3 Best VPNs for China That Still Work in 2023 (Tested Daily)

Kate Hawkins
Last Updated by Kate Hawkins on December 19, 2023 Fact-checked by Justyn Newman Fact-checked by Justyn Newman

China’s firewall restrictions have increased since the beginning of the pandemic, making it even harder to access your favorite content when visiting the country. To avoid being cut off from sites and apps like Google, WhatsApp, and Facebook, it’s important to get a VPN.

As many VPN websites are blocked, you must download a VPN before you arrive in China. Plus, you need a secure VPN that has been proven to work in China — using a government-approved VPN in China puts your privacy and security at risk.

After rigorously testing 30+ services, ExpressVPN proved to be the best choice for China, with fast speeds and top-tier security that masks your VPN traffic to avoid proxy detection. You can try ExpressVPN with no risk as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee — if you change your mind, you can get a full refund.

Use ExpressVPN in China

Quick Guide: Best VPNs That Still Work in China in 2024

  1. ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN for China that works consistently to access the free internet with fast speeds, strong security, and a zero-log privacy policy. Try ExpressVPN for yourself today!
  2. PrivateVPN — works in China and has a 30-day money-back guarantee, but the streaming quality is inconsistent.
  3. VyprVPN — has reliable apps but can’t access some popular websites from China.

What You Should Know About Using the Internet in China — VPNs and More

Using a VPN in China is the only way you’ll be able to access the sites and services you regularly use at home. However, getting a VPN is not all you should consider before you get online in China:

  • Where you stay may affect the online resources you can access — China’s geographical divisions, known as provinces, can have different online resources available based on their location. Some areas might completely block certain websites, while others might limit internet access to a few hours each day.
  • Consider getting a Chinese SIM card — check that your smartphone works in China, and pick a local SIM card to avoid roaming fees from your regular service provider.
  • Choose a reliable internet service provider (ISP) — In South China, China Telecom stands out as the most dependable choice, offering the highest speeds. If you’re in North China, China Unicom would be the ideal option, while Central China residents can consider China Mobile as a good alternative. It’s worth noting that these internet service providers (ISPs) have a tendency to restrict access to VPNs that are not approved by the government.
  • Get a VPN before you arrive in China — government restrictions block access to VPN websites, so you’ll find it difficult to download a VPN app once you’re inside the country. Make sure you download and set up your VPN before arriving so you won’t be stuck without one.

Bear in mind that even the top VPNs don’t always work 100% of the time in China, as the government is constantly searching for and blocking VPN IP addresses. Fortunately, the best VPNs for China (like ExpressVPN) regularly refresh their IPs, so even if you do experience some downtime, it won’t be for long.

3 Easy Steps: How to Use a VPN in China

  1. Subscribe to a VPN proven to work in China and download the app to your devices before you visit China. After rigorous testing, I recommend you try ExpressVPN in China for its reliable connections and fast speeds.
  2. Connect to a server recommended for users in China. Not all servers will work, so check with customer support before heading to China to find out which connections are the best choice.
  3. Start browsing freely! You can now access your favorite sites and local accounts when you’re 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.

The VPNs That Still Work in China — Don’t Waste Time With Others

1. ExpressVPN — #1 VPN for China With the Fastest and Most Reliable Server Network

Key Features:

  • Works consistently in China — servers in Hong Kong, India, Japan, the UK, the US, and more
  • Obfuscation on every server for access to Netflix, Instagram, Google, WhatsApp, and more
  • Top-tier security and privacy keep your activity safe and anonymous
  • Connects up to 8 devices at the same time
    30-day money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN is the top VPN on the market and the most reliable for connecting in China. Its success relies on high-level security and privacy features, including:

  • Military-grade encryption — protects your traffic within an unbreakable encrypted tunnel, so no prying eyes can see your location or online activity.
  • Data leak protection — stops DNS, IPv4, IPv6, and WebRTC data from leaking and exposing your information and true location.
  • Kill switch — secures your data in the event the VPN connection is interrupted.
  • Server obfuscation — VPN traffic is disguised as regular HTTPS traffic by default, avoiding detection by China’s Great Firewall.
  • Zero-log policy — strict policy confirmed by an independent audit and real-world scenario — ExpressVPN servers seized in Turkey were found to contain zero user data.
  • TrustedServer technology — RAM-based servers wipe all data with every scheduled reboot, so no user data is ever logged or stored.

