China’s online censorship program called ‘The Great Firewall’ is one of the most advanced and restrictive compared to other regions like Iran, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
So to completely bypass the Chinese online censorship system, you will need assistance from one of the best VPNs for China.
The Great Firewall has blocked major services in China, such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and many more. Chinese ex-pats and native VPN users often use a virtual private network app to unblock websites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp, to name a few.
To find out the best VPN that works in China, we tested a total of 150+ VPNs to see if they can circumvent China’s Great Firewall restrictions.
IMPORTANT: Even though the virtual private network apps we have listed in this guide works in China, but VPN websites are blocked in China. It is best to sign-up with these VPNs before you visit China.
5 Best VPNs For China (October 2021 In-Depth Analysis)
We have selected the five best VPNs for China to help you bypass any form of censorship in China.
These providers were selected after testing 150+ VPNs based on various factors such as the number of servers, zero-log policy, obfuscated technology, money-back guarantee, and customer support.
1. The Best China VPN – ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China because it caters to your every possible online need – from security, privacy, data encryption, anonymity to unblocking various streaming services in China.
For those of you wondering, yes, ExpressVPN works in China perfectly well. With ExpressVPN, you can access international servers from the list of 3000+ servers in 94 countries to watch any foreign content of your choice. So, for example, you can watch American Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and BBC iPlayer in China.
Even though ExpressVPN doesn’t have a VPN server in China, popular Chinese streaming content such as CCTV, CHC Television, and CNC world is still accessible on its Hong Kong server.
It follows a no-logging policy and encrypts your internet traffic with AES-256-bit encryption.
While in China, we decided to conduct a DNS and IP leak test by connecting to ExpressVPN’s US – New Jersey server.
As you can see that ExpressVPN’s New Jersey server prevented my DNS/IP from leaking into Chinese Cyberspace.
ExpressVPN is also very easy to set up. In China, you can use it on several devices as it is compatible with Windows, iOS, Android, Mac, Smart TVs, Apple TV, Linux, Gaming Consoles, PlayStation, and even routers.
For Smart TVs, Roku, and gaming consoles, ExpressVPN also offers a Smart DNS feature called MediaStreamer. This feature allows you to unblock popular streaming services on a bit complicated device for VPN configuration.
You can get all these features for $6.67/mo along with a 30-day refund policy.
As the ExpressVPN website is currently inaccessible due to China’s Firewall restriction, you’ll have to use the ExpressVPN mirror website in China to access their online services.
For more information concerning ExpressVPN, check out our exclusive ExpressVPN review.
2. Budget-friendly VPN for China – Surfshark
Surfshark is a budget-friendly VPN for China. If you’re planning to visit China, then it is the most affordable VPN option for just $2.49/mo .
Surfshark is a cost-effective option to watch your favorite foreign TV shows, including Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and others, with the help of 3200+ servers in 65 countries worldwide.
Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark’s Hong Kong server can also unblock popular China-based channels, including CCTV, JXTVS, and China Health TV.
Surfshark’s headquarter is located on the British Virgin Island. It means Chinese authorities cannot access its users’ data due to its excellent zero-logs feature. After testing, we weren’t surprised when we saw that neither our DNS nor IPv6 was leaking in China.
Protecting an unlimited number of devices on a single subscription, Surfshark surely is one of the cheapest VPN for your online privacy, data protection, and unlimited unblocking in China.
With Surfshark, you also get various advanced features such as Multi-Hop, CleanWeb, and WhiteLister at your disposal in China.
3. Secure VPN for China – NordVPN
NordVPN is the most secure VPN for China. It offers state-of-the-art security and encryption tools that are hardly available with any other virtual private network provider. So if you are worried about your online privacy and anonymity in China, then NordVPN is the right choice for you.
Although it doesn’t offer a server in China, it offers 5200+ servers in 60 countries that allow you to access US Netflix with NordVPN, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, and other international streaming services residing in China.
NordVPN’s Hong Kong server could unblock various Chinese-based content as per our testing – making it a great option for users in China.
NordVPN offers an “Obfuscated servers” feature that allows you to use VPN in the toughest and strictest environments, such as China. These servers help bypass restrictions in regions popular for strict censorship imposed by the Chinese government, such as China, Russia, and the UAE.
NordVPN does not store users’ logs and provides a comprehensive list of tunneling protocols (IKEv2, OpenVPN, WireGuard) to Chinese users. Besides, it also offers a double VPN encryption that encrypts your data not once but twice, making it untraceable online.
We didn’t experience any DNS/IP leak issue while we tested NordVPN in China. However, you can see the test result below:
If you face any problems downloading its app, you can try downloading it from NordVPN’s mirror website.
