Best VPNs for China in 2022 – Only 3 Work Well! (Tested Daily)
To avoid being completely cut off from your go-to websites and apps in China, it’s important to get a VPN that’s been proven to work before you arrive, since VPN websites and download links are blocked in the country.
To save you money and frustration, I’ve shortlisted the only VPNs that can bypass China’s firewalls. Out of them, ExpressVPN proved to be the best choice as it has the fastest and most secure servers. You can even try ExpressVPN with no risk since it has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Quick Guide: Best VPNs That Still Work in China in 2022
3 Easy Steps: How to Use a VPN in China
- Download a VPN proven to work in China. I recommend ExpressVPN for its reliable connections and fast speeds.
- Connect to a server. ExpressVPN has servers in the UK, US, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and more.
- Start browsing freely! You can now access your favorite websites in China.
Important: The protection of a VPN doesn’t give you a license to commit illegal acts, so exercise caution when using a VPN in China. Non-government-approved VPNs are illegal in the country, but there have been no public cases of tourists being penalized by the Chinese government.
What to Look for When Choosing Your VPN for China
If you arrive in China with a VPN that doesn’t work, there’s not much you can do to access your online accounts and popular sites. So choose your VPN carefully. Here’s what you should look for when deciding which VPN to use in China:
- Proven ability to access the free internet in China — The large majority of VPNs don’t work well in China. My team and I use the recommended VPNs regularly, so I’ll update this page if any of these services stop working.
- Servers close to China — Speed often depends on the distance between you and the VPN’s server. That’s why you’ll get the fastest speeds from servers in neighboring countries, like Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea.
- Strong encryption — Military-grade encryption and advanced protocols (like OpenVPN and WireGuard) are the best for getting access to the internet in China.
- 24/7 technical support — You want to be able to solve any connection problems in a few minutes.
- Money-back guarantee — Even proven VPNs will sometimes struggle due to China’s constant updates (although the best will recover in a few hours). That’s why it’s worth having at least 1 backup VPN. I suggest signing up to multiple VPNs and using the money-back guarantee to get refunds later.
Quick Tip: Make sure you download a VPN before arriving in China. That’s because most VPN websites are blocked, along with the Google Play and Apple App Stores. It’s very tricky to install a VPN once you’re already in China. You’ll need to download a VPN through mirror links, which aren’t easy to find and don’t always work.
The VPNs That Still Work in China — Don’t Waste Time With Others
- Working servers in the US, Hong Kong, and Japan
- Unblocks Facebook, Google, Instagram, and more at lightning-fast speeds
- Kill switch, powerful encryption, and no-logs policy help you avoid detection
- Allows 5 device connections at once
- 30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market today and one of the most reliable for connecting in China. Its strict zero-logs policy is guaranteed by its RAM-based servers, which wipe all data every time they reboot. This makes sure your sensitive data is never stored so it cannot be seized or demanded by government bodies.
My colleagues in China were more than satisfied with ExpressVPN’s AES-256-bit encryption, which is the same standard used by militaries and governments worldwide. They were especially impressed with how well it kept data secure and anonymous after running multiple leak tests — ExpressVPN protected all personal and location data with zero leaks. The team found it easy to access popular sites.
Even if you’ve got an unstable internet connection at your home or hotel, ExpressVPN keeps your device protected at all times with its automatic kill switch. This blocks all internet traffic until your VPN connection is safely restored so you don’t risk exposing yourself.
However, not all of the servers worked from within China. My colleagues had the most reliable results with the New York and Japan servers. The speeds you get may also vary depending on your actual location and your internet provider. We found that on some days streaming videos could be really laggy, but on other days it would be fine.
ExpressVPN offers a discount of 49% if you get the 1-year plan for $6.67 per month. You can also test ExpressVPN out completely risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee — if you don’t like it, you can easily get a full refund. Just make sure to download ExpressVPN and note down the customer support email address before you get to China, as you can’t access the website while you’re there.
ExpressVPN works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, and routers.
August 2022 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan (you can save up to 49%) + 3 months free! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.
- Servers worked in Canada and Hong Kong
- Unblocks most websites and apps but speeds are slow
- Kill switch and strict no-logs policy protects your personal data
- Supports 10 device connections simultaneously
- 30-day money-back guarantee
PrivateVPN is a small but powerful VPN for ensuring your online privacy in China. It uses the L2TP protocol and AES 256-bit encryption to bypass firewalls and censorship, as well as hide your internet traffic at the same time. You can activate its Stealth VPN feature that disguises your traffic to look like regular traffic — no-one will know you’re using a VPN! I also recommend turning on the IPv6 leak protection and kill switch features in the app as these aren’t automatically enabled.