With obfuscation on every server, ExpressVPN ensures your VPN traffic can avoid detection by China’s firewall. During tests, multiple servers were tested from China, and they all made successful connections. The best options are Hong Kong, Japan, and the US (New York).

I also found ExpressVPN can keep speeds fast across its global network. In my tests, speed loss was minimal — just 18% on average from my regular internet speeds. A colleague in China had an even smaller slowdown and could use the internet as though ExpressVPN wasn’t connected.

ExpressVPN speed test results Hong Kong screenshot

ExpressVPN easily keeps speed loss to a minimum

These fast speeds are due in part to ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol. This lightweight protocol is designed for top speeds and security, and Lightway gave me the best speeds during testing. It’s the default protocol and is available for use in China. ExpressVPN also features the OpenVPN protocol, which you can switch to in the Protocol menu.

With solid speeds, my team and I could stream and torrent with minimal lag or interruption. From China, ExpressVPN can access the following services:

Reddit Twitter Facebook WhatsApp New York Times
Netflix Disney+ Amazon Prime Video Hulu HBO Max
YouTube Skype BBC Wikipedia …and more!

However, I experienced lag when online gaming due to high ping (or latency), which is usually not an issue for ExpressVPN. This high ping is likely due to the ISP rather than the VPN. Just be aware that if you want to play fast-paced games like Call of Duty: Warzone when in China, you may have to try several servers to find one with low ping.

I found ExpressVPN’s apps quick to download and easy to use, with an intuitive interface that is identical across platforms. This made switching between my Windows PC and iPhone simple.

When I wanted to ask a question about the Lightway protocol, ExpressVPN’s email support responded to me in less than 30 minutes — the address is support@expressvpn.zendesk.com. As you can’t access ExpressVPN’s website in China, I was pleased that email support was so quick and detailed.

ExpressVPN customer support email response screenshot

ExpressVPN’s prompt and detailed email support is ideal for China

ExpressVPN is a little more expensive, but it’s worth the cost for a VPN that consistently provides reliable connections in China. Subscriptions start at $6.67 a month for a 1-year + 3 months plan, and they’re all backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Plus, you can pay with a credit card, PayPal, Bitcoin, and anonymous methods like Mint.

You can try ExpressVPN in China risk-free and get a full refund if you change your mind. Simply contact customer support (through live chat or email) and ask for a refund — it took a couple of minutes to request my money back, and it was in my account in less than 5 days.

ExpressVPN works on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Kindle Fire, Roku, routers, and more.

2024 Update! ExpressVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $6.67 per month for the 1-year plan + 3 months free (you can save up to 49%)! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it's gone. See more information on this offer here.

2. PrivateVPN — Top-Tier Security Features Keep Online Activities Private in China

Key Features:

  • Works well in China — best servers in Canada, Japan, and Taiwan
  • High-level security features include Stealth VPN and perfect forward secrecy
  • Military-grade encryption and zero-log policy secure your data
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

PrivateVPN is a small but powerful VPN for ensuring your online privacy in China. Its robust features include perfect forward secrecy (regularly changes server encryption keys to stop potential spies) and Stealth VPN (server obfuscation that helps you avoid China’s proxy detection). I found both are top choices for making secure connections in China.

PrivateVPN best stealth VPNs screenshot

Make sure Stealth VPN is active to ensure a connection from China

I was impressed to find PrivateVPN also uses the following features to secure your connection:

  • AES-256-bit encryption — protects all data within the secure tunnel.
  • Kill switch — blocks access to the internet if the VPN is interrupted, preventing your data from leaking.
  • Leak protection — stops DNS and IPv6 data from leaking to protect your location and activity data.
  • Zero-log policy — ensures PrivateVPN won’t log or store your data when connected to the VPN servers.

