So you’ve just arrived in China and, to your surprise, you are unable to access Facebook!

This is because there is a country-wide internet filter called the Great Firewall, which restricts access to many western websites and app services. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Youtube
  • Gmail
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat

and basically most western news outlets.

Get a VPN specifically for China

Luckily for you, there is a way to get around the internet blockage here in China. Use something called a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. A VPN is basically an app that lets you connect to a middleman-server that is not blocked before connecting to websites beyond the Great Firewall.

There are many different options for VPNs on the internet, but not all of them will work in China because the internet filter is able to detect and block certain VPN connections. Here are some methods that we use here in China to access Google and Facebook and Youtube:

Free VPN for browsing- Opera

vpn-enabled-popup

If all you need is to access Facebook or Youtube on your computer’s web browser, then we suggest you download the Opera browser (developer version). This free browser was recently released and has a free built-in VPN that does not even require a sign-up. Here’s how you set it up.

  1. Go to the Opera website and download the developer version of the browser. It is free and comes in both a Mac version and a Windows version.
  2. After following the step by step instructions to install the browser, open the browser and go to the preferences / settings
  3. Click on the Privacy and Security tab. Then click on the “enable VPN” box.
  4. In the top left-hand corner there should be a box labelled “VPN”. Click on it and select a country (your new virtual location).
  5. Click on the slider that says Connect.
  6. Enjoy!

Free VPN for Mobile (Iphone and Android)

There are some free options for VPN apps on your phone, but most will cap your total bandwidth usage — so be careful. There are also a number of free trials that you can hop around on if you are only in China for a short time.

Iphone users

Thankfully the Chinese government has not blocked the app store, although it can be very slow at times. There are some free VPNs for iphone such as :

  • Ark VPN
  • VyprVPN (trial only)
  • ExpressVPN (30 days trial)

which you can download and install fairly easily on your iphone.

Android users

Android users will have a bit more difficulty installing VPN apps because the Google Play store is completely blocked in China. This means you will need to either side-load a VPN apk manually from a computer or search for a free trial VPN first before you can continue your search on the Google Play store. If you are able to buy a VPN service for your computer, you can usually share the account with your android phone and manually setup a VPN in the “Settings” area of your phone. Just use the same password and login details.

Here are my top recommendations for Android users:

  • ExpressVPN– download the free money back trial and use it to access the Google play store. You can then browse for some free VPN apps
  • VyprVPN- has a 500 MB / month free account

If you plan on using the internet quite frequently during your stay here in China, then I recommend buying a VPN service that has features made specifically for China. This will save you from all the headaches of connecting / reconnecting and dealing with limits on bandwidths from free VPN services. Paid VPNs tend to have better performance and technologies that mask their connections from the internet filter. You can read our MEGA-review for these China VPNs here.



3rd

  • Astrill
  • Speed: Good
  • Reliability: Fair
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Connect 1 Device
  • Protocols: OpenWeb, OpenVPN, Stealth (extra fee), L2TP
  • Supports Mac Os / iOs / Windows / Android / Linux
  • 150+ servers in 50 countries (Choose US West for Fastest Speeds)
  • Wiki, Support Ticket, Live Chat, and Remote Desktop Assistance
  • 7-day Free Trial


#1 Editor’s Choice

  • ExpressVPN
  • Speed: Very Good
  • Reliability: Excellent
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Connect 3 Devices
  • Protocols: PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP, IPsec
  • Supports Mac Os / iOs/ Windows / Android / Linux
  • 1500 servers in 94 countries (Choose US Los Angeles 3 for fastest speeds)
  • Instant Response Live Chat Customer Support, Email
  • 30-Day Money Back Trial


2nd

  • VyprVPN
  • Speed: Good
  • Reliability: Good
  • Unlimited Bandwidth
  • Connect 3 Devices
  • Protocols: PPTP, OpenVPN, Chameleon, L2TP
  • Supports Mac OS / iOs / Windows / Android / Linux
  • 700 + servers in 49 countries (Choose West Coast US for Fastest Speed)
  • 24x7x365 Support
    Live Chat also available
  • 30-day refund period

Verdict: ExpressVPN is our top choice for users looking to stay connected the web while in China.It is a bit pricey compared to some other VPN apps, but ExpressVPN’s stellar customer support and 30-day trial period makes it more than worth it. The desktop and mobile apps are the fastest we’ve seen, reliable, with plenty of server choices. Highly recommended. Read the full ExpressVPN review here.

(The reviews below are from the personal experience and opinion of our writing team here in China. Some of the services we personally use and confidently recommend to our readers employ affiliate links, which help our blog to continue to publish awesome content.)

 

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