Wi-fi accessibility in hotels, cafes, restaurants and bars is generally good. The best option is to bring a wi-fi equipped smartphone, tablet or laptop or use your hotel computer or broadband internet connection. Chain restaurants and cafes with free wi-fi often still require a Chinese phone number to receive a login code.
The Chinese authorities remain mistrustful of the internet, and censorship is heavy-handed. Around 10% of websites are blocked; the list is constantly changing but includes sites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google-owned sites (YouTube, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Drive), Dropbox and Telegram, so plan ahead. Google's search function is blocked, but a limited Chinese version of Yahoo and Bing are accessible. Newspapers such as the New York Times are also blocked, as is Bloomberg, though the Guardian is allowed.
Users can gain access to blocked websites by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service such as VyperVPN (www.goldenfrog.com). Be aware that using VPNs can be slow, and often are blocked sites themselves so must be installed before arriving in China – and not all even work in China.
Many internet cafes only accept customers with Chinese ID, thus barring foreigners. In large cities and towns, the area around the train station generally has internet cafes.
The internet icon in hotel reviews indicates the presence of an internet cafe or a terminal where you can get online; wi-fi areas are indicated with a wi-fi icon.