They say in China, “One learns more from traveling a thousand miles than from reading a thousand scrolls.” It is hard to disagree with this proverb.
Traveling to China can be an eye-opening experience because it is such a huge change from our natural habitat that we have grown so comfortable with. And that is exactly what makes it worthwhile.
The only serious problem that you need to be prepared in advance for visiting China is the censorship of foreign sites. Most popular social media websites are blocked in China. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, WhatsApp, Snapchat, YouTube, and more.
To counter this heavy censorship and online regulation, you will need one of the best free VPNs for China.
Problems with free VPNs in China
The following are some major problems with free VPN services:
- Free VPNs are great in numbers, but a great many of these are scams that can sell your data to third parties.
- Many free service providers don’t have the resources to bypass the sophisticated Great Firewall of China and don’t work within the country.
- VPNs that work in China for free usually have severe bandwidth limitations, and most of the advanced features are locked until you purchase the full version.
For these reasons, it is advisable to remain safe and choose a well-reputed VPN, even if it may cost a bit of money. Premium VPNs offer the ultimate security features that keep you unidentified over the internet.
Moreover, with thousands of servers, they can easily unblock all geo-restrictions. Here are some of the top VPNs in the industry right now.
We have listed below a premium VPN provider that outclasses any free VPNs regarding security, privacy, speed, unblocking, and optimized internet experience.
Unfortunately, many free VPN online are either scams that may violate your privacy and sell your information to advertisers or don’t work at all in China. That is why we recommend users try premium VPNs like ExpressVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee and the best security features.
Note: Free VPNs don’t always have the resources to defeat Chinese censorship mechanisms. For a complete, fool-proof solution, I’ll advise you to use a well-reputed premium VPN for China to safely access the web from within China as well as outside China.
Best Free VPNs for China – [Updated – September 2021]
After carefully evaluating their reliability, performance, and security features, the following free China VPNs have been selected.
Don’t forget! All VPN websites are blocked in China, so you need to download and install the VPN you choose before arriving in the country.
1. Windscribe – Popular Free VPN China with 10 GB/ mo data
Windscribe has a moderate success rate working in China. Still, Windscribe is a pretty good VPN service to have if you’re looking for a free VPN in China. The service offers a 10 GB/month bandwidth limit, but you can connect to unlimited devices simultaneously.
Moreover, it offers servers, including the UK, which are quite effective for users within China that want to access blocked services like Gmail, Snapchat, and WhatsApp in China.
This China free VPN is also famous as a free VPN for Facebook. It is also a great free VPN for watching BBC iPlayer and other geo-blocked streaming services in China such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more.
Windscribe offers relatively good speeds on its servers and keeps minimal essential logs. In addition, it offers 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and a built-in Adblocker in its app.
Windscribe also has an amazing feature called ROBERT that is essential to combat malware in the device. It also supports port forwarding, which can be a useful feature for downloading torrents.
You can also read this Windscribe review for more details.
2. ProtonVPN – Unlimited bandwidth Free China VPN
ProtonVPN is another decent free China VPN app. The best feature of this VPN is its unlimited bandwidth. In addition, the VPN provides excellent security through OpenVPN over UDP and OpenVPN over TCP.
It has no servers within China but is reliable for bypassing the GFW and restrictions against foreign content within China. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a free VPN for a China server, then this isn’t for you.
You can unblock Netflix in China using ProtonVPN and enjoy its geo-restricted content. You can also unblock other popular streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer.
However, like most VPNs, its functionality within China wavers with time. As such, it might not always work within China. But the service it delivers is fast and smooth and enables access to blocked social media sites unavailable in China.
While its servers are present only in 3 countries, it still offers the best service a free VPN can. ProtonVPN does not collect any logs and has an easy-to-use app for all devices. It also offers a kill switch that ensures that your identity doesn’t leak even when the VPN connection drops.
Find more about this service in our ProtonVPN review.
3. TunnelBear – Secure Free VPN China with 10 GB/ mo data limit
TunnelBear is a Canada-based VPN available for free for Chinese users. It offers 23 servers, which is more than most free providers offer. In addition, TunnelBear is one of the few VPNs that can work in China, though it has been something of a hit-or-miss ever since China’s strictness on VPNs.
The other downside to this VPN is that it offers 500 MB/month bandwidth, which can be increased to 1.5GB/month if you tweet about it. Nevertheless, this service is useful if you have minimal VPN usage, such as unblocking social media websites like Facebook and Twitter in China.
While this service does unblock geo-restricted streaming services, they’re often laggy and useless. So instead, it offers features like a kill switch and high encryption protocols like AES-256-bit encryption to keep users safe at all costs.
Learn more about this VPN in our TunnelBear review.
4. Hide.Me – Secure Free VPN China with 10 GB/ mo data limit
Hide.Me is another effective free VPN to break the Chinese GFW. Unfortunately, like most other free providers, Hide.Me has no servers within China.
This is not something to be concerned about if you already live in China. But if you were looking to obtain a free VPN for a China server, you need another VPN.
Nonetheless, its foreign servers are what you need to access blocked overseas content within the mainland. The reliability of Hide.Me has suffered somewhat over the years, but it can still deliver good functionality within China now and then.
Unfortunately, it comes with a 10 GB/month bandwidth limit, so you’re only limited to performing activities that don’t require too much bandwidth consumption.
On the other hand, it offers decent security features and encryption like OpenVPN, enabling users to stay safe while using this VPN.
Hide.Me offers servers in 5 different countries, but the service it offers is why we call this VPN the best free VPN. This VPN also supports torrenting.
