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I've heard about the Great Firewall (also referred to as the Golden Shield) of China, but I had no idea how inconvenient it would be not having access to my favorite sites. That means no reddit, Facebook, Google, basically anything you are used to outside of China.
Instead, China have a host of their own apps and services that are allowed. I would guarantee that if you are a traveler or a new resident of the country, giving up access to the information is not easy. In fact, even with Chinese as my second language, it was not possible for me to just stick with Chinese websites and apps.
So, I wanna share with you my experience with the VPN most foreigners and travelers use in China. Besides being able to buy Supreme and unblock Netflix, I was delighted to hear from the people I met there that my favorite VPN was the go-to VPN to bypass the firewall in China.
I've used it extensively when I travel to watch Netflix Japan as I couldn't stand missing my favorite Terrace House the minute it releases. I also use it to cop on drop day in Japan. It has always been extremely reliable and fast. But I wanted to put it to the test during my two weeks trip to China.
How about using ExpressVPN in China?
Using a local SIM card, I basically kept my VPN on all the time. There were occasional drops in connection but nothing that affected my experience majorly. Sometimes I thought it felt slow and turned it off to see if there was an improvement in speed, but then realize it was just slow in general.
Also, while I could still unblock and watch or download Netflix (really nice for economical plane rides with no in-flight entertainment), there was a problem specifically unblocking Netflix in Japan.
In order to unblock Netflix, ExpressVPN constantly monitors and changes server IP to avoid being detected by Netflix. It's a cat and mouse game that ExpressVPN is good at. In China, however, there is a limit of servers that can be set up and rotated. So, while I was able to connect to one of the Japan servers, the specific Japan server that they created for Netflix could not be connected to.
When I contacted support about this, one thing that impressed me about ExpressVPN was how aware they were of the use cases of their service. For example, they recommended the exact server to connect to for access to specific country's Netflix. I had experience with communicating with ExpressVPN's support before and their professionalism and response speed has never ceased to impress me.
With the VPN on 24/7, I was also able to use apps like Dian Ping, WeChat, Didi and Baidu Maps with no problems.
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Like a lot of quality services, ExpressVPN isn't free. I paid for a year's worth, and I always feel like I am getting more than my money's worth for the amount of times I used it. I met slightly more than 10 foreigners living in China, and ALL of them just happened to be using ExpressVPN, which gave me a lot of confidence.
For travelers who just want to try it out, you can sign up for a plan and get your money back within 30 days. No questions asked. You could technically use the best VPN for free.
Let me know in the comments below if ExpressVPN is good for you. If not, which other VPN have you tried that is better? I would love to make a comparison.