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Best VPN for China

Simon Migliano
By Simon MiglianoUpdated
Illustration of the flag of China

China has the most heavily censored internet in the world. You really need a VPN if you live there or are just visiting, otherwise you won’t be able to use Google, Twitter, WhatsApp, and many more websites and apps.

You will also need to use a VPN if you want to keep your online activity private and hidden from Chinese state surveillance.

We have tested 100 VPN services and the five VPNs below are the best ones for beating the Chinese VPN ban and bypassing the Great Firewall of China.

These VPN providers will unblock your favorite websites and apps, and they will also hide your web activity from the Chinese government.

Remember to set up your VPN before you travel. You likely won’t be able to download and install a VPN while in China as most VPN websites are blocked and VPN apps have been removed from the country’s app stores.

Here a quick sneak peek of our top three VPN choices for China before we go into more detail:

The Most Important Factors When We Review a VPN for China

  1. Does it actually work in China
  2. VPN servers in nearby countries
  3. Fast download (and upload speeds)
  4. Strong privacy & security features
  5. No logs & no IP, DNS & WebRTC leaks
  6. Ease-of-use & customer support

Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs

See More Information on the Top 5 Best VPN Services for China

Ranked #1 out of 100 VPNs for China

Works with

Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sky, SlingTV, Torrenting, Kodi

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  5. Linux
  1. Works reliably in China
  2. Good download (and upload) speeds in China
  3. Obfuscation tools to beat web blocks
  4. Nearby VPN servers in Asia
  5. No logging & no IP, DNS, WebRTC leaks
  6. Full-featured VPN browser extensions
  1. Fairly expensive on shorter plans
The Bottom Line

ExpressVPN is the most reliable VPN for China, even following the latest VPN ban. It consistently works to bypass the Great Firewall.

Connecting to nearby servers is critical for the best VPN speeds connecting out of China but ExpressVPN’s speeds are exceptional across the board.

ExpressVPN’s server network is extensive and covers many locations across Asia such as Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan. You can also connect to ExpressVPN VPN servers on the West Coast of the US, with multiple options in LA, San Jose, and San Francisco.

Worried that ExpressVPN isn’t safe?

Rest assured, ExpressVPN is one of the safest and most secure VPN services we’ve tested. You will benefit from great advanced security features like its ‘Network Lock’ which is essentially a kill switch to keep you protected if your network connection drops.

Every ExpressVPN app uses the most secure protocols and all VPN connections benefit from AES-256 encryption. Its proprietary obfuscation tools allow ExpressVPN to work in the most censored countries, and that’s why ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China.

ExpressVPN doesn’t collect any activity logs, and the VPN apps have never suffered any IP, DNS or WebRTC leaks in our extensive tests. It’s also headquartered in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands, which is another strong plus.

The simple ExpressVPN apps work great with all popular devices – PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Fire TV, and more – they are all very easy to setup. The interfaces are eye-pleasing and user-friendly.

If you like to use browser extensions, ExpressVPN provides the best VPN extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari for an even better web experience.

ExpressVPN customer support is very responsive and helpful and you can reach it 24/7, via live chat or email. If somehow you’re not happy with ExpressVPN, let it know within the first 30 days and you’ll be refunded, no-questions-asked.

If you’re in China, or planning on going there, ExpressVPN is definitely the VPN you want to be using.

Ranked #2 out of 100 VPNs for China

Works with

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Sky, HBO, Torrenting, Kodi

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  5. Linux
  1. Stealth VPN protocols to beat censors
  2. VPN servers optimized for China
  3. Nearby VPN servers in Asia & quick speeds
  4. Kill switch & no IP,DNS, WebRTC leaks
  5. Based in privacy-friendly juridiction
  6. Easy to set up and use
  1. Live chat doesn’t always work
  2. Free trial not available to China users
  3. No refunds given
  4. Fairly expensive annual plan
The Bottom Line

Astrill made its name as the best VPN for China but it’s no longer as reliable an option as ExpressVPN.

Astrill’s two stealth VPN protocols are usually effective at bypassing the Great Firewall, and nearby VPN servers in Asia – Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea – and US servers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose, make for good VPN speeds.

Our independent speed tests show that Astrill provides consistently fast speeds, even if they don’t quite match ExpressVPN’s level of reliability.

Astrill VPN is also a great choice for privacy, with all connections using AES-256 encryption. The VPN kill switch is another essential feature, preventing true IP addresses being leaked (Astrill didn’t leak any IP or DNS credentials in our tests).

Still think Astrill isn’t secure enough?

All your web traffic will go through Astrill’s own DNS servers, meaning there is no chance it will be routed via less secure third-party servers.

