In the heady early years of the world wide web, it was taken almost as a given that increased internet access would lead to a new information age, in which data and knowledge know no boundaries. While this has been true to a certain extent, there are plenty of countries all around the world working hard to make sure this isn’t the case.
In the past few years, internet freedom has actually declined significantly in dozens of countries around the world, as governments ramp up censorship on everything from search engines to e-commerce sites. With that in mind, you should be aware of which places on the map might present some digital inconveniences should you choose to travel there (especially if you need to do some work online while you’re there).
Many of the countries with the strictest rules regarding internet censorship are also hugely popular tourist destinations, so chances are you’ll be passing through one of them at some point. This is where a handy VPN comes in. Most travellers and even locals make use of VPNs to safely bypass web restrictions, allowing access to all of the usual sites you use on a daily basis.
If you’re planning a trip anytime soon, these are the top places where you’ll definitely need a VPN.
China’s so-called “Great Firewall” is the topic of endless debate both inside and outside of the country. Locals regularly and eagerly debate in online forums such as Weibo and WeChat which the best VPNs are to gain access to social media and Google.
Two of the most commonly used VPNs by both locals and travellers are Express VPN and NordVPN, as both work reasonably well anywhere in China. To decide what’s best for you, it’s best to consult the experts on the endless ExpressVPN vs NordVPN debate, to weight up the pros and cons of each.
Vietnam has a popular reputation as one of the most friendly and tolerant countries in the world. This may be true, but the country’s censorship of certain websites, particularly media streaming platforms such as Netflix, can be severe.
If you’re big on your internet privacy, a VPN is also recommended because government habitually monitors internet users of all stripes, with tourists often coming under the radar. Access to app stores can be particularly patchy once you’ve landed in Vietnam, so make sure to find a recommended VPN and download it before you hop on the plane.
If you’re planning a glamorous trip to the bright lights of Dubai or Abu Dhabi, then make sure you’re fully covered on the digital side of things. Access to popular news sites such as CNN, France24, and the BBC is frequently blocked in the UAE, so if you want to keep up on world affairs during your trip then a handy VPN is your best way around it.
There have also been reports of tourists being unable to access their Outlook and Google inboxes, so if you’re heading to the Emirates for business purposes then a VPN is highly recommended.
A happy traveller is a prepared traveller. Make sure to load up your phone with all of the relevant apps just as you would pack your suitcase with all of your basic essentials and your trip is sure to go as smoothly as possible.
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Founder Dinis Guarda
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