XI’AN, SHAANXI

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Notes from Xi’an

Written from the perspective of a British man living with his Chinese wife and daughter in Shaanxi’s bustling capital city, Notes from Xi’an captures life in China from a unique voice and perspective.

Xi’an-related articles are of particular use to any foreigners relocating to Shaanxi province. The Coffee Shop Listings are also a nice resource; find good places to get a cup of coffee in the city, not always the easiest thing to locate in the PRC.

NFX is also a fantastic source for finding China-related websites, blogs, and city guides online in the China Web Links section. Find links to mainstream news outlet, China-focused news sites, commentary on the country, regional/cultural/creative sites, popular expat blogs, podcasts/lectures, language sites, and links to English-language press.

The archive, organized in calendar format, features some interesting reads: Xi’an-ese culture and dialect, the language learning process, leadership transitions in China, Christmas in Xi’an, getting pick-pocketed, and other insightful reads.

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SHENZHEN, GUANGDONG

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Shenzhen Party

Shenzhen Party is all about events: what is happening in and around the fast-growing metropolis of Shenzhen.

The numerous, up-to-date events are laid out with images and brief descriptions, and are categorized as either Upcoming or Regular. One of the main featured events is the wine and cheese club which is sponsored largely by SZ Party. A great feature, under the events header as well, is the photo gallery section, displaying high-res, updated pictures from the most recent functions. These are sorted by date and event name and are well organized.

SZ Party is not strictly limited to events and nightlife. The apartment rental section is a good resource as it details locations by district, cost and contact details and can put prospective renters in touch with landlords/owners directly. The Guide to Shenzhen is also useful and contains a great number of articles, featuring topics such as business etiquette in China, choosing a nanny (“ayi”), Shenzhen business hours, getting a driver’s license, banking security, local festivals and traditions, and many more. There are also articles on local tourist attractions, a coffee shop guide, nightlife information, and handy little write-up on taxi costs to different districts. One thing to bear in mind is that many of the articles were written in 2011 and China is one of the most rapidly changing countries in the world.

WUHAN, HUBEI

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Wuhan Expat

Upon first glance, Wuhan Expat is not the most beautiful, easily-navigable of websites, however it is one of the only resources for expats or those interested in relocating to Hubei province’s capital city. The site contains a lot of basic, general information for newcomers to the city, including information like how to purchase a phone sim card, how to get Internet access, a brief list of international schools, and other helpful snippets. Be warned: some of the details are outdated (eg. photos from events in 2005).

Worth a look is the Sightseeing section, which lists many of the scenic and tourist attractions around the city along with descriptions, how to get there, and a few images. Again, I am not certain how up-to-date this information is, but it does provide a good overview on Wuhan.

The most active, current component of the site is the forum and jobs sections. These both have fairly frequent posts, discussions and updated details on what is happening around the city. The jobs forum is dominated by ESL teaching positions and seems to have a lot of repeat posters, which may indicate some dodgy recruiters.

XINJIANG

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Far West China

American Josh has lived in Xinjiang for over ten years and shares his experience and wisdom on his regional blog. Far West China is one of the few English-language Xinjiang blogs that has remained throughout Xinjiang losing internet access for over a year. This blog provides great content from a fascinating region of China.

The main sections include guides and hotel information for Xinjiang province’s largest cities (namely Urumqi, Korla, Turpan and Kashgar), tips on seeking employment and moving to Western China, and information on the cultures and history of Xinjiang and the infamous Silk Road.

The site is incredibly organized, beautifully presented, and contains articles and blog posts covering life, travel, and everything in between. Some of the past blog topics have included information on climbing Tian Shan, travelling in China’s primarily Muslim regions during Ramadan, details on the rioting that has been occurring throughout the province, details on seeing rarely visited areas of Xinjiang, and much more.

The Resources section has good suggestions for books, movies, and media related to Xinjiang as well as maps and a link for a guidebook purchase.

For any travellers or fresh faces in Xinjiang, Far West China is the best resource available on the internet.

BEIJING

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The Beijinger

The Beijinger, as its name suggests, is the guide for those in the nation’s capital. Listings for almost anything can be found here: upcoming events, such as music gigs, international forums, the latest reviews of the cafes in the capital’s many laneways, or bars in the famous upmarket Sanlitun district.

The Beijinger provides the hub for classifieds in Beijing, and is a comprehensive resources for job seekers, those looking for a new home, language exchange partners, and even friendship and interest groups.

Check out the blog for latest updates on China’s visa situation, issues affecting this rapidly growing city, and latest trends and news in China.

The forum component of the site needs updating as it is not totally user friendly and is also unfortunately marred by a number of “trolls”, particularly when users are asking about sensitive issues relating to changes to visa legislation and related matters.

While possibly not as well set out as the likes of City Weekend, or local Chinese site “Dianping” for food reviews, there are a number of reviews for some of the preferred laowai haunts in town. The site also runs some fun, interactive competititions, including the “best burgers in Beijing competition” which had local Western food eateries getting in to the competitive spirit and drawing great controversy from all corners of the expatriate community!

