Most VPNs don’t work in China because of it’s online censorship program called ‘Great Firewall’ that restricts VPNs, websites, and imposes censorship. So to bypass Chinese online censorship, people have been using the best VPN for China.
The Great Firewall has blocked major services in China, such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and many more.
However, most VPNs are blocked in China. 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.
Based on our testing, we have recommended the most reliable VPN services that are currently working in China.
IMPORTANT: Even though the virtual private network apps we have listed in this guide works in China, but VPN websites are blocked in the country. It is best to sign-up with these VPNs before you visit mainland China.
7 Best VPNs For China (April 2022 In-Depth Analysis)
We have selected the seven best VPNs for China to help you bypass any form of censorship in the country. 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. ExpressVPN – Best All-Rounder VPN for China
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 testing, we decided to conduct a DNS and IP leak test by connecting to ExpressVPN’s Australian 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. 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 (Save 49% and get 3 extra months FREE with 12-month plan) 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 the country to access their online services.
2. Surfshark – Affordable and Efficient China VPN
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 $2.30/mo (Save 81% on 2 Years + 2 Months Free Plan with Surfshark Antivirus).
Surfshark is a cost-effective option to watch your favorite foreign streaming channels, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, and others, with the help of 3200+ servers in 95 countries worldwide.
Like ExpressVPN, Surfshark’s Hong Kong server can also unblock popular 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 VPNs for your online privacy, data protection, and unlimited unblocking.
With Surfshark, you also get various advanced features such as Multi-Hop, CleanWeb, and WhiteLister at your disposal. There is a NoBorders feature as well for bypassing geo-restrictions.
3. NordVPN – Bypasses the Great China Firewall and Keeps Users Secure
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, then NordVPN is the right choice for you.
NordVPN 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. These servers help bypass restrictions in regions popular for strict censorship imposed by the Chinese Government.
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 $3.99/mo (Save 70% on 2 Years Plan + Extra Subscription) with a 30-day 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. IPVanish – Equips Fast Speeds for Streaming Local and Global Content
IPVanish is the fastest VPN for China. This provider consistently delivered blazing-fast VPN speeds of 90 Mbps over 100 Mbps connection during my testing.
Chinese citizens can access 2000+ 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, 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 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 and protect as many devices as you want on a single account.
For more information, check out our exclusive IPVanish review.
5. PIA VPN – Reliable Torrenting VPN for China
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.
PIA VPN manages to unblock any website from China like Facebook, WhatsApp, or any social media app with 35000+ servers. In addition, popular international streaming content such as iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon, Youtube TV, Disney+ can be easily accessed in the country 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 $2.19/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 guide for further details.
To learn more about the provider, check out our PIA review.
6. PrivateVPN – Great Unblocking VPN that Works in China
PrivateVPN is another provider that works in China. It is famous for its unblocking ability as it works with the most popular geo-restricted websites. PrivateVPN runs a rather small server network with 200+ servers in 63 countries.
Most VPNs are blocked in China and can only be used via the L2TP protocol. Fortunately, PrivateVPN offers L2TP protocol and L2TP/IPSec.
It also offers a Stealth VPN that allows you to bypass censorship and internet restrictions. Stealth VPN obfuscates your VPN traffic efficiently, bypassing VPN blocks and firewalls. When you are using this tool, it hides your VPN traffic and makes it look like normal HTTPS traffic. That way, no third party can know you are using a VPN.
PrivateVPN also offers great speeds along with tight security. And the best part is that with this VPN, you can easily access blocked streaming sites like BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO, and Netflix in China.
PrivateVPN is based in Sweden – a country with strong data privacy laws. It does not keep any user logs. Further, the VPN also comes with additional features such as Application Guard, kill switch, and IPv6 leak protection. During testing, it did not leak our actual IP address.
You can connect up to 6 devices on a single account, and there are apps available for macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS.
You can get this VPN for $2.50/month, and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee. Live chat support is also available in case you need assistance.
7. Astrill VPN – Protects Users’ Internet Traffic through Stealth Mode
Astrill VPN is an underrated VPN that you might not have heard about, but if you are looking for a VPN that works in China, it is a great option.
Astrill VPN offers a Stealth VPN feature that is dedicated to users in China. It is an altered version of the OpenVPN protocol that is designed to bypass VPN detection mechanisms and firewalls. Owing to this feature, you will be able to use Astrill in countries like China that block VPN traffic.
Its apps include various security features like encryption, IP leak protection, split tunneling alongside a kill switch. There are tons of advanced features like choosing different ports and assigning MTU values.
We ran IP leak tests by connecting to its US server, and our real IP was very well hidden during the entire session.
The VPN offers a network of 300+ servers located in 65 countries. This small server network offers fast speeds and is listed in our fastest VPN guide. However, if we talk about streaming, this VPN is not the best option.
During testing, we could only access US Netflix as it failed to unblock Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu. It does work with social media apps and general browsing.
It supports 5 simultaneous connections, and there are configurable apps for various devices like Android, iOS, macOS, Linux, etc.
The major drawback of this VPN is its price. Its one-year plan is available for $12.50/month, and one month plan has a price of $25/month. The VPN is more expensive than ExpressVPN – considering you get fewer servers and it doesn’t work with streaming services.
