Last spring, I thought of giving China a visit especially since the Spring Festival was around.
At the height of these festivities, it is impossible to resist the temptation to take loads of photos and videos to post them on social media later.
I was able to do that without much difficulty, because I knew about the Great Firewall of China and its restrictions on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram etc.
2019 is the year of the Pig in Chinese mythology, and pigs are a sign of good fortune and health in the country.
Perhaps, if you’re planning to travel to China, this is the year that might prove to be auspicious for you in ways, courtesy of pigs.
But before you leave for China, you need to be aware of online censorship and restrictions in the country.
Because you can rest assured that you’ll need to navigate around these online hurdles to communicate with your loved ones back home and access the web that you are normally accustomed to.
In this post, I’m going to explain how you can use VPNs to overcome restricted apps and services in China.
What is the Spring Festival?
The Spring Festival is just another name for Chinese New Year celebrations, which is marked by a week-long holiday.
It is the time for family reunion, red lanterns and ribbons, skies ablaze with fireworks, and high spirits across the country.
The Spring Festival is basically Christmas for Chinese people. It definitely makes for a wonderful experience for someone only acclimatized to Western traditions only.
If you’re looking for a unique experience and something different from Christmas, then you shouldn’t miss out on Chinese New Year.
Joining the Festivities of the New Year with a VPN
When I had made up my mind to travel to China for the Chinese New Year celebrations last year, I knew that Facebook and stuff won’t work in China, so I made sure to get a VPN service for China before leaving.
VPN services unblock censored and restricted content from around the world. They allow you to change your IP address to that of a different location, effectively granting you access to any site that is blocked in your country, but which works somewhere else.
So, I purchased an ExpressVPN subscription and installed it on my phone and laptop before jumping to my flight on January 28, 2018.
Needless to say, it was a decision that saved me from a lot of trouble. Because surely enough, when I tried to log in to my social media after landing in China, it simply didn’t work.
I would be left with no way to stay in touch and keep posting updates on my social media from China if it weren’t for my smart decision of packing an over the wall VPN.
Still, it was a bit of a gamble because dozens of VPN services are blocked in China, but ExpressVPN seemed to be the one that worked for most people in China.
And it did!
As soon as I turned it on, I was able to open my social media accounts in an instant. I was delighted to see all stories and updates from my friends back home, not to mention the fact that I could now upload all the photos and videos I captured during the festivities of the Chinese New Year.
VPN Deals for Spring Festival
Premium VPN services offer deals and promotions right around the time when Spring Festival in China is about to start.
This is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of. In fact, when I purchased ExpressVPN last year, I used a promotional offer to get it for fairly cheap.
So, keep your nose up for killer VPN deals around this time before you start packing your bags for China.
Here are some VPNs that are tested to work in China. Most of these are available for a discount:
|VPN Providers||Price ($)||Special Deals||More Info|
Best Affordable VPN
$2.95 Per Month
Exclusive Discount 1 year Plan
Best Budget Service
$1.99 Per Month
2 Years Deal
Best for Geo-Unblocking
$2.99 Per Month
3 Years Plan
Best for Streaming
$8.32 Per Month
No Exclusive Offer
Best for Private Browsing
$2.75 Per Month
3 Years Deal
How to Use a VPN to Unblock Social Media in China
If you are traveling to China, make sure you install a VPN that works in China before your visit.
This is because you will have a hard time downloading VPNs while in China, as official websites of these VPNs may be blocked as well.
Once, you have purchased and installed one, follow the steps below to access social media and other blocked content in China:
- Launch the VPN app on your computer/device
- Connect to a Western location server (UK, US, Germany, etc.)
- Visit Facebook or other social media you want, and find it unblocked!
Using Social Media in China
It’s popular knowledge that social media sites in use by the majority of the world are blocked for people in China.
This means that the common social media channels i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp etc. won’t work during your stay in China.
However, China has its own version of social media operating in the country. In fact, Chinese social media services like QQ and WeChat have more subscribers than Twitter.
Another surprising statistic reveals that the average time spent on WeChat is 66 minutes, more than Facebook’s average of 50 minutes.
But these apps have market focus in China only and their usage outside of the country is a trickle compared to the giants Facebook and Twitter.
So, if you’re a traveler to China, chances are none of the people you know back home use WeChat or QQ.
Now, that is a problem. While there’s a lot of talk about the evils of social media and how it’s breaking modern society about, the fact is that we still rely heavily on it in our day-to-day lives.
I for one, logged into my Instagram as soon as the skies roared with fireworks last year in China to upload the photos I took.
If it weren’t for the VPN that I brought with me from home, I would have been left in a world of social media apps alien to me, where I knew no one and no one knew me.
What About VPN Legality in China?
Many people belie that using a VPN is illegal in China. That is actually a myth. There is no law in China that prohibits the use of VPN services.
However, the purposes you are using a VPN for is what determines the legality of your VPN usage. If your only aim is to enjoy Facebook, YouTube etc. after connecting to a continental VPN in China, then there is nothing illegal about this.
In fact, many multi-national companies in China use VPNs to stay connected with their corporate network.
So, Chinese government is not entirely opposed to VPN services. They just want to maintain control of VPN traffic in a way that does not entirely cut off outside world from China, while also keeping the country distant enough to maintain independence.
The only time you may run into trouble for using a VPN in China is if you’re criticizing the Chinese government and commenting politically controversial posts.
This can upset the authorities and may goad them into charging you with illegal activities.
I doubt you’ll be carrying a political agenda if you’re just traveling to China for the Spring Festival, so use your VPNs without fear, brothers and sisters.
The Chinese New Year is one of the most beautiful celebratory events of around the world. If you are even a little bit interested in traveling, you should definitely visit China during the Spring Festival at least once.
Just don’t forget to put a VPN on your phones and laptops before you take off, though. This is an opportune moment, as many premium VPNs are up for grabs with cheap deals and promotional offers.
Get yours today and start you preparations for the time of your life in China. You’ll thank me later.