China is a great travel destination and there are many good reasons why a China holiday is worth it. Nevertheless, you should be well prepared for your travels. Because in China, you’ll quickly realize that you cannot easily use many popular websites and apps, such as WhatsApp, Google, Facebook and Instagram, in the country. Because the government of China ensures that the Internet is censored to prevent unpleasant messaging and information. However, you do not have to give up your important apps and websites on your trip to China, because a VPN for China can access Facebook, Google, WhatsApp and Co. With the help of this useful technology, you can handle the blockage in a simple and uncomplicated way.
Here I’ll tell you everything you need to know about using a VPN in China!
How’s the internet access in China? Which sites and apps are blocked?
Unfortunately, the Internet in China is very limited for tourists and locals. The government monitors exactly what information their citizens get and where they exchange news – and the easiest way to do so is to block the most popular search engines and social media networks! Everybody in China is affected by this, whether tourist or Chinese. In addition, the Internet censorship is valid for both laptop and smartphone, when using wifi and in the mobile network. If you want to access the Internet without any problems during a trip to China, there is no way around a VPN, because you will soon realize that most of the apps and pages you use every day on the Internet will not be easily accessible in China.
These include social networks like Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube. But also the very simple Google search engine as well as all useful Google products, such as Google Maps for orientation and Google Translate for communication in China.
But that’s not enough! Do you have a Gmail (and therefore Google) email account? Then you will not be able to access your emails. All Google products can not be used, including Google Playstore and Google Drive.
Further, you can not use Dropbox. And the censorship extends even further. Wikipedia is censored and blocked, as well as international news sites like the New York Times. Netflix does not work in China either. And last but not least you can not watch porn. You see – the internet blockade in China is not a small issue and probably spans 95% of my (and probably your) activities on the internet.
How do the locals deal with it?
It must be annoying, but the locals are not that much affected since they have their own products. They do have a Chinese version of Facebook, a Chinese Google and a Chinese WhatsApp (called WeChat). However, many Chinese also use a VPN themselves.
How do tourists, travelers and expats in China deal with it?
Do not worry, there’s a way to access the uncensored internet in China and it is pretty easy. All you need to do is to install and use a VPN for it. Here I tell you how!
What’s a VPN? How do I use it?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a useful technology that allows you to use all websites and apps abroad (and thus in China) without any problems. I will spare you the technical details (because I probably would not understand them either). However, it works basically in a way that a VPN “pretends” that your device is located in another country (for example, in the US or somewhere in Europe). Like this, you can use the Internet the same way as at home and the problem is solved!
Which VPN can you recommend for traveling China?
There are several providers for VPN clients, but I can recommend ExpressVPN. This is one of the largest, safest and most reliable VPN providers in the market and you can easily and quickly install and use it on all browsers and devices (both laptop and smartphone). With it, you can not only surfe the internet uncensored, but also in a private and anonymous way.
In addition, at ExpressVPN you also a 30-day “money back guarantee” and customer service 24/7 in case of problems.
How much does a China VPN cost?
You’ll quickly see that there are also free VPNs for China. However, these are unreliable and often do not work. For example, I used a free VPN in Ethiopia, and it worked on some days, but on some days it did not. This is quite annoying and it is well worth investing a few Dollars for a secure and reliable internet access.
In addition, many of the cheap and free VPN services in China are now blocked and no longer work. That’s why I recommend ExpressVPN, which is designed specifically for China and allows easy Internet access.
There are three different options at ExpressVPN:
• China VPN for 1 month: 12,95 $ per month
• VPN for China for 6 months: 8,32 $ per month
• China VPN for 12 months: 9,99 $ per month
You see – with this VPN you can surf the Internet for just little money without any problems and restrictions in China and you can access and use WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, Instagram and Co as usual.
When do I need to install the VPN for my China travels?
Very important: It’s often too late to download and install a VPN once you’ve entered the country. For example, the Google Playstore is blocked, and China is trying its best to block the download of VPNs in the country to prevent its use.
This means that you should download and install your China VPN at an early stage and before traveling (ideally immediately!) – so that you are well prepared for your travels and holidays in China.
Conclusion: Do I need a VPN for my China holiday trip to access Facebook, Google and WhatsApp?
Here I can only give you a very clear “YES”. At first glance, you might think that you can live without Facebook and Instagram for a few weeks while on a China trip. But you will quickly realize that the blockade and censorship goes even further and very useful apps and websites for everyday use, such as Google Maps, Google Translate, Wikipedia, e-mail programs and cloud services in China do not work without VPN! This can greatly affect your work and your travel experience.
Therefore, you should definitely get a VPN for China in advance to access the internet – and all these problems are solved!