Baidu is available in English

How to do a web search in English in China without a VPN

Wikipedia suggests that Bing.com be freely available in China. However, this service that tests website availability in China shows me sometimes a green and sometimes a red light (red at the moment, according to your experience). Interestingly, there is currently the go-ahead for Google even though this is blocked according to the Wiki. The result is similar for other major search engines.

There's a thread on Quora, but the bottom line is getting a VPN. See also some older articles here:

Alternatively, I found a list of meta search engines and none of them seem blocked from what I can say here

The bottom line is that the Great Firewall doesn't necessarily block all content consistently. It is enough for her to use third-party websites that are careful enough to be reconsidered.
Since you don't have a VPN, I recommend hopefully not staying there too long and continuing to try out services that you have already given up on at a later date, with sometimes surprisingly positive results. Anecdotally, even Facebook sometimes works for a few moments.

Hippie trail

Getting a VPN yourself is not a panacea. I had one on my two trips and although it wasn't from a big well known VPN company targeted by China, but from a friend in an unexpected third country, sometimes it didn't work at all, sometimes on the first day at a new hotel and became blocked the next morning, and sometimes it was never blocked.

Blaszard

@hippietrail Even while it works, it's excruciatingly slow.

Hippie trail

@Blaszard: That seems to depend on it. Friends have told me that their VPN in China is almost as fast as their regular connections elsewhere. Unless you are using a VPN, access to non-Chinese websites that are not blocked can be affected to varying degrees by the GFW. For example, if you block Google, Google's CDN will also be blocked, which has subtle and serious implications. Websites within China will of course be fast enough even without a VPN.