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I lived in Beijing for more than 5 years as an expat. Initially, I was unable to access my favorite media from home due to the geo-restrictions imposed by the Great Firewall.

Hence, I started using local Chinese services like Youku, QQ Music, Bilibili and others for streaming content. Luckily, one of my colleagues recommended me to use the best VPN for China that offers servers around the world specially the US, my home country.

Little did I know, not all VPNs worked in China because of the Great Firewall implications. Now, that I am back to my home country I can recall the struggles faced by me during my stay in China.

With that being said, during my stay in China, I also developed liking for local Chinese content, which unluckily is not available in my home country.

The only reason I have written this guide is to educate people like me.

So for your ease, I have shortlisted a handful of 5 VPN providers that I have bought and tested myself and can claim for these VPNs to work in China or outside China (best of both worlds)

  1. PureVPN – Powerful budget-friendly VPN with servers in both Shanghai and Beijing.
  2. Ivacy – Ideal for streaming both Chinese & Foreign Content.
  3. Surfshark – Extremely low-cost VPN with a Camouflage Mode feature to evade VPN blocking
  4. ExpressVPN – Fastest VPN on the market with powerful obfuscated servers to tackle the GFW.
  5. NordVPN – Affordable VPN that offers dedicated obfuscated servers to bypass GFW limitations

Note: The 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.

 

Why will you need a Working VPN? (Within China & Outside China)

You are bound to use a China VPN since it will help you to overcome Chinese censorship instantly. Likewise, it allows you to access region-blocked streaming services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Pandora and so on.

A VPN China service helps you on two fronts:

How-to-Choose the-Best-VPN-for- China

  • Firstly, you can access restricted platforms and websites through the best VPN app for China, since it offers servers across the globe. This enables you to unblock websites and social platforms like Facebook that are inaccessible in China
  •  Secondly, a China VPN enables you to access your favorite Chinese website and platforms including streaming sites if you reside outside China for any reason For e.g. you are traveling away from China due to business meetings

Considering the implications of the Great Firewall, I have selected some of the best VPNs you can use in or outside China based on criteria I have mentioned below:

  1. Obfuscated servers
  2. Port forwarding (to transfer your traffic on port 443)
  3. Wide range of list of tunneling protocols
  4. Internet Kill Switch
  5. Keeps no logs
  6. Servers across the globe including China
  7. Can be downloaded while being in China

Also when you connect to a Chinese server via China VPN, you can change your IP with an encrypted connection, enabling you to bypass the Great Firewall restrictions.

 

Best Working VPNs for China

Here are my top VPN picks to use in or outside China keeping in mind the above-mentioned criteria:

1. PureVPN – Powerful budget-friendly VPN with numerous servers available in Beijing & Shanghai

purevpn-for-china

PureVPN is my top choice since it is based in Hong Kong. I have also researched that PureVPN doesn’t any logs of its users in any way. The service offers 12 servers in two main cities of China such as Beijing and Shanghai. But remember, its Shanghai server is a virtual one and routes through Hong Kong. There is a likelihood that you may not be able to access some of the local Chinese stuff. Therefore, I recommend you to use Beijing server to access Chinese local content completely

Interestingly, the service has a massive server count (2,000+ servers in 141+ countries) across the globe. This way, you can access your favorite media streaming services like US Netflix and others while living in China. Similarly, you can access local Chinese social sites such as Sina Weibo or Douban with the help of its servers located in China. Besides, you can use its port forwarding feature to transfer your traffic through port 443. 

For more information, check out our exclusive PureVPN review.

How to Use PureVPN in China

To download PureVPN app on your device, just follow the steps below:

  1. Download the PureVPN app
  2. Enter Username and Password
  3. Connect to a China server (Beijing or Shanghai)
  4. Once connected, a message will appear on the bottom-right corner
  5. Enjoy browsing websites

 

2. Ivacy – Another User-Friendly VPN to watch local Chinese content from anywhere

ivacy-vpn-for-china

Ivacy is a Singaporean VPN service that offers two servers in Beijing and Shanghai specifically. Apart from this, it offers 1000+ servers in 100+ countries worldwide. What makes this VPN standout from other services is its next level unblocking trait that helps you watch local Chinese and foregin content stress-free.

You can consider the local content in the shape of WeChat, QQ Music, Tencent Video and others. On the contrary, Ivacy unblocks US Netflix and other international video streaming services. 

Moreover, Chinese expats or local internet users can avail its excellent internet kill switch feature that enable them in protecting their privacy even if the VPN service suddenly stops working.  

If you are unable to access its official site, you can visit its mirror site for downloading: https://www.ivacycn.com/

How to Use Ivacy in China

To download Ivacy VPN app on your device, just follow the steps below:

  1. Download the Ivacy app 
  2. Enter Username and Password
  3. Connect to a China server (Beijing or Shanghai)
  4. Once connected, a message will appear on the bottom-right corner
  5. Enjoy browsing websites

 

3. Surfshark – Low-cost VPN with a Camouflage Mode feature to evade VPN blocking

surfshark-vpn-for-china

Surfshark despite being the newest VPN in town, it helps you in getting around Chinese censorship problems quite easily. Currently, the service does not have servers in China. However, you can connect to servers accessible in neighboring countries like South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as well.

This is how you can access local Chinese content on a limited scale. On the other hand, Surfshark turns out to be an interesting option if you want to watch your favorite foreign TV shows or movies with the help of 1,000+ servers in 60+ countries worldwide.