Initially, I was skeptical about PrivateVPN’s headquarters in Sweden — part of the 14 Eyes Alliance — until I read the privacy policy that confirms the VPN won’t log any of your data. Sweden exempts VPNs from collecting data, so you can rest assured your information is safe. However, PrivateVPN has yet to undergo an independent audit to confirm its policy.

You can choose from PrivateVPN’s solid selection of 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. During tests, PrivateVPN could access sites and services like:

Netflix Disney+ Amazon Prime Video Hulu
YouTube Twitter WhatsApp …and more!

I suggest contacting customer support to find out which servers have the most reliable connections from China. You can get in touch by email at support@privatevpn.com and expect a response in less than 90 minutes.

PrivateVPN’s apps are almost identical across platforms, making them easy to navigate on all of your devices. I found downloading and setting up PrivateVPN was quick, even when configuring a connection on devices like a smart TV or streaming box that doesn’t support a VPN app. On every device, I was ready to connect in about 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, PrivateVPN’s speeds were slow. During tests, speeds were around 60% slower on average, with lags and buffering when trying to stream. Slower speeds are caused by Stealth VPN obfuscation, but waiting a few seconds for content to load is worth it for top-tier security. If you want a VPN mainly for streaming in China, try ExpressVPN instead.

Of all the recommended VPNs for China, PrivateVPN is the most affordable at just $2.00/month for its 3-year plan — it’s one of the top choice monthly VPNs if you only need a VPN for a short time, and you can pay with a credit card, PayPal, or anonymously with Bitcoin.

Plus, you can try PrivateVPN in China risk-free as every plan has a 30-day money-back guarantee. You have to give a reason for canceling — in my email request, I said I no longer needed the service — and had my money back in 5 days.

PrivateVPN works on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV, routers, and more.

3. VyprVPN — Proprietary Chameleon Technology Easily Gets Around China’s Firewall

Key Features:

  • Works well in China — recommended servers in Hong Kong
  • Chameleon technology masks data from DPI inspection and uses Smart IP to regularly switch IP addresses
  • Military-grade security, kill switch, leak protection, and audited zero-log policy
  • Supports 10 devices at the same time
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

VyprVPN’s Chameleon technology is ideal for China, with multiple layers of security that easily get around the Great Firewall. Running on the secure protocol OpenVPN, Chameleon scrambles the data packet metadata of your online traffic, ensuring the VPN is undetectable through DPI. I found it’s easy to switch to Chameleon in VyprVPN’s “Customize” menu.

VyprVPN Chameleon protocol screenshot

VyprVPN’s Chameleon protocol is the best option for China

VyprVPN also has the following security and privacy features:

  • Military-grade encryption — all traffic is secured within an encrypted tunnel, away from prying eyes, hackers, and your ISP.
  • Data leak protection — stops DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC data from leaking and exposing your identity and location.
  • Smart IP — regularly changes your IP address without interrupting your connection, making it impossible to trace you.
  • Audited zero-log policy — independent audit confirms VyprVPN’s no-log policy is accurate.
  • Owns and operates the entire server network — reduces the chance of third-party interference or vulnerabilities.

With headquarters in Switzerland, VyprVPN is located in a country with robust data security outside the Eyes Alliance networks. Switzerland occasionally engages in intelligence-sharing but does not force VPNs to store your data, so you don’t have to worry about VyprVPN sharing your data.

You’ll find VyprVPN has servers close to China in Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan, plus other options 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 movies and connect with friends online, VyprVPN can access:

Netflix Disney+ HBO Max
YouTube Twitter …and more!

VyprVPN is also a good choice for P2P file-sharing, with a built-in malware blocker on macOS and Android (version 7 or below) to protect against malicious websites. Plus, all apps have a split tunneling feature which I configured with uTorrent to securely download public domain content.

There are VyprVPN apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and other platforms, and they all work well in China. Servers stay connected reliably with no drop-outs, and its apps don’t crash or display annoying error messages even on a maximum of 10 devices.

