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 if you are visiting China is the censorship of foreign sites. In fact, 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 a VPN that works within China.
Unfortunately, many free VPN online are either scams that may actually violate your privacy and sell your information to advertisers or simply don’t work at all in China. That is why we recommend users try premium VPNs like ExpressVPN with the best security features. While the option of a free VPN is tempting, it is our obligation to inform you that no free VPN on this planet can ever match the quality of service a premium VPN like ExpressVPN can deliver.
Therefore, in a country like China where multiple different internet restrictions are placed for the users, you need someone like ExpressVPN that can guarantee you complete anonymity, security, privacy, global access to different websites, and an excellent internet experience with a 30-day money-back guarantee and 3-months free on annual subscription.
First, let’s give you an overview of the best free VPNs for China:
Note: Free VPNs don’t always have the wherewithal 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.
Problems with free VPNs in China
The following are some major problems with free VPN services:
1. Free VPNs are great in numbers, but a great many of these are scams that can sell your data to third parties.
2. Many free service providers don’t have the resources to bypass the sophisticated Great Firewall of China and simply don’t work within the country.
3. VPNs that do 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. 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 few premium VPN providers that outclass any free VPNs in terms of security, privacy, speed, unblocking, and optimized internet experience.
Best Free VPNs for China – Updated June 2021
The following free China VPNs have been selected after a careful evaluation of their reliability, performance, and security features. Don’t forget! All VPN websites are blocked in China, which means you need to download and install the VPN you choose before arriving in the country.
1. Editor’s Choice: Ivacy – Unlimited bandwidth
Ivacy is the most powerful free China VPN. It remains one of the few VPNs in the industry that has the ability to bypass the Great Firewall of China with remarkable efficiency and consistency. Although it is not exactly a free VPN to China, you can utilize its 30-day money-back guarantee to use it for a whole month and demand a refund within that period if you’re not satisfied.
The service is equipped with 2,000+ servers in 100+ countries, with 6 of these in China. VPNs that offer servers within China are a rare breed, so this makes Ivacy extremely valuable for users that want to access local Chinese content from abroad. As such, it is one of the very few free VPNs with China IP addresses. At the same time, you can also gain access to foreign content within China that are persistently censored within the country.
Ivacy offers a variety of security features for safe streaming in China. These include OpenVPN protocols for complete encryption, kill switch, zero logs, port forwarding, split tunneling, etc. This VPN also works great for torrenting and offers multiple P2P optimized servers to users.
Ivacy can easily unblock Netflix and let users enjoy its content in China. It also works great with HBO Now, Hulu. BBC iPlayer, and other streaming services.
You can purchase Ivacy for $1/mo. For its low cost and excellent unblocking ability, Ivacy is the best free VPN to use in China.
For more information, see this Ivacy review.
- Free VPN offering China IP address
- Excellent functionality within China
- 6 dedicated servers within China
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unblocks Netflix and other streaming services
- Not permanently free
2. Windscribe – 10 GB/month
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 10GB/month bandwidth limit, but you can connect to unlimited devices at the same time.
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 sites in China.
Windscribe offers relatively good speeds on its servers and keeps minimal essential logs. It offers 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and a built-in Adblocker in its app. Windscribe also has an amazing feature called R.O.B.E.R.T. that is essential to combat malware in the device. It also supports port forwarding.
- Unlimited simultaneous multi-logins
- Allows P2P filesharing
- Offers a kill switch, industry-standard encryption, and R.O.B.E.R.T.
- Relatively slow speeds
3. ProtonVPN – Unlimited bandwidth
ProtonVPN is another decent free China VPN app. The best feature of this VPN is its unlimited bandwidth. The VPN provides excellent security through OpenVPN over UDP and OpenVPN over TCP. It has no servers within China but has good reliability for bypassing the GFW and restrictions against foreign content within China. 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 that are 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.