Besides, the service mainly hails from user-friendly jurisdiction that is British Virgin Island like ExpressVPN. It means Chinese authorities cannot access to its users’ data due to its excellent no-logs feature. If you face issues while accessing the Surfshark official site, you can visit its mirror site to download: https://surf-in-chinaz.com.

For more information, check out our exclusive Surfshark review.

How to Use Surfshark in China

To download Surfsahrk app on your device, just follow the steps below:

  1. Download the Surfshark app
  2. Enter Username and Password
  3. Connect to a Hong Kong, Taiwan or any nearest server
  4. Once connected, a message will appear on the bottom-right corner
  5. Enjoy browsing websites

 

4. ExpressVPN – Fastest VPN for China with powerful obfuscation feature to tackle the GFW

expressvpn-for-china

After testing ExpressVPN personally, I found this VPN quite handy and equal to the task. Although the BVI based provider does not offer a dedicated server in China. But, through its Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam servers, you can access some of your favorite Chinese TV shows or other stuff securely. 

Moreover, you can access international servers from the list of 3000+ servers to watch any foreign content of your choice. It follows no-logging policy in the right way and offers an efficient port-forwarding advantage that allows you to forward your traffic with port 443.  

As of now, you cannot access its official site in china but you may open its mirror site https://puoodzz.com/ without using a VPN connection in the country hassle-free.

For more information, check out our exclusive ExpressVPN review.

How to Use ExpressVPN in China

To download the ExpressVPN app on your device, just follow the steps below:

  1. Download the ExpressVPN app
  2. Enter Username and Password
  3. Connect to a Hong Kong server or any other neighboring server  
  4. Once connected, a green icon will appear on the app interface
  5. Enjoy browsing websites

 

5. NordVPN – Best China VPN to bypass the toughest Great Firewall hurdles

nordvpn-for-china

This Panama based provider is included in the list of best VPN for China as it delivers an impressive obfuscated servers feature. With the help of this benefit, you can bypass the hardest Great Firewall restrictions straightaway.

The service does not store it’s users’ log and provides a comprehensive list of tunneling protocols to its Chinese users. Besides, you may experience its double encryption feature that secures your crucial information next level.

At present, the service does not provide any server within Chinese territory but offers 5600+ servers globally that allow you in accessing US Netflix, Hulu or other international media services while residing in China. 

Apart from this, you may use its dedicated mirror site: cn-accelerator.site if you are unable to open its official site in China. You can utilize the brand on your Windows or Mac devices but you may anticipate problems while using NordVPN on Android phones.

For more information, check out our exclusive NordVPN review.

How to Use NordVPN in China

To download NordVPN app on your device, just follow the steps below:

  1. Download the NordVPN app
  2. Enter Username and Password
  3. Connect to Taiwan, South Korea or any other nearest server 
  4. Once connected, a message will appear on the bottom-right corner
  5. Enjoy browsing websites

 

Note: The Chinese government constantly cracks down on VPN services. To avoid any issues while you are in China, it is better to download from the link I have provided above and set up your VPN apps before you enter Chinese jurisdiction.

 

For people who already have a VPN and service doesn’t work, try these tweaks:

  • Connect to different servers
  •  Use another tunneling protocol or a different obfuscation method
  • Try other port like port 443

 

Why do some VPNs do not work in China?

As you already know, a handful of VPN providers work in China. Similarly, numerous VPNs are blocked due to Great Firewall. This infamous Great Firewall uses many methods to block VPN services. These include:

  • IP blocking
  • DNS filtering
  • Deep packet inspection (DPI)
  • URL filtering

IP Blocking

The Great Firewall blocks several IP addresses to stop users from accessing websites like Facebook, YouTube and so on.

DNS Filtering

Upon writing a website (URL) in your browser, your devices contact DNS servers and check IP addresses. In case DNS is not allowed to provide an address, you cannot access the website.  

Deep Packet Inspection

GFW inspects an 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.

URL filtering

The Chinese government has blacklisted different URLs. Therefore, you may not be able to access certain pages within the websites.

 

Will VPNs get around the Great Firewall always?

Great-firewall-of-china-2019

Most VPNs, unfortunately, don’t do the job i.e. unblock sites and protect users’ privacy in China. However, the best VPNs that I have mentioned above for China are able to break the notorious shackles of the Great Firewall regularly.

Keeping in mind, Chinese official authorities come up with a new set of restrictions on a continual basis. Thus, some VPN providers may not be able to unblock sites or services temporarily.

Thanks to China’s infamous Great Firewall, more than 3,000 websites are blocked. You can’t even access Google.

Here’s my research on the list of all the blocked websites in China.

  • Tinder
  • Reddit
  • Snapchat
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Google+
  • BlogSpot
  • Flickr
  • Periscope
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Linkedin
  • LINE
  • WordPress
  • SoundCloud
  • And more

 

Best Free China VPNs

Honestly speaking, I am not in favor of using free China VPNs because it never worked out for me, the reason is simple, free VPN just can’t offer powerful obfuscation to bypass the GFW.

In my opinion, only the premiums VPNs have the right technology that will enable you to bypass the Great Firewall. 

Still, if you want to know which free VPNs work in China, read the exclusive guide here.

 

 Final Thoughts

I believe the authorities in China are taking every possible step to curb the online freedom of its netizens. Luckily with a VPN for China, you can access sites and platforms in China or outside china while being secure.

Lastly, on the safe side don’t forget to use mirrors sites to download and install the VPN app for China on your desired devices accordingly before you arrive in China. 

Also, I would advise you to use a premium VPN for China, that will costs you some bucks but it will be worth your money and cut down the hassle.

Stay Safe and keep using VPN services of your choice provided in this guide!