One of the biggest problems faced by travelers visiting China is the government-imposed restriction on internet access. Popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, along with a few others, are blocked by the government firewall. If you want to share your adventures with your friends and family, you can bypass the block and go to your favorite sites.
Method 1 of 3: Use a VPN
Step 1. Find a VPN service that meets your needs
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an encrypted connection, from a remote server, which allows you to access the Internet despite firewall restrictions. The VPN affects all of your internet traffic, which means Skype and other email services won't get stuck by the firewall either. VPNs aren't free, but some offer monthly rather than annual plans, which can be very useful for travelers.
Step 2. Make sure the VPN you want to use is working in China
Some of the major VPN servers have been blocked by the Chinese government and are no longer accessible. Check this information with the company offering the subscription and read the comments of other users on the service's web page.
Step 3. Download all the necessary software
Some VPN services provide you with a VPN client that needs to be installed on your computer. Others will provide you with login credentials that you can enter in the Windows or Mac Login Manager.
- Ideally, you should download and install your VPN software before coming to China. Many well-known VPN programs are blocked and you will not be able to subscribe or download their clients. Set up your VPN before coming to China so that you can more easily contact customer service if you have any problems.
- Some VPN services offer mobile apps that you can use on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.
Step 4. Connect your VPN
You can either launch the client or enter your VPN credentials in the connection settings of your operating system. The VPN clients provided by the service are already preconfigured, all you have to do is enter your credentials.
- On Windows, find the VPN on your computer and select Configure a Virtual Private Network (VPN) Connection (Windows Vista / 7) or Add a VPN connection (Windows 8). Enter your connection information. Your VPN service should have also provided you with a server to connect to, along with a username and password. Enter them in your VPN connection settings.
- On Mac, click on the menu Apple and select them System Preferences. Click on Network. Push the button Add (+) at the bottom of the list, then select VPN in the list of options. Choose the type of VPN you are connecting to. This should be communicated to you by your VPN service. Enter your VPN settings, including the server you are connecting to, as well as your username and password.
- Click on Connect to connect to your VPN. Most VPNs should connect automatically. If you cannot establish a connection, contact the help desk associated with your VPN to resolve the issues.
Step 5. Go to Facebook
Once your VPN is connected, you can go to any blocked site that was previously not accessible, as well as any other program that works with the Internet, such as Skype. You may notice that the connection is slow, but this is normal, it is due to the distance between you and the VPN server.
Method 2 of 3: Use a proxy
Step 1. Try the free proxies
A proxy is a website, most of the time located in another geographic location, which allows you to access other sites. In other words, if your proxy is in the United States and you access Facebook through it, it is like accessing Facebook in the United States. Here is a list of free proxies: http://hidemyass.com/proxy-list. You should of course test them first, as you might find that this is not a good solution for several reasons:
- China continues to seek and block these proxies,
- their programming is most of the time not efficient enough to be fully compatible with social networks.
Step 2. Try a secure proxy
Proxy Center works well for Facebook and other social networks (https://www.proxy-center.com). They offer a free trial version, so you can verify that it works for you before you pay anything or even before you give them your email address. By using a proxy like this (and unlike a VPN, which we talked about in the previous step), you don't need to install anything on your computer, as everything is web-based.
Method 3 of 3: Use Tor
Step 1. Download the “all-in-one” Tor browser
Tor is a free distributed network that allows you to remain anonymous when connecting through this browser. The information is sent back to a large number of relays around the world. Tor allows you to bypass any firewalls or restrictions placed on your connection. Since data travels great distances before it reaches you, the downside is that the sites load slowly.
The All-in-One Tor Browser is a stand-alone program that does not need to be installed. You can put it on a USB drive and plug it into any computer. It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux
Step 2. Launch the browser
The Tor browser is a modified version of Firefox, there are a lot of similarities in the two interfaces. When you launch the browser program, a window will appear to show the status of the Tor connection. The browser will open once the connection is established.
Only traffic sent through the Tor browser will be sent over the Tor network. This means that Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, or any Internet browser will not be anonymous on the Tor network when Tor is running
Step 3. Make sure you are logged in
Once the browser window opens, you should see a page confirming that you have successfully connected to Tor. You should now be able to access sites that were previously blocked. Tor will stop working when you close the browser window.