China is a magical place. With a rich history and deep belief in mythological creatures and characters, it is on everyone’s bucket list to visit.
Despite being a tourist hotspot, the Chinese government isn’t too lenient about their online censorship laws.
That’s seriously frustrating. I mean what good is a vacation when you can’t even share your selfies online.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat are all blocked in China. If you want to Google something or navigate using Google Maps, too bad, that’s also blocked in China.
Only a handful of selected VPN services work in China. However, filtering out such services can be quite frustrating.
To save you guys from a whole lot of trouble, I’ve done the leg work for you.
Down below I have compiled a list a 5 best VPN for China that works flawlessly in mainland China.
How to Choose the Best VPN for China?
The “Great Firewall of China”. The infamous force field that blocks all access to foreign content within mainland China.
Over the past few years, the Chinese government has gone all out on blocking foreign websites. Even a lot of VPN providers don’t tend to work there.
In order to access Chinese content or content outside of China, you’ll need a VPN service with a specific set of features.
Here’s how you can pick the right VPN for China yourself:
- VPN service that offers 24/7 live chat support and zero downtimes.
- Large selection of global servers, especially within the Asian region for faster speeds.
- Affordable pricing plans.
- Fast speeds.
- Powerful encryption and protocols should as be of highest priority.
- Kill switch.
- Ability to access popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer etc.
- Multiplatform best VPN app for China.
5 Best VPNs for China
|VPN Providers||Price ($)||Special Deals||More Info|
Best for Streaming
$6.67 Per Month
No Exclusive Offer
Best for Geo-Unblocking
$2.99 Per Month
3 Years Plan
Best Budget Service
$1.99 Per Month
2 Years Deal
Best Affordable VPN
$2.95 Per Month
Exclusive Discount 1 year Plan
Best Fastest VPN
$2.25 Per Month
2 Years Deal
Now that you know what features to look for in a VPN service, here are my recommendations for the best China VPN of 2019.
Note: Chinese government constantly cracks down on VPN services. To avoid any issues while you’re in China, it’s better to download and set up your VPN apps before you enter Chinese jurisdiction.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s start with ExpressVPN first…
1. ExpressVPN China - #1 Trusted Leader in VPN
Right of the bat, ExpressVPN is one heck of powerful VPN service. Even though the Great Firewall is known for blocking VPN services, somehow ExpressVPN is still working flawlessly in China.
It is without a doubt my personal favorite. I’ve got a lot of friends in China and pretty much everyone recommends ExpressVPN.
Aside from offering solid coverage in mainland China, ExpressVPN also offers super fluid multiplatform apps. I personally like the iOS app, it not only looks good but performs exceptionally well.
Connection latency is barely noticeable and speed drops are perfectly acceptable. On my 100Mbps internet connection, ExpressVPN managed to achieve on average 70+ download speeds.
Two best express VPN server for China are U.S Los Angeles 3 and Hong Kong 1. These two locations seemed to be the most optimized in my opinion.
The U.S server also managed to unblock Netflix without any issues. Since I was getting about 70+ download speeds, every show played in Ultra-HD quality.
That’s seriously impressive considering most VPN can’t even access Netflix let alone play content in high definition.
Stability wise ExpressVPN is pretty great. Only once did I encounter a drop in my connection, however, the Kill switch feature immediately disabled my network connection.
Now let’s talk about encryption and protocols.
ExpressVPN offers various different protocols. Both 128-bit and 256-bit OpenVPN encryption worked perfectly for me without burdening down my internet connection.
Another useful feature that I really like about ExpressVPN is auto reconnect. Since I personally experienced a connection drop with ExpressVPN, having the auto connect feature is super handy.
One last feature that I really find useful about ExpressVPN is Simultaneous connections. If you’re traveling with your family or friends, having the ability to connect up to 3 devices simultaneously is very useful.
2. NordVPN China – 5000+ Anonymous Servers
Another great service that has managed to triumph the Great Firewall of China is NordVPN.
Loaded with powerful features and servers, NordVPN is perfect for unblocking pretty much any mainstream social media and streaming apps.
I was personally able to unblock both Facebook and Netflix without any issues.
One thing that I particularly like about is their servers. If you’re in mainland China, there no better VPN that offers as many servers as NordVPN.
At the moment NordVPN offers over 5,000 servers distributed across more than 60 countries including France, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, UK, United States and more.
NordVPN servers are also particularly fast. Although ExpressVPN is still the fastest, however, NordVPN still offered me better server selection.
During my speed test, NordVPN easily managed to achieve up to 60+Mbps download speeds. Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysian servers offered the fastest speeds.
