China is a massive country encompassing mountain ranges, rivers, grassland, lakes, deserts, coastlines, and metropolitan cities. In cities, ancient traditions merge with a fast-paced, modern culture. But it's also full of opportunities for high schoolers to spend meaningful time abroad.

Whether you're studying Chinese to get a jump start in an internationally minded career or volunteering in rural China, the pool of high school programs in China is almost as big as the country itself.

So step outside of your comfort zone, experience a unique way of life and spend time in China!

China is great for students who are interested in economics, business, finance, learning Chinese, experiencing a unique culture, and eating great food.

Language & Culture Immersion Programs

Language immersion programs in China are offered all times of the year. They range from one semester to a full year or just during a winter or summer break. Determined students can benefit from these courses by receiving high school or even college credit.

Accommodations are usually organized with a host family, providing students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture and Mandarin, the national language, adding a boost to their educational experience.

In the summer time, teenagers also have the option of participating in a language summer camp to really nail down their language skills.

Youth Travel Tours

High school students who want to travel through China over summer, spring, or winter breaks should look into teen travel tours. These trips are well organized so students get the most out of their short time abroad through Chinese language and culture courses, sightseeing at historical attractions, and taking classes. Most tours have themes like environmental conservation, community service, cooking, or adventure.

Volunteer Programs

There are several different types of projects that high school students can get involved in through a volunteer program in China:

  • Assist with English teaching or conversation
  • Panda conservation
  • Community development
Student Visa

Students from most countries will need to obtain a visa before arriving in China. Visa requirements for China differ depending on what you’re doing, how long you’re staying, and what country you’re from, so it's definitely a good idea to consult the embassy's website well in advance.

High schoolers planning to study and stay less than six months need an F visa. Those not studying can apply for a tourist or L visa. Generally, your study abroad, tour, or volunteer program will assist you in obtaining a visa since it can be a tricky process to navigate on your own. At the very least, they'll point you in the right direction.


The program you select will determine your housing options while in China. Homestays are common with language and cultural immersion programs. This allows students to engage with the resident culture and become a part of a local family.

Volunteer programs may provide apartments, dormitory accommodations, or a homestay. Teen travel tours frequently provide participants with hostels or shared hotel rooms.


If you’re traveling from North America to China, flights can vary from $1,100 to $1,300 USD depending on the airport. Those coming from Europe can pay $650 to $800. Major international Chinese airport hubs include Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Beijing.

China is inexpensive compared to North American and European countries. And with the economic struggles it is currently facing, China is becoming increasingly affordable for foreigners. Plan to budget about $20 - 30 per day for personal expenses, like souvenirs, cell phone credit, snacks, or any meals that aren't included in your program's fees.

Program costs in China fluctuate depending on length of stay, type of housing, and included amenities. Prices can range from $400 for two weeks volunteering to $4,000 for a summer immersion program.

Packing Tips

Packing for China depends entirely on what time of year you’re visiting and where you’ll be. Also consider that China is a massive country, so living farther north, and further from the equator, will be overall chillier than living in a more southern destination. The summer months (June, July, August) are hot while the winter months (December, January, February) can be quite chilly.

Also keep in mind that if you're staying for an extended period of time, some items, like shoes in your size, might be hard to find while in China. For more details, you'll likely find some good tips on our packing list for teachers in Asia.


  • Breathable and UPF (sun resistant) clothing
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • A hat


  • Warm/waterproof jacket
  • Boots
  • Layers


  • Solid walking shoes for outdoor adventures
  • A power converter
  • Feminine hygiene products for the duration of your time there
  • Contact solution (if you wear contacts) or glasses
Staying Healthy in China

It's recommended that travelers obtain hepatitis, yellow fever, typhoid, tetanus, and rabies vaccinations before traveling to any developing countries. Diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis A and B, influenza, measles and typhoid are common in China. Medical facilities in China are not up to Western standards, especially in rural areas. Payment is frequently required in advance of treatment, even in emergency situations. Air pollution is a problem in many major cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou.

Stay away from animals you don’t know in China as they may carry rabies. Only drink bottled water and ensure that your food is properly and completely cooked. Traveler’s diarrhea is common, especially when first arriving to a new country, so stay hydrated and see a health professional or talk to your program leader if symptoms don’t abate after a week.