The Beijinger is the first place to look when moving to Beijing.

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Beijing CityWeekend

Similar to Shanghai CityWeekend, Beijing CW’s content is driven by events and listings for restaurants and nightlife. View today’s events by category: performances, parties, art exhibitions and all the hottest deals around town.

Articles and content are fresh and lively; read up on interesting new restaurants or little-known hole in the wall eateries. Event write-ups, eg. a “Halloweekend” guide, give readers a glimpse of what’s going on around the city, comparing different party options.

The Places in Beijing section breaks things down by community, culture, books, art, home and office, film, stage, shopping, and travel, and provides good descriptions of what to see and do. Users can comment on the restaurant/bar reviews and leave star ratings.

Beijing CW’s Expat Life section is also a good resource, providing information for new arrivals on hospitals, health care, services, relocating with family, finding a maid/housekeeper, learning Mandarin, and more.

GUANGZHOU, GUANGDONG

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Guangzhou Stuff

For all the latest event news and listings, Guangzhou Stuff is a decent resource for expats looking for things to do in and around Guangdong’s capital city. Find details on events like cooking classes, BBQs, happy hours, movie nights, concerts, and more.

GZStuff also primarily operates as a social network, similar to Facebook. Members can make profiles, find friends and use their handle on the forum as well. The forum is reasonably active with many q&a style posts, drinking/dining advice, tips on where to get your pets groomed or find love, etc.

A unique feature on GZStuff is the Groups section which allows members to join various groups based on different interests. This allows for easy connection with other locals/expats. Interested in rock climbing or language exchange? There are also groups for French, models and performers, Americans, meet-ups, acoustic guitar fans, and anything else you can imagine.

The Blogs section also makes for interesting reading. Members can post blogs, stories, and thoughts up on the site while allowing other members to provide comments and feedback. Find random musings on life in Guangzhou and China, events, jokes and discussion.

SHANGHAI

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Shanghai Expat

Covering everything you need to know about Shanghai and then some, Shanghai Expat is a fantastic resource for new arrivals or those looking to make the move to the PRC.

The site has a very active forums with a great number of “for sale” posts in particular as well as things like language exchange and other classifieds. Other noteworthy sections include the very popular Personals; Discounts, which provides users with health, dining, and language study deals; an up-to-date events page; and the impressive housing classifieds section, which is searchable and a great way to gauge prices and areas to live in the city.

Shanghai Expat boasts what is arguably one of China’s best job boards for non-English teaching positions with extensive, updated listings covering every industry, be it media, communications, hospitality, tourism, volunteering, commerce, or anything else.

Interesting articles covering the day-to-day in the city as well as culture, arts, and interviews, are updated frequently and are a good tool for navigating expat life. Topics include information on international schools, employability and Mandarin, diet, insight into being a new arrival in Shanghai, restaurant reviews, travel immunizations, and a vast range of other commentary and interviews.

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SmartShanghai

Slick, creative, and a little sexy, SmartShanghai stands out from the city site pack with its irreverence, urban insights and focus on culture and nightlife. The events section is particularly useful to expats at it is broken up to cover all the necessities: brunch and lunch deals, ladies nights, happy hours and open bars. There is also coverage for upcoming art exhibitions, concerts, literary events, plays, and film & cinema.

SmartShanghai’s Essential Guide: Nightlife is an excellent, well-written resource in itself for all you need to know about Shanghai’s legendary clubbing and bar scene. A Happy Hour map, guide to free drinking, and a nightlife ticket delivery service are included alongside sections on clubbing along the Bund, lounges, dive bars and pubs, local watering holes and rock and jazz bars.

The Shopping, and Wellbeing sections feature comprehensive reviews and photos of all the hot therapeutic and retail spots in town. The Activities guide is also an excellent resource and has listings for everything from fencing and bowling to mini golf and amusement parks. It also contains guides on topics such as the best swimming pools in the city and more offbeat areas like a local gun club and a “mystery house”.

Street and metro maps of Shanghai are also available on the site.

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Shanghai CityWeekend

In its 13th year of publication, Shanghai CityWeekend is an entertainment and lifestyle magazine that comes out every two weeks and cover the best Shanghai has to offer. With focus on events the website version of CW is useful as the TODAY section tells users exactly what is going on in the city right now, and is categorized by type of event (parties, concerts, performances, film, etc) as well as deals (food, drink, spa, shopping).

CityWeekend has thorough restaurant listings broken down by type of cuisine, plus features a “best of 2013” section. The nightlife section also features a best of and has a searchable bar/club directory. Users can leave their own reviews and star ratings on the dining and drinking listings, handy for readers to see what locals and laowai are loving and hating.

The other usual sections are included: jobs, personals, classifieds, and so forth. What stands out are the directories, which have listings for places like supermarkets and cinemas, as well as a guide to volunteering in Shanghai. The Expat Life section is also very helpful and has information on finding a job, finding housing, hospitals, and must-have apps for expats.