I just got back last week from 38 hours in Beijing and I wrote 10 Things I Learned From My Recent Trip to Beijing, China. You might have heard that certain websites are blocked in China and that is completely true. Your favorite websites and apps such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Google are completely blocked due to censorship from the Chinese Government. You won’t even be able to access news websites such as CNN or Daily Mail UK. This is called the Great Firewall of China.
When I visited Shanghai back in 2013, only a few websites were blocked such as Twitter and Facebook. Fast forward to 2015 and China has upgraded their firewall to block all things related to Google such as Google search engine, Google Maps, Google Mail (Gmail), and that pretty much renders Android phone completely useless.
Not all hope is lost because you can get around this by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and I had success with using a Free VPN service called TunnelBear thanks to a recommendation from J. Grant @FarEastExplorer.
What TunnelBear does is ‘fake your location’ such as the United States and you can browse all the websites freely as if you were back in the U.S. This is completely legal since many companies rely on VPN’s to do business. In addition, I haven’t heard of anyone being formally charged for bypassing the Great Firewall of China. Here’s How to Bypass the Great Firewall of China Using a Free VPN.
Step 1. Download TunnelBear – Make sure you download TunnelBear for your iPhone/Android devices and your desktop computer(s) before you head to China. You won’t be able to download TunnelBear in China because the Great Firewall will block it.
Step 2. Install TunnelBear – TunnelBear initially gives you free 500MB of usage per month per account, so be sure to make multiple accounts for different devices using different e-mail addreses.
Step 3. Tweet for an extra GB – Right now, TunnelBear has a promotion where if you ‘Tweet’ @TheTunnelBear ‘Download a Bear! //tunnelbear.com Browse like you’re in another country! @theTunnelBear’, you can instantly get an additional 1GB per month with a total of 1.5GB to use per month per account.
Step 4. Enable TunnelBear – When in China and connected to the internet, launch the program from your desktop or mobile and set TunnelBear to ‘ON’. Voila, you will be able to browse all your favorite websites in China! Note that the app must not be closed or else your VPN will be off (just let it run in the background).
I did run into a problem on my desktop computer where certain websites were re-directing to a random travel blog called ptraveler.com and another website called wpkg.org. This only happened on my desktop computer and on the Google Chrome web browser for some reason. I’ve read online that you need an AdBlock or Ad Blocker extension/software, but that isn’t necessary to stop the redirect. The simple workaround to this was to completely ‘clear the cache’ in Google Chrome.
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll answer them below.