Furthermore, it comes at a price of $3.30/mo (VPN Awareness Month - 2 year plan at 72% off + 3 months FREE) with a 30-day NordVPN’s cancel and refund policy and a popular 7-day free trial so that you can test the service free of cost before subscribing to a premium subscription.
For more information, check out our exclusive NordVPN review.
4. Fastest VPN for China – IPVanish
IPVanish is the fastest VPN for China. This provider consistently delivered blazing-fast VPN speeds of 95 Mbps over 100 Mbps connection during my testing.
Chinese citizens can access 1900+ servers in 75+ countries. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer servers in China. Still, its international servers can easily grant Chinese users unlimited access to streaming services like US Netflix, Hotstar, BBC iPlayer, ITV, Sony Liv, and others in 4K Ultra-HD quality.
Even though IPVanish is headquartered in the United States, this provider promises to keep zero records of your VPN connection data, thanks to its no-log policy.
In addition, with military-grade AES-256-bit encryption and a Scramble feature, your online data will be encrypted and scrambled in such a way that neither your ISP nor any hackers can intercept or decode it.
Rest assured this provider is fully capable of protecting any potential DNS/IP leaks. As you can see, there wasn’t any DNS/IPv6 leak in China during our leak testing.
Besides that, IPVanish offers a port forwarding feature to transfer your traffic through port 443 for secure, encrypted, and fast torrenting.
It also supports unlimited devices simultaneously, so you can share it with your friends and family in China and protect as many devices as you want on a single account.
For more information, check out our exclusive IPVanish review.
5. Best VPN for Torrenting in China – PIA VPN
PIA is the best VPN for torrenting in China. It keeps no logs of your internet activity, offers torrent-friendly features such as port-forwarding, and also offers a SOCKS5 proxy to aid safe torrenting in China.
PIA VPN manages to unblock any website from China like Facebook, WhatsApp, or any social media app with 35500+ servers. In addition, popular international streaming content such as iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon, Youtube TV, Disney+ can be easily accessed in China with its wide network of servers.
It also offers 12 servers in China, which will come in handy in unblocking popular Chinese content such as CCTV, Shanghai Oriental Television, Zhejiang Television, Anhui TV, TOPV, iQiyi, Youku, Tencent Video, Taobao Live, etc.
Although it’s headquartered in the United States, PIA VPN is fully capable of securing your online traffic, especially torrent traffic, by using AES-256-bit encryption. It is also equipped with WireGuard protocol and ad and malware protection (MACE) to make your online experience as smooth as possible.
PIA also passed our DNS and IPv6 leak test, confirming once again that this provider is a perfect companion for your online security, privacy, and torrenting needs.
The service is available for a cost of $2.08/mo and comes with a 30-day refund policy.
If you wish to learn about how PIA has been performing in China lately, don’t forget to check out how PIA works in China? Article for further details.
To learn more about the provider, check out our PIA review.
Test Methodology: How we tested the best China VPNs
Considering the implications of the Great Firewall, we have selected some of the best VPNs for 2021 you can use in or outside China based on the criteria mentioned below:
- Server network: A wide server network with servers in major countries for accessing various international geo-blocked streaming services, social media, shopping, online dating websites, and more.
- Zero-log policy: A strict zero-log policy ensuring complete online privacy, security, and anonymity in Mainland China.
- Obfuscated servers: Specialized servers capable of hiding the fact that you are using a VPN. Highly effective feature for allowing users to establish VPN connections in restrictive environments.
- Money-back guarantee: 30-day or more money-back guarantee that works as a safety switch if you wish to opt out from the service.
- Customer support: Reliable and efficient 24/7 VPN customer support for technical assistance.
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.
We tested 150+ VPNs for China: Here are the results
Our VPNRanks Chinese representative ‘Weili Wong’ tested 150+ VPNs on her Windows laptop. These VPN software were already downloaded before she visited China.
The task at hand was to know if these virtual private networks worked in the Mainland and could they unblock YouTube, US Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, and more without getting blocked.
There were mixed results. From a total of 150+ VPNs, only eight were working in China, but only 5 of them worked reliably without encountering disconnections. You can see the status of the 8 VPNs that are working in China in the table below. Also, it is always nice to know which VPNs are working so you can arrange a backup VPN for when you travel to China.
|VyprVPN||Working (but too slow)|
|Private Internet Access||Working|
|Windscribe||Working (but too slow)|
Popular VPNs that are not working in China
Out of the 150+ VPNs that we tested, 15 weren’t working in China. We suggest you do not purchase them if you are planning to use them from China. You will find their name and status in the table below:
|ShadeYou VPN||Not Working|
|VPNOne Click||Not Working|
|ZPN Connect||Not Working|
|CyberGhost VPN||Not Working|
|Avast SecureLine VPN||Not Working|
Best China VPN according to Reddit
It’s time we see what the Reddit community has to say about the best China VPN.
