NEED A VPN?
WANT FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE AND TWITTER ACCESS WHILE IN CHINA?
Here are your options...
The following article was originally published by SZExpat
The government's “Great Firewall” means that you from the moment you touchdown in China many of the sites you use every day back home. A VPN (virtual private network) establishes a private server overseas, allowing you to bypass the firewall and directly access these sites. Essentially you connect to a non-blocked computer and surf the web using the other computer's internet connection.
Hold up, hold up, is it even legal? Although it is illegal to operate a VPN business in China, there is no law (yet) against individuals using an international VPN. As long as you’re not caught plotting the downfall of the Chinese government, using a VPN to browse, tweet, and Instagram is #totallyfine.
Which VPN should I use then? We highly recommend you download and set-up your VPN before coming to China. To save you the trouble, we’ve broken down the specifications behind some of the most popular and recommended VPNs used here in the Middle Kingdom:
ExpressVPN is one of the most widely used VPNs among foreigners in China. Although it’s a little on the pricey end it does offer you a speedy, reliable service. Features US$12.95/month, or $8.32/month on a one-year plan Unlimited Data Usage Connect up to 3 devices simultaneously Our recommendation: Try out the ExpressVPN 30-day free trial. Even if you do end up cancelling your subscription, at least you will have saved yourself a month’s worth of VPN fees.
Astrill is a slightly cheaper option, and continues to be a popular choice for foreigners. It is slightly cheaper than ExpressVPN, although it only allows you to connect to 2 separate devices at once. You can buy a home sharing upgrade which allows you to use 5 devices at once, however this does cost extra. Features US$9.98/month on a 3-month plan; US$5.83/month on a one-year plan Unlimited Data Usage Connect up to 2 devices simultaneously (one laptop + one mobile) If you are already in China, you’ll need a VPN to access the Astrill website (oh, the irony.)
Here are some alternate, China-friendly links to sign-up and download: https://getastrill.com https://astrill4u.com
Rounding off the top 3 most recommended VPNs is Vyprvpn. Although this isn’t as widely-known, it is the cheapest of the three, and claims to be the “world’s fastest VPN.” Specs US$9.95/month; or US$5.00/month on a one-year plan Unlimited Data Usage 3 Simultaneous Connections Vypr also offers a swanky Premium option, allowing you to connect 5 devices at once. It costs US$12.95/month; or US$6.67/month on a one-year plan.
DO I HAVE TO BUY ONE? Nope. Lucky for you there are several free options out there (which certainly aren’t as fast or reliable). We suggest:
Free 800MB High-speed internet a month then the connection speed is lowered Available on Mac, PC, and Android (iOS supposedly coming soon)
Free (with ads) Unlimited Data Usage Available on all devices
Free 10GB/Month Data Usage 1 Device
We also recommend searching out less well-known VPNs, as they're less likely to be in the virtual Gulag. PC mag recommends NordVPN and Private Internet Access, though we haven't battle-tested them yet.