Teach English in Haikou: The Complete Guide

Learn about the capital city on Hainan Island and what to expect teaching here

Haikou at a Glance

Haikou (Chinese: 海口, pronunciation: [hahy-koh], /ˈhaɪˈkoʊ/), also known as Coconut city, is the capital city of Hainan province. Haikou is a seaside city with around 900 years of history. Initially, Haikou was only regarded as a port, and it belonged to Qiongshan, which was the capital of Hainan in ancient times. It wasn't until 1926 that Haikou was separated from Qiongshan and became an independent city.  After decades of development, it has become the political, economic and cultural center of Hainan island.

Where Is Haikou

Haikou is situated in the southernmost part of China, directly facing the Guangdong province across the sea. More specifically, Haikou is  located in the north coast of Hainan province at 19°32′~20°06′ N and 110°08′~110°43' E. The total area of Haikou is about 3119 square kilometers, and the land area is 2289 square kilometers, that is 73.39%.

You can see the exact location of Haikou in the picture below.

Location of Haikou

Population of Haikou

Haikou is the most populous city in Hainan province. According to the Haikou statistical bulletin of 2019 on national economy and social development, in 2019 the total permanent population of Haikou is 2,327,900: 78.8% is urban population and  21.2% is rural population.

Weather in Haikou

Haikou lies in the torrid zone, and thus has a tropical monsoon climate with high temperatures, and long daylight hours all year round. From the information provided by Haikou Meteorological Bureau, the average annual temperature is 24.3℃ and the average annual hours of daylight is over 2000 hours. There is plentiful rainfall in Haikou, the rain falls mainly occur from May to October, and the average annual precipitation is 2067mm. The air quality in Haikou is really good, in 2019 the number of days with good / excellent air quality was 240 with a rate of 93.7%.

How to Get to Haikou

Haikou is close to Guangzhou and Shenzhen, both two tier 1 cities. The distance between Haikou and Guangzhou is 454 kilometers (282 miles) and the distance between Haikou and Shenzhen is 475 kilometers (295 miles).

The largest transportation hub of Hainan province, Haikou has convenient transportation and there are quite a few ways for you to get there. Overall, you can choose any of the following transportation based on your own needs.

By Air

Haikou has one airport called Haikou Meilan International Airport. It effectively connects Haikou with other parts of China and of the world, providing airlines flying both domestic and international routes.

By Train

Nowadays, there are three train stations in Haikou: they are Haikou Railway Station, Haikou East Railway Station and Meilan Airport Railway Station.  

By Ship

The main port in Haikou to ferry passengers is called Haikou port or Xiuying Port. Ship routes are Haikou to Guangzhou, Haikou to Beihai and Haikou to Hai'an, and so forth.

Haikou Xiuying Port
(Photo from You.trip)

Teach English in Haikou, Hainan

The education of Haikou has been rapidly developing in the recent years. As shown in the official bulletin, by the end of 2019, there were 11 general higher education institutions, 114 ordinary middle and high schools, 158 ordinary primary schools and 811 kindergartens.

Today's Haikou is no longer a remote and isolated border town, it is a open coastal city with a large number of job opportunities for expats. Like many other cities, the main industries in Haikou that can offer you a teaching job are international schools, kindergartens and training centers.

International School Jobs in Haikou

Haikou has nearly 10 international schools, including:

  • Maple Leaf International School Hainan,
  • Harrow Innovation Leadership Academy Haikou,
  • The Affiliated High School of Peking University, Haikou.

These international schools use English as one of their languages of instruction and provide international curriculum such as British Columbia. The majority of the international schools in Haikou aim to teach locals while some will also accept foreign students.

Teaching jobs in international schools in Haikou generally need teachers to make plans for their teaching and prepare lessons based on the school's curriculum.

Kindergarten Jobs in Haikou

Even though Haikou does not have as many international kindergartens as the tier 1 cities (i.e. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen), there are still some kindergartens such as Gaomi International Kindergarten and Haikou Nicole's Home Pre-school that hire foreign teachers.

To teach in the kindergartens in Haikou, you should not only teach children English but also spend time playing with them. It is important for you to have patience and to enjoy time with children if you want to become a kindergarten teacher.

Training Centre Jobs in Haikou

Training centres also provide quite a few job opportunities for expats. As an English teacher in a training centre, you may need to teach students from a wide range of ages. Most training centers in Haikou focus on teaching children and teenagers while some may also have adults as their students.

How Much Do You Get Paid to Teach in Haikou?

The salary difference among international schools, kindergartens and training centers is not significant. According to TTJ's Haikou City & Salary 2020 Research Report:

Type of SchoolMonthly Basic Salary 
Training Center¥13,792 ($1,970) - ¥18,524 ($2,645) 
International School¥14,804 ($2,114) - ¥18,651 ($2,663)
Kindergarten¥14,167 ($2,023) - ¥18,000 ($2,570)

Apart from the basic salary, most of them will give flight reimbursement and house allowance (or free apartment), and some of the kindergartens will also provide free meals to teachers as a benefit.

Haikou ESL Job Requirements

From Haikou City & Salary 2020 Research Report:

You need to have a bachelor's degree if you want to teach English legally in International schools, kindergartens or training centers.

If you are an English-native speaker with more than two-years of teaching experience, then you are more likely to get a teaching job as an ESL teacher. 87.5% of the training centers, 100% of the international schools and 75% of kindergartens will only consider English-native speakers as qualified candidates.

As for teaching experience, only 12.5% of the training centers, 14.29% of the international schools and 25% of the kindergartens will accept those without any teaching experience. The rest of them require at least two-years of teaching experience if you want to work for them.

Living in Haikou, China

Having been ranked as one of China's happiest cities by Investigation of China's economic life for three years since 2016, and is named as 'China's excellent tourism city' in 1998, Haikou is a wonderful city for both short-term travel and long-term living.

Things to Do in Haikou


Haikou is famous for its natural landscape, especially the beautiful beaches and resorts. For example, Haikou Holiday Beach, Xixiu Beach and Baishamen Park are excellent beaches where you can do lots of interesting and relaxing activities such as sunbathing, swimming and playing soccer.

Living in Haikou: beautiful beaches
(Photo from Baidu)


In Haikou, you will have chance to taste the authentic Hainan cuisine, including chicken, tropical fruit and seafood. Some popular dishes include Wenchang Chicken, Hainan Coconut Boat, Hainan Rice Noodles and so on.

Living in Haikou: delicious food
(Photo by Adam Liaw)

You can visit websites like Lonely Planet, Tripadvisor and TravelChinaGuide to find out more information.

Cost of Living in Haikou

From the data shown in Nomadlist and NUMBEO, the cost of living on average for expat, including the rent of an apartment in the city center, is about ¥6,523 ($931) per month. In other words, the cost of living in Haikou for an expat is only a quarter of the cost of living for an expat in New York City. An apartment with one bedroom in the city center will cost ¥1,600 ($228) per month on average, a basic dinner in a restaurant will cost you only ¥20 ($2.88) and a Coca-Cola / 0.3L will cost ¥5 ($0.73).

Where to Live in Haikou

Haikou can be divided into four districts: Xiuying District, Longhua District, Qiongshan District and Meilain District. Among them, Longhua District and Meilan District are the two most popular areas for expats to live in.

Haikou Subway Map

In 2020, there are still no metro lines in operation. However, there are plans to build four metro lines, containing 61 stations in total.

Below is the map of the transport infrastructure planning of Haikou.

Haikou City&Salary Report

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