The Great Wall is one of China’s most famous attractions. But regular visitors to China will also be aware of the so-called Great Firewall of China. As the internet is censored in China, websites including Facebook, Google and Twitter are blocked.
Ahead of a trip to China, one member calls on the AFF community for some advice…
We are going on a Wendy Wu tour to Yunnan and Sichuan in April and wonder if we will have access to our email accounts, which are with Bigpond, Hotmail and also a Gmail address. I understand Google is limited in China. We fly into Kunming, visit Dali, Lijiang, Chengdu and then home from there. Any tips from recent visitors to China and this area would be appreciated. I use Firefox and Chrome for internet access and have access to Telstra webmail as well as the direct bigpond account. Thank you in advance to all AFF experts.
The Chinese government blocks access to Google, Facebook and any other website considered undesirable. So, although wifi internet is widely available, access is restricted. As Gmail is owned by Google, you also won’t have access to Gmail email accounts. But Hotmail and most other email accounts are accessible without a VPN.
Hotmail works fine. Gmail is blocked, as is the google search engine. Options are to try roaming (can be expensive), or a VPN (can be tricky), or just roll with it. I think bigpond should be ok. Wifi is widespread and I used it for years while there without a VPN, but then most of my email is hotmail.
One way to get around the Great Firewall is to use a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. This connects your device to a server outside of China where internet access is not restricted. VPNs are widely available for around $5-10 per month. These work well, but they are a legal grey area. Some VPNs have been blocked in China.
Was there in Oct last year…had Express VPN and could get anything…was about $10 for one month
Another option is to use the global roaming function on your Australian mobile phone. This generally gives you the same internet access as you would have in Australia.
3 trips to China in 2017 and Telstra Global roaming worked a treat. Some sites were a little slower than normal but still managed to surf the net fine. The Wi-fi at most of the Hotels seemed a bit more restrictive but still watched a few live games of sport on my phone. Facebook was the most difficult to access
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Internet and Email in China