- Fast servers
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unblocks geo-restricted content
- User-friendly app
- Only 3 server locations available
- Service might vary in China
4. TunnelBear – 500MB/month
TunnelBear is a Canada-based VPN available for free for Chinese users. It offers more than 20+ servers, which is more than most free providers offer. In addition, TunnelBear is one of the few VPNs that have the ability to work in China, though it is something of a hit-or-miss ever since China increased strictness on VPNs.
The other downside to this VPN is that offers 500 MB/month bandwidth which can be increased to 1.5GB/month if you tweet about it. As such, this service is useful if you just 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. It offers features like a kill switch, and high encryption protocols like 256-bit encryption to keep users safe at all costs.
Learn more about this VPN in our TunnelBear review.
- Supports P2P torrenting
- Allows up to 5 simultaneous connections
- Offers a kill switch and other features.
- 500 MB/month bandwidth
- Slow speeds
5. Hide.Me – 2GB/month
Hide.Me is another effective free VPN to break the Chinese GFW. Like most other free providers, Hide.Me has no servers within China. This is actually 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, then 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 as a free VPN China has suffered somewhat over the years, but it can still deliver good functionality within China every now and then.
Unfortunately, it comes with a 2GB/month bandwidth limit, so you’re only limited to performing activities that don’t require too much bandwidth consumption. It offers decent security features and encryption like OpenVPN that enables users to stay safe while using this VPN.
Hide.Me offers servers in 5 different countries but the service it offers is one reason why we call this VPN the best free VPN. This VPN also supports torrenting.
For further details, see this Hide.Me review.
- Zero-logging policy
- Allows torrenting
- Uses OpenVPN tunneling protocol
- 2GB bandwidth/limit
- No servers in China
Things you need to know about VPNs in China before traveling
You cannot download a VPN in China. The reason for this is that 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.
In case 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. We want the services to offer better services in China and so speed was one major concern of ours. Throttled speeds are annoying and much harder to use.
2. Ability to bypass geo-restrictions:
When we talk about China, one thing we need the VPN to do is to bypass the geo-restrictions and allow us to access websites and streaming services that are 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, be it 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. 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. 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 do 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 then 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. There are also some VPNs that put you at a great risk instead of offering quality services. Some of these might steal your data, then others might put you at the risk of being caught. Let’s check out which one they are:
1. Hotspot Shield:
The first VPN to avoid in China is Hotspot Shield. While this VPN claims to be the best one to around, it’s not like it claims.
This VPN has one free server that too only in the US so it can barely unblock services in other countries. This VPN is also subject to multiple lags and buffers.
The daily limit of Hotspot Shield is 500/day which is not even enough to unblocks social media, let alone stream Netflix. The customer service is extremely slow and you can barely connect to anyone if you face any issue.
One last thing, Hotspot Shield was also accused of fooling customers by telling them that they can browse anonymously over the internet in 2017.
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. 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.
What is the Great Firewall of China?
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.
Why does China end up blocking all VPNs?
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 sites that are prohibited in the country and so it blocked all its ways around it too.
What sites are banned in China?
China has banned multiple websites including social media, search engines, VPNs, emails, etc. You cannot use any of these while you’re in the country.
Which free VPN is best for China?
Ivacy’s 30-day money-back guarantee works as the best free VPN for China. You can demand a refund within 30 days if you are not satisfied with the service, thus making it virtually free for the first month.
Which free VPN works in China?
Ivacy is a free VPN that works in China (with a 30-day free trial). Most VPNs that are totally free of cost do not work in China anymore. However, you can try Windscribe, TunnelBear, and ProtonVPN too.
Does Betternet work in China?
Betternet does not reliably work in China. It may work occasionally, but it does not have a network powerful enough to consistently sidestep the Great Firewall of China.
Ivacy is the best free VPN 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, it comes with its limitations, so we recommend using ExpressVPN to circumvent the Great Firewall of China.
All these VPN mentioned above are compatible with most devices and software. In case you’re wondering what is the best free VPN for Ubuntu or Mac, just look through our guides below.
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