Astrill collects some connection to maintain a high level of performance. It logs your connection time, IP address, device type, and VPN app version for the duration of your VPN session.

The great thing is that you can use Astrill VPN on all major platforms like Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.

It’s not all good with Astrill, though.

We don’t like that the mobile VPN apps lack many of the advanced security features, and that Astrill doesn’t have any VPN extensions.

Live chat doesn’t always work and we also don’t like that users in China aren’t eligible for the Astrill free trial. Astrill is pretty expensive, too, and it has a strict no refunds policy.

Ranked #3 of 100 VPNs

Works with

Netflix, HBO, Torrenting, Kodi

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  5. Linux
  1. Impressive VPN speeds
  2. Works with Netflix
  3. Strict no-logs policy & no IP/DNS/WebRTC leaks
  4. Unrestricted torrenting & P2P traffic
  5. Best VPN app for Fire TV Stick
  6. Connect securely to 50 countries
  1. Short refund period
The Bottom Line

PushVPN is a very good US-based VPN service, and one of the fastest VPNs around. It is particularly popular with torrenters, Kodi fans and Firestick users.

The PushVPN server network isn’t huge – around 1,300 servers – but the number of IP addresses available is: over 40,000! All the PushVPN servers we tested were very fast and all VPN connections are secure with 256-bit AES encryption.

Like its top rivals, PushVPN is also available on all popular platforms and devices: PCs, Macs, iPhones, and Android smartphones. PushVPN also has the best VPN app for the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Router installation is also available, if needed.

PushVPN has a kill switch on both Windows and MacOS devices, and you can use it on 10 devices at once with just one subscription, which beats PushVPN’s six simultaneous connections.

Its strict no-logs policy is reassuring, especially as PushVPN is based in the privacy-unfriendly US. No IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks were detected in our extensive testing.

PushVPN does work with Netflix but disappointingly it doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer and it won’t work in high censorship countries like China and the UAE.

The PushVPN money-back guarantee isn’t great either – you’ll only have seven days before the refund period expires.

While it’s not the best VPN for streaming, PushVPN is still a great VPN choice for privacy-focused users who seek fast encrypted connections on all their devices.

Ranked #4 out of 100 VPNs for China

Works with

Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Sky, HBO, Torrenting, Kodi

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  5. Linux
  1. Stealth VPN protocol works in China
  2. VPN servers in nearby Asian cities & very fast speeds
  3. Works with TCP Port 443 & Tor
  4. No-logs policy & no IP, DNS or WebRTC leaks
  5. User-friendly apps for popular devices
  6. Seven-day free trial
  1. Small VPN server network
  2. No browser VPN extensions
  3. Live chat not always available
The Bottom Line

PrivateVPN is an inexpensive VPN that still works in China.

It doesn’t have a big server network but you’ll be able to connect to PrivateVPN servers in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, providing good and reliable connection speeds out of China.

We found PrivateVPN’s speeds to be impressively fast across its VPN server network.

PrivateVPN’s proprietary stealth VPN protocol is a major advantage, along with a VPN kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and no IP or DNS leaks detected in our tests. A strict no-logs policy also means that none of your web data is collected.

You’re safe and secure with PrivateVPN.

PrivateVPN disappoints a bit when it comes to VPN browser extensions (there are none) and customer support, with live chat often proving inconsistent. If these two drawbacks don’t concern you, then you’re going to be fine with PrivateVPN.

You can also take advantage of a free seven-day trial in case you want to give PrivateVPN a try before getting a paid subscription

Ranked #5 out of 100 VPNs for China

Works with

Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Sky, Now TV, HBO, SlingTV, Torrenting, Kodi

Available on

  1. Windows
  2. Mac
  3. Ios
  4. Android
  5. Linux
  1. Chameleon VPN protocol bypasses Great Firewall
  2. Many Asian VPN servers, inc Macau & Hong Kong
  3. User-friendly VPN apps. Instant set-up
  4. No-logs policy & no IP, DNS or WebRTC leaks
  5. Over 200,000 IP addresses
  1. Best VPN features restricted to the Premium plan
  2. Less reliable since China's VPN ban
  3. Speeds lag behind top VPN picks
The Bottom Line

VyprVPN used to be a very strong contender for best VPN to use in China but since the China VPN ban it currently sits in fifth position due to its varying reliability.

VyprVPN’s server network is solid, with over 700 servers across the world, all owned by VyprVPN itself. This means it don’t use any rented (third-party) servers. You’ll be able to connect to nearby servers in Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, and South Korea.