For torrenting though, I would suggest using the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden or the Romanian servers.
As far as protocols are concerned, I would suggest using OpenVPN. I’ve personally tested NordVPN on OpenVPN protocol and that worked the best for me, fast and secure.
Aside from features and encryption, I also quite like their apps. Although simple in design, they are super fluid and fast.
Compatibility is also great, you can use it on pretty much any mainstream desktop and mobile device.
One feature that you’ll really love about NordVPN is Simultaneous connections. NordVPN allows you to connect up to 6 simultaneous connections at a time, great for family vacations.
3. Surfshark China – Cheapest in the Industry
If you’re in search of a budget VPN to pack with you, Surfshark VPN is perfect for you. Although Surfshark is a relatively new provider, it also works great in China. This is because the Chinese government hasn’t cracked down on Surfshark in China.
Being comparatively new in the industry, Surfshark offers considerably quicker connection times than its competitors.
Although Surfshark only offers 500 servers since their servers are brand spanking new and less crowded, you are going to experience zero lags and 100% up times.
That said, you are going to notice quite a significant drop in your connection speeds. For instance, in my speeds test, I did notice almost a 50% decline in my connection speed.
On my 100Mbps connection, I was averaging about 45Mbps-50Mbps download speeds. However, considering how cheap Surfshark is, such speeds drops are totally acceptable in my opinion.
If you want slightly better speeds, I suggest you connect to either Hong Kong or the Indian server.
Aside from choosing the right server location, using the right protocol also helped in improving the overall speeds of Surfshark.
The IKEv2 protocol seemed to work the best for me. It offers a decent combination of both speed and security, perfect for China if you ask me.
As far as compatibility is concerned, you can run Surfshark on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android and even browsers.
One thing that no other VPN in the industry offers is unlimited simultaneous connections. Unlike other VPNs in this list, you’re not bound to any specific number.
The user interface of Surfshark is also pretty great, although simple in design but it makes up for it with its low latency and quick connection times.
Compatibility is also great, pretty much every mainstream device is supported.
4. PureVPN China – Highest Rating on Trustpilot
Another VPN that has kicked things up in China is PureVPN. It was my go-to VPN for China at one point in time, however, ever since their site got banned in China, I haven’t had the chance to use it.
That said, PureVPN just released a new mirror domain to cope up with this issue. I’ve just tried it myself and it works.
PureVPN offers one of the best services in my opinion. Although it falls into the category of budget VPN, its features are top-notch.
Military grade AES-256 encryption, Kill switch, split tunneling is all available in PureVPN. The Kill feature works surprisingly well.
PureVPN also offers a surprisingly large server park. When I first used it, they only offered 500 servers. However, now they offer more than 2000+ server across the world.
Speed wise PureVPN is also very capable. The Taiwanese server worked practically well for me. I was able to achieve 70Mbps+ download speeds on my 100Mbps connection.
Apps support is also quite good. I personally like their Android app the most. It’s smooth and offers the best UI among its competitors.
Overall I would highly recommend you guys go for PureVPN. It is probably among the best china VPN you can get in 2019.
5. Ivacy China – Best Value for money
Last but not least, we have Ivacy China. Similar in performance to PureVPN, it is one heck of an amazing VPN service.
Apps are super responsive and performance is surprisingly great. Is say “Surprisingly” because Ivacy also falls into the budget VPN category.
One thing that I don’t like about Ivacy is their lack of servers. They only offer 1000+ servers. Although I didn’t encounter any major issues, however, things did tend to get slower at certain times of the day.
Other than that, Ivacy is pretty rock-solid. You do get the same Kill switch, DNS leak protection and encryption protocols you find in much powerful VPN services.
Speaking of protocols, I found both OpenVPN and PPTP to work the best for me. The OpenVPN offered the fastest speeds for me.
In my speed test, Ivacy managed to offer pretty decent speeds. On average I got about 45Mbps+ download speeds. Although not the fastest but it’s certainly not bad either.
The Hong Kong server worked particularly fast for me.
Compatibility wise, Ivacy VPN China is quite good. There are apps available for pretty much every mainstream platform and OS.
Oh! And one last thing, Ivacy also offers 5 Simultaneous Connections for all you frugal folks out there.
Why you’ll need a China VPN?
VPNs are an absolute necessity for China, without it, you pretty much have very limited access to the outside world.
Here’s why you might want to consider using a VPN while you’re in China:
- Traveling there for leisure or business.
- Want to use the internet for work.
- Need to access your social media.
- Want to get past content censorship.
- Want to anonymize your online activity.
