First off, in order to access blocked websites such as Facebook and Twitter in China you’ll need to use a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. In simple terms, a VPN allows you to connect to servers outside of China and access websites just as though you were using the internet in that region. You can connect to a city in the US or in Japan, for example, and use the internet as though you were in that country. You can find out more about VPNs on Wikipedia.
Most of the reliable VPN services will cost a small monthly fee of less than $10 a month. Many also provide services for both your computer and phones, as well as for Kindles and gaming platforms. Here’s some quick information about a few that I’ve encountered during my stay in China:
If you need quick access to a VPN, one of the best options you have is using the free trial version of a VPN service over at Securitales. The free trial version allots ten minutes of time for you to access any site.
Furthermore, Securitales was one of the first VPN services that I signed up for when arriving into China (2012). The best aspect of using the service was that it didn’t require downloading an app to my computer; instead, I simply needed to go to a website and log in, meaning that I could access a VPN from any computer, anywhere, easily.
However, I can recall that the biggest flaws that it had were that for one, it wasn’t the fastest VPN service by any means. Number two, I had more than a few problems trying to upload photos to Facebook at the time, which was very important for me. I would think that they’ve since fixed these problems since then.
Another popular VPN service used across China is Astrill. Plenty of my friends (expats in China) have used Astrill and have given the service two thumbs up for its overall quality. Find out more about Astrill over at their website.
The VPN service that I have used and recommend is ExpressVPN, which is also widely used by expats across China. You’ll need to download an app to your computer, Kindle, or mobile device for use, and from there you can connect to hundreds of regions that include Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and more. As for usage, ExpressVPN has great speed, but often disconnects and reconnects every 2hrs or so. Yet, it is a pretty cool service.
Lastly, I also remember that upon arriving to China I was told about Freegate, which was a free VPN software program that, I was told, was for Windows users. I did have the opportunity to see it in action, and even though it was quite slow, it did manage to get the job done. I don’t know too much about it, or whether it’s now even available for Macs or not, but it is worth checking out, especially if you’re the type to want to save a few bucks.
Have more VPNs to recommend? Let me know down below!