February 24, 2019
China is certainly a fascinating and complex destination, and the first problem you’ll have to solve before to arrive there is finding a VPN that you can use during your trip to China.
Before going into the details of the article let’s explain better what a VPN is, and why it is essential to access social networks, some sites and apps, and the entire Google platform in countries where it is prohibited.
Obviously, this article has the purpose to explain its use and function, only for theoretical and informative purposes. In some countries the VPN could be considered illegal, so please check the legislation in force in the state that you visit at the time of travel regarding the use of VPNs.
The VPN, literally Virtual Private Network, is a private communication network, between subjects that actually use a public and shared network, to recreate a local but virtual network through the IP routing.
It is used within companies to link sites of geographically separated branches, connected to virtually a local private network.
In the case in question, the VPN, the connection, takes place through IP addresses of other countries, by connecting one or more devices in a virtual network that makes them connected not to the IP of the country in which it is located, but to the selected one. This happens, thanks to the function of a switch that decides on which port or interface to send a received, communication element.
In simple words and examples, if you are in China, and activate a VPN by connecting to Hong Kong, it looks like you are connecting to the Internet, directly from Hong Kong. This mechanism bypasses the blocks of the country where you are physically in, at that time.
In the case of China, for example, the main Italian social networks, like Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp, are not available. You can’t connect to the whole Google universe, like google maps, google store (Play store), google translator and other sites like Wikipedia and many information sites are blocked.
HOW TO USE VPN STEP BY STEP
1. First of all, you have to install and activate the selected VPN, before going to China. There is a risk, once arrived in China, of not being able to install it or activate it online. There are lots of free and paid VPNs, my advice is to download more than one, both free and paid, using the trial period.
2. Once the VPN is installed and activated, you must find an internet connection to go online. The advice in this case, if you want to stay online always, is to bring a portable modem like travelers wifi one, accurate and fast.
3. Otherwise, when you will find a free wifi line (not so widespread and very weak in China), you will have to open the VPN application and select the country where you want to connect to. Normally the VPN has already set a “better” standard address, usually located in California, Hong Kong, Japan or Singapore if you connect from China.
4. The connection takes about 30 seconds and often needs more attempts, so do not despair. Be aware that every time you disconnect the internet, the VPN disconnects itself, and sometimes it must be reactivated anyway. Once installed and activated, once you have logged in and connected, all that remains is to use the internet!
MY VPN EXPERIENCE FOR TRAVEL IN CHINA
I was recently in China and thank the Travelerswifi modem, I had the possibility to stay connected to the internet 24 hours a day, in all the places I visited. In this regard, I have to admit that about availability and speed of Wifi, China is quite far behind, and I highly recommend that you evaluate the rental of a portable modem during your trip to this country.
Thanks to this trip to the Guizhou region, I had the opportunity to check on site some of the free VPNs available on mobile app stores. Honestly, I had some nice and nasty surprises that I report here, compared to the operation of these programs. On my trip, I downloaded and activated before the arrival in the country, 4 free VPN applications, but only one worked properly.
The only app that worked as you would expect was ExpressVPN, one of the most popular and downloaded programs, which offers a week of free use before having to buy it with a monthly subscription. In my case the 7 days of free trial were enough, in case you had to stay in China for a period longer than 10 days, it might be worthwhile to buy the first month of use, knowing that you can connect with the same subscription, more devices at the same time.
I do not want to mention the other applications that did not work, because I can not verify the reasons (such as incompatibility for some countries or regions of the world, operating systems, or cell phone models), but I can assure you that I have tried many times the VPN connection with them, and none ever worked. In case you are about to go to China, I always advise you to download and activate more than one, to avoid any problems once you arrive in the country of destination. I hope this article has been helpful, and a good trip to China!