The online dating scene has exploded in the past 5 years, something that used to be tabu has become completely normal. Vietnam is not an exception and we’ve seen both international and local dating apps that are gaining more and more traction in the country.
Virtual phone numbers – Index
What is a virtual phone number?
A virtual number is a phone number that isn’t associated with any physical phone line: all the incoming calls are redirected to another number (for instance your mobile number)
Why you may need a virtual phone number
Have you ever used a roaming service while you were abroad? I did it when I just arrived in China and I ended up paying a huge amount of money (at the time my family needed to contact me quite frequently and I was often offline). After the first crazy expensive bill I decided to find a solution to this problem. This is how I stumbled upon virtual numbers.
Using a virtual number to redirect calls from a local number in your country to your Chinese mobile number is probably the best option to receive calls in China or wherever you are. It’s cheap and you won’t have to teach your grandma to use Skype!
The guide to Swapsy – Index
- What is Swapsy?
- How to configure Swapsy?
- How does Swapsy work?
- Which currencies can be transferred with Swapsy?
- Which forms of payment are accepted by Swapsy?
- Can I use Swapsy if I have a European bank account?
- Is Swapsy safe?
- How much money can be transferred with Swapsy?
- How much does Swapsy cost?
- Comparison with Wise (formerly Transferwise)
- Swapsy’s limitations
At times, living in China can be more costly than you might think, and always requires a certain amount of money. Unless you have a fixed income such as a scholarship (for foreign students), a salary (for foreign workers) or if that’s simply not enough, you’ll need to turn to the savings that are resting comfortably in your home country. Or (I wish you the best with it), you’ll need to transfer the money you have in China directly to your home account.
In the majority of cases, trying to transfer money from China abroad can be very frustrating because you’ll have to deal with a large number of limitations imposed by the government, endless questions about where the money came from and the eventual taxes you’ll have to pay, added commissions and long lines at the bank.
The inverse process can at times be just as complex and/or costly, especially if you withdraw money from a Chinese ATM with a card not belonging to a Chinese circuit.
Besides the methods that you perhaps already know (such as Wise (formerly Transferwise), for example) there’s also Swapsy, a money-transfer P2P service.
In this short guide I will explain what Swapsy is, how it works, and other bits of useful information about this new platform.
Starting around a decade ago, China has blocked numerous foreign websites and applications to assure ‘national stability’. Things turned for the worse in 2017 when the cybersecurity law was issued.
In short, the government required network operators to store data in China, at the same time as Chinese authorities can do spot-checks on companies’ network operations. Over the years, increasingly more people use VPNs, which is the most common and effective way to bypass the Great Wall.
However, we’ve also seen that many popular VPNs have suffered from disruptions recently and there are even rumors that VPNs will be blocked entirely in China. Therefore, I’ve written this article and where I present alternative options to VPNs in China.
Alternatives to VPN in China
There aren’t that many options available that can replace VPNs. The Great Firewall gets smarter each year and the Chinese government introduces new laws that make it more difficult to surf the net without restrictions.
Having said that, two options help foreigners to freely surf the internet, namely:
Let’s start and review how it works when using a Hong Kong SIM card in Mainland China. [Read more…]
Chinese Social Media – Index
WeChat was launched by Tencent in 2011, one of China’s biggest IT companies. It initially started as a messaging app but has added many functions since and is now referred to as a “multi-purpose” app.
Being used by more than 1 billion people, it’s the third most downloaded application in the world, just behind Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. It’s kind of self-explanatory why this application deserves a spot on this list. [Read more…]
Best VPNs for Vietnam – Index
Security online is one of the things that we should start to keep in mind, especially when we are traveling or moving to another country. Another thing that we should keep in mind is whether access to the Internet is restricted or not.
In Vietnam, there exist multiple cybernetic laws which are theoretically aimed at preventing information leaks, promoting security in the interchange of information, and permitting secure transactions. However, these laws have mainly been used to block, filter or monitor the use of the Internet in the country. Many websites in Vietnam are blocked or have restricted use, including sites as popular as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, the BBC, and WordPress, following the lead of countries such as China.
Despite this, recent reports indicate that Vietnam is among the countries with the highest risk in the world for cybernetic attacks along with Thailand.
How can I access Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and other blocked websites in Vietnam?
To improve security online and to avoid potential restrictions on access to certain websites, one of the most useful tools is the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), as you will see in the following sections.
Since 2012, Google and all of its services (such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps and Google Play) have been blocked and are not accessible to users located in Mainland China. However, is it possible to access Google from China?
Accessing Google from China is possible and even easy. In this article, we will give a step-by-step explanation of how to access Google and any other Internet service that is blocked in China.
