7 Reasons Why You Need a VPN for Safe Traveling in China
Traveling in China is an adventure and a cultural roller-coaster, but one of the aspects many travelers still don’t pay enough attention to is internet safety. The rest of the world is vaguely familiar with the fact that censorship is running rampant in the country and that you can’t even access Facebook from there, but for most, the knowledge stops there.
Unfortunately, if you’re not acquainted enough with the rules of internet usage in China, you can easily end up locked away from all your social media accounts, as well as from all forms of communication with the rest of the world. That is why so many experienced travelers insist that you shouldn’t go to China without a VPN having your back and there are some very persuasive reasons to support their argument.
What Is VPN and Why You Need It in China
Unless you’re a tech lover, you’re probably not closely familiar with what VPNs can do to keep you protected on the World Wide Web. Virtual private networks aka VPNs have been created to keep safe the flow of confidential data on the internet, but have in time found a purpose in everyday lives of internet users who care about their privacy and security. A strong trustworthy VPN will be able to hide your IP address, it will enable you to bypass geo-blocking, which is crucial if you’re in China and it will encrypt all the information coming from your computer so that no one else can come snooping around.
The infamous Great Firewall of China is a part of the Golden Shield project and as such, its primary task is to block certain foreign websites and significantly slow down cross-border internet traffic. Everyone living in or visiting China are unable to connect to international websites and function normally on the internet without being strictly controlled by the Firewall. That is why going to China without a virtual private network is not advisable, and here are 7 other reasons that are equally important.
1. You’re Not Limited in Any Way
For me, the very first reason for having an active VPN while traveling through China is the freedom of censorship. When you’re used to having an open access to just about any website in the world, being banned from Facebook is not a pleasant feeling and you want to go around it if at all possible. When you’re using VPN, it can transport your IP address to any part of the world where it’s got servers, so that it would appear you’re accessing the internet from say, San Francisco, even though you’re really in China. That way, even if the Great Firewall is still very much present, you can just hope over it by using VPN.
2. Security on Public Wi-Fi Connections
Another fact we often neglect when we travel are the dangers that public Wi-Fi can pose. We’re more than happy to use free internet connection whenever the opportunity arises but hackers often lurk on the public Wi-Fi and wait for an opportunity to steal your personal information the moment you log into the network. Not only do you risk having everything from your passwords to your credit card details stolen but your computer can get infected with any form of malware or virus imaginable. VPN encrypts all your data so even if black-hat hackers try to breach your security, all they will get is a bunch of scrambled useless information.
3. Keeping Your Identity Hidden
Bypassing the Great Firewall by using VPN is not a crime, but keeping your identity to yourself is your right and you should practice it at all times. If you want to browse the internet privately and not worry about having your identity or your location compromised, simply turn on your VPN. It will mask and relocate your IP address so that it appears like you’re somewhere else on the planet and as such, hardly traceable. The good news about keeping your privacy in check is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to procure a good VPN service. Depending on what your requirements are, there are even some good free ones like Cyberghost VPN that will give you basic levels of protection, but if you want more, then paying for the services rendered is necessary.
4. Cheaper Airline Tickets
If you’re shopping for airline tickets for your next destination, you definitely don’t want any restrictions when it comes to booking that can easily lead to paying more than you intended. Among so many other perks that come from using VPN frequently, scoring better deals by relocating your IP address to countries from where you can get better prices is by far one of the most important ones for all globetrotters.
5. Online Shopping Made Easy
Unless you want to be constricted to only having access to Chinese online retailers, you would do well to use a VPN whenever you need to do some online shopping. While it’s true that you can find just about anything on Chinese shopping websites, you may need something from a different country that can’t be found on local sites and VPN will allow you to “transport” to that particular country and buy whatever your heart needs.
6. Watch Whatever You Want
Once you get to China, you can kiss Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and many other similar platforms goodbye. If you’ve got some free time and you want to relax with the latest episode of your favorite show, it’s not going to happen because of the Great Firewall that restricts your access to them. This is where VPN comes to the rescue once again as it will protect your identity, move your IP address to the US and allow you to watch anything you’d like.
7. Avoid Having Your Bank Account Blocked
This is an ongoing trouble for all frequent travelers – when a credit card is being used a lot all over the world, banks have a tendency to block them in case that there’s an identity theft going on. The same can happen if you log into your online bank account from a foreign country and it is better not to risk it because the hassle to unblock it can take several days. Notify your bank that you’ll be traveling and whenever you want to access your online bank account, do it through VPN – it will keep your financial details safe and you will appear as though you’re in your home country.
Having a VPN in China is practically a must, especially if you’re working online and you need free access to the web. Virtual private networks will make your life so much easier, seeing that you don’t have to deal with restrictions and censorship that the Great Firewall of China imposes. – Howard Scalia
Howard Scalia is 37-year-old former scout leader from Austin, Texas, and one of the best and most trusted blog writers at www.prosurvivalist.com on everything from survival tips to internet security advice. When he’s not working on some new interesting article, he enjoys taking long walks in the woods with his dogs.