ExpressVPN, Astrill VPN, and NordVPN are famous, according to Redditor “JeffdisMalady,” when it comes to unblocking websites in China. However, the user further confirmed that not many VPNs work in China, but 5 of them happen to work quite well:
Reddit user “HotNatured” also recommended Astrill VPN since he had no problems using it in China but was super annoyed with ExpressVPN. He said it limits the number of servers you can connect from within China.
To connect to the best China VPN from the working list, you will need to try a few times before it does connect. For example, Reddit user “highlander311” tried using a local sim card and then connected to ExpressVPN, and it worked.
Similarly, ExpressVPN worked fine for “nahtschate” in China, but he also pointed out some official events where VPNs get disturbed badly.
After going through hundreds of Reddit comments, we observed that ExpressVPN turned out to be the most popular and favorite VPN provider among the users located in China.
VPNs and the Great Firewall of China
The Great Firewall of China (GFW) is the unification of juridical actions and technologies enforced by the Chinese Government to regulate the internet domestically.
Its role in internet censorship in China is to prevent access to selected international websites and slow down cross-border internet traffic.
The effect includes: limiting access to foreign information sources, blocking foreign internet tools such as Google search, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and multiple mobile applications.
It was called the Golden Shield Project and was operated by SIIO. However, since 2013, the firewall has been technically operated by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).
The battle of dominance between the firewall and VPNs has been going around for quite some time now.
The VPN providers have to develop methods to help overcome the censorship that the people in China face. They have seen good days and bad days, but the effort keeps going on.
How does China block VPNs with the Great Firewall?
A handful of VPN providers work in China. The reason is the ‘Great Firewall.’ This infamous Firewall uses many methods to block VPN services. These include:
- IP Blocking: The Great Firewall blocks several IP addresses to stop users from accessing Facebook, YouTube, etc.
- 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 blocked, the content is then blocked or restricted for the user.
- URL filtering: The Chinese government has blocked different URLs. Therefore, you may not be able to access certain pages within the websites.
Other countries also restrict the amount of content that can be accessed in the country. For example, Nepal’s IT law regulates and censors a lot of foreign content. Anyone caught violating the law can get fined heavily. The only way to deal with such a situation is to get the best VPN for Nepal to bypass geo-restrictions.
How do VPNs bypass the Great Firewall of China?
You must be wondering how a VPN bypasses the network restrictions that the Great Firewall of China sets up. They do that by doing two things.
Hide your data
Hide your destination
If the firewall doesn’t know what you are trying to access and from where you are trying to access it, it will not block it.
The actual data containing the information such as the website name, streaming content, messages, chats, videos, or anything you are trying to send over the internet is encrypted using a VPN before it leaves your device.
The Great Firewall only sees the encrypted data, so it can not determine what the user is trying to access.
Similarly, at the time of receiving, the data sent by the destination is also scrambled, courtesy of the same VPN server you used earlier to send the traffic.
The Great Firewall of China sees this incoming traffic, but it can not intercept or decode it due to the VPN encryption.
The data and the destination identity itself are hidden as it will look like you are receiving the data from an anonymous location or server.
The destination’s identity hidden here is the most crucial advantage of the VPN. If the identity is revealed, the firewall would immediately block the transmission.
That being said, China can block VPN servers just like it blocks different websites, so be sure to get ExpressVPN, which is the best China VPNs because it constantly refreshes its servers and IP addresses to make sure none of them are blocked by China.
The Best VPNs for iPhones Users in China
We recommend having more than one VPN in China. If the primary VPN goes down for some time, you will still have a backup to use. Moreover, after our testing, we were able to find the six best VPNs for iPhone users in China.
Below you will find our top 3 VPN recommendations for iPhone users in China.
- ExpressVPN– 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, no-log policy, super-fast connection speed, compatibility with all devices, and a 30-day money-back guarantee program.
- NordVPN– 5,200+ servers in 59 countries, No-log policy, state-of-the-art security, and encryption features such as obfuscated servers and a 30-day money-back guarantee program.
- Surfshark– 3,200+ servers in 65 countries, unlimited simultaneous connections, and a multi-hop feature for efficient VPN connection in China.
The Best VPNs for Android Users in China
We can’t forget our friends with Android devices. We were also able to find the best VPNs for Android users in China.
- ExpressVPN– 4.4/5.0 Google Play store rating, 3,000+ servers in 94 countries, no-log policy, super-fast connection speed, compatibility with all devices, and a 30-day money-back guarantee program.
- Surfshark– 4.2/5.0 Google Play store rating, 3,200+ servers in 65 countries, 15 different regions Netflix supported unlimited simultaneous connections and a 30-day money-back guarantee program.
