ECHINACITIES

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eChinacities

One of the premier resources for expats moving to China, eChinacities has it all: city-specific write-ups, major events, directories, and a massive database of articles on every possible topic related to living in China.

Article topics range widely: find useful articles on updated visa regulations and finding the correct visa application category to suit your circumstances; info on buying good air purifiers; making sense of rumours for travel during Golden Week; sex education in Chinese schools; Western recipes utilizing the limited resources in Chinese kitchens and supermarkets; street food and food safety; Chinese film; travel advice, and so forth.

Compiled by a number of locals and expats from across the country, the city guides are also useful introductions to the major metropolitan centers in China, providing details on the main tourist attractions, events, and news.

The Weird China News section is an interesting read and as the name suggests gives some pretty funny accounts of what is happening in the PRC.

The Answers section is a good place to have any questions answered in a variety of categories, including visas, law, safety, online censorship, money/banking, transportation, family, business, travel, and culture. The forums are also very active and have job postings from around the country as well as lots of Sino-centric debate and discussion.

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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.

NANJING, JIANGSU

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Nanjing Expat

Nanjing Expat is really an amalgamation of four brands: The Nanjinger, a monthly publication aimed at Western expats with a focus on listings for local hotels, restaurants, and businesses; City Guide, a taxi book to aid foreigners in getting around the city; LifeCycle, a weekly e-newsletter; and finally NanjingExpat.com. With sections like News & Stories (featuring local expats in the news as well as national stories), upcoming events, classifieds, and a somewhat active forum, the site is well-structured and updated consistently.

Nanjing Expat’s City Guide is hit or miss. There are fantastic reviews and descriptions of many of the city’s tourist attractions, along with photos, brief explanations for transportation options, and names and addresses in Chinese. There are also fairly good restaurant reviews and information on places like gyms and spas around the city. Unfortunately some of the review pages are not very comprehensive or only include addresses and a few lines of information.

The website has an embedded online version of the well-done Nanjinger magazine, with articles on local sports, health and beauty, interviews, eco-friendly living, a “Chinese corner” and other interesting features.

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Hello Nanjing

Touting itself as the “premier social network in Nanjing”, Hello Nanjing is a nicely designed site with a focus on connecting local expats with one another; a great alternative to the typical situation of foreigners meeting at local watering holes.

Hello Nanjing operates with a similar structure to Facebook: add friends, customize a profile, post shareable albums and photos, discuss events, and follow activity streams. The network currently boasts over 9000 users and also connects to the forums. Forum sections like Social, Helpline, an open chat and the typical classifieds/personals/accommodation are useful and active.

The Nanjing Directory is fairly extensive and contains listings categorized into restaurants, services, hospitality, family, activities, retail, and tourism. These are accompanied by pictures, brief descriptions, Google Maps, and Chinese contact details.

The Nanjing Articles section is worth a look. While it does not contain many articles yet, there are some news items on things like new air routes, international ties, and events scattered amongst interesting commentary on cycling, charity information, and dealing with Jiangsu’s humid summers.

A small events section does not seem to be updated regularly; for the latest news on what is happening in the city, it would be better to take a look at the NanjingExpat.com site.

CNNGo China

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CNNGo China

CNNGo’s China section is unique from other PRC-related sites as it is completely made up of articles, be it news, entertainment, or informational. The website contains some interesting lists, for example:

Other articles are in-depth and well-written, providing interesting glimpses of China that may not have been otherwise discovered. Learn the top eight dishes to try when visiting Nanjing, read about how to ride a mountain steam train near Chengdu, check out ‘mini-guides’ on some tier 2 cities, find out the location of Beijing’s alleged most haunted spots, and learn all you need to know about every variant of dumpling.

News articles are insightful and current, too: Justin Beiber’s Great Wall escapade, issues with drunk and disrespectful expats in Shanghai, Beijing’s micro-brewery boom, and other pieces.

What I have found very special about CNNGo’s articles is that they have some measure of credibility and journalistic quality to them. Pictures are high quality and information is accurate and current. This is great site to explore, read, and learn from, and is highly recommended for an overview on China.