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My route home at the end of my trip will have me on a 4-hour connection at Guangzhou airport in China.

I've read online that it's an unpleasant airport but it would be more bearable if I knew I would have free Wi-Fi access and electricity there.

I found a couple of sites saying free Wi-Fi was introduced at the end of 2011. [1], [2]

But a couple of the reviews mentioned the Wi-Fi had Chinese-only login, or that the English language link is broken. There is also mention that I might need a phone with a local SIM or an account on something I've never heard of.

Has anyone here used it? Do I need anything special to log in? Does it now have a working English language option? Can any Chinese speaker here tell a poor 鬼子 how to log in to the Chinese interface?

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1  
Two years ago, I found one open wifi in the domestic terminal by the coffee shop near security (not actually owned by the coffee shop mind you, but I couldn't get a good connection anywhere else). Played me some Starcraft. However, I can't answer for international. –  Ginamin Sep 5 '12 at 1:20
    
Oh yeah I might clarify the international terminal factor - thanks @Ginamin! –  hippietrail Sep 5 '12 at 7:26

3 Answers 3

I had a similar question about Wifi in Astana Airport, and my solution in the end was to check Foursquare. It's popular among travellers, and people leave tips, so often they'll comment on the wifi (or lack thereof).

In this case, I looked up Guangzhou on foursquare and it appears that several people have reported using free wifi at the Oak Tree Cafe in the airport. To me this infers two things - firstly, there's probably not an easy-access English airport-wide wifi (at least not free) (although as you've found, it might just be that it's hard to use and not in Latin script/broken) and secondly, that at least you can use the cafe's wifi. However you may need a map of the airport to clarify whether it's in the international terminal.

(Thirdly, one of the tips recommends their cappuccinos ;))

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I'll have to try to get some renminbin from fellow travellers in Korea for one of those cappuccinos. I'm pretty good at languages though so I'm still hoping for a tip from a Chinese speaker that can tell me what to type into my IME. –  hippietrail Sep 9 '12 at 7:58
    
I think Foursquare is blocked in china. –  MaoYiyi Sep 15 '12 at 15:22
    
@MaoYiyi, yes, but you look it up BEFORE getting to China :) As per my answer above ;) –  Mark Mayo Sep 15 '12 at 22:21

From my friend that just flew back from France for studies, she is Chinese, using the Wi-Fi is easy and most coffee shops have it. The international side will likely have better coverage than the Chinese side.

Just search for Wi-Fi, and the only thing you need to do is just ask for the Wi-Fi password. It is very easy, just say Wi-Fi or show them your login screen.

Also from personal experience, I have never paid for Wi-Fi in China, nor do I know of anyone that has paid for it, unless it's 2/3g, which is not really Wi-Fi.

Also, many airports have these poles that have computers around them and it will have Wi-Fi instructions, or if you are really worried, when you go into the airport, go to customer service and the women (I've only seen women working there) will inform you of how to access the internet at the airport.

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Hmm well that makes it sound much easier than the online reviews suggest. I'll let everybody know my experiences in November after I use the airport. –  hippietrail Sep 14 '12 at 14:39
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Well there is definitely free Wi-Fi at Guangzhou International Airport, including in locations that transit passengers can use.

When I was in transit for four hours a few days ago I'd say about every second departure gate had an Internet point which included I think two electric sockets on either side. These were of course a bit crowded with people using and charging various devices. There were various other sockets around the place that took various shaped plugs, but all the ones I tried seemed to have their electric supply disabled leaving only those at the Internet points working.

It turns out that to get a login you need a mobile phone or an account on some Chinese Internet service I'd never heard of called Sina Weibo. I'm a bit of a phone hater so I didn't understand some of the jargon but it seemed that only Chinese phone numbers would work, perhaps only certain carriers: China Mobile, China Unicorn, and China Telecom.

Guangzhou airport Wi-Fi screenshot 1

Guangzhou airport Wi-Fi screenshot 2

As I had no telephone and no Sina Weibo account I spent my four hours without Internet at Guangzhou airport.

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