5 Best VPNs That Still Bypass the Great Firewall of China (2019)Last Updated by Kate Hawkins on November 12, 2019
Using a VPN is the only way to have the internet freedom you want when visiting China. The government works hard to block unauthorized VPN services, so more VPNs stop working day by day.
Many sites out there are not updated consistently and may have outdated VPNs on their lists. I’ve shortlisted 5 tried-and-tested VPNs that still work in China, and will give you access to the content you want. Better yet, they all have free discount codes that give you the chance to score a great deal on a subscription.
- ExpressVPN — The #1 VPN for China that works consistently with fast speeds
- NordVPN — Premium VPN features for a low monthly price
- PrivateVPN — Security-focused VPN keeps your data confidential
- Surfshark — CleanWeb feature protects you from malware when browsing in China
- VyprVPN — Servers in Hong Kong and Taiwan
What to Look for When Choosing Your VPN for China
The last thing you want is to arrive in China with a VPN that doesn’t work. These are some criteria you should look out for when comparing which VPN to use in China:
- Ability to bypass China’s detection: Is the VPN security robust enough to break through “The Great Firewall of China” and freely allow internet access?
- Servers close to China: Does the VPN have servers located close by or in neighboring countries like Japan and Taiwan?
- Setup within China: Can the VPN be purchased, downloaded, and installed when in China?
- Short-term subscription options: Does the VPN offer a short-term subscription for users traveling in China for a week or two?
- Fast speeds: Is the VPN fast enough for smooth internet browsing and buffer-free streaming?
- Kill switch: Does the VPN have a kill switch if server connection drops? Is the set-up manual or automatic?
- Multi-platform/device capability: Does the VPN have apps which support a range of platforms so all devices are protected?
- Simultaneous connections: How many devices can use the VPN service at the same time?
5 VPNs that Still Work in China (Plus Valid Discount Deals)
These 5 VPNs have the best chance of reliably breaking through China’s internet restrictions. I’ve tested each VPN to ensure it works, so you can rely on them to free your internet access and keep your personal data secure.
1. ExpressVPN — The #1 VPN for China That Works Consistently with Fast Speeds
- Accesses all restricted websites and breaks through “The Great Firewall”
- Servers close to China keep internet speeds fast
- Strong security, including a kill switch, helps you avoid detection by the Chinese government
- Connects with up to 5 devices at the same time
- Slightly higher monthly price
After extensive testing, ExpressVPN claims the top spot because it is consistently able to bypass China’s internet restrictions despite government crackdowns. Using AES-256-bit encryption, ExpressVPN creates a secure tunnel between your device and the internet, breaking through censorship technology.
If you’re traveling to China for 30-days or less, you can use ExpressVPN completely free of charge. How? Just take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee to use the VPN during your stay in China, then get your money back (no questions asked) at the end of your trip! Make sure you download and install it before you get to China, as you won’t be able to download it while you’re there.
With servers close to China in Japan, Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong, you’ll be able to experience fast speeds without compromising your security. The automatic kill switch protects your data in the event of a drop in server connection. You can use ExpressVPN on 5 devices at the same time, so you can rest assured you’re always protected.
ExpressVPN works with the following platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox.
ExpressVPN can unblock: Google, Hulu, Netflix, Pinterest, YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, WhatsApp, and more.
2. NordVPN — Premium VPN Features for a Low Monthly Price
- Bypasses geo-restrictions for access to every site
- More than 60 servers around China for fast connection speeds
- Masks IP address for security when browsing and streaming
- Allows connections for up to 6 devices at once
- Doesn’t accept PayPal as a payment method
- Limited security protocol options for more advanced users
For less than a cup of coffee per month, NordVPN provides exceptional encryption which easily bypasses China’s internet restrictions. Military-grade encryption keeps your identifying data private, which you’ll need when browsing and streaming in China. I ran 5 different DNS leak tests and found that it successfully masked my location. Additionally, more than 60 of NordVPN’s servers are close to China, keeping your connection fast and your streaming buffer-free.
The automatic kill switch ensures your data security if the connection to the server fails. With NordVPN, you can connect up to 6 devices at the same time, guaranteeing all of your devices are covered. This VPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for new users so you can try it out for free.