For further details, see this Hide.Me review.
5. Hotspot Shield – 500 MB bandwidth per day private browsing
Hotspot Shield is the best free VPN for Chinese citizens to browse the internet privately. It offers 500 MB of free data per day, which is not bad as it adds up to 15 GB of data per month.
However, with Hotspot Shield, if you run out of your daily limit, you need to wait for the next day to use an additional 500 MB of free data.
Its free subscription only allows a single server located in the United States. If you want access to other server locations, you will have to upgrade to the premium VPN plan of Hotspot Shield.
Another limitation is that Hotspot Shield monetizes its free VPN with ads, so you’ll be getting annoying ads and pop-ups after every minute or so, which becomes very annoying.
In terms of security, Hotspot Shield is a great option with built-in malware protection and a proprietary Catapult Hydra Protocol that makes sure you get the maximum speeds on your PC. In addition, the provider uses AES-256 encryption to protect user data from outside intrusions.
You can learn more about this service in our Hotspot Shield review.
Things you need to know about VPNs in China before traveling
You cannot download a VPN in China. The Chinese government has strict control over its digital media and has blocked multiple VPN sites. The VPNs that are allowed to be used in China are regulated.
While some VPNs don’t work in China, others do. But it’s impossible to download them as the App Stores are blocked in the country.
If you’re traveling to China, download a VPN beforehand, as you won’t be able to do it once you reach the country.
Criteria of ranking and testing the free VPNs for China
We ranked the VPNs above after testing all the aspects below:
We checked if the VPNs offer decent to high speeds on all their servers or not. Of course, we want the services to offer better services in China, so speed was our major concern. Unfortunately, throttled speeds are annoying and much harder to use.
2. Ability to bypass geo-restrictions:
When we talk about China, we need the VPN to bypass the geo-restrictions and allow us to access websites and streaming services blocked in the country.
3. Security features and encryption:
The VPNs listed above offer basic to premium security features like a kill switch, 256-bit encryption, etc. While some of the VPNs above keep essential logs, they don’t put you at risk of anything.
4. Data limit:
VPNs have certain data limitations on their free versions. Users can only use their VPN until the data limit runs out. We mentioned some VPNs above with unlimited data limits, so you can enjoy watching Netflix for a long time.
What you need to know about free VPNs in China
Free VPNs come with a few limitations: server limitations, bandwidth limitations, logging policies, or more. Due to these reasons, it’s always better to pay and get a premium VPN.
1. Bandwidth limitations:
Free VPNs have bandwidth limitations that one needs to cater to. Mostly, these limitations are not even enough to enjoy the VPN’s services for the whole day. One can barely sustain any online activity like streaming Netflix or playing a video game with a data limit. You cannot download or upload files either, let alone torrenting.
2. Server and speed limitations:
Free VPNs offer limited servers that users can use to unblock services. These server locations can be as low as three. However, with only a few servers, one cannot expect speeds to be great either due to traffic overload.
Furthermore, limited servers do not let you unblock any service you like. So, for example, you cannot unblock BBC iPlayer without a UK server.
3. Logging policies and shady reputations:
Free VPNs d not have effective logging policies like they claim to have. While they promise they offer it, we know VPNs collect user data and sell it to third parties. This leads to shay reputation of the VPN, and it’s better to avoid them than using them at the risk of your privacy.
VPNs you need to avoid using in China
Free VPNs already come with a bunch of risks. However, some VPNs put you at a great risk instead of offering quality services. Some of these might steal your data, and they might put you at the risk of being caught. So let’s check out which one they are:
This VPN is known to reveal your identity and data to third parties. This VPN is also accused of giving people malware and ransomware on their devices. Therefore, it’s better to avoid Betternet than any other.
Nothing you have is secured through Hola. Hola is one VPN that has been collecting user data and bandwidth for a long time. Unfortunately, this VPN doesn’t offer secure services, and so in case your data leaks, BEtternet is the fault.
This VPN is equally worse than all the others. This VPN injects computer viruses in malware and trojan, which is extremely unsafe for all devices.
Best Free VPNs for China: FAQs
China has strict censorship laws in the country. This has enabled them to block all important websites in the country. You cannot access Netflix, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc., in China. This is known as the Great Firewall of China. You need to pass this to access anything you like.
The government wanted to regulate the media and strictly keep it in its own hands. This is one of the major reasons to block all VPNs. China doesn’t want anyone to access the prohibited sites in the country, so it blocked all its ways around it.
China has banned multiple websites, including social media, search engines, VPNs, emails, etc. So you cannot use any of these while you’re in the country.
Windscribe is a free VPN that works in China (with a 30-day free trial). Unfortunately, most VPNs that are free of cost do not work in China anymore. However, you can try TunnelBear and ProtonVPN too.
Betternet does not reliably work in China. It may work occasionally, but it does not have a powerful network to sidestep China’s Great Firewall consistently.
Windscribe is the best free VPN for China owing to its powerful capability to counter Chinese censorship technologies. As such, if you’re traveling to China or living in the country, you can rely on this VPN to free the internet in China from pointless government restrictions.
But, a free VPN provider comes with many limitations, so to Chinese internet users, we recommend using top-tier premium VPN providers such as ExpressVPN to circumvent the Great Firewall of China.
ExpressVPN possessed the capability to easily bypass the Great Firewall of China restriction and offer you ultimate online security, privacy, data protection, and unblocking experience.
If you hurry up, you can also avail of ExpressVPN’s limited time “12 months + 3 months free” subscription that comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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