Just like ExpressVPN and PushVPN, VyprVPN also utilizes obfuscation tools to bypass the Great Firewall – in this case, the proprietary stealth VPN protocol ‘Chameleon.’ This feature is only available on VyprVPN’s Premium Plan only, though.

It doesn’t finish here though. VyprVPN provides a VPN kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and DNS protection (via its VyprDNS feature) to prevent your connections being hijacked and redirected to a different website.

VyprVPN also operates a no-logs policy, which has been independently confirmed, so you’re online activity won’t be recorded.

At this point, you might be wondering why VyprVPN is only ranked fifth in our list of recommendations.

The problem with this VPN is its lagging speeds in China. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come close to the speeds provided by the VPN services above. Connection speeds in China are always slower than usual, so if you need to use a VPN for buffer-free streaming or to download large files then VyprVPN is probably going to frustrate you at times.

Having said that, VyprVPN does come with a free three-day free trial so you can always try it out before buying. Remember to cancel before the three days are up though.

Do I Really Need a VPN in China?

Yes, you definitely need a VPN if you want to get online when in China. Why? Because most popular (Western) websites and apps are banned and blocked by the Chinese government, which has even started restricting VPN providers themselves.

The constant intrusive monitoring of web users in China is also a problem. If you don’t want the Chinese government to see and record what you’re doing online, then using a VPN is vital.

To use a VPN in China, it’s best to download the VPN app and set it up before you travel there, as many VPN websites are now blocked. Most VPN apps have now also been removed from the iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store is not available in China either.

You should also ask your VPN provider’s customer support (before you travel) which VPN servers they recommend connecting to from China.

What is the Great Firewall of China (GFW)?

The ‘Great Firewall of China’ (or GFW) is the nickname given to China’s internet censorship system, through legislation and filtering technologies.

It gives Chinese authorities the power to monitor and restrict internet access to anyone based in mainland China (Hong Kong and Macau are exempt).

The GFW uses a combination of methods to block websites and apps:

1. IP blocking – blocking IP addresses that resolve to URLs (websites)

2. DNS cache poisoning, or DNS spoofing – to divert traffic from one website to another, which practically blocks you from accessing your desired website or app.

3. Keyword & URL filtering – scanning websites and URLs for specific terms

4. Deep packet inspection (DPI) – the inspection of headers in data packets to detect the destination IP address (website)

5. Manual actions – Chinese authorities employ thousands of workers to censor forbidden content

What Websites & Apps Are Blocked in China?

Many of the most popular websites and apps in the world are blocked in China, for example:

Google (Gmail, Google Maps & all other Google services – blocked since 2014)

YouTube (blocked since 2011)

Facebook (blocked since 2009)

Twitter (blocked since 2009)

Instagram (blocked since 2014)

WhatsApp (blocked since 2017)

Skype (blocked since 2017)

Pinterest (blocked since 2017)

Here is a more comprehensive list of websites blocked in mainland China. You can also use this checker to find out if a website is available or not.

Are VPNs Legal in China?

VPNs are not illegal in China, but only government approved VPNs are allowed. VPN services have to gain strict approval from the Chinese Communist Party before they can operate.

This often involves agreeing to conditions that undermine the purpose of a VPN such as logging and sharing user data with local authorities, rendering the VPN pointless when it comes to privacy.

Using a VPN “without authorization” can result in fines of up to 15,000 yuan (approximately $2,200), although so far it seems to affect Chinese nationals rather than foreigners.

If you choose a legitimate, trusted, and safe VPN for China – like ExpressVPN – it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get into trouble for using it.

Can I Use a Free VPN in China?

Many free VPNs are not equipped with the technology to bypass the online censors, and popular free VPN apps like TunnelBear and Hotspot Shield won’t work reliably there.

Some free VPN mobile apps may work, like Turbo VPN and VPN Proxy Master, but they will be slow and your online activity will most likely be monitored and stored by the Chinese authorities.

In fact, we investigated some of the most popular free VPNs on the market and discovered that many have very questionable links to China.

If you want to use the Internet reliably from mainland China, a free VPN is definitely not a good choice. You’re best paying a small monthly fee for a reliable VPN service, one that has obfuscation technology to beat the Great Firewall, like ExpressVPN or Astrill.

How to Install and Set up a VPN for China

It’s very important to install a VPN before you arrive in China. Most VPN apps aren’t available from Chinese app stores, and VPN websites are blocked.

In order to install your VPN, you will need to sign up to a subscription and create an account. Make sure that the VPN is known to work in China before buying it – our VPN recommendations above are a good place to start.

Before you get started setting up the VPN, ask customer support if the custom apps work in China or if you need to manually configure the VPN on each of your devices instead.
If manual configuration is needed, follow the VPN service’s instructions carefully as it will differ from provider to provider.

