Are you planning a trip to China? It is no doubt a beautiful country with rich culture and history, and we cannot forget about the Great Wall of China. But before you go, you should know about Chinese censorship and the infamous “Great Firewall of China.”
Yes, you read right! Currently, the Chinese government has blocked more than 10,000 websites, including some of your favorites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Due to the Great Firewall, you will not be able to use your favorite social media apps on your trip to China.
Luckily, there is a way to get around Chinese censorship. In this short guide, we are going to discuss important things you need to know before traveling to China and VPNs that can help you bypass the Great Firewall.
Chinese Censorship and Internet Restrictions
Internet restrictions and censorship go way back in Chinese history. Currently, the Communist Party of China censors all online platforms and media. One reason behind such restrictions is that the Chinese authorities want to exercise control over their population.
Similarly, censorship is also entertained in China to encourage local Chinese businesses. The Chinese government bans international websites like Google and Facebook for Chinese local companies like Baidu, WeChat, and TikTok.
4 Essential things you should know before going to China
Here are some important things you should know before traveling to China:
1. You cant access Google in China
It might come as a surprise, but Google is blocked in China. You must be thinking it’s not a big deal if you cant access Google in China, but think again because we are not talking just about Google search engine but other apps, including Google Maps, Gmail, Google Photos, and more.
You can use local sites like Baidu Maps, but you will need to use an app to translate it for directions. It all seems too much work, and you might find yourself abandoned somewhere with a foreign language and signs. If you’re in China, you might want to check out our brief guide on how to access Gmail in China.
2. No Facebook, Instagram or SnapChat
Unfortunately, social media apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are blocked in China, including messaging apps like WhatsApp. Therefore, you cannot use these apps for day-to-day contact and getting in touch with your loved ones back home.
You can either use Skype as it works in China or download a VPN to unblock Facebook and WhatsApp in China.
3. Streaming sites like Netflix are blocked
Streaming sites like Netflix and YouTube are blocked in China. Meaning, you will have to say goodbye to your favorite shows for a while when traveling to China. However, we dont promise that people will not try to give away spoilers.
You can use Chinese alternatives like Youku that are similar to YouTube, but it is subjected to restrictions and government-imposed censorship. If you want to access your favorite foreign content, check out this guide on how to access Netflix in China.
4. High censorship and no freedom of speech
Just like other websites and social apps, the news is also highly censored by the Chinese government. It prevents locals from accessing international news channels, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Le Monde, Le Figaro, and also Wikipedia.
The Chinese newspaper is also influenced by the government; therefore, you won’t get hands-on genuine news from all over the world. In China, you can only access sites and news channels that are owned by the Chinese Communist Party. Similarly, the news is controlled in the country to cover up political failures.
Bypass Censorship in China with these VPNs
ExpressVPN is our recommended choice for users in China. It is one of the few VPNs that can help you unblock apps and websites in China and also bypass the Great Firewall. It features over 3000+ servers in 94 locations, making it a great choice for accessing international content while traveling to China.
If you cannot access ExpressVPNs official website, you can download it from ExpressVPN’s mirror website without using a VPN in China. For more information, check out our exclusive ExpressVPN China guide.
Surfshark is another great choice for users in China who want unrestricted access to the internet and blocked apps. It offers 3200+ servers in 65 locations and comes with a No Borders feature that can easily help you bypass the Great Firewall of China. Surfshark also comes with excellent unblocking capability and can unblock all major restricted sites.
NordVPN is a great VPN for China as it can easily bypass the Great Firewall and unblock all major sites, including streaming sites like Netflix. It comes with military-grade encryption and obfuscated servers that offer strong unblocking capabilities.
If you cant open its official website in China, you can try downloading it from the NordVPN mirror website if you are already in China. For more information, check out our exclusive NordVPN China guide.
Yes, VPNs are blocked in China because the Chinese government doesn’t want you to access international content in mainland China. However, you can download the VPNs mentioned above by using the mirror sites that we have linked in the blog. This way you can access restricted content and bypass censorship in China.
Yes, tourists can use Facebook and other apps like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and more in China with a VPN. Facebook is blocked in China, but with a strong VPN like ExpressVPN, you can unblock it by connecting to an international server. You can now use ExpressVPN free for 30 days using its money-back guarantee to access Facebook when you are traveling to China.
What do I need to know when traveling to China?
These are some of the important things to consider when traveling to China. As you can see, these things can greatly affect your stay in China, but the good news is that with the right VPN, you can avoid these constraints and bypass the Great Firewall and access your favorite apps and websites without restriction.
The VPNs mentioned above all work perfectly in China and can help you access blocked sites and censored content in China. And remember, most VPN sites are blocked in China. Although we have mentioned mirror websites in our blog, make sure to install the VPN before you go. If you don’t wish to spend money on a paid VPN, you can always check out our list of free VPNs for China.