NordVPN works with: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox.
NordVPN can unblock: Google, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and more.
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3. PrivateVPN — Security-Focused VPN Keeps Your Data Confidential
- Uses L2TP protocol to bypass China’s firewall easily
- Server locations in Hong Kong and Taiwan for fast connection speeds
- Strict no-logs policy protects your personal data
- Supports 6 device connections at the same time
- Struggles with Netflix’s geo-restriction technology
- Limited number of servers
PrivateVPN lives up to its name. With 2048-bit encryption and zero logs, as well as an automatic kill switch, this VPN works hard to keep your location and your private data safe. Servers in Hong Kong and Taiwan keep connections speedy, although they’re limited in number, which means slower peak-time streaming and browsing for you.
If you’re looking for a VPN that will let you watch your favorite shows and movies in China, you should know that PrivateVPN can’t always bypass Netflix’s state-of-the-art technology. If you want to Netflix, try a different VPN (like ExpressVPN) that consistently streams Netflix from all over the world.
PrivateVPN supports up to 6 connections at the same time, each with a unique IP address for added security. A 30-day money-back guarantee lets you try the VPN service out at no risk to you — perfect if you’re traveling to China for a short stay.
PrivateVPN works with: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux.
PrivateVPN can unblock: Netflix (sometimes), BBC iPlayer, HBO, Hulu, Facebook, Twitter, and more.
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4. Surfshark — CleanWeb Protects You from Malware When Browsing in China
- Access to global browsing and streaming
- Servers in Taiwan and Hong Kong keep connection speeds fast
- Robust security features plus protection from malware
- Unlimited device connections
- No option for TOR over VPN
Surfshark is a VPN that delivers on premium security features. AES-256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS leak protection all keep your data safeguarded and uncompromised. During testing, I found Surfshark’s connection speeds are fast enough for smooth streaming and browsing, even when servers are overseas from your location. With servers located in Taiwan and Hong Kong, connections from China are local and reliable.
Surfshark’s unlimited device connections really make this VPN stand out from the crowd — it’s something very few premium VPNs offer. Whether you’re traveling alone or with friends and family, you can rest assured that every device and connection is protected. The inclusion of CleanWeb technology means you’re protected from malware, pop up ads, and phishing while connected.
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Surfshark works on: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Fire TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox.
Surfshark can unblock: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, WhatsApp, and more.
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5. VyprVPN — Servers in Hong Kong and Taiwan
- Chameleon technology bypasses geo-restrictions
- Servers close to China in Hong Kong and Taiwan
- Robust encryption for data security
- Connect up to 5 devices at once
- Torrenting not supported
- Limited payment options
VyprVPN’s unique Chameleon technology allows it to break through China’s “Great Firewall” with ease — just make sure you have it installed and set up before you enter the country. Servers close to China maintain speeds fast enough for smooth, reliable streaming and minimal buffering. If you’re traveling to a more rural area where the connection might not be so consistent, don’t worry — VyprVPN’s automatic kill switch keeps you protected in the event of a connection drop.
VyprVPN gives you the option to connect up to 5 devices at the same time, so if you’re traveling in a group, you’ll all be covered. With a 30-day money-back guarantee, you have the chance to try out the service risk-free.
VyprVPN works with: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, QNAP, Smart TVs, Blackphone, and Anonabox.
VyprVPN unblocks: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and more.
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Got a VPN but It’s Still Not Working? Try This
Even the best VPNs can have trouble with China’s internet restrictions, particularly during a government crackdown. If you’ve got a VPN but still can’t connect to blocked sites, here are a few things you can try to get back online:
- Change the server connection — You should be able to find a server list in your VPN interface and choose an alternative to connect to.
- Change the VPN protocol — In your VPN settings, you should find a section for “Protocol” and be able to choose a different one for your connection.
- Port forward to port 433 — Port 433 is most often used for encrypted communication, so this could get you connected again.
- Before you travel to China, check your VPNs support articles — They will tell you how to access port forwarding and give you specific instructions on how to set up port 433.
How Using a Free VPN in China Puts You at Risk
Free is always tempting, but when it comes to your data security in China, I wouldn’t recommend using a free VPN. There are some great free VPNs available, but when you use them, you always have to compromise. Sometimes it’s a small inconvenience, like limited data usage or slower speeds which result in buffering when streaming. Sometimes it’s a much more significant concern regarding genuine security and privacy risks.
