By the way, WhatsApp was blocked during 2017, so if you read information on the internet before that date and it says it worked it is wrong (we have checked its blockage these days during our time in China)
10 Questions about connecting to the Internet in China that you are asking yourself and need a quick response
1 Is connecting to the Internet in China different from doing it in Spain?
No! It's exactly the same. From your device (mobile, tablet or computer) you must connect to a WIFI and you can navigate. If you have a local SIM with internet, you can do it with 4G just like you would in Spain. The big difference is not the way of connecting but the limitation of navigation in China
2 So, if I can connect, what is the problem?
The problem is precisely that, that China (including Tibet but not Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macao where this does not apply) has a total censorship of user navigation. That means you will not be able to access Facebook, Whatsapp, Google, Instagram, Twitter and a multitude of newspapers and media to which you are accustomed
3 Well, I bought a LOCAL SIM and I solved it ... ERROR!
No, it doesn't work that way. You have to distinguish between two concepts: have an internet connection (which is achieved by connecting to a WIFI, renting a router that you can carry in the backpack with permanent connection or buying a LOCAL SIM) and have a way of skipping censorship (to what you need a VPN, a proxy or a modified browser like Tor Browser Bundle - these last 2 more complex for a traveler-). A LOCAL SIM does not skip censorship, It only gives you access to the Chinese internet. Another thing is that you want to call and other uses.
4 Ok, well, solve the problem of having internet, explain more about that VPN
Well, very simple, you get one and install it BEFORE YOU GET TO CHINA on the devices you are going to use (mobile, tablet and / or computer). Once you arrive at the destination, you connect to the Internet in any way you want, open the application and connect to any server that is preset (usually there will be a "fastest" option or you can even select "Spain" or the country that you want). You can now navigate freely at your destination!
5 Is the VPN an application then?
A VPN really means Virtual Private Network and It is a connection that goes directly to servers distributed throughout the world that are the ones that give you access to the internet without censorship. It is used for more things in addition to skipping geographical censorship to have greater anonymity on the Internet or even blocking advertising. To facilitate its use to users, applications of mobile / tablet and computers have been created intuitively
6 I have seen that there are free VPNs, why pay for one?
I tell you my experience in Iran. We took several VPNs downloaded directly from Google Play for free and it was desperate and frustrating. They failed, they disconnected, then they told us that they put our data at risk. Come on, a torture. The truth is that A monthly VPN service with 3-5 simultaneous connections is barely worth 7-12 euros. Why suffer? The answer is that IF it is worth paying for a quality one.
7 What is the best VPN to connect to the internet in China then?
After trying several on my trips, for me it's theVyprVPN undoubtedly: safe, fast and intuitive (Always INSTALL AND TRY IT BEFORE STARTING to familiarize yourself with it). There are more, of course (in fact Sele was wearing a different one) butVyprVPN guarantees you, through its patented technology called Chameleon, to avoid the restrictive networks established by governments as well as the connection cannot be recognized and thus ALWAYS WORK in countries like China, Russia, Iran, Thailand or even Syria (This is important because China, for example, is limiting the VPNs of others)
8 Can I, besides surfing, talk with my family on WhatsApp?
Yes, you can use the WhatsApp as you would use it in Spain. Before 2017 it was not necessary to connect to a VPN to use Whatsapp but now it is blocked like the others. Of course, as happens here, if the internet connection is bad it is possible that a video call is not as smooth as you would like (the chat will work without problems)
9 And put photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or access my email in Gmail?
Yes, nothing has changed since the previous questions. You can access the pages or APPs you want.
10 Can you make a recommendation for video calls without a VPN?
If you are one of those who just want to have a quiet family or want fluid video calls that always bring closerness (I have called Oli, Paula and Nico every day like that) also install the Chinese WeChat application (Android / App Store) whose use is not censored (it is the most used in China) and will allow you (without the need of the VPN) to communicate with them. Yes, your family and friends must also have it installed on your devices in Spain (always try it before you leave)
In short, what do I need to have unrestricted internet in China?
Summarizing all the above questions (and not to mess up), to connect to the Internet in China without censorship you will need:
1. Internet connection (Obviously) that you can get from the WIFIs of the hotel where you are staying, from a restaurant, open from the street or, if you need more intensive use, from the rental of a MIFI router or LOCAL SIM
2. Way to use your favorite applications or communication / messaging programs. If you have already solved the availability of the internet, you will see that your browsing is very limited or directly blocked. Neither Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Gmail or other Google tools nor Twitter will be available (in addition to many other pages such as the Brand itself or national newspapers). Here you have 2 solutions depending on your needs that are compatible with each other, that is, you can use both
- If you want To have full use of the internet, you must use a VPN and INSTALL it BEFORE YOU GO TRAVEL. Here we recommend using the best and safest of the moment we had used before in Iran, in the Chinese area of Guangzhou and now on the trip to Tibet: VyprVPN
- If you just want to keep the family calm, communicate with them or even make a video call, you can ask yourself install WeChat (Android / App Store) on your devices and also on that of family and friends. Video calls work very smoothly
Step by step explanation to use the best VPN, the VyprVPN
You asked us on Facebook (Elisa, Azucena, Bego, ...) more questions about how to register, if you were given a username / password and if you then have to unsubscribe, ... We solve everything STEP BY STEP to make it simpler:
STEP 1 Enter theVyprVPN page (usually has offers), click on GET THE OFFER and choose the premium VyprVPN since it is the one that It includes the Chamaleon Protocol necessary to guarantee operation in China. IMPORTANT! You choose the MONTHLY OPTION since the annual one would charge you the whole year (although it is cheaper monthly) and you will only use it during a trip (generally less than 1 month).
STEP 2 Enter your account data and you will write the email address and password well saved because they will be the ones you will use to connect in the different sessions.
STEP 3 Choose the payment method (card or paypal) and will tell you that you also have a 30-day money back guarantee to see that everything works correctly on your device and you will be charged 10.50 EUR which will be the ONLY thing you will pay because then we will unsubscribe it.
STEP 4 You will receive a mail to confirm the account (you do) and another with a link where download the applications. The install on mobile / tablet / computer that you are going to use BEFORE GOING TO CHINA (important).
STEP 5 You prove (also before your trip) that everything works correctly. Its use is very simple since you only have to connect it and it looks for you the fastest VPN server, it takes a few seconds to detect it and it will tell you the country where it has done it, the IP you have and the time you have been using it (it is unlimited ). You leave it in the background and! NAVIGATE! with the other APP / programs you want to use. If for any reason you want to connect to a specific country (it could be Spain) you choose it in the location icon.
STEP 6 Enjoy your trip to China (or Tibet or Iran or wherever) being able to use the internet freely.
STEP 7 Upon your return, you CANCEL THE ACCOUNT entering your website again and entering your username / password and in the control panel you go to the section that puts ACCOUNT and there you give CANCEL SERVICE. You will receive an email confirming the withdrawal.
Do not lose your username / password in case you make trips in the future where you may need the VyprVPN's plans page since reactivating the service will be cheaper (usually send offers to "re-hook")
My personal experience both in Iran, such as Guangzhou and this trip to Tibet is that It worked for me VERY stable (Even being able to make a videoconference with the family on WhatsApp in front of Potala or on the Everest base camp -incredible-) almost the whole trip and only in remote places with worse internet, such as Lake Yamdrok, I had to resort to WeChat without VPN to be able to do it (and without browsing, of course).
Did you find this article useful for connecting to the internet in China, using Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and doing any browsing you want with the best VPN of the moment? We hope that this is the case and if you need to expand any information or have any questions, you know where to find us.
Isaac, photo from Tibet (China)