Visiting China as a Digital Nomad makes a lot of sense. If you’re already in SE Asia, then a flight to a place like Kunming isn’t that difficult to arrange.
There are different cities to consider in China if you are planning to stay for a month to several months while tending to your digital projects or providing services online. Not every city is ideal, so we will cover four that are worth strong consideration.
Beijing is a bustling city with a tech following. Their ZhongGuangchun startup street has several co-working places and cafés for digital nomads to use. The government is keen to promote ZhongGuangchun as a startup city like Silicon Valley.
When spending any time in Beijing, socializing is done partly via the WeChat app, so make sure you have set yourself up there. The city is very social with people keen to meet expat foreigners, learn English and understand how foreigners are using technology differently to young Chinese.
Be sure to get some expat insurance in Beijing to protect your belongings while you are there. In a big city, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The internet is super reliable in Beijing with decent speeds. Video streaming and other higher bandwidth uses shouldn’t be a problem. A virtual private network might be required, as the firewall in China is strong.
Hangzhou in the Zhejiang Province is the busiest city in that part of China.
For digital nomads that enjoy local sights, there are plenty of relics harking back to times past. When you have free time, there are many picturesque locations suitable for side trips on the weekend. This includes the West Lake, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and definitely worth a visit.
The city has a mixture of residential areas along with a commercial zone. Both locations are near each other, so it’s possible to rent a bicycle and ride between them without difficulty. The local Chinese food is excellent and there is good nightlife to keep the evenings interesting.
You may have to use Google Translate more if staying in Hangzhou because English is spoken far less often than in major cities like Beijing.
The internet is reliable and runs up to 30-35 MBPS.
Head to Qingdao for the beach life. While the beaches get busy most days, they’re cooler and less populous in the morning.
The city has a mix of both German and Chinese traditions. Qingdao benefits from its own microclimate, which ensures that the temperature never drops to intolerable levels in the winter months, though you probably want to skip taking a dip.
There’s a collection of seafood restaurants on or near the beach, along with free Wi-Fi. 4G providers are plentiful in the area too.
The internet speed is only around 7-10 MBPS. Enough for surfing the web but not video calls.
Zibo in the Shandong Province runs along the Yellow River in the northern part and touches Mount Taishan down south. These are both excellent places to enjoy some time off from being productive and getting out of the center of Zibo when the need arises.
The city of Zibo is a hub for transportation links with easy transport into Beijing, Qingdao, and Jinan via a bullet train. There are also buses throughout Zibo once you learn how to use them.
Several mountain ranges are not far away, including Yuwang Mountain, Phoenix Mountain, and Wanglu Mountain. The Yuanshan National Forest Park is a drive away and worth a visit too.
The internet speed is around 10-15 MBPS.
In most cities, the internet is reliable but not always fast. Using a VPN to get around website blocking is often necessary. However, there are also plenty of expat-friendly cafés to visit where the internet is available too.