The only downside is that VyprVPN is missing some key features that other top-tier providers have as standard. You won’t find tools like multi-hop, Tor compatibility, or a SOCKS5 proxy, which would be useful for secure connections in China.

VyprVPN starts at $5.00/month for a 1-year plan, which I think is a reasonable price for high-quality security that works in China. If you’d like to try VyprVPN in China before you commit to a subscription, you can test the service risk-free with its money-back guarantee. If you change your mind, you can claim a refund within 30 days.

VyprVPN works on Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Blackphone, Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, routers, and more.

Comparison Table: 2024’s Best VPNs for China

ExpressVPN PrivateVPN VyprVPN
Server Obfuscation
Servers Close to China Hong Kong, India, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan Hong Kong, India, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan Hong Kong, India, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan
Zero-Log Policy
Audited

Not Audited

Audited
Protocols for China Lightway L2TP Chameleon
Access to Streaming Services Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, YouTube, and more Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more Netflix, Disney+, Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more
Lowest Price $6.67/month $2.00/month $5.00/month
Money-Back Guarantee 30 days 30 days 30 days
Top Tip for China Set the protocol to “Automatic” Switch on the Stealth VPN feature Use the Chameleon protocol

How I Tested and Ranked the Best VPNs 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. To make sure you get the best service for China, I rigorously tested the leading VPNs in 2024 and ranked them using the following criteria:

  • Reliably works in China — each service underwent testing of multiple servers to ensure the VPN could make a reliable, secure connection from inside China that avoids The Great Firewall’s restrictions.
  • Servers — a global server network with connections near China (in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and more) provides more reliable service and improves speeds by keeping user congestion low.
  • Speed — multiple speed tests were run on various global servers to check for consistently fast speeds with low latency. The best VPNs can keep speed loss to a minimum.
  • Security features — each VPN was checked for military-grade encryption, data leak protection, a kill switch, and server obfuscation. These keep your data secure and help avoid detection by China’s internet restrictions.
  • Privacy policy — I read each VPN’s privacy policy to ensure it won’t keep any identifying logs when you’re connected to its servers. Some top VPNs have undergone independent audits to prove they won’t log or store data.
  • Access to popular sites — the VPNs were tested by visiting popular sites and services, like Netflix, Google, Facebook, and YouTube, and checking that they could be accessed from inside China. I also looked at streaming quality and how easy it was to torrent using P2P file-sharing.
  • Device connections — the VPNs are compatible with popular platforms like Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android and they support connections on several devices at the same time.
  • Customer support — as live chat won’t be accessible in China, I tested each VPN’s alternative support methods, especially email ticketing. I looked for detailed answers to technical questions and prompt responses in less than 4 hours.

The Great Firewall of China and How to Get Around It

The Great Firewall of China plays a crucial role in the Chinese internet landscape. It incorporates a range of technologies designed to filter and restrict specific online content. This formidable system employs five distinct methods:

  1. IP Filtering — detects and blocks IP addresses linked to specific websites.
  2. DNS Spoofing — diverts your online traffic away from your intended destination to another website, essentially blocking access.
  3. URL and Keyword Filtering — detects and blocks specific URLs and keywords found on websites.
  4. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) — examines the headers within data packets to detect the IP address and block access if the website is restricted.
  5. Manual Censorship — thousands of Chinese workers manually search for, check, and block websites and content.

These internet restriction methods mean China’s Great Firewall is extremely difficult to get around. Fortunately, there are a few top-tier VPNs that have the technology to avoid detection.

How the Best VPNs for China Get Around the Great Firewall

To bypass the Great Firewall, the leading VPNs for China employ a combination of strategies that involve top-tier encryption and server obfuscation. These factors work in unison to ensure effective circumvention of the restrictions imposed by the Great Firewall.

By encrypting your traffic within a secure tunnel, a VPN stops the Great Firewall from seeing your location and online activity. Your traffic travels from your device to the VPN’s server in a different location (like Hong Kong), letting you avoid China’s restrictions. This also stops the Great Firewall from detecting your online destination, so it won’t block access.