What Google services are blocked in China?
Here a non-exhaustive list of Google services and products that are blocked in China:
- Google search engine (text and voice)
- Google Images
- Google Maps
- G Suite (including Google Docs and Google Sheets)
- Google Drive
There are however some exceptions, that is Google services that still work in China, such a Google Chrome, and Android operative system, even if with some severe limitations (for instance Google Play is blocked).
What do you need to access Google in China?
To access Google and all of its services, basically you will need two things:
A standard Internet connection
It’s obvious that to access Google or any other website, you will first need to connect to the Internet, either through a data connection from your cell phone or by connecting to a Wi-Fi network. Keep on reading to find out how to connect to the Internet in China.
A system to get around the Great Firewall of China
The so-called Great Firewall of China is a series of measures applied by the Chinese authorities to prevent access to a variety of foreign websites. Even so, there are multiple ways of getting around this blockage. Virtual Private Networks or VPNs are the most popular and effective system for getting around Internet use restrictions in China.
Before getting started
Many platforms for live streaming television, films, or series have geographic restrictions and don’t offer all of their content in every country, especially in China. This is the case with Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Sky Go and BBC iPlayer, among many more.
Using a VPN is usually the best solution to be able to enjoy these platforms without restrictions.
However, many of these platforms have started to detect and block users using proxies and VPNs.
In this article, we will explain how you can easily access geographically restricted content and which VPNs still work to access Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Sky Go, and BBC iPlayer.
Table of Contents
- How to access Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Sky Go, and BBC iPlayer
- How to use a VPN to access a streaming website
- What are the best VPNs and those that still work
- What VPNs no longer work to unblock streaming platforms
- Are there any free options?
- How to configure your VPN to access streaming platforms
- Is a VPN useful when I’m in my country?
- Is it illegal to use a VPN to access geographically restricted content?
- Frequently asked questions
How to access geographically restricted content
This article aims to explain in a simple and clear way what VPNs, proxies and Tor are, as well as the differences between them. The article is intended to be understandable for any person, and because of this, it may contain oversimplifications and opinions.
Currently, these three systems have three main uses:
- To avoid internet censorship: As you already know, there exist certain countries with restrictions on internet use. The most famous of them are China and Iran, although internet restrictions are present in many other countries, such as Thailand, Vietnam and Russia. For example, YouTube is blocked in at least 10 countries. While these three systems may allow you to avoid restrictions on certain web sites (such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), in practice, VPNs are the most reliable system for getting around restrictions to date.
- To unblock websites with geographic restrictions: Another common use for these systems is to unblock content which is geographically restricted, and mainly video content (such as television programs, series or podcasts). For example, they are used to watch series and movies on Netflix when you are in a country in which it does not exist or if you prefer to use the Netflix from another country. While a VPN, proxy or Tor can be used to unblock this content, currently only good VPN providers and certain proxies are able to offer browsing speeds compatible with streaming.
- To improve internet security: A lot of people use these systems to avoid having their banking or personal information robbed by third parties, especially when they connect via public networks (a risk that is getting exponentially larger). However, despite what people think, proxies and Tor do not improve internet security whatsoever (sometimes even the opposite). Only VPNs with good encryption protocols improve the security of your connection.
Important: Not all VPN services are the same. If you want to know what the best three VPN providers are in our opinion, click here.
Born in 2012 as a modest project, NordVPN has become one of the most complete and popular VPNs on the market. Currently, this VPN provider (whether fortunately or unfortunately) is competing to be one of the leading VPNs in China, which is quite possibly the hardest test of the reliability of any VPN service.
Below you will find a complete review of NordVPN.
- Encryption protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec and IKEv2/IPsec
- Simultaneous connections: 6 simultaneous connections.
- Number of countries with servers and server count: 5,118 servers in 62 countries, including 2,314 in the USA, 2,319 in Europe, 461 servers in Asia and the Pacific and 50 servers in Africa, the Middle East and India.
- Server changes: Unlimited.
- Applications: Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS.
Over the past few years, we have been using VyprVPN in China to browse the internet securely and to access websites blocked in this county. During this time, VyprVPN has demonstrated that it is a fast, reliable, and extremely secure VPN. Below, we describe our impressions of this VPN and why we believe that it is one of the VPNs that offers the best security when you browse the internet.
- Encryption protocols: PPTP, OpenVPN™, L2TP/Ipsec, Chameleon™
- Simultaneous connections: Up to 5 simultaneous connections (depending on the plan you choose)
- Server count and location: More than 700 servers in 50 countries
- Server changes: Unlimited
- Applications: Apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Android TV, Apple TV, Router.