If the VPN apps work in China with no manual configuration, simply download the relevant software for your device from the ‘Downloads’ page on the VPN provider’s website. The best VPNs for China will have custom VPN apps for at least Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS.

Once you’ve downloaded the software, follow the installation instructions and log into the app with your login details.

Before you connect, make sure that any extra privacy settings are enabled, such as the VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection, as well as any stealth protocol or scrambling tool.

Once you’re in China, we recommend you connect to nearby servers – Hong Kong and Japan are popular VPN server locations – as these will provide the fastest speeds. Once you’ve selected your chosen server, click/tap connect.

What to Do If Your VPN Is Not Working in China

Sometimes even the best VPNs with the most effective stealth technology stop working in China, depending on how aggressive the Chinese censors are at that moment in time.

Your VPN may stop working after a recent crackdown by the Chinese government.

When this happens, there are a few things you can try to get back online:

1. Try connecting to a different VPN server

2. Change the VPN protocol

3. Forward the VPN traffic (known as port forwarding) to port 433

By directing your VPN traffic through port 433, which is typically used for encrypted communications, you may be able to get your VPN connection back up, but it’s not guaranteed.

If none of the above suggestions work, you will have to get in touch with your provider’s customer support, which will be tricky to do as many VPN websites are inaccessible in China without a working VPN.

It’s a good idea to have a back-up VPN that comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so that you will never be without a safe, secure, and reliable VPN connection.

Which VPNs Don't Work in China?

Since China started cracking down on VPN services, the majority of VPN apps don’t work in China. Even some of the top-rated VPN services don’t come with the tools necessary for beating the Great Chinese Firewall’s censors.

Here are some VPN services that don’t work well in China:

If a VPN service doesn’t come with obfuscation tools or stealth protocols, it’s unlikely to get past the Chinese censors.

How Can I Get a Chinese IP Address?

If you are looking to use a VPN to connect into China there are a handful of VPN providers with virtual servers that will give you a Chinese IP address: PureVPN, Ivacy, HideMyAss!, and Hotspot Shield.

These VPN servers are not physically located in China but do assign you a Chinese IP, which will make it seem as if you’re located in mainland China.

To change your IP to a Chinese one, simple select the ‘China’ server and click connect.

By using a VPN to connect into China, you will be able to access popular Chinese streaming websites such as Youku.com, Tudou.com and tv.Sohu.com.

Can I Access Blocked Websites in China Without a VPN?

Yes, but not reliably (or safely).

There are some ways that you may be able to access blocked websites and apps in China without a VPN, we wouldn’t recommend them. Most alternatives do not protect your privacy, and they aren’t guaranteed to work.

One option is to use a proxy server, which is used to spoof your IP address but doesn’t encrypt internet traffic. This means that your ISP – or the Chinese government – will be able to log what you’re doing online.

Some websites release mirrors of their sites that have been blocked by the Great Firewall so that those in China can still access their content. However, these mirror sites tend to get blocked soon after too, making it a very unreliable option for those in China.

The third option is to use Tor, a free software that anonymizes your browsing by randomly routing your internet traffic through a network of servers.

While Tor is a safer option than using proxy servers or mirror websites, it comes with some major disadvantages. Firstly, accessing the web through Tor is very slow – much slower than a good VPN. Secondly, China actively blocks access to Tor, so it might not always work to access blocked websites.

Does Tor Work in China?

The Great Firewall of China actively blocks access to Tor, and many users report that it rarely works in the country.

You need to use a reliable VPN service to bypass censorship in China instead – our above VPN recommendations are a good place to start.

Can I Make My Own VPN for China?

It’s possible to set up your own VPN server outside of China – in your home, for example – and use it to access blocked websites while in China.

Connecting to a home VPN server will assign you your home IP, which may unlock banned content such as Google and YouTube.

However, building your own server comes with security risks if you fail to set it up correctly. It’s for those with plenty of tech know-how, and beginners should steer clear.

Connecting to a self-built VPN server might not work to unblock content in China if the VPN server doesn’t use any obfuscation tool. OpenVPN traffic is often blocked by the Chinese censors.

If you are traveling to China, the safest option is to use a trusted third-party (commercial) VPN that comes with the necessary obfuscation tools to get around the Great Firewall.

Do I Need a VPN in Taiwan?

While China still controls Taiwan, internet censorship there is nowhere near as rife. You can access popular sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Google in Taiwan without a VPN.

However, no matter where you are in the world you should still use a VPN.

Using a VPN in Taiwan will help to protect you against hackers stealing your personal information while you connect to public WiFi. It’ll also prevent any third parties from snooping on your online activities.