya. Your internship will be tailor-made to your interests and the needs of the NGO. You will intern for a small to medium sized organization in Beijing or Shanghai. This is a brilliant opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of Chines...


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Tutor or Volunteer Abroad in China with GeoVisions

Journey to China on a volunteer project with GeoVisions and teach a local family conversational English for at least 15 hours a week. Host families provide participants with a private room, three home-cooked meals each day, and learn English from their home. Participants get the chance to explore the culture of China through day-to-day activities with their families.


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We Have a Place for You in China!

Teach English to enthusiastic students or tutor teachers for one or two weeks in Xi’an or Kunming. Nurture children with autism, cerebral palsy, and Downs Syndrome at a privately funded special-needs children's school. Extend your service up to 24 weeks for $400/week. Experience China through the eyes of its people!


Look After and Feed Rare Endangered Pandas in China

Love Pandas? Would you like to visit them in the largest Panda Reserve in China? Then this is the project for you. Volunteering at the Panda Reserve offers you the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the rare Giant Panda - both the baby pandas and the grown-ups! Your work will involve being with the Pandas as a full time carer. You will be preparing food for the pandas such a...


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The Intern Group

Explore China and volunteer with The Intern Group. Participants can get involved in community development projects, care for the orphans, or teach sports. Placements are offered in Hong Kong and they are open to all nationalities.


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Volunteer in Shanghai with Connect-123!

Experience life in China by becoming a Connect-123 Shanghai volunteer! Placements in various fields are available, such as community service, health care, economic development, and education. Programs are open throughout the year and are available to participants aged 18 and above. Learn Mandarin and experience all China has to offer, all while giving back to the community!

A group of people visiting the great wall of China

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Volunteer Abroad in China with A Broader View!

China is one of the most populous countries in the world and offers many opportunities in the field of volunteering. A Broader View has placements in Yantai, a city in the northeastern Shandong province. Participants can teach conversational English in local schools including kindergarten, primary schools, high schools and colleges both in urban and rural areas.


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Volunteer in China with API

API offers volunteer and cultural immersion programs in Fengyan, Sichuan, and other cities in China. A variety of projects are available including teaching or tutoring, child care, and teaching or tutoring. Volunteer programs include room and board, visa assistance, airport pickup, on-site orientation and training, and more! Leave a lasting impact on the local community and volunteer with API!


Best Volunteer Programs in China

Volunteer in China and discover the Middle Kingdom from a completely different point of view. The massive country offers almost too many incredible sights to explore: from the megacities of Shanghai and Bejing to ancient temples, the Great Wall and the most spectacular natural sights, China will leave you absolutely stunned. A unique opportunity for volunteers in China is working with pandas. ...