I've just got a humble smartphone with no fancy apps on a hotel wifi network in Canton, China.

My search engine of choice seems to be unavailable for some reason. How can I search the web in English without it?

baidu.com (a major Chinese search engine and also encyclopaedia) seems to work, but it's localised to Chinese.

I tried search engining, but the main result I got involved a website that uses baidu, and then the translate service of a certain unavailable search engine.

  • 4
    cn.bing.com works fine, but not en.bing.com, which just has a very boring "not working right now, we'll fix it real soon now" page. – Andrew Grimm Sep 15 '16 at 12:11
  • What kind of smartphone do you have that doesn't support VPN? In any case, maybe you could use an in-browser VPN? – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Sep 15 '16 at 14:40
  • 1
    Andrew, is DuckDuckGo available? – Insane Sep 15 '16 at 18:57
  • 1
    @Joshua I have never found ssh reliable when in Beijing. The Great Firewall seems to identify and throttle out my ssh connections within a few minutes. But this information is already nearly a year old. – Calchas Sep 15 '16 at 21:51
  • 1
    @hippietrail Of course – Insane Sep 16 '16 at 9:30

I usually end up using Bing if it's something I have to search for in English, even though it's really primitive and low quality in every way compared to Google.

If it's something I think I might be able to search in Chinese then I use Baidu. It's best to have a Chinese speaking friend handy though for when I get stuck.

You can use Baidu to search in English, but the interface is always only in Chinese and it's actually not very good at even searching English. (It is often better at searching Chinese than Google though.)

If you do get VPN, don't expect it to "just work" all the time. I had varying problems with VPN in different places in China.


From my personal experience (Jun 2016) Yahoo works better than Bing in China, although both indeed work and not blocked as stated by @hippietrail above.

Bing also has a nice online translator: http://www.bing.com/translator where you can feed the sites like Baidu. This is also available in China.

  • 3
    Yahoo has been using Bing's search engine since 2009, only it's interface is different. Baidu also has a translator that does a pretty OK job with Chinese/English. Even better if you translate a tricky text in both and compare them. – hippietrail Sep 15 '16 at 16:39
  • 1
    I use Google translator which imho rules them all. But then, my VPN is never down in China thanks to T-Mobile, which not only gives me free Internet (2G only), but also VPNs it to the US (this is their standard Simple Choice plan, so if you use TMO, you'll have it too) – George Y. Sep 16 '16 at 10:43
  • Have you used your VPN travelling around various places in China or are you there living in one place? Oh that reminds me, I always heard that everything is much easier WRT bypassing the GFW usng the phone system as compared to when using Wi-Fi. I've only ever used Wi-Fi in China. – hippietrail Sep 16 '16 at 10:56
  • 1
    I can certify that it works in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Chengdu. And it works on Great Wall both in Badaling and Simatai. Other places I haven't tested myself. – George Y. Sep 16 '16 at 11:01
  • Phone network or Wi-Fi? If Wi-Fi, hotels, hostels, cafes, etc? I found all such things can make a difference. – hippietrail Sep 16 '16 at 11:02

Wikipedia suggests that Bing.com is freely available in China, however this service which tests availability of websites in China sometimes shows me a green and at times a red light (right now red, matching your experience). Interestingly it gives a green light for Google right now, even though that is blocked according to Wiki. The result is similar for other big search engines.

There is a thread on Quora but the quintessence is to get a VPN. For that also see some older posts on here:

Alternatively, I found a list of meta search engines and none of them seems to be blocked from what I can tell over here

The quintessence is, that the Great Firewall does not necessarily consistently block all content, it suffices that it makes use of foreign websites painstaking enough to reconsider them.
Since you do not have a VPN, my recommendation is to hang in there for hopefully not too long, and keep trying services that you have already given up on at a later time, with sometimes surprisingly positive results. Anecdotally, even Facebook sometimes works for a few moments.

  • 3
    Even getting a VPN is not a magic bullet. I had one on my two trips and even though it was not from a big known VPN company that China would target, but by a friend in an unexpected third country, it sometimes didn't work at all, sometimes worked the first day at a new hotel and was blocked the next morning, and sometimes was never blocked. – hippietrail Sep 15 '16 at 13:35
  • 1
    @hippietrail Also, even while it is working it is insufferably slow. – Blaszard Oct 7 '16 at 14:01
  • @Blaszard: That seems to depend. Friends have told me their VPN in China is almost as fast as their regular connections elsewhere. Certainly though when not using VPN, accessing non-Chinese sites that are not blocked can still be affected by the GFW to varyingly massive degrees. For instance, blocking Google also causes Google's CDN to be blocked which has subtle and major effects. Sites within China will be plenty fast even without VPN of course. – hippietrail Oct 7 '16 at 15:43

I recommend Bing Global. Incidentally I'm a Chinese , I know the pain you are suffering.


Try http://SearchEngineChina.com. It allows you to fetch Google Search Results in China. You can also select different languages to display the results.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.