Teaching Abroad in Asia: Pros and Cons of Each Country

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

Asia is a really popular place to teach English abroad because typically you have decent wages, low cost of living, and lots of travel opportunities! Obviously these pros and cons are subjective and may not be a positive or negative thing for you personally, but they are just things to consider when choosing a country to teach in.


Cambodia

Pros:

  • Low cost of living

  • Less requirements needed to teach (many only require a TEFL certificate, with no Bachelor's degree)

  • One of the easiest visa processes (just apply online and can extend when you're already living there)

  • Very close to other countries in Southeast Asia, so international travel is easier

  • Many landscapes in the country: mountains, countrysides, and beaches

Cons:

  • Low wages, it may be hard to save money

  • Low standard of living (below average medical facilities, non-potable water, poor infrastructure)

  • You can find jobs in advance, but it's more common to get a job once you're already in Cambodia

  • Most companies do not offer free flights from your home country to Cambodia


China

Pros:

  • High salary, with a low cost of living (The 3 main cities Shanghai. Beijing, and Shenzhen have a higher cost of living, but typically you'll have a higher salary to compensate)

  • You can secure a job in advance

  • Many landscapes in the country: mountains, countrysides, and beaches AND it's easy to visit them by plane, train, or bus (it may take a long time since the country is so big, but you have lots of transportation options!)

  • Most cities have a large expat community

  • A lot of companies offer free flights from your home country to China

Cons:

  • The language can be pretty difficult to learn (especially reading and writing the characters!)

  • The food can be hard for some people since it's nothing like the "Chinese food" you have back home

  • Communist culture (including the fact that nearly all internet sites are banned/blocked)


Japan

Pros:

  • High salary

  • You can secure a job in advance

  • Clean and efficient transportation around the whole country

  • High standard of living

  • Small country with lots of incredible sights to see, so you can easily visit them

  • Many landscapes in the country: mountains, countrysides, and beaches

Cons:

  • High cost of living, it may be hard to save money

  • Application process for teachers is a lot more in-depth than most other countries, so it takes longer

  • Most companies do not offer free flights from your home country to Japan

  • Japanese culture is very modest/strict so working conditions and attire will reflect that (full suit & tie for male teachers!)


Laos

Pros:

  • Low cost of living

  • Has both mountains and countrysides

  • Very relaxed culture

  • Very close to other countries in Southeast Asia, so international travel is easier

Cons:

  • Low salary

  • No beaches

  • Not much nightlife

  • Low standard of living (below average medical facilities, non-potable water, poor infrastructure)

  • You can find jobs in advance, but it's more common to get a job once you're already in Laos

  • Most companies do not offer free flights from your home country to Laos


South Korea

Pros:

  • High salary, with a low cost of living (Seoul is the exception to that!)

  • You can secure a job in advance

  • The Korean language is the easiest to learn than other Asian languages

  • Most cities have a large expat community

  • A lot of companies offer free flights from your home country to South Korea

  • Small country, so you can easily travel around to different parts

  • Many landscapes in the country: mountains, countrysides, and beaches

Cons:

  • Korean culture values hard work, so work/teaching schedules can be very strict

  • South Korea is very isolated, if you want to travel to any other country you'll have to take a plane

  • Small country, so you might feel like there isn't as much to do/see as bigger countries


Thailand

Pros:

  • Low cost of living

  • Very relaxed lifestyle

  • Thai people are very generous and kind

  • Very close to other countries in Southeast Asia, so international travel is easier

  • Many landscapes in the country: mountains, countrysides, and beaches

  • Thai society is very accepting of the LGBTQ community

Cons:

  • Low wages

  • Thai is a very difficult language to learn and speak

  • Laws of repression of free speech

  • Most companies will not offer free flights from your home country to Thailand


Vietnam

Pros:

  • High wages for Southeast Asia, with a low cost of living

  • Very relaxed lifestyle

  • Vietnamese people are very generous and kind

  • Many landscapes in the country: mountains, countrysides, and beaches

  • Very close to other countries in Southeast Asia, so international travel is easier

Cons:

  • Public transportation is very outdated and unreliable, most people use a motorbike

  • Vietnamese is a very difficult language to learn and speak

  • You can find jobs in advance, but it's more common to get a job once you're already in Vietnam

  • Most companies will not offer free flights from your home country to Vietnam


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