temple chiang mai thailandVisiting the far east opens your mind and expands your world, but now many western travelers are looking to take that next step and let Asia shape their world through moving there.

The easiest way to make this dream a reality is to teach English.  It’s a fun, rewarding job and provides many opportunities for travel, (if you choose the right company).

Choosing the right city is also difficult and can mean the difference between life changing and disaster.

These cities are 3 of the best for many reasons.  Most importantly, they offer a world of exploration and cultural benefits at their doorstep while providing amenities that make them safe, comfortable and livable for a western traveler.

If you are considering the big move, then take a look at 3 of the most welcoming cities in Asia.

Top 3 Cities In Asia to Live as a Backpacking Traveler

1. Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei is the last true hidden gem in the hunt for the perfect Asian city to call home.

Picture a city as modern and diverse as Hong Kong with the chilled out island culture of Southern California.  Add mountains of jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, a rich intriguing culture, and endless options for mouthwatering cuisine drawn from tastes all over the world.

This is Taipei City in Taiwan.

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It won’t take long to discover that this city has been extremely well built.  The mix of old and new culture, the transportation infrastructure, and the pervasive public park systems are just a few of the reasons you will never want to go home.

The culture is also completely bilingual and welcomes foreigners with open arms.  It is the kind of place where someone will put their day on hold to help you find your way-then invite you over for dinner after.

If the rest of the world could learn from the Taiwanese, it would be a nicer, safer, more beautiful place.

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Most importantly, it is still easy to find a job teaching English in Taiwan because the rest of world is still discovering the secret. This isn’t to say you’ll be alone in the city, as there is still a thriving network of local expats to break into.

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The cost of living is roughly half the price of America, and if you teach English with the right company, you can be making a salary in the top 10% of Taiwanese wages.   You can live like a king and explore one of the most diverse countries in Asia.

I spent 2 years living and working here, and after visiting nearly all the other cities in Asia I can confidently say I made the right choice.  

 2. Seoul, South Korea

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Seoul shares many of the same elements as Taipei, making it the second best city in Asia to live in as a foreigner.

The city is very modern and westernized, but still has pockets of unique Korean culture to learn from.  It is incredibly clean and full of natural escapes like mountains, beaches and parks and the public transport is phenomenal.

There is so much to see and do in this city, you couldn’t get bored if you tried.  Epic nightlife, massive international cuisine, music events, markets and endless other activities will have you busy from dawn till dusk.

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The Korean culture isn’t just friendly to foreigners, it worships them.  Expect to make a lot of friends and feel at home right away.
Like Taipei, the city is also extremely safe.  My best friend Waverly has taught English for two years in Seoul and as a young woman, she never felt endangered.

“Its the kind of place where I could pass out on a bench in the park all night and ever have any problems.”

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There are many companies to teach English with in Korea, but it is safest and most rewarding to teach with the government.  I have a few friends that got scammed by illegitimate companies who were advertising wildly different jobs than they offered in reality.

It’s a good idea to be cautious when choosing to work with a smaller, less known company anywhere in Asia.

With the government, you will receive great pay, an incredible health care package and free housing, (although many free housing options are more like large closets). 

 3. Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Chiang Mai is a cultural melting pot of Thai history, arts, and religion.  It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, as well as one of the most popular places to teach English in the country.

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It is known for its extravagant temples, classes in the Thai arts, and well managed Asian attractiveness. Since it is a smaller city, it doesn’t get polluted and it is easy to escape into the lush mountains for a hike.

The city is very safe and there are many modern western health facilities that accept the cheap public healthcare.

Because there is already a well-established network of foreigners, this city makes for a very smooth transition into the Asian culture.  There are plenty of western options for dining, nightlife, and many places for foreigners to meet each other, especially at the night markets.  The downside to this, of course, is that many areas feel quite touristy.

Unlike Bangkok, Chiang Mai is more laid back and easy going, but finding a good job teaching English is harder, especially if you don’t have a TEFL certificate or past experience.  Most foreigners choose to work for one of the many private schools or gain some invaluable experience working for one of the nonprofit programs.

Don’t expect to make as much money in Chaing Mai, but the quality of life and the endless array of travel opportunities make this city an excellent home base in Thailand. 

Are you thinking about living abroad, what are you looking for in a new home?