Basing yourself in Asia with a TEFL job is a great way of seeing the continent. Not only can you take your time about it, but you'll also be able to afford it due to your job.
Somewhere like Taiwan, Japan or Korea is a great place to set yourself up. The teaching itself will be a great experience, and so will the travel. In recent years, budget airfare has taken off (no pun intended) in Asia and there are more and more airlines offering cheap tickets. This means that where just ten years ago it would have been more costly, it's now pretty cheap to pop abroad when you've got some time off.
In this article we're going to talk about the details of travelling abroad, which airlines are recommended, and also some of the best places to go.
Getting Time Off
The amount of time you have off you'll have varies from school to school and country to country. Asia doesn't necessarily give the 4 weeks' minimum holiday that Europeans are used to, but if you end up working for a Western-managed school, you can still get long holidays. Two - Three weeks are the norm. Additionally, some schools are fairly flexible, as they don't mind how much holiday you take, as long as you can find cover.
To play it safe, assume you'll have two weeks per year, longer in your second and third years (as a side-note, this is one of the things you should look at when considering which jobs to take).
There are also National Holidays and things like Chinese New Year (in Taiwan) that will give you more time to travel. Except for Chinese New Year though, you'll usually only have the time for domestic travel during a National Holiday, unless you combine it with some of your own annual leave.
A good thing to do is plan ahead and book flights early. They can become more expensive during popular periods, and you may only get time off if your other co-workers are available to cover.
As mentioned earlier, there are quite a few budget airlines around Asia now, so you can find it much more affordable to travel. A lot of them will also have seasonal specials and promotions too.
Sometimes you'll need to fly via hubs such as Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur, so if you can't get a direct flight, check what budget flights are operating between your location and these places.
The following airlines offer budget options:
- Cebu Pacific (Philippines based)
- Jet Star (Australia based, but operating with subsidiaries all over Asia)
- Peach Air (Japan based)
- Shanghai Airlines (Limited flights)
- Air Asia (Malaysia based)
- VietJet Air(Vietnam based)
- Vanilla Air (Japan based)
There will be others coming out between the time of writing this article and you reading it, so don't consider this list exhaustive by any means. You can check this Wikipedia list for more.
A lot of countries in Asia will not require Europeans or North Americans to obtain Visa's before travelling, but some still will. The most significant of these are China and Indonesia. These visas can be slightly expensive, so make sure you do your research before you book the flight.
Places To Go
Everyone will look for different things, so your "must see" list might look very different from ours. However, based on popularity, we've put together this little list of recommended places to go. The longer you spend in Asia and the more time-off you have, the longer your list will be!
We also encourage you to share your views on this in the comments below.
This list is in no particular order.
- Bali, Indonesia.
- Boracay, Palawan, Philippines.
- Phuket, Bangkok, Any Islands, Thailand.
- Seoul, Korea.
- Taipei, Taiwan.
- Beijing, Shanghai, China.
- Hong Kong.
- Tokyo, Kyoto, Japan.
- Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.
With careful planning and some savings, even a one year visit to Asia can allow you some extensive travelling opportunities. It is also popular to do some travelling before you go home, upon contract completion. One thing is for sure, Asia is an excellent place to go to travel while you teach English, and you'll never get tired of exploring it.