- PIA– 4.4/5.0 Google Play store rating, 35,500+ servers in 78 countries, easy-to-install apps, reliable server speeds, and a 45-day money-back guarantee.
VPN guides for other countries
Here are the best VPN guides for other countries:
- Best VPN for Kazakhstan
- Best VPN for the USA
- Best VPN for South Africa
- Best VPN for Malaysia
- Best VPN for the Philippines
- Best VPN for Cambodia
- Best VPN for Sri Lanka
- Best VPN for Singapore
Frequently Asked Questions
Will China block all VPNs?
No, it will not block all VPNs. China has only blocked unauthorized VPNs that conduct illegal business. When the news broke that Chinese authorities would block all VPNs, the Chinese officials claimed that the news was fake.
Are VPNs legal in China?
Yes, VPNs are legal in China. The technology itself is not illegal, but you need an official Chinese government-issued license to use a VPN. VPNs are commonly used by different multinational corporations, organizations, and agencies to access international websites for different purposes.
How to use Google Play in China with a VPN?
Here’s how to use Google Play Store in China with a VPN.
- Disable your device location service or GPS feature.
- Clear Google Play Store App’s cache.
- Launch your VPN software and connect to any server location outside China (we recommend ExpressVPN).
- Open the Google Play Store app.
- At the top right -> tap the profile icon.
- Tap Settings -> General Account and device preferences -> Country and profiles.
- Tap the country where you want to add an account. It should be the same one you selected in the VPN.
- Follow the steps on your screen to add a new region in Google Play Store.
- Return to Google Play Store once you are done.
- Finally, you should be able to access Google Play Store in China.
How to use the Apple App store in China with a VPN?
Apple has been allowed to operate in China, but it must abide by the Chinese laws and regulations on one condition. Whenever the Chinese authorities request an application to be removed from the App Store, Apple has to remove it to continue its operations in China.
If you set up your iCloud and iTunes accounts in another country, you will still be able to find, download, and update VPN software regularly. So they should continue to work even if you are inside China.
How to access YouTube in China with a VPN?
You can follow the steps mentioned below to access YouTube on your device in China via VPN.
- Purchase ExpressVPN.
- Download and install the ExpressVPN software on your device.
- Log in to the application using your ExpressVPN account.
- Connect to a US VPN server from the server list.
- That’s it. You should be able to access YouTube in China now.
Make sure that your browser cache, cookies, and history are cleared before connecting to the VPN. If you are using a hand-held device, then the device’s location service should be disabled as well.
Should I use a free VPN in China?
No, it would be best if you didn’t use a free VPN in China. The free VPN providers are known to offer an inadequate amount of server locations and bandwidth that can hardly help you decide whether the VPN can satisfy your online requirements.
Apart from that, many free VPN providers are regularly accused of stealing their user’s data and sharing it with various third-party advertisers.
Using a reliable VPN provider that knows the importance of the user’s trust is the best option in China. Therefore, we recommend using ExpressVPN as it is the best VPN to use in China.
How much does a China VPN cost?
The VPN subscription costs depend on the features and the duration of the subscription plan. Right now, Surfshark is the most budget-friendly China VPN at the cost of [get_price id=99788 url="https://www.vpnranks.com/visit-provider/surfshark-ctry-cn"] with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Why is my VPN slow in China?
The primary reason why your VPN connection is slow in China is because of the server distance. If you connect to a US server 11,640 Km apart, you will likely face a slow speed. We recommend using ExpressVPN, as it offers fast, consistent speeds on all its servers. You can check our ExpressVPN speed test guide for details.
Do I need a VPN in Hong Kong and Taiwan?
Yes, Hong Kong and Taiwan have almost similar internet censorship issues faced by China. However, you can still get the best VPN for Taiwan and the best VPN for Hong Kong to add an extra layer of security to your privacy and, of course, access geo-blocked streaming content such as Netflix, BBC, Hulu, etc.
Should I leave my VPN on all the time in China?
No, not if you wish to use it occasionally. You don’t have to leave your VPN on all the time in China but leaving it on as much as possible wouldn’t be a bad idea. You can never be too careful, so enabling the VPN at all times is the best way to ensure your security and privacy.
Leaving your VPN on also reduces the risk of forgetting to turn it on in more vulnerable circumstances, like when you’re using a public Wi-Fi network.
The Chinese authorities are taking every possible step to curb its netizens’ online freedom. Luckily with the best VPN for China, you can access sites and platforms in China or outside china while being secure.
Our recommended best China VPN is ExpressVPN that will help you keep your privacy intact and let you access a wide range of content from all around the globe. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it risk-free in China.
Lastly, on the safe side, don’t forget to use ExpressVPN mirror sites to download and install the VPN software for China on your desired devices accordingly before you arrive in China.