- Money back guarantee: 30 days
- After-sale service: 24 hours a day all year round
- Extras: NAT Firewall
Pros of VyprVPN
- Reliability and stability:VyprVPN is one of the VPNs that we have used with the best results in terms of reliability and stability. However, there are other VPNs which offer similar services.
- Simultaneous connections: The “pro” option allows you to use three simultaneous connections with the same account (you can have 5 with the “premium” option). This is very useful, as it means that you don’t have to disconnect the VPN from your laptop every time you want to use your smartphone. Many service providers offer a discount if you want to buy a second account, but buying and creating another account is not practical whatsoever.
- Security: It is in terms of security, in our opinion, that VyprVPN stands out, an aspect which I will further discuss below.
- Applications: Apps are designed for a broad range of systems, and are very well-designed.
If you’re reading this article, it’s highly likely that you know that in China, Gmail as well as all of Google’s services are blocked.
In this guide, we will give you a step-by-step explanation on how you can access your Gmail account and any other online service that is blocked for users in Mainland China.
What do I need to access my Gmail account from China?
To access your Gmail account, as is obvious, you are going to need an Internet connection as well as a system for getting around the Great Firewall of China.
Currently, the most popular and easiest to use system for getting around the Great Firewall of China is a system called a Virtual Private Network or VPN.
What’s a VPN?
Without getting into the details, a VPN is a system that helps maintain Internet security and anonymity by “tunneling” your connection through a server located elsewhere. The connection between your device and the server selected is encrypted so that third parties can’t see your activities online or the origin of your connection.
On the practical level, a VPN will make your IP address and online activity private (websites or applications online will see the server IP address, not yours), and this lets you get around the Great Firewall of China, as it will look like you’re connecting to the Internet from where the VPN server is located, and not from China.
What VPN to use in China
As you most likely know, in China, Facebook, just like many other websites that are popular in the West, are blocked. Facebook’s instant messaging app, Facebook Messenger, is also blocked. In this article, we’ll give a step-by-step explanation of how you can access Facebook in China without restrictions.
Keep in mind that if you follow these simple steps, not only will you be able to access Facebook, but also other apps and websites that are blocked in China, such as WhatsApp, all Google services, Line, Twitter and Instagram, among others. In addition, you will be able to browse the Internet without restrictions.
What do you need to connect to Facebook in China?
Accessing Facebook and its messaging app is very easy. All you’ll need is access to the Internet and software to get around the Great Firewall of China (which is the reason for the restrictions on Internet use).
1. Access the Internet
It’s obvious that if you want to use Facebook or its apps, you will need an Internet connection. In China, connecting to the Internet is relatively easy, either through the numerous public Wi-Fi networks or by buying a prepaid SIM card with a data plan.
2. An app to get around the Great Firewall of China
There are multiple ways of getting around the Great Fireball of China that vary in effectiveness, but without a doubt, the most popular and effective way is to use a system called a Virtual Private Network (or VPN).
Is it still possible to access Reddit in China? Despite the fact that China blocked access to Reddit in August 2018, you can still access Reddit without problems if you know how.
In this article, you will find a step-by-step guide on how to access Reddit and other websites blocked in China in a simple way.
What do you need to use Reddit in China?
To access Reddit or any other website that’s blocked in China, obviously, you are first going to need to be connected to the Internet. After that, you will need a system to “get around” the Great Firewall of China.
1. An internet connection
Accessing the Internet in China is relatively easy. Free Wi-Fi networks are available at many places, such as restaurants, hotels, cafés, and airports, among others. You can also get a SIM card with data just by showing your passport at one of the official stores of China’s three main telephone operators, China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom. Getting a prepaid SIM card is relatively cheap, and with around 200 Yuan, you will have all of the services necessary for a month (SIM, data and calls).
2. A system to get around the Great Firewall
There currently exist multiple systems to get around the Internet restrictions of the Great Firewall of China. Among them, the most efficient and easiest-to-use system is without a doubt a Virtual Private Network or VPN.
At the time of the enactment of China’s new cybersecurity law in 2017, the country initiated a several-month period aimed at increasing controls and restrictions on Internet use. During these months, many media outlets published contradictory news stories on the possibility of VPNs being blocked completely in China in 2018. The first stories said it would happen in January 2018, and then February and finally March.
The goal of this article is to try to organize and clarify all of the information that has come out in 2017 and 2018 on the subject.
Do VPNs work in China?
The short answer is YES. You can check out this complete article on some of the best VPNs that continue to work in China, which we update every month with the most recent information on their functionality and stability. The first version of the article dates back to 2013, and since then, we have continued to monitor the different VPNs on the market and have selected those that work best in China in our opinion.
