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It’s time to decide what city you’re going to call your “home away from home” while studying Chinese in China.

While you may have thought you should learn Chinese in Shanghai at first because it’s a major city, here’s why you should pick Kunming instead.

Air Quality

Air quality is a big deterrent for people when they’re picking a place to study. We all know that China has a lot of pollution. You see people wearing pollution masks all the time and that’s something we don’t want to have to give you on your first day of school.

Actually, we promise we won’t be handing you a mask because you are able to breathe easily in our beautiful city. Kunming is known as the “eternal city of spring”, which means we experience spring-like weather year round.

Let’s compare the air index

Kunming - 55 / Moderate 55
Shanghai - 104 / Unhealthy 104

Kunming is the capital and largest city in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. It’s a city that has blue skies, temperatures around 20-28 degrees and has moderate/good air quality. Air masks are not a common accessory in Kunming.


Looking to learn Chinese in Shanghai? Among other considerations, the air quality in Shanghai is unhealthy and you should consider learning Chinese in Kunming instead.
Chinese tourist overlooking Shanghai Huangpu District; barely visible due to unhealthy air quality.

Crowd Control

Close your eyes and imagine walking through the streets of China right now.

While your eyes were closed, did you think of being shoulder-to-shoulder with others, car horns honking and people walking in all directions? If you answered yes, that is what you’ll experience in Shanghai.

Instead of studying Chinese in Shanghai, which has a population of 24 million, why don’t you choose a smaller city? Kunming has a population of 6.6 million. While the population is still relatively large, Kunming has fewer crowds, less honking and people are generally walking in the same direction.

You will get the small town feeling, while still in a bustling city that is the first choice for many people looking to study Chinese in China.

Think of Shanghai like New York (cold and city-like) and think of Kunming like a small town in Colorado, where the people are friendly.

Safety

One of the most important things to consider when picking a city to study Chinese in is safety. Everyone wants to feel safe and comfortable while you’re in your new country. While you may want to learn Chinese in Shanghai, picking a smaller city like Kunming will be better for your safety.

According to Numbeo, the level of crime in Kunming is 25/100, or low. Problem violent crimes have a rating of 25/100, or low, and crimes based on your skin colour, ethnic origin or religion have a rating of 10/100 or very low. The worry of being broken into, mugged, robbed or having things stolen is 33/100 or low. According to TripAdvisor, Kunming is a safe travel destination for both male and female travelers.

Working with these statistics, travelers who have been to Kunming have stated on travel forums that the city is safe, comfortable for men and women and they aren’t fearful of crimes.

In comparison to learning Mandarin in Shanghai, the crime rates for that city are higher than Kunming.

The level of crime in Shanghai is 40/100 or moderate. Problem violent crimes have a rating of 39/100, or low, and crimes based on your skin colour, ethnic origin or religion have a rating of 40/100, or moderate. The worry of being broken into, mugged, robbed or having things stolen is 42/100, or moderate.

Just over 50% of people surveyed by Numbeo said they felt safe walking alone during the night in Shanghai. More than 65% of people have no worries about walking alone at night in Kunming.


Shanghai is a crowded city to learn Mandarin in China. Consider Kunming as a safe and uncrowded alternative to study Chinese.
Kunming locals enjoying the safe and uncrowded streets of their popular shopping district.

Cost Of Living

One of the best things about choosing to study Chinese in Kunming is the cost of living. While you’re at Keats School, you get study + room + meals and it’s only 521 USD a week. This gives you 20 hours of one-on-one Mandarin Chinese languages. You won’t be able to get that price in Shanghai because it’s more than tripled.

When it comes to learning Mandarin in China, housing is included in Keats tuition for all classes except small group classes.

If you were to decide to study Mandarin in Shanghai, you would have to rent an apartment during your study abroad experience. A one bedroom apartment in Shanghai is going for 7,068 ¥ currently, which equals to $1,378 a month in rental fees on top of Mandarin language lessons.

When it comes to meals, Kunming has a cheaper food compared to Shanghai.

A meal at a fairly priced restaurant in Kunming will cost 18.00 ¥, which is the equivalent to $3.50 CAD. In Shanghai, the same meal would cost approximately 30.00 ¥.

Another benefit of Keats is that meals are actually included in the tuition too! When you pick your study Mandarin in China class option, you will also be treated to 3 meals a day during the week.

City Highlights

Kunming

Shanghai

Accredited Private Chinese Language Schools Learn Chinese in China universities
Keats was founded in 2004 Universities have larger classrooms with less one-on-one time.
It’s accredited by the Provincial Education Department and the Kunming Education Department annually Large lecture halls
Keats was named the best Study Chinese in China school in Kunming by gokunming.com Basic information with less opportunity to ask questions and get real time answers.
Points of Interest Points of Interest
Stone Forest The Bund
Yuantong Temple Oriental pearl Tower
Dongchaun Red Land Yu Garden
Transportation Transportation
Kunming Changshui International Airport Hongqiao Transportation Hub
Kunming Railway Station High speed rail/air/metro/bus
4 Major long distance bus stations Shanghai Public Transportation Card
Internal city transportation includes bus/subway/taxic/public bicycles  

FREE CHECKLIST

Consider These Things Before Moving Abroad to Study

So, you’ve made up your mind. You’re traveling to China to study Mandarin, but there are a lot of things to consider before getting on that airplane.

To answer the travel questions you have, download our FREE Consider This Checklist. This printable infographic fills you in on everything to think about before moving to China.

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