Shanghai Blog

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During my stay in China I have tried out different VPN providers, so I thought I should summarise my experience so far. In the past I used GoAgent that worked really well for a long time until Google shut down it’s servers in Mainland China. It was a setup using Google App Engine tunneling web traffic through Google’s server. I also used a plain SSH tunnel to a server in Sweden, but that usually had pretty poor performance. The first VPN I paid money for was PureVPN that worked very good for a month or so but then steadily went downhill. I had very poor performance with it in the end (1 year subscription). PureVPN didn’t have a Mac OS client so switching between servers was quite a hassle. I wouldn’t recommend getting PureVPN.
I then tried Astrill VPN which has had very mixed performance. Many friends here in Shanghai used it and have in general been very happy with it. For me it has worked good for maybe 2/3 of the time, but for quite a few months after Chinese New Year 2016 it was not really working at all. Astrill customer service was really terrible during this time and I am sure they lost a lot of business because of that (I had a screenshot of it in another post – Astrill customer service just lost it and accused their customers in public for being too stupid!). It also has an upgrade option – StealthVPN – which supposedly is more stable than their normal VPN service. I got it for free for 1 month after CNY but didn’t really use it too much, took a very long time to connect or timeout. I also don’t like that they charge extra for that, I think they should include it in their normal package instead (the VPN service should really just work). Astrill has good software clients for both Windows and Mac.
I have now switched to using VPN.AC but it’s still too early to say anything about it. It has client software for both Windows and Mac that works well.
I have also written some blog posts about how to set up Shadowsocks, which has also been working pretty good most of the time, but requires more technical knowledge.
An other VPN provider to mention would be ExpressVPN, that seems to be the best / most stable VPN provider for China but also quite expensive, so I’m not sure if it’s really worth it. I haven’t tried it yet but maybe I will consider it in the future. ExpressVPN also have a great feature that allows you to cancel your service at any time.
I think it’s a good practice to not pay for more than 6 months of a VPN as China internet is changing all the time and there’s no guarantee the VPN service will continue to work well in the future.

Finally I wanna mention the “Tips for China” website that has a lot of good information about VPN providers and run monthly performance tests to compare them, check it out at
It also has some discount codes for signing up to different VPN providers. Overall a great source of information when researching VPN providers in China.

Posted: 18 Aug 2016

In China both China Mobile and China Unicom have IP prefix numbers you can dial in front of the foreign country code and phone number (probably also China Telecom got it but I’ve never used that). Btw for dialling international phone numbers you need to first enable that service.
Also if you want to receive foreign phone calls in China you will need a registered phone number (registered with ID card or passport) or it will get blocked. When my mum visited a few years ago I bought an unregistered SIM card for her on the street (it saves a lot of time compared to going to China Mobile/Unicom) but after she received several phone calls from Sweden the SIM card was out of service within two days. After going to the local phone company office and registering it with her passport it was enabled again.

So if you have a phone number that can call internationally how to get a better rate? Knowing which IP number to use can be quite confusing.

From China Unicom website (


申请开通国际长途业务后,您可以在本城市直接拨打国外城市用户的电话,或加拨17911后拨打对方号码。 标准资费: 直接拨打=本地通话费+长途通话费0.80元/6秒 加拨17911=本地通话费+IP长途费3.60元/分钟(拨打美国、加拿大2.40元/分钟,拨打印度、巴基斯坦、越南、也门、朝鲜、孟加拉、洪都拉斯、伊朗、马里、卡塔尔、贝宁、蒙古、肯尼亚、卢旺达4.60元/分钟) 上述本地通话费、长途通话费、IP长途费以及相关业务办理方法均以当地联通分公司公布为准。 特别提示: 每日0:00-7:00为优惠时段,国际长途通信费部分按标准价的60%收取,即0.48元/6秒(限15个国家享受此优惠时段,分别是日本、美国、新加坡、澳大利亚、新西兰、法国、英国、意大利、泰国、马来西亚、德国、加拿大、韩国、印度尼西亚、菲律宾),拨打IP长途电话无优惠时段。