You can choose from 200 servers, some of which are located in countries close to China (like Taiwan and Japan). Local servers provide better speeds but you can also connect to servers in further locations — my research team found servers in Canada worked well to unblock sites like Instagram, YouTube, and Netflix. I suggest contacting customer support to find out which servers have the most reliable connections from China.
My colleagues did experience more lags and buffering when trying to stream, but the quality really varies from day to day. If you’re looking for a VPN mainly for streaming in China, you should try ExpressVPN instead. Its speeds are consistently fast so you’ll have the best chances of getting good streaming quality.
You can use PrivateVPN on 10 devices at once, which is great if you own a lot of devices. While plans are affordable at $2.00 per month for a 3-year subscription, you can try PrivateVPN for free thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, just send an email to PrivateVPN with your reason for leaving. When I tested this process myself, I simply said that I changed my mind — and it worked! I got my money back in 5 days.
PrivateVPN works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and routers.
- Working servers in Hong Kong
- Unblocks most sites but speeds aren’t as fast
- No-logs policy and kill switch hides your data in China
- Connect on up to 30 devices
- 30-day money-back guarantee
VyprVPN uses integrated VyprDNS protection to stop common types of leaks that could expose your real IP address to eavesdroppers in China. This gives you an extra layer of privacy to browse the open web without worry of being seen by third parties. This system combined with 256-bit military-grade encryption and no-logs servers makes it almost impossible for your browsing activities to be seen by prying eyes in the country.
My team found working servers in Hong Kong, but you may find other options in VyprVPN’s network of over 70 locations in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Speeds were also solid during tests, with 15 locations averaging 50-60Mbps. VyprVPN wasn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, but still respectable. During testing, all of VyprVPN’s servers were fast enough for 4K streaming.
To watch TV and movies, VyprVPN can unblock Netflix US, HBO Max, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer. Unlike ExpressVPN it won’t work with Amazon Prime or Hulu, but other streaming sites loaded content and live streams in HD with no lags.
There are VyprVPN apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and other platforms, and they all worked well in China during testing. Servers stayed connected reliably with no drop-outs, and its apps never crashed or displayed annoying error messages even on the maximum of 30 devices.
VyprVPN plans start at $8.33 per month, but if you want to try VyprVPN before you travel to China, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee policy on all subscriptions. This lets you get a refund easily when you’re done using it.
VyprVPN works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and more.
VPN Not Connecting in China? Try These Troubleshooting Tips
Even the best VPN services will struggle from time to time. Below are some easy fixes to help you re-establish a working connection (if you’re using ExpressVPN, here’s a step-by-step troubleshooting guide).
- Update the VPN software — Make sure you’ve got the latest version of the VPN app. New updates could prevent any issues you might be having with your VPN.
- Connect to a new server — Go to the server list and choose another server location to see it works.
- 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.
- Email customer service — If your regular email service isn’t blocked, you can contact your VPN’s customer support team for assistance.
Popular VPNs That Don’t Work in China (Tested August 2022)
I can confirm that none of these VPNs consistently work in China: NordVPN, Surfshark, TunnelBear, and Windscribe. China’s blocking and firewall technology is constantly improving, and not even the best VPNs always stay ahead of the restrictions.
ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, and VyprVPN are the most reliable and consistent VPNs in China. Not only will you be able to securely access the internet in China, but they’re also fast so you won’t waste time waiting for sites to load. On the odd occasion when these VPNs can’t connect, the providers will quickly add new servers for you to use.
Hidden Dangers of Using Free VPNs in China
There are free VPNs that work well in China, but you always have to compromise when you’re not paying for a service. This includes small inconveniences, like limited data allowances, slower speeds, and no streaming or torrenting support.
You might even encounter more serious security and privacy risks. If you’re in China and see a VPN service advertised, that means it’s government-approved. I would caution you not to use them — it’s almost guaranteed that the VPN is sharing your browsing history and personal information with the local authorities. In China, the consequences of this can be dangerous. You could even face prosecution or jail time for accessing “illegal” sites.
A recent example is the Shadowrocket VPN app. A Chinese citizen was caught using Shadowrocket to illegally watch adult content (pornography is blocked in China). While it’s unclear how this happened, it’s very likely that Shadowrocket was leaking private user data to the local police. A quick online search confirms Shadowrocket’s shady background — there’s no official website but I found many questionable websites with free download links to the app.
