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Whether you're traveling or moving out to China, a VPN is a smart purchase. In this guide I review the top VPNs and even include money-saving discount codes!
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A number of great travel guides exist for China but the chapters for Xinjiang are short and usually not up-to-date. That's where FarWestChina's Xinjiang travel guide comes in handy. Not only is it the most comprehensive guide on the market (and #1 in Amazon!), it's also updated with information current to 2020. Features include:
During my years of living and working in Xinjiang, I have used a number of services and software have made my life easier. Please note that these links are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. I have personally used each of these companies and products and I recommend them because they have been useful to me.
Getting a visa to Xinjiang can be tricky at times but me and a number of my family and friends have used Passport Visa Express to get our Chinese visas. They've even offered me a discount code. Use the code "FWC10" to get 10% off their visa service.Learn more ▸
For those who will be spending years away from home, I have found a virtual mailing address to be indispensable. I get my own mailbox number where my mail is scanned and I have the option to open, forward, archive or trash. There are a number of virtual mailbox services but I've enjoyed using this one quite a bit.Learn more ▸
If you want to access Facebook, Twitter or even FarWestChina while you’re in China, you’re going to need a VPN (Virtual Private Network). I personally use ExpressVPN, which has been good for watching Netflix in China. There are plenty of other VPN options and you can learn more about the best VPN for China.Learn more ▸
Some people think that I am a tour agency. I am not. If you have questions about how much it would cost to see this or do that, if it’s possible to do a Uyghur homestay, or anything like that, I highly recommend Old World Tours. They’ve been in business for many years and I’ve worked with them for the past three. They’re good people.Learn more ▸
Travel insurance is one of those services that seems like a waste of money...until you have to use it. I've made trips to the local hospitals around here and I can tell you that good travel insurance is worth the peace of mind. Both for you and your family. World Nomads has been around for a number of years and they offer great coverage for those traveling to China.Learn more ▸
Whether you want to study Chinese in country or find some good online classes you can take, Keats is one of the largest Mandarin Chinese schools in China. They're located in Kunming, and you can come study any time, on your own schedule. They even offer comfortable accommodation options.Learn more ▸
Besides the FarWestChina travel guide, this is the next best Xinjiang guide. It's a bit dated (2012) but the research is good and the photos of each location are incredible. Read my review
This is THE book when it comes to the history of Xinjiang. James Millward is recognized as one of the premier Xinjiang experts and this scholarly work is better than anything else I’ve come across. If you’re studying Xinjiang or the Uyghur, don’t miss the opportunity to read this book. Read my review
If you’re a traveler who is looking for a good read on the train to help get you excited about your trip to Xinjiang, you’ll love this book by Peter Hopkirk, a former reporter for the London Times. Read my review
Another great book that brings Silk Road history to life. Authors Morgan and Walters mix extensive research with excellent story telling that will enhance your own journey along the Silk Road.
This two-disc set produced by Yo-Yo Ma is a lot of fun. It comes with a leaflet that explains not only each song, but also gives a description of each instrument and the country where it is from. Beautiful sounds!
The cover on this CD is pretty hokey, but the musicians are real and they’re good! The difference between this and the Yo-Yo Ma CD is that this is exclusively Uyghur music (while the above is all of Central Asia).
For those of you who are interested, below are the services that I use to run FarWestChina.com. Again, many of these links are affiliate links that will help me to offset the cost of running this site, but I don’t take my recommendations lightly. I use these companies because I like their product.
FarWestChina is now hosted on WP Engine, a dedicated Wordpress hosting service that is pricey but certainly one of the best on the market. I love the daily backups and lightning fast speeds.
All products sold directly through FarWestChina (as in, not on Amazon or other marketplace) are done through Gumroad. It's so simple to use and cheap, I just wish I had known about it sooner.
This is my go-to application for the FarWestChina newsletters. It provides a lot of functionality with an easy user-interface. Best of all – it’s free for small startups (less than 2,000 subscribers).
I manage all of the FarWestChina social media using Hootsuite, a powererful tool that allows me to schedule, research and share the load of social media work with my team. They offer both free and paid versions.