Safety Considerations

High school students traveling in China should not have major problems if they follow general safety guidelines. Violent crimes are uncommon in China but some petty annoyances, like pickpocketers and scams are more of a concern.

If you're in a crowded tourist destination keep your valuables secure from pickpockets.

Scam artists have been known to invite foreigners to tea and then leave them with exorbitant bills. Others call and claim to be Chinese police officers in need of a funds transfer to resolve an identity theft claim. Do not wire any money if you receive a call like this and, instead, contact the Public Security Bureau.

Though it's unlikely that you'll be taking a taxi on your own, if you do end up using taxis, always request to use the meter and get a receipt. Wait to pay your driver until after you and your bags have left the taxi. Avoid unlicensed “black cabs.”

Counterfeit currency is an issue, so it is best to use smaller bills or exact change when dealing with taxis. Only use ATMs at trusted institutions.

Contributed by Alecia Weaver

High School Abroad Programs in China

Displaying 1 - 15 of 48 programs
Travel For Teens
Travel For Teens: Community Service Travel Programs
Multiple Countries
9.85 •13 reviews

Meaningful Community Service is an important component to many of our...

Global Leadership Adventures (GLA)
Volunteer in China: Mandarin Service Adventure
10 •3 reviews

The China: Mandarin Service Adventure program is uniquely designed for...

Travel For Teens
Travel For Teens: China
10 •2 reviews

Discover the wonders of ancient and modern China with Travel for Teens...

Where There Be Dragons
China: Mandarin Language Intensive High School Summer Program
9.67 •3 reviews

Language in China has always been a dynamic and powerful force. As we...

RISH Chinese Learning Center
Chinese Full-immersion Summer Camp in China for 8-18 Years old
9.76 •50 reviews

Top-ranked Chinese summer camp organizer in China; 10+ years of...

Where There Be Dragons
Mekong: Tibetan Plateau to the Heart of Southeast Asia Gap Year Semester
Multiple Countries
10 •2 reviews

To Tibetans, the Upper Mekong is a powerful spiritual entity. To the...

Where There Be Dragons
China and Kyrgyzstan: The Silk Road High School Summer Program
Multiple Countries
9.5 •2 reviews

Explore the diversity of China and Kyrgyzstan’s peoples and cultural...

MEI International Academy
Semester and Term Programs in Asia and Australia
Multiple Countries
9.95 •21 reviews

Imagine studying Buddhism in the temples of Angkor Wat, exploring the...

Global Works
Global Works Custom Group Travel
Multiple Countries
10 •1 review

Global Works Custom Group programs offer travel experiences for an...

AFS Year and Semester High School Abroad in China
9 •3 reviews

Study abroad in China to discover a fascinating intersection of...

MEI International Academy
Full Year Global High School Program
Multiple Countries
10 •3 reviews

Imagine studying Buddhism in the temples of Angkor Wat, exploring the...

EdOdyssey Custom Student Trips Around the World
Multiple Countries
10 •12 reviews

EdOdyssey creates amazing custom immersions, exchanges, and faculty...

Tru Experience Travel
China International High School Cultural Exchange
10 •2 reviews

This project gives participants from all over the world a chance to...

That's Mandarin Chinese Language School
Chinese Summer Camp in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen
9.43 •70 reviews

Between the months of June and August your Kids and Teens ( 7- 17 )...

Rustic Pathways
Summer High School Programs in China with Rustic Pathways
8.8 •5 reviews

Rustic’s programs in China expose students to the wonders of this...

What People Are Saying

Amazing. Honestly this trip is outstanding. This trip is probably the coolest thing I have ever done. It allows you to see different perspectives of the world, step out of your comfort zone and meet...

Ha long Bay

I had an absolutely amazing time on the Trailblazers trip. I made incredibly strong connections with all of the students and teachers and would not trade my experience for anything else. I HIGHLY...

On this day of the trip, we hiked from the famous Bondi beach, all the way to Coogee beach.

Going on MEI was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. Not only did we have this amazing opportunity to travel, meet amazing people, and be taught by the best teachers, but we were able to...

The Forbidden City in Beijing, China

Related High School Abroad Articles