So, where are you from?”
“I'm from the UK, but I live in China”.
“China?! Why do you live in CHINA?!”
Funny as it sounds, this is the response I get from a lot of people back home when asked this question. When I first moved to China, I was looking for a new experience, a different culture and to learn a completely different language. I was aware of the vastness of the country, but I wasn't aware of the beauty of so many places. I could give a long list of reasons for living in China, and travel is pretty high up on that list.
Mountains, beaches, countryside, lakes, rivers, forests and ancient history. The Chinese landscape is so diverse that I'd recommend anyone in China to explore it on their days off. Weekend trips are easy because train travel and accommodation is cheap and the diversity of the landscape changes from province to province. Furthermore, the history and cultures of each provinceare unique. There are many traditions exclusive to people living in different regions of China, and they are only too willing to share it with you. While in China, make sure you check out, the Yellow Mountain (Huangshan), Zhang Jia Jie (the “Avatar” mountains), the Li River in Yang Shuo to name but just a few.
When you first move to China with EF, you'll be sure to meet like-minded people who want to experience new places, so often you'll be able to organise group trips with your new friends, avoiding the jam-packed weekends (Tip: don't travel in China on weekends unless you like feeling like a tinned sardine).
Trips organised by travel companies are widespread. Often, these will cost a little more than a DIY trip, but if you're lacking in time or travel buddies, they're a good way to travel with a planned itinerary, as well as meet people. Ask teachers or expats in your city if they know of any travel groups, or jump online and try the search engines or even sites like Qunar and C-trip. A personal favourite in Shanghai is Wanna Travel. They have some great trips.
One thing to keep in mind when planning to travel within China is NOT to do this in a Chinese holiday. Most Chinese nationals will use holidays to travel to their hometowns as well as doing some sightseeing, meaning prices increase as well as crowds. They don't call October Golden Week the biggest human migration for nothing. Most expats living in China will use this free time to explore a different country – Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Japan are all within close proximity to the mainland, making it a perfect opportunity to make the most of your vacation to explore different countries.
Grab your guide book and camera (or selfie stick) and hop on a train. There are some beautiful sights to be seen, amazing experiences to be had and interesting culture to be immersed in. Do your research, ask questions and just get out there!