Foreign long-distance call
After applying foreign long-distance service, you can directly call international phone number from your local city, or dial 17911 before dialling the phone number.
Standard costs:
Direct call = local call cost + long distance costs 8 rmb/min
Add 17911 = local call cost + IP long distance cost 3.60 rmb/min (USA, Canada 2.40 rmb/min; India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Yemen, North Korea, Bengal, Honduras, Iran, Mali, Qatar, Benin, Mongolia, Kenya, Rwanda 4.60 rmb/min)
Above mentioned local, long-distance and IP call fees along with correlated service handling methods are all according to local China Unicom offices’ standard.
Special notice:
Everyday 00.00-07.00 has preferential rate, with international long-distance communication fee collected according to 60% of standard fee, that is 4.8 rmb/min (limited to 15 countries with this preferential time, they are Japan, USA, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, France, England, Italy, Thailand, Malaysia, Germany, Canada, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines); calling IP long-distance do not have preferential time period.

Chinese study note: In the sentence above “均” means “all”.

The website above doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2012. There is another China Unicom website (updated 2016) at

(一)10193 国际及台港澳长途电话优惠资费(广东省资费具体见分公司公布的优惠资费标准。)
[table with countries and rates]

Add 10193 to call international, Taiwan, Hongkong and Macau long-distance calls with optimal rate:
10193 international, Taiwan, Hongkong and Macau long-distance call preferential fees (For specific Guangdong province fees meet with local branch office for prefential fee standard.)

Preferential rate
0.39 rmb/min Hongkong, USA, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand (not incl ACES006681200,006681201), India, Australia fixed phone numbers (not incl Cocos island 00619162, Christmas island 00619164, Special service 006113 and 006114, mobile numbers 00614)
0.69 rmb/min Taiwan (not incl 008861418, 00886986, 00886973, 008869712, 008869713, 008869714, 008869715, 008869001), Macau, Korea
0.99 rmb/min Brunei, Colombia, Costa Rica, Bermuda, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Vietnam
1.69 rmb/min England (not incl 00447, 00449 etc), France (not incl 0033638, 0033640, French Antilles 003359 etc), Germany (not incl 00497 etc), Austria (not incl 00437, 00438 etc), Italy (not incl 003931, 003937, 003938, 003939 etc), Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Greece, New Zealand, Australia mobile numbers 00614 (Not incl Cocos island 00619162, Christmas island 00619164, Special service 006113 and 006114, fixed numbers etc), Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Turkey

And so on.

When I had China Mobile I used to use the 12593 prefix for cheaper international calls (IP call). Not really sure this was correct though, seems 12593 is for cheaper long-distance calls within China, and 17951 is for cheaper international calls.

Posted: 18 Aug 2016

Lite bilder från oktober ifjol när Annsofi var i Shanghai och vi också reste till Sanya. I Shanghai hann vi besöka lite olika parker (Fuxing Park och Century Park) och Annsofi hann visa upp väldigt goda boule-skills under picknicken i Century Park. Annsofi hann också bekanta sig med vår katt (小喵/peanut)som var minst sagt avvisade till en början :)
I övrigt hann vi testa en hel del olika restauranger i Shanghai samt grilla hemma i innergården.
Vid resan till Hainan så flög vi först till norra delen av ön (Haikou) och tog sedan snabbtåget ner till Sanya. Vi bodde först två nätter på “Holiday Inn Resort Sanya Bay” och efter det två nätter på “Kempinski Hotel Haitang Bay”, så vi hann se lite olika delar av stränderna kring Sanya.
Vi hittade en italiensk restaurang som heter “Casa Mia” efter Sanya Bay. Hade mycket bra mat och väldigt gott grillat kött! Hade dock lite problem att checka in på bägge hotellen eftersom Nara bokat via en kinesisk webbsajt och de klagade på att vi inte hade kinesiska id-handlingar. Efter en del diskussioner löste sig det tills slut.
Kempinski hotellet var väldigt fint och lyxigt, där man t o m kan få en privat gondol-tur mellan byggnaderna (inte gratis) och hade ett enormt grönområde samt privat stand. Det fanns dock inte så många restauranger kring Kempinski, men vi lyckades hitta en Hunan restaurang i närheten. I övrigt kan man säga att vi hade tur med vädret, då vi klarade oss undan särskilt mycket regn, för ett tyfon-oväder precis hade passerat förbi Hainan!

Posted: 11 Aug 2016