Despite the fact that since June 2017, many VPNs have been seriously affected in terms of their functionality, or have even been completely blocked, currently, numerous VPNs continue to work quite well in China.
However, if VPNs continue to work in China, what was the reason for this wave of news stories stating the opposite in 2017 and the beginning of 2018? Below, we will try to clarify the information and debunk the myths.
Can you access Instagram China? Like many other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is blocked in China.
However, there are multiple ways of accessing Instagram and other websites and apps blocked in China. Out of all of these methods, without a doubt, VPNs are the simplest and most effective system.
In this article, we will give you a simple and step-by-step explanation on how to unblock Instagram in China.
Unblocking Instagram in China
To unblock Instagram in China, all you will need is Internet access and a system to get around restrictions.
Accessing the Internet in China
If you’re traveling in China, finding Internet access is relatively easy, as free Wi-Fi networks are available at many businesses such as cafés, restaurants, hotels and airports, among others.
In any event, if you want to always be connected or are going to travel to rural areas, it might be a good idea to purchase a SIM card with a data plan. To get a prepaid SIM card, all you will need is to take your passport to an official store of one of the main telephone operators (China Telecom, China Unicom or China Mobile). If you’re going to be one month or less, 200 Yuan is usually enough to buy the card, a basic data plan and a bit of credit for calls.
VPNs are an excellent tool to access the Internet securely and without restrictions. Currently, using a VPN is the best way to get around the Great Firewall of China and be able to access all of the blocked apps in the country.
However, how can you objectively assess the performance of your VPN? In this article, we explain how to use an Internet speed test to evaluate the quality of your Internet connection and the functionality of your VPN. Also, here you can find some tips to improve your VPN speed.
Below is a tool designed by Bing that you can use for free to test your Internet connection speed (simply click on Start):
Is it possible to access Snapchat in China? Like many other messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Line, Snapchat is blocked in China. However, if you have a VPN, you will be able to access Snapchat in China without any problems. In this article, we will give you a simple and step-by-step explanation on how to unblock Snapchat in China.
What do you need to connect to Snapchat in China?
Using Snapchat or any apps blocked in China is relatively simple. You will only need two things: Internet access (obviously) and a system to get around the Internet use controls that exist in China.
1. An Internet connection
It’s obvious that to use Snapchat in China, you will have to have some way to connect to the global network. However, is it easy to access the Internet in China?
Accessing the Internet in China is very easy, whether via one of the many free Wi-Fi networks, a data plan, or even by using roaming:
Wifi: In China, and especially in large cities, finding a free Wi-Fi network is really easy, as the majority of restaurants, bars, cafés, hotels and airports offer free Wi-Fi to their customers.
As you may understand, finding a Wi-Fi network in rural areas can be complicated.
Chinese SIM card: Getting a prepaid SIM card from one of China’s main telephone companies (China Mobile, China Unicom or China Telecom) is very easy, and all you will need to do is find one of these companies’ stores and present your passport.
Normally, just 200 Yuan will be enough for the SIM card, a basic monthly data plan and a bit of credit for calls.
I don’t recommend any company in particular, as their prices and services tend to be quite comparable. Simply choose the first you find.
As you should already be well aware, Twitter, along with the majority of social media platforms, can’t be accessed from Mainland China.
If you’re in China and want to access the Internet without restrictions, you will need a system to get around the filtering conducted by the so-called Great Firewall of China.
Currently, the most effective and simplest system to use to get around restrictions is called a Virtual Private Network or VPN.
In this article, I am going to give you a simple, step-by-step explanation on how to access Twitter and any blocked website in China.
What you’ll need to Tweet in China
Tweeting in China is easy. All you will need is Internet access and a system to get around the Internet restrictions imposed by the Great Firewall of China.
Currently, the most effective and easy-to-use system to get around the Great Firewall is a Virtual Private Networks or VPN.
What’s a VPN and where can I get one?
A VPN is a system designed to redirect all or a part of your online traffic through a server located in another place. The traffic between your device and the server is encrypted, preventing third parties from being able to see your online activities, thus increasing security. [Read more…]
This article contains a list of the best pages about China that can be found and followed on Facebook. The pages vary in their themes and cover an ample spectrum of categories – from tourism to traditional culture to the life of an expatriates, from the language to politics to news. You’ll find a short review and corresponding link to the cited Facebook pages, where they exist, and also the referring website.
p.s. If you live in China and still don’t know how to access Facebook, I recommend that you read our article on how to use Facebook beyond the Great Wall.
Disclaimer: our objective is not to list all the Facebook pages about China, but rather to present the most interesting both for expatriates that live in China, and those who just love or are curious about the country. Have a good read! [Read more…]