One of the biggest problems travelers in China face is limited access to the internet. The Chinese government has blocked a number of news sites and social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. If you still want to share your travel experiences with your friends and family, you can follow the steps below to do so.
Method 1 of 3: VPN
Step 1. Use a VPN connection
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an encrypted connection to a remote server that allows you to bypass firewalls. With a VPN connection, you can visit all websites, including messaging services such as Skype and WhatsApp. VPNs are usually not free, but work on a monthly or annual subscription basis, which can be especially useful for people who travel regularly.
Step 2. Check if the VPN connection you want to use also works in China
Some well-known VPN servers have been blocked by the Chinese government and cannot be used to reach websites. Check with the company that offers the VPN connection whether their service can also be used in China. In most cases, you can read in online reviews whether the connection works well.
Step 3. Download the necessary software
Some providers of VPN connections work with a program that must be installed on your computer. Others simply give you the necessary information that you can enter into your computer's connection manager.
- Make sure to download and install the VPN software before arriving in China. Many popular VPN programs are blocked in China, so you cannot download software in the country itself. In addition, if the software is already on your computer, it is also easier to reach the customer service of the VPN company.
- Some VPN service providers also have apps that you can use on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
Step 4. Connect to your VPN
Start the software or enter your VPN details into your computer's connection manager. If you have used the service before, you only need to log in to connect.
- If you have a Windows computer, search for VPN and click “Connect to a Virtual Private Network (VPN)” (Windows Vista/7) or “Add VPN Connection” (Windows 8). Now enter your connection details. This data should consist of a server, a username and a password.
- If you have Mac OS X, click the Apple menu and go to System Preferences. Now click on Network, then Add (+) and then select VPN. Choose the type of VPN you want to connect to. Which one this is is specified by your VPN company. Now enter the VPN connection information, such as the server you want to connect to, your username and your password.
- Click Connect to connect to your VPN. Most VPNs will connect automatically. If this doesn't work, it's best to contact your VPN company's customer service. They will then help you further.
Step 5. Go to Facebook
Once you've connected to your VPN, you can visit any website you want. This also applies to Facebook, Skype, YouTube and all other websites that are blocked by the Chinese government. It can happen that the sites load a little slower than usual, but given the distance between your computer and the VPN server, this is only normal.
Method 2 of 3: Proxy
Step 1. Try out free proxies
A proxy is a website located in a different location from you that allows you to bypass firewalls. This way, despite certain blockages, you can still open the websites you want to visit. You may then see a different version of the website. For example, if a proxy is located in the United States, using that proxy will show you the US version of Facebook. Here is a list of free proxies you can try. However, while the sites on this list are worth testing, they are unlikely to work well in China because:
- China has already tracked down and blocked most free proxy sites.
- Free proxies often don't work well enough to handle social media sites.
Step 2. Give secure proxy providers a shot
A website with which many people have good experiences is Proxy Center. This website offers a free trial so that you can test if the proxy actually works before paying money to use it. Unlike most VPN companies, this provider offers a connection that does not require any software to be installed on your computer.
Method 3 of 3: Tor
Step 1. Download the Tor Browser Bundle
Tor is a free distributed network that allows you to browse the Internet anonymously through your browser. Because a large network of servers is used, the chance that your data will be intercepted by governments and the like is minimal. Tor allows you to bypass both firewalls and location-based blocks. The disadvantage of the browser is that websites load slowly, since data has to travel a long way before it reaches your computer.
The Tor Browser Bundle does not need to be installed on your computer to work. You can simply put it on a USB stick and then use it on any computer. The browser bundle is available for Windows, Mac and Linux computers
Step 2. Open the browser
The Tor browser is a modified version of Firefox and the interface is very similar. When you start the browser program, a screen appears showing the status of the Tor connection. Once connected, the browser will open automatically.
Only when you use the Tor browser, you use the special Tor network. So when you use Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari or other browsers, you are not anonymous
Step 3. Check if the connection was successful
When the connection is successful, you will automatically be taken to a web page where this is confirmed. You should now be able to access the websites that were previously blocked. As soon as you close the browser, the Tor connection will be terminated.
Although all incoming data is encrypted by Tor, this does not apply to outgoing data. This means that the data you enter yourself via Tor is just as vulnerable as if you were using a normal internet connection. Only send personal information when SSL is enabled. If so, web addresses start with HTTPS:// instead of HTTP://. There is also a security lock on the left side of the web address
- We strongly recommend that you change the passwords of the online services you have used in China when you return to the Netherlands.
- Be very careful with free VPN sites. Many of these websites are run by scammers.