However, China’s detection technology is sophisticated and can often detect VPN connections; DPI, for example, can expose VPN behaviors and lead to the connection being blocked. As such, the best VPNs for China use server obfuscation to hide VPN traffic. Instead, your traffic is masked as regular HTTPS traffic, which can travel without inspection.

VPN Not Connecting in China? Try These Troubleshooting Tips

Even the best VPN services will struggle from time to time since China often implements new methods of VPN detection. 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 — before arriving in China, 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 — it’s possible the server you’re using is blocked, but others in the same location aren’t. Head to the server list and pick a different server to see if 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. Be aware that some VPNs, like PrivateVPN, only support 1 protocol for connections from China.
  • 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.

Here’s a tip: Before you go to China, ask your VPN for a list of recommended servers to use in China and note down the customer support email address. Once you’re in China, the VPN’s website will be blocked, so you won’t have access anymore.

Popular VPNs That Don’t Work in China (Tested 2024)

After rigorous and regular testing, I can confirm that none of these VPNs consistently work in China:

CyberGhost PIA IPVanish Proton VPN
NordVPN Surfshark TunnelBear PureVPN

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.

The Dangers of Using Government-Approved VPNs in China

I strongly recommend you don’t download a VPN you see advertised when you’re visiting China. The only VPNs available to download in China are government-approved, and almost guaranteed to share your browsing history and personal information with the local authorities.

In China, using a government-approved VPN for restricted activities is dangerous, and you could face prosecution or jail time for accessing censored sites. In 2018, a Chinese citizen was caught illegally watching adult content using the Shadowrocket VPN. This VPN was likely leaking user data to the police, which led to the citizen’s arrest.

The only VPNs that are truly secure are those that are not government-approved, like ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, and VyprVPN. These VPNs have a strict no-logs policy, which means they do not store any data about your online activity. This makes it impossible for anyone, including the government, to track you when you’re using the internet.

It is important to note that using a VPN does not allow you to commit illegal acts. If you are caught doing something illegal, such as watching adult content, using a VPN will not protect you from prosecution.

FAQs on VPNs in China

What are the best VPNs for China?

The best VPNs for China in 2024 are ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, and VyprVPN. After rigorous and continued testing, these are the top services that reliably work in China, providing top-tier security and privacy to help you access your favorite sites and services.

Can I download VPNs when I’m already in China?

Yes, you can still download a VPN if you’re in China. However, it isn’t easy — 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 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 that you download 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.

Top Tip: If you can’t download a VPN before you arrive, try contacting customer support by email to ask for a link to a mirror site. A service like ExpressVPN regularly changes its mirror site links to avoid detection, and customer support responds quickly to email requests — support@expressvpn.zendesk.com.

Are VPNs legal in China?

Government-approved VPNs are legal but heavily monitored, but this obviously isn’t ideal for privacy reasons. However, the best VPNs to use in China are not government-approved, as these won’t log or share data with the Chinese government. As such, it isn’t technically legal to use one of these VPNs in China.

According to my research, most visitors arrive in China with a VPN, and there aren’t any records of government action. The ban seems to apply more to Chinese nationals, although it’s widely known that Chinese businesses use VPNs to network securely.

Ultimately, you should be cautious when using a VPN in China and make sure you’re aware of local regulations before you connect.

Can you get in trouble for using a VPN in China?

It’s unlikely that you’ll get into legal trouble if you’re a foreigner using a VPN, even non-government-approved VPNs like the top choices listed here. Legal issues and repercussions are targeted more toward citizens, and it’s much riskier for locals to use banned VPNs, especially in politically-sensitive areas like Xinjiang or Tibet.

It’s important to note that using a VPN doesn’t give you the right to perform any acts that are illegal in China, like sharing copyrighted content or online gambling. My team and I don’t condone any illegal activity and recommend being aware of local laws before using a VPN in China.

Why do I need a VPN for China?

With a high-quality 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 premium 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.