But for those living in China, this VPN is worth the try, as it is widely recommended on Reddit and other online forums. For details, you can visit our Astrill review.
Test Methodology: How we tested the best VPN for China
Considering the implications of the Great Firewall, we have selected some of the best VPNs for 2022 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 of the service.
- Customer support: Reliable and efficient 24/7 VPN customer support for technical assistance.
When you connect to a Chinese server, you can change your IP with an encrypted connection, enabling you to bypass the Great Firewall restrictions.
What To Do If Your VPN Isn’t Working in China
If you have trouble, first, make sure the VPN actually works in China. It is possible that the VPN server was detected and blocked by GFW. However, premium VPNs that work in China constantly keep their servers updated.
Here are a few things you can try to make your VPN work:
- Change your VPN protocol. Try using PPTP or L2TP/IPSec.
- Connect to a different server location.
- Make sure your VPN app is updated. VPNs like ExpressVPN, Surfshark, etc., tweak their protocols and features regularly.
- Try port 433.
- Contact customer support for assistance.
We recommend using the VPNs on this list and downloading its app before going to China to avoid issues.
Popular VPNs that are not working in China
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 in the country. 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|
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 the country 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 Chinese people face. They have seen good days and bad days, but the effort keeps going on.
How does China block VPNs with the Great Firewall?
China has strict policies against the use of VPNs that are not approved by the government. The country uses a technology to block VPNs that prevents its citizens from accessing the internet without restrictions.
Some techniques used by the Chinese to block VPNs include:
How do VPNs bypass the Great Firewall of China?
A VPN is an efficient way to bypass geo-blocks imposed by the Chinese government and have access to unrestricted internet without censorship. VPNs do that by doing two things.
Hide your data
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.
Hide your destination
VPN also hides the destination identity itself 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 VPN because it constantly refreshes its servers and IP addresses to make sure none of them are blocked by China. It is also the best VPN for China Reddit users recommend using in 2022.
The Best VPNs for iPhones Users in China
Most VPNs are compatible with iPhones and can be used in China. Moreover, after our testing, we were able to find the three best VPNs for iPhone users in China.
Below you will find our top 3 VPN recommendations for iPhone users in China.
The Best VPNs for Android Users in China
Most popular VPNs that work in Canada offer dedicated apps for Android devices. With the best VPN for China Android users can protect their devices on the go. Here are the three best VPNs for Android users in China.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which free VPN is best in China?
Using a free VPN in China is not a good option and is not safe. Instead, we recommend ExpressVPN as the #1 VPN in China that offers unlimited data, fast-speed servers, and robust security. Using its money-back guarantee, you can use it for free for 30 days.
Is it illegal to use a VPN in China?
Yes, VPNs are legal in China but to use one, you need an official license. Using a VPN to circumvent China’s Great Firewall and accessing banned websites without a license is considered illegal.
The Chinese Government has banned the use of VPN services that are not approved by the government. In other words, VPNs must provide backdoor access to the government to be able to offer its services in the country. However, this law is only applicable to organizations and companies rather than individuals.
After several reports that China bans VPNs, according to The Shanghaiist, the government denied the claims saying there is no ban on personal VPNs in the country.
Should I use a free VPN in China?
No, free VPNs are not recommended in China. It is very rare to find a free VPN that comes with a kill switch, which is a very important feature, especially in China. There are other security features too that free VPNs lack, like a strict no-logs policy, IP and DNS leak protection, and more.
Which VPN can bypass China firewall?
ExpressVPN is a popular VPN service that has a strong unblocking ability that can bypass Chinas’s firewall. The VPN service is super fast and works well in China. To bypass China’s firewall, ExpressVPN offers various tunneling protocols, including OpenVPN, that can be used to access blocked content from the country.
Which VPN still works in China?
How much does a China VPN cost?
The China VPN subscription costs depend on the features and the duration of the subscription plan. Right now, Surfshark is the most budget-friendly 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 a VPN so slow in China?
Slow VPN speeds in China are caused by GFW throttling VPN connections, trans-pacific fiber congestion, and bad peering out of China. To improve speeds, we suggest trying out different servers ports and using different VPN protocols. You can use OpenVPN XOR, as well as PPTP and L2TP/ IPSec.
Do I need a VPN in Hong Kong and Taiwan?
One of the main reasons why you need a VPN in Hong Kong and Taiwan is to protect yourself from government surveillance, censorship, and hacking. For maximum protection, make sure to use a VPN that uses up-to-date protocols and secure encryption.
You can 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?
Yes, it is recommended to leave your VPN on to ensure security. VPNs offer the best protection for online security, therefore, you should leave your VPN on at all times to protect from possible data leaks in China.
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. In 2020, China started blocking all TLS 1.3 connections that incorporate ESNI, otherwise known as Encrypted Server Name Indication. It is used for encryption by HTTPS connections.
ESNI encrypts DNS requests on websites that prevent ISPs from tracking your online activity – which goes against the Great Firewall’s monitoring system. To prevent this, the government has started blocking ESNI connections.
Luckily with the best VPN for China, you can access sites and platforms as VPNs are not affected by this update. Our recommended best China VPN is ExpressVPN which will help you keep your privacy intact and let you access a wide range of content from all around the globe.
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 plan to visit the country.