You won't be making the big bucks here but you'll be seeing the countries develop and you'll be helping them build the next generation into a force to be reckoned with. What do I mean? Consider that the Asian continent has more than a billion people, that's a lot mouths to feed and one way to feed them is to do business with the West. With the places listed below, you'll often be making enough to live comfortably within the country but may not be able to save very much. One of the major benefits of the countries below is that, depending on your employer and the program through which you apply, you may be able to earn TEFL certification while gaining experience at the same time.
The pay in China seems to be rising. It wasn't long ago that you could expect to live comfortably in the country but not save much. That seems to be changing. You'll have your choice of city or village placements, both will be memorable experiences. Chinese students, like many Asian students, are very well behaved and disciplined when it comes to their schooling. They will respect you and be utterly thrilled (and maybe a bit scared) to have a foreigner teaching them. With the pace that China is expanding (despite what the economic news saying it's slowing down), it's modernizing very quickly. If you're looking for a unique opportunity to teach ESL, Disney has opened up a series of schools focused on learning English with the likes of Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and a host of other famous characters. Some Chinese placements have even begun offering a TEFL certificate upon completion of your contract.
This mixed Buddhist and Islamic country is similar in nature to Thailand. Kuala Lampur offers the big city lights, while Pulau Penang on the West coast offers small island life and the Perhentian Islands off the East coast offer some of the best diving spots in the world. Remember, however, you're here to work not just play! Tropical weather, an ethnic mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian, you'd be surprised that you could actually find a job teaching English here since so many of its inhabitants already can speak very well. Basic requirements to get any job are a university degree and a TEFL certificate.
The salary and benefit packages offered throughout Thailand pale in comparison to countries such as South Korea. So why would anyone want to go there? Simply put, Thailand offers tropical weather, cheap living, and the infamous nightlife. The country is relatively safe (though the southern part has seen some terrorist clashes as of late) and deeply loyal to its royalty. Since so many people visit Thailand, you may want to gain some experience to back up your qualifications (if you have them). Other than that, freelancing is an option, though it might take you a few months building up the necessary client list to support yourself in the country.
This small Islamic, monarch-controlled country boasts huge reserves of oil and natural gas making it one of the richest countries in the world. It's probably best to see what the recruiters have to say about working in this country since work visas and permits can be difficult to obtain without sponsorship. It's not a very big country but the demand for English is there and landing a job may depend heavily on your experience and qualifications.
Spreading itself over an almost impossible number of islands with the fourth largest population in the world, Indonesia is divided. The west booms while the east lags behind. The West, primarily Muslim, the east primarily Hindu. But the Indonesian government now offers some nationalities a working holiday visa wherein you can work and travel in the country for up to a year. In any event, Jakarta (estimated population of just over 10 million people) is probably your best best bet in regard to finding employment. A city teeming with energy, the city attracts many students from the villages. Salaries aren't very large and the usual benefits are included in the contracts, but understand that the medical system and contract system in Indonesia a little behind western standards. Further, some employers have been known to hold onto foreign teachers' passports for the duration of the contract. Indonesia may be one of those countries you want to visit first before committing to any contract.
And now you have an introductory guide to finding ESL jobs in Asia. The continent is booming and the demand for English is practically insatiable. That being said, things could change very quickly so get there while you can. You'll broaden your mind, open your eyes, and gain valuable work and travel experience while having fun along the way. Good luck, have fun, and be safe!