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 and the reason you need a VPN when you travel to China. Some of the techniques used include:

  • Blocking VPNs and VPN websites — Any VPN that isn’t government-approved is restricted from use, including access to the VPN website. This makes it harder to download VPNs, so make sure you’ve downloaded your VPN before arriving in China.
  • Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) — identifies data packets with VPN encryption and blocks them from accessing the internet.
  • URL Filtering — restricts specific URLs and blocks websites that contain specific unapproved keywords.
  • DNS Tampering — intercepts DNS requests for specific websites and blocks them.

These regulations stop 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.

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 regularly, so you’ll never have to wait too long for a working connection.

Which VPN country should I use when in China?

Ideally, you want to connect to VPN servers in countries close to China. Locations like Hong Kong, India, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan are all good choices. Connecting to a nearby country means you get a faster, more reliable connection.

However, if you want to access your local Netflix US account or stream on BBC iPlayer, you’ll have to pick a server in your home country — just be prepared for slower speeds.

All the top VPNs for China have servers in these countries, so you’ll find you can quickly connect and start browsing the internet freely.

What VPN protocol should I use in China?

Always use a secure protocol, like Lightway, OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2, or LT2P when connecting in China. The top VPNs all offer highly-secure connection protocols that are well-established and known for strong protection and reliable speeds. You should try using your VPN’s automatic protocol first, as this is the best way to connect consistently.

I also recommend using your VPN’s server obfuscation, as this helps avoid VPN detection by the Great Firewall. Obfuscation disguises your VPN traffic to look like regular traffic, so it won’t be inspected. Every ExpressVPN server is obfuscated for ease of use, and PrivateVPN and VyprVPN offer obfuscation as Stealth VPN and the Chameleon protocol.

Can I bypass the Great Firewall of China without a VPN?

You can, but other methods to get around the Great Firewall aren’t as secure and don’t always work. If you can’t get a top-tier VPN for China and need to bypass the Great Firewall, here are a few options you can try:

  1. Proxies (Shadowsocks) — Proxies disguise your IP address but don’t encrypt your connection — you can access restricted sites, but the Great Firewall will see what you’re doing. For greater overall security, you should use Shadowsocks, which operates with the SOCKS5 protocol.
  2. Lantern — This is open-source P2P software that lets volunteer users in unrestricted countries share bandwidth with users in countries like China. However, Lantern provides no anonymity or encryption.
  3. Mirror Sites — The website you want to access may have a “mirror” site or copy of the original site using a different URL. You can still visit the site if the URL isn’t blocked by China’s firewall.
  4. FreeBrowser — Only for Android — A free web browser designed to navigate around online restrictions. However, it’s only a web browser, so your other activity (using apps, messaging, and more) will be restricted or blocked.
  5. Tor — A free browser that provides a level of anonymity by routing your connection through a network of volunteer devices (or “nodes”). However, since it doesn’t offer encryption and is heavily blocked in China, I don’t recommend using the Tor browser.

Ultimately, none of these options provide the reliable, secure, and anonymous connections of a VPN.

Why is my VPN slow in China?

Using a VPN connection in China will inevitably slow your speeds, but only a small amount. To get around China’s restrictions, your VPN needs to use high-level encryption and obfuscation on its servers. This slows your connection as your traffic has to travel further. The best VPNs mitigate this slowdown, so you only have a small speed reduction.

You may notice more of an impact as China’s existing internet speeds can be slow, depending on where you are in the country and which ISP you’re using. To keep your speed loss at a minimum, connect to servers in nearby countries and choose a VPN with consistently fast speeds, like ExpressVPN.

Why does China block most VPNs?

China’s government blocks VPNs like the options listed here to maintain a high level of online restriction for its citizens. The Chinese government considers a lot of online content, like pornography and gambling, to be detrimental to the well-being of the country.

China’s regime also prohibits access to content that speaks poorly about the government and the country, which a VPN would allow access to. This means using one of the VPNs listed above is prohibited in China.

China only allows government-approved VPNs, as these record the online activity of the VPN users and send it to the government for monitoring purposes. Foreigners entering the country with VPNs may find servers are blocked but are unlikely to face any legal repercussions.