Since people are having issues accessing foreign content in the Chongqing region of China, perhaps you might find my best VPN for Chongqing blog useful.
What is the Great Firewall of China and how does it work?
“The Great Firewall of China” is the unofficial name given to the ongoing internet censorship in China. On record, the massacre of Chinese online freedom is officially dubbed the “Golden Shield Project”.
Ever since the project gained momentum, all foreign internet traffic is restricted by state-owned Internet Service Providers within China.
Heavily restricting foreign content allows Chinese authorities to effectively monitor the online activities of their citizens.
The infamous Great Firewall uses many methods to censor the internet. IP blocking, tampering with the DNS, Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), Keyword and URL Filtering are just a few ways through which the Chinese government monitors your activities.
DNS Filtering & Blocking
When you enter a website (URL) in your browser, your computer contacts a DNS server and looks up an IP address. If the DNS is instructed not to give an address, you won’t be able to reach the website and probably see the message, ‘Site not found’.
Deep Packet Inspection
GFW inspects unencrypted data packet and looks for sensitive keywords in those packets. If the keywords are blacklisted, the content is then blocked or restricted for the user.
IP Address Blockages
There are numerous IP addresses blocked or forbidden by The Great Firewall in order to stop users from accessing different websites. For instance, GFW can block IP addresses of Facebook and prevent users from accessing the service from within China.
Some URLs are also blacklisted by the Chinese government and blocked from being accessed. In certain cases, some websites are accessible but few pages within the website are blocked or filtered out.
GFW also blocks communication between the user’s computer and the blocked website for a certain period of time. This is done by resetting the connection between the two systems, restricting either one of them from communicating with each other.
In addition to using these tools, the web traffic in China passes through very limited gateways: six in total. This way, the Internet Police inspects, filters, and blocks content. According to ‘Reporters without Borders’, China is considered as the world’s largest prison for the Netizens.
If the reports are to be believed, China has more than 2 million people in its Internet Police force. The internet police force works more to censor the content that doesn’t seem to adhere to its policies rather than minimize cybercrime threats. One of the ways for protecting your privacy and accessing the entire internet is through the use of China VPN.
The Chinese government goes to great lengths to sanction what websites and web services can be accessed within the country. Everything is filtered by “The Great Firewall of China” (GFW).
The purpose of GFW is to scan and filter the content that is sent and received through Chinese gateways.
If you post any content related to the protest, hate speech or anything that doesn’t comply with Chinese laws and regulations, you will not only be banned by your local ISP but could very well face legal issues.
Fortunately, simple tools like the best VPN for China can make life much easier and safer. With a China VPN by your side, you can access any website within China, protect your privacy from State-sponsored surveillance, and enjoy unlimited internet freedom.
Best Free Chinese VPN
Although I don’t really recommend Free VPN service, however, there are still very few free services you can trust.
Some free best VPN service for China 2019 are discussed below:
ProtonVPN – Offers unlimited bandwidth, which is rare for a free VPN service. It also values the privacy of users and uses advanced encryption techniques to ensure user safety. Thus, ProtonVPN is arguably the best free VPN to use in China.
Tunnel bear – The free subscription of this VPN comes with a 500 MB/month bandwidth limit. It offers moderate speeds, limited servers, and is also known to log some user data.
Security KISS – Offers 8.78 GB limit on monthly data for free. It has only a few numbers of servers. The best feature of Security KISS is that users can sign up for it without giving any details. If you want complete anonymity, Security KISS is perfect for you.
Hide. Me – The free version offers 2GB monthly limit on data. It also offers the most advanced encryption techniques like L2TP, SSTP, IPsec, and IKEv2
Paid vs. Free China VPN Service
When it comes to choosing the best VPN for China, there are plenty of free and premium VPN services you can use.
While free VPN services offer a test drive with minimum protection and security features, a full-featured paid VPN provider takes user online security to another level.
In my opinion, paid VPN services are way better than free VPNs. You are going to experience way better speed, reliability, security, stability, and unblocking capabilities.
In addition to this, a premium VPN offers a range of servers, ensuring a better overall online experience.
If you just want to get past geo restrictions, I suggest you go for free VPNs. However, if complete anonymity, blazing fast speeds, and complete internet free in China and across the world is your priority, I suggest you go for paid VPNs only.
How to Prevent Chinese DNS Servers from Blocking You?
The pesky Firewall of China uses sophisticated methods to block foreign content. One of these methods involves using DNS filtering.
Since the Chinese government constantly monitors your DNS, you won’t be able to access any geo-restricted content and websites within the region.
