In recent decades there has been an increasing number of parents opting for alternative forms of education worldwide. However, most studies on this phenomenon are conducted within Western contexts, while little is known about alternative education in China. This paper addresses this gap by providing an overview of alternative education in China over the past 20 years. This paper consists of four parts. First, we review the definition, categories, and development of alternative education in China. Second, we discuss three critical questions, namely (1) who is practising alternative education, (2) why do they choose alternative education, and (3) what is the legal status of alternative education in China? Subsequently, we develop a framework that enables us to situate different types of alternative education. Finally, we consider the phenomenon within a broader context and discuss the theoretical potential of further research into alternative education in China.