Which sites and apps are blocked in China?

There are many blocked websites and apps in China, and new sites are being restricted every day. Here are just some that you can’t access without a secure and private VPN service:

Streaming Sites

YouTube, Twitch, Vimeo, Hulu, HBO, Vevo, Dailymotion, Spotify, and more. Some sites, like Netflix and Disney+, aren’t blocked but won’t display any content when you log in as they are unavailable to locals.

Social Networks and Messaging

Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, WhatsApp, Twitter, Tinder, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Pinterest are all blocked in China.

Search Engines

Google, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGO are unavailable in China.

VPN, Proxy, and Other Restriction-Bypassing Sites

ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, VyprVPN, DNS proxies, and other sites and apps that circumnavigate online restrictions are all blocked.

File-Sharing Sites

Imgur, Dropbox, Google Drive, and all torrent sites are blocked.

News and Information Sites

The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, WordPress, The Guardian, Wikipedia, and more are inaccessible in China.

Site and app blocking isn’t always consistent across China. Some content may be available in other provinces, or the block may be temporary during protests or political events. In Hong Kong, restrictions are less tight, but Chinese law applies there — many VPN providers shut down servers in Hong Kong to protect users from changes to the law in 2019.

Will I be able to access the Google Play and Apple App Store in China?

You can access the Apple App Store in China, but not Google Play — all Google services are blocked in China. This is why it’s so important to download your VPN before you arrive in China, otherwise, you won’t be able to access your VPN provider’s app.

Apple’s App Store is available in China, but it’s heavily restricted and monitored by the government. Many popular apps aren’t available as only government-approved apps are allowed. You won’t find your VPN app there either — in 2017, services like ExpressVPN and VyprVPN were removed following an order to ban non-approved VPNs from app stores.

Can I watch Netflix in China?

Yes, Netflix is accessible from China if you have ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, or VyprVPN. You won’t be able to stream using your Netflix account without a VPN, as Netflix doesn’t have a licensing agreement with China — you can log in and view the site, but no content will be available (not even Netflix Originals).

Fortunately, you can use a VPN to start streaming on Netflix in China, and it only takes a few steps:

  1. Launch your VPN.
  2. Choose a server located in the country where you subscribed to Netflix.
  3. Start streaming your favorite content!

Do I need a VPN in Hong Kong and Taiwan?

You should definitely use a VPN to secure your connections when 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 it’s still in your best interest to use one for data security.

In Hong Kong, internet regulations are much freer. Still, after the 2019 protests, there’s a chance that internet freedom could be restricted in the future — multiple VPN providers disabled their Hong Kong servers to protect their users from new security laws. I suggest using a VPN to keep your internet unrestricted.

Do any free VPNs work in China?

Some free VPNs work in China, but I don’t recommend using a free service over a tried-and-tested premium VPN. Free VPNs come with frustrating limitations, like speed restrictions and data caps, and most don’t have the security features to avoid detection by China’s Great Firewall.

I tested the leading free VPNs for China in 2024 and while they can establish a connection, you may have issues with slow speeds, accessing streaming platforms, and small data allowances.

Instead, I recommend you use a premium service with unlimited data and bandwidth, reliably fast speeds, and top-tier features for easy connections from China. While they’re not free, each VPN comes with a money-back guarantee so you can purchase a plan with confidence. If you’re not satisfied with the service, you can get a full refund.

Be Careful! Not Every VPN Is Safe or Works in China

When considering VPN options for use within China, it becomes crucial to locate a dependable and reputable VPN service. However, this task is far from straightforward. Despite the existence of several secure VPNs, the challenge lies in their ability to reliably connect to the unrestricted internet within China’s borders. I want to emphasize that the government in China officially approves specific VPNs within the country, allowing them to operate. However, this approval involves sharing users’ online activities 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.


Summary: These Are the Best VPNs 100% Working in China (2024)

Top Ranked Top Choice
ExpressVPN
6.67 / month Save 49%
PrivateVPN
2.00 / month Save 83%
VyprVPN
5.00 / year Save 50%

We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.

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