Even if you’re using a VPN, it’s important to either perform a DNS flush or manually change your DNS.
But, before you go onto changing your DNS, it’s better to check if you’re using a Chinese DNS server or not. Here are some free tools you can use
If you are using a Chinese DNS server, you need to change it ASAP. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Use the DNS server provided by your VPN provider
- Use Google Public DNS: 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124
- Use Open DNS server: 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52
How can I Access Facebook in China?
Facebook needs no formal introduction and stands as the world’s top social networking site. With having over 1.71 billion active monthly users, Facebook is used in almost every part of the world except China.
The government of China has put similar restrictions on Facebook, as it imposed on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. To get around with the restrictions, Chinese residents find Mainland VPN China a perfect option to bypass the Great Firewall and access Facebook instantly along with every other blocked site safely from within China.
What If I Want To Watch Youku From Outside China?
With having over 800 million video views per day, Youku stands as China’s largest video hosting service. Based in Beijing, Youku offers an enormous number of media library with popular movies, TV series, arts, music, hit videos, entertainment, news, and more media.
However, due to a content licensing agreement, the traditional on-demand media service is blocked outside of China.
Sounds bad right? I Know.
However, the VPNs I’ve discussed above offer easy access to not just Youku but also to other popular streaming services.
Avoid These VPNs in China
There are certain VPN China providers that you need to avoid while accessing content in China. These VPN providers are listed as follows:
Private Internet Access
PIA has itself admitted that they have trouble maintaining connections in and outside of China. A poor connection is a reason why you should avoid PIA to unblock Chinese websites.
Many internet users have reported poor connection quality when connected to Chinese servers. The logging policies of this VPN provider is also considered substandard that can get you in trouble.
VPN Gate has stopped working in China for reasons unknown. The encryption used by this VPN provider is not as secured as it should be. Therefore, you must avoid using VPN Gate.
Status of Google Play & App store in China
China has already blocked Google services in the country. Google Store including other Google products is inaccessible in China. Android users are forced to use third-party app stores that do not contain many apps.
Since third-party app stores are sanctioned by the Chinese government, it is almost impossible to find VPN apps.
If you have an Android device and you’re more than likely to visit China, then I recommend you download and install a VPN service beforehand.
Apple App Store, on the other hand, is comparatively better. Unlike Google, Apple is permitted to run its app store in China but it in order to do that, it has to follow Chinese laws and regulations. If a certain app doesn’t comply with Chinese laws, it can get removed from the Apple App Store.
China has already removed VyprVPN and ExpressVPN from the App Store and there’s no telling which VPN service will get targeted next
China’s current Internet situation, Websites & Social Networks you can no longer access
To be honest, the internet situation of China isn’t too great, unless you considered total isolation from the rest of the world normal.
If you’ve never come across geo restrictions, brace yourself for what I’m about to tell you.
Mainland China is probably one of the worst locations for internet users. Pretty much every foreign application is downright blocked in the region.
Thanks to China’s infamous Great Firewall, more than 3000 websites are blocked. You can’t even access Google.
Want to know what’s even worse?
Pretty much every mainstream social media apps and websites are also banned.
Prepare to lose your mind, here’s the list of all the blocked social media websites in China.
Now I don’t know about you but I can only go a few days without using social media. If you’re planning on permanently moving to China, you might want to make some arrangements beforehand.
To access these websites, you will have to install a VPN on your desired device. A VPN will cloak your IP address and help you mask your IP address.
Aside from using VPNs, which should be your first choice, you can also try your luck with Shadowsocks.
Although I must warn you it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re up for the challenge, you can check out my detailed Shadowsocks guide.
How to Bypass the GFW without A VPN
If you don’t want to use a VPN service, there are still a few ways you can get past the Great Firewall of China.
I’ll discuss two of them below:
Using a SIM Card from Hong Kong Retailers
Basically, if you get a SIM card from a Hong Kong retailer, you can access the Internet on mobile data with no restrictions that generally impede the online activities of people in mainland China.
This is one awesome way that actually makes the proverbial GFW irrelevant in the country without requiring the use of a VPN.
But this is only possible on mobile data, and not on the regular Internet/Wi-Fi.
You can get this SIM card delivered to you via mail in your country before you visit the world’s oldest civilization.
Here is a website that offers this service: https://www.cuniq.com/au.
This is actually a better solution than using VPNs as far as mobile data usage is concerned in China. However, mobile data can be expensive if your bandwidth requirement is high.
So, for tasks where a Wi-Fi is essential, you may either use a VPN or you could go with a Shadowsocks proxy.
Now you might be wondering, what even is Shadowsocks?