Free VPNs generate revenue by showing you ads, and some have been known to sell logged information to third parties. This compromises your data security and location information, something which is a big concern when using a VPN in a censored country like China. While some free VPNs do work in China, they won’t keep you safe like a premium VPN does.
FAQs on VPNs in China
- What is “The Great Firewall of China”?
- Why use a VPN in China?
- Are VPNs legal in China?
- Which sites and apps are blocked in China?
- Do VPNs work 100% in China?
- Can I download VPNs while already in China?
- Which free VPNs work in China?
- Do I need a VPN in Hong Kong and Taiwan?
What is “The Great Firewall of China”?
The “Great Firewall” is the nickname for a group of laws, regulations, and technology used by the Chinese government to regulate internet usage in China. These regulations block users in China from accessing specific external sites and applications, like YouTube, Twitter, and WhatsApp. The rules also can purposefully slow internet traffic to foreign websites that aren’t blocked.
Why use a VPN in China?
First and foremost, China’s government-regulated internet monitoring is intrusive — using a VPN protects your data security from prying eyes. Certain apps and sites are blocked from use, so using a VPN means you can freely browse the web, stream via Netflix, or use social media without restriction.
Are VPNs legal in China?
Technically, no. On February 1st 2018, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) made it illegal to use a VPN in China.
However, government-approved VPNs are allowed as these are closely monitored and provide the Chinese government with backdoor access to logged information. Use of non-approved VPNs can result in a fine. In my research, fines seem to be more for Chinese nationals rather than foreigners. All tourists to China arrive with a VPN and there was no record of any claims by the government against tourists.
Which sites and apps are blocked in China?
Many social media and foreign news sites and apps are blocked in China. Here are some of the most popular sites/apps that cannot be accessed without a VPN (these are just a handful):
- Google — Google Play Store, Drive, Maps, Hangouts, and more
- The New York Times
- The Washington Post
Do VPNs work 100% in China?
Even the best VPNs are not 100% guaranteed to work in China. Government clampdowns on VPNs have intensified in recent years, and no premium service is immune from the effect. Services like ExpressVPN are usually able to provide a solution quickly after servers are blocked, limiting time spent without reliable connections. If you’re willing to spend a little for more reliability, go with a premium VPN provider.
Can I download VPNs while already in China?
Only government-approved VPNs can be downloaded from within China. Chinese VPNs downloaded from the Apple App Store are heavily monitored and won’t give you the security you need.
I recommend downloading and installing your VPN before you get to China. This way, you don’t have to compromise your privacy by using a government-approved VPN.
Can I Watch Netflix in China with a VPN?
Yes, Netflix is accessible from China with a VPN. Just launch your VPN, choose a server located outside of China (use US servers to get access to the whole Netflix library!) and log in to your Netflix account.
Which free VPNs work in China?
Free VPNs that work in China are few and far between. Most of them are not equipped with the technology to bypass China’s strict censorship. Reputable free VPNs like Tunnelbear or Windscribe will keep your personal data secure but are unlikely to bypass “The Great Firewall”. For that reason, I recommend using a premium VPN to ensure you can get past internet restrictions and browse freely.
Do I need a VPN in Hong Kong and Taiwan?
You should definitely use a VPN in both Hong Kong and Taiwan. China still controls Taiwan, but internet censorship is far less intense. Popular sites can be accessed without a VPN, but for data security, it’s in your best interest to use one. In Hong Kong, internet regulations are much freer, but after the 2019 protests there is chance internet freedom could be restricted in the future. Using a VPN keeps your internet unrestricted.
Top Tip: It’s always worth having a backup VPN in case one doesn’t work. If you’re traveling for a short time, you can use the money-back guarantees many premium VPNs offer to have a back-up VPN. That way, you’re sure to have premium protection and internet freedom.
A VPN in China Keeps You Safe
If you’re planning on spending any length of time in China, a VPN provides you with unrestricted access to the internet while keeping your data secure. Effective security options and money-back guarantees mean you have peace of mind on your travels — with zero risks to your personal information or your wallet.