If you’re traveling to China you have to be prepared that a lot of sites you are using daily might be blocked due to the Great Firewall. Recently I was there on a business trip as a software developer and here are my notes on what works and what doesn’t, including some tips.
What doesn’t work
Google and its services (Gmail, YouTube) are not available. You can use Bing and Yahoo as search engines. I was using Bing. Bing
recognized that I was using English search queries and offered to switch the user interface to English.
WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are not available. Since I don’t use them anyway I didn’t miss them. Some news sites occasionally embed Instagram pictures and Twitter posts in their articles, for example announcements by the US president or similar. You won’t see those either.
Here are some services and websites I was using without problems:
- Skype is working
- TeamViewer is working
- Github is available
- Wikipedia is available (the non-Chinese language versions)
- Amazon is working
There are sites where you can check in advance if your favorite websites are accessible. There’s also an overview with the status of high-ranking websites on Wikipedia.
Apparently using a VPN is not illegal, but access to a lot of VPN services is blocked. If you want to use a VPN app you should download it before entering the country. I personally didn’t feel the need to use a VPN.