And I don’t blame you, it’s a relatively low-key proxy technology.
Ever since China started imposing geo restrictions, a Chinese programmer by the name of “clowwindy” introduced a rather unique solution back in 2012.
Although Shadowsocks is virtually unheard of pretty much everywhere, it has become extremely popular in China, especially in the mainland.
Unlike traditional proxies, Shadowsocks proxy actually utilizes powerful encryption. In addition to bypassing geo restrictions, Shadowsocks also encrypts your network traffic.
And the best part is…
Unlike VPN services that require a monthly subscription, Shadowsocks proxy is absolutely free.
Here’s the link if you want to give Shadowsocks a try.
Future of VPN in China
The future of VPN in China does not look quite promising. However, the users in China should not lose all their hopes because they have the best VPN for China at their disposal. Therefore, best VPN services have become the last resort for Chinese internet users.
The Chinese government has instructed ISPs to refrain to individual users from opting VPN services in China. Furthermore, it has become a daunting task for online privacy providers in China to perform their operations on a regular basis.
The Chinese authorities have started taking stern against those VPN services in China that offer VPN products to individual users. Therefore, Chinese netizens are bound to avail best VPN for China to secure their online privacy.
Best VPN for China FAQ’s
Can your VPN Be Blocked in China?
Quite likely yes. Since China has strict regulations against what content can be viewed within the region, VPNs are a major hit for the Chinese government.
Chinese authorities will blacklist websites, IP address, and VPN servers in the Great Firewall’s blacklist. Sooner than later, VPNs will have to find other ways to access blocked content in China.
What’s The Difference between a Proxy and a VPN?
A proxy service uses a server that routes your network traffic through its IP address by masking your actual IP address. A proxy service is, therefore, a tool to access blocked sites only.
A VPN on another hand uses a sophisticated mechanism, where it masks an IP address of a user with a VPN server located in a foreign country. Afterward, VPN encrypts your entire network traffic with secure tunneling protocols, making your data encrypted and unreadable to ISPs, hackers, spy agencies, and cybercriminals.
I am Moving (or Traveling) to China, Will I need a VPN?
If you enjoy watching videos on YouTube or want to stay in touch with your loved ones through social media websites (Facebook or Twitter), or want to access services offered by Google (Gmail), then ‘yes’ you will need a Mainland VPN service.
A China VPN also provides you other benefits such as protecting against cyber threats; DPI conducted by GFW and also helps in accessing other streaming services from China. ExpressVPN is probably the best VPN for travel to China.
How Do I Know Which VPN is working in China?
To quickly gauge which VPN services are working within China, it is better to inquire about their customer support before making a purchase. The best VPN for China will quickly guide you through their signup process, resolve all your VPN-related queries, and provide you with any information that is necessary for making their service work successfully within China.
My VPN is Very Slow in China, How Do I Fix It?
There can be numerous reasons behind your China VPN working slowly. Network congestion due to high traffic load, VPN protocol, simultaneous downloads, system’s firewall, and other constraints can hinder your VPN’s performance.
The best way to fix this is by contacting customer support of a Mainland VPN. You should reach their live chat support representatives (if available) and resolve the problem of slow performance.
Is VPN in China illegal?
There are no laws restricting the use of VPN in China. Different businesses use VPN services for different purposes to facilitate their employees. However, what you do after connecting to a Mainland VPN is an entirely different story. The Great Firewall of China is very strict in filtering and blocking content that goes against their government, spreads hate speech, or calls for mass protest.
Can I Use The Same China VPN Connection on Multiple Devices?
Yes. Usually, VPN providers offer a multi-login feature, allowing users to connect multiple devices through a single account. The best China VPN will offer at least 3 or more simultaneous logins, so you can secure your laptop, mobile device, tablet, console, and much more through one account. If simultaneous connections are your main priority, Surfshark should be the best VPN for use in China.
Wrapping Things Up
China has the world’s craziest internet censorship laws. The country employs numerous personals in its Internet Police force and censors the internet to an unbelievable level.
From multiple websites to popular streaming services, pretty much everything is blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
To overcome the perils of the infamous GFW, the only option you have is to a VPN service that’s accessible in China. The VPN providers I’ve mentioned above are not only perfect for China but for pretty much any other country in the world.
Do note that we are not based in China and most of our reports come from our readers. We strive to be as accurate as possible, but with the complexities of the Great Firewall and its inconsistent deployment, user experience might differ.
If that’s the case, do share your experience with us and help improve our reporting for the best VPN for China.
Your feedback is important to us. Let us know if this article was helpful?