Free is always tempting but it’s not worth risking your safety in China. If you don’t want to commit to paying for a VPN right away, you could test ExpressVPN out risk-free. If you don’t feel it’s right for you, you can get a full refund within the 30-day money-back guarantee period.
FAQs on VPNs in China
Why use a VPN in China?
With the right VPN, you can access the sites you would usually have access to at home. The Chinese government heavily censors the internet, so you’ll find most of the accounts you subscribe to at home are banned or simply won’t load.
A quality VPN also keeps your online activities safe from third-party surveillance. If you take your privacy seriously, then a VPN is essential for securing your personal data while in China.
Which free VPNs work in China?
I’ve tested dozens of free VPNs for China and I find Hide.me is decent enough for a free VPN. It keeps you safe in China with its strict no-logs policy, military-grade encryption, kill switch, and leak protection. However, like any other free VPN, you should expect frustrating limitations — Hide.me only provides 10GB of free data each month and 5 server locations.
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle, you’re better off using a premium VPN with a money-back guarantee. Based on rigorous tests, my team and I found ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market and for China. It’s a premium VPN but it does come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can use ExpressVPN for free for almost a month.
Are VPNs legal in China?
Government-approved VPNs are legal but heavily monitored. This obviously isn’t ideal for privacy reasons. The government bans all non-approved VPNs, which are actually the best VPNs to use in China as your data will be kept safe from the authorities.
In my research, almost all foreigners arrive in China with a non-approved VPN and there haven’t been any records of government action. The ban seems to apply more to Chinese nationals than foreigners. For instance, it’s unlikely that you’ll get into legal trouble if you’re a foreigner using ExpressVPN on a business trip in China. However, it’s much riskier for locals to use banned VPNs, especially in politically-sensitive areas like Xinjiang or Tibet.
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 certain external sites and applications, like Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Even for foreign websites that aren’t blocked, internet speeds can be significantly throttled.
Which sites and apps are blocked in China?
You can’t access Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Gmail, Google Maps, Spotify, Pinterest, Snapchat, Skype, Twitch, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC, and WordPress. Unfortunately, you’ll find that the majority of Western social networks, new sites, and media platforms are blocked in China.
Some blocks are based on location. For example, a website that’s restricted in Tibet might be available in the Sichuan province. However, widespread censorship is guaranteed during protests, scandals, and sensitive political dates. During these periods, you can expect heavy bandwidth throttling and a broader (but temporary) ban on all on all international sites.
Do VPNs work 100% in China?
Based on tests, ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, and VyprVPN are the most reliable options in China. However, it’s difficult to guarantee that even the best VPNs will work 100% of the time. The government conducts periodic crackdowns on VPN services, which means that you might find some servers are suddenly blocked. However, the VPNs on this list refresh their server networks on a regular basis, so you’ll never have to wait too long for a working connection.
Can I download VPNs when I’m already in China?
Yes, you can still download a VPN if you’re in China. It can be tricky though. Nearly all VPN websites are blocked, and the Google Play store and Amazon Appstore aren’t available. Even though the Apple App Store still works, all the local VPNs offered for iOS and Mac are heavily monitored by authorities.
You can download a government-approved VPN, but I strongly advise against this if you value your privacy and safety. All local VPNs must comply with Chinese laws and regulations, and your personal information could be shared with the government.
I highly recommend downloading a trustworthy VPN before you arrive. ExpressVPN is a reliable VPN that’s been proven to work in China — and you can install it beforehand so you’re prepared once you’re inside the country.
Can I watch Netflix in China?
Yes, Netflix is accessible from China if you have ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, or VyprVPN. Just launch your VPN, choose a server located in the country where you subscribed to Netflix, and you’ll be able to log in to your account in no time.
Do I need a VPN in Hong Kong and Taiwan?
You should definitely use a VPN in 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 a chance that internet freedom could be restricted in the future. Using a VPN keeps your internet unrestricted.
Be Careful! Not Every VPN Is Safe or Works in China
It’s essential to find a reliable and trustworthy VPN to use in China — but it’s not easy. Many safe VPNs struggle to access the free internet in China. Local VPNs that do work in China are government-approved and share your online activity with the authorities.
Based on my tests, I can confirm that ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, and VyprVPN are trustworthy and work well in China. You’ll enjoy secure and unlimited access to popular sites.
For long-term residents in China, I recommend ExpressVPN as every server works inside the country. You can try ExpressVPN completely risk-free since it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, you can always get a full refund.