Ningbo Here I Come!

I FINALLY found out where I will be living next year: Ningbo, Zhejiang!

While not on my original list, the more I learn about Ningbo, the more excited I am to live there next year. I’ll be working at Wuxiang Middle School, right on the outskirts of downtown.


Ningbo is a medium to small sized city of 5 million just south of Shanghai and Hangzhou. It’s about an hour and a half by train to Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang, and about 2.5 hours to Shanghai. The interesting thing about Ningbo, is that it sits on the Yangtze River delta right near the ocean. This means that the city is covered in small canals, similar to Amsterdam, while it’s also a quick drive away from beach! Ningbo’s proximity to the ocean also means great seafood! Yum.


Ningbo is one of the oldest cities in China, dating back to the Neolithic Hemundu culture in 4800 BC. Fun fact: the Hemundu were actually one of the earliest cultures in the world to cultivate rice! Later, Ningbo served as an important trade city on the Silk Road, and then a prominent port throughout the Tang Dynasty. After the Opium War in which China’s ports were forcibly opened by the West, Ningbo served as one of the 5 treaty ports along with Shanghai, Guangzhou, Fuzhou and Xiamen.


Currently, Ningbo is famous for its political activism. Last year, Sinopec, China’s largest oil company, planned to build a new chemical plant near Ningbo. Earlier that year, three Sinopec plants were accused of leaching chemicals into the municipal water supply. In addition to this, residents were also concerned about the production of the toxic petro-chemical PX, which is used to make polyester products, paints and plastic bottles. When the plant’s construction was announced, Ningbo residents rioted in the streets, holding up smart phones and tablets while posting protest information on Chinese social media websites. Eventually, the government relented, and cancelled the project.



Ningbo is also a very popular tourist spot for those living around the Shanghai area; it even hosts a Crowne Plaza Hotel right on the water! One of the most famous sites in Ningbo is an ancient library complex that serves as the oldest library in China, dating back to the Ming Dynasty. Ningbo is also famous for its Buddhist population, and it’s only a short ferry ride away from the famous Buddhist island Putuoshan. However, I am most excited to take a quick visit to Ningbo’s natural hot springs in the winter!

Crowne Plaza Hotel

Crowne Plaza Hotel

Having never heard of Ningbo, I was a little worried about the amount of “stuff to do”; however, after reading up on the city, I think that Ningbo is a good fit for me. Ningbo has plenty of Chinese and Western restaurants, as well as bars, cafes and clubs. Since it is a smaller city, I will be able to get to know the area very well in the year that I am there. I can also easily travel to other cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing on the weekends, or take a quick trip to the beach or the hot springs depending on the season. Since Ningbo isn’t very well-known by Western tourists, I can imagine that not much of the population speaks English well, which will be good for my Chinese. It also means that I can really make a difference teaching oral English in the classroom. However, if I ever want to hang out with other expats I will have roughly 15 other teachers in my program, as well as the British University of Nottingham down the street.


Overall, the more I read, the more excited I become. While I won’t be with some of my friends in Nanjing, I think this will be a good opportunity for me to branch out and meet more amazing people. I definitely hope to also befriend other Chinese teachers at my school, because I really enjoyed my friendships with our Chinese roommates in Xi’an. If anyone reading this has ever been to Ningbo, and has any information or advice, please let me know!

As for now, less than two weeks until I leave for China!!!



About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

15 comments on “Ningbo Here I Come!

  1. Pingback: I’m Moving to China! | Liz's Adventure In China

  2. I am supposed to be in the program too but ameson has failed to get me to china for real are you actually ther right now? Please let me know

    • Hi Lr, I am definitely in China right now. Feel free to refer to my most recent post, about my somewhat rocky experience coming to Ningbo. Don’t let that scare you though, because most of my friends in the other cities are having a great time. Also, you should definitely join the Facebook group: where everyone has been talking about placements, visas, etc. Out of the 16 of us in Ningbo, only 3 of us are here right now.

  3. Hello, Richelle. My name is Tatiana and I am from Russia. I was currently offered two teaching positions from a similar school in Ningbo and Xian and I am trying to make up my mind where to go. Its’ EF school in both cities, in Xi’an the salary is a 1000 RMB better but Ningbo seems like a more exciting place in terms of its location. Which city would u recommend me to stay in for another year. How is your impression on life in NIngbo compared to Xian? I would appreciate your reply!!

    • Hey Tatiana, both are great cities and I’ve lived in both of them! Ningbo is a somewhat nice, pretty coastal city whereas Xi’an has amazing food, history and culture. Ningbo is a better location for traveling outside China (you can take a bus to Shanghai) and traveling to the nearby cities like Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou and Shanghai. Xi’an offers way more touristy things to do than Ningbo, like the Terracotta Warriors, Muslim Market, Hua Shan (the crazy mountain with the planks). Honestly if I were you I would probably take the Xi’an job if they’re both exactly the same. But I suggest you look up exactly where the school is. If one of them is in the middle of nowhere don’t go there. Also think about the ages you might be teaching. Finally, I do offer skype consulting if you want to talk more about these cities in detail. You can find more on my Chat About China page!

  4. Hey Richelle!
    I’ve been offered a job at a school known as English First in Ningbo. Just curious to know if you perhaps have any information about the school (seems like a kind of franchise) and if there’s anything I can do to better prepare myself for life in Ningbo!

    Thanks a lot,

    • Hey Nadia, I’ve definitely heard of EF. They’re everywhere! They seem to be a pretty decent school depending on where you’re placed. I would stay there for the year and then transfer to a different, higher paid position after your contract ends. Ningbo is pretty nice, where in Ningbo are you headed?

  5. Hello Richelle,

    Are you still active?
    I have a potential job placement in Ningbo and i have pretty much just one question.

    Are there any Thai Boxing, Boxing, Wrestling or MMA gyms in or near Ningbo?
    If not, are there any other in the neighbor cities?

    I have googled but not much information available.

    Thank you in advance


    • Hey Mo! I’m definitely still active although I haven’t lived in Ningbo for a few years. I know that the University of Nottingham has an active Muai Thai club. They might be the best place to start? I’m not sure if they allow non-students, but they might know of a few good places to practice and compete. If not, Shanghai should definitely have something.

  6. Hello! I’m thinking of taking a job in Ningbo. How was your experience there? Is there a large expat community?

    • Ningbo is a great second-tier city. There is a small but lively expat population, as well as a decent sized expat student population from the University of Nottingham. I would just try to be closer to downtown Ningbo. Make sure you’re not in the middle of nowhere like I was! Ask for the address and plug it into google maps to double check. As long as you’re near downtown or near the University of Nottingham, you’re set! Beilun is nice, but very far from downtown so you might feel isolated. I was in between the city center and Beilun in the middle of nowhere and I really do not recommend that! PS- if you’re taking a job in China but haven’t signed the contract yet (or even if you have), definitely check out my free 3-part video training series to help you prepare for your time in China!

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