3 Best VPNs for China: Still Working (Tested in 2024)

Reading time: 15 min

  • Kate Hawkins

    Written by: Kate Hawkins Content Editor

  • Justyn Newman

    Fact-Checked by Justyn Newman Head Content Manager

Many VPNs claim to work in China, but most VPNs simply can’t avoid China’s tough proxy detection methods to establish secure, reliable connections. This makes choosing the right VPN tricky, as you may pick a service that doesn’t protect your data. Even more confusingly, there are plenty of reviews giving different opinions on which VPNs work.

My team and I tested more than 50 top services and found a handful of VPNs with robust features that work reliably in China. However, it’s important to know that even the best VPNs don’t always work 100% of the time due to China’s ever-evolving Great Firewall.

Of these VPNs, ExpressVPN is the top choice for China with strong security, privacy and fast speeds. Connections are consistent and reliable despite China’s constant proxy detection updates. Plus, all plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try ExpressVPN in China

Editor’s note: Non-government-approved VPNs (like those listed below) are not permitted for use in China. However, there are no reports of visitors being prosecuted for using one. My team and I don’t condone using VPNs in a way that breaks the law, including accessing sites that are blocked in China. Please be aware of local laws and understand the risks before you connect.

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

  1. ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN for China that works consistently, with reliable, fast connections, strong security, and a zero-log privacy policy.
  2. PrivateVPN — works in China with local server connections and powerful security, but slow speeds aren’t ideal for high-bandwidth activities like streaming.
  3. VyprVPN — Chameleon protocol helps avoid proxy detection in China, but its privacy policy isn’t clear on what data is used by the service.

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

1. ExpressVPN — Most Secure and Reliable Connections for China

Key Features:

  • Works consistently in China — servers in Hong Kong, India, Japan, and more
  • Obfuscation on every server keeps VPN use hidden and data secure
  • Connect up to 8 devices at the same time
  • Email support is available at support@expressvpn.zendesk.com
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN is the top VPN for secure and reliable connections in China. Its suite of robust security features protects your data, ensuring you can browse online without being tracked or experiencing interruptions. During tests, my connections were stable — I didn’t experience any reliability issues, even when using long-distance servers. Features include:

  • Military-grade encryption — protects your traffic within an AES-256-bit/ChaCha20 encryption, so no prying eyes can see your location or online activity.
  • Automatic server obfuscation — VPN traffic is disguised as regular HTTPS traffic by default, avoiding detection by China’s restrictions.
  • Data leak protection — stops DNS, IPv4, IPv6, and WebRTC data from leaking and exposing your information and true location.
  • Advanced protection — includes ad, malware, and tracker blockers to protect you from malicious actors and online trackers.
  • Kill switch — secures your data if the VPN connection is interrupted.
  • Zero-log privacy policy — independent audits and RAM-based servers guarantee your data is never logged or stored.

I expected ExpressVPN’s strong security to impact speeds, but ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN available in 2024. During my tests, slowdown was minimal across the server network thanks to its unique Lightway protocol. You’ll find both local and long-distance servers are reliably fast for streaming, browsing, or playing online games like COD: Warzone.

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Local and long-distance ExpressVPN servers maintain fast speeds

I was pleased to find ExpressVPN supports a range of platforms and operating systems, making it easy to install and set up on your devices. It even has router support for devices that don’t support VPN apps. This means you can set up a connection on your smart TV, game console, or any device that uses a WiFi connection.

If you’re already in China, ExpressVPN has a mirror site available so you can subscribe and download its apps inside the country. As the address changes pretty frequently, you’ll need to contact customer support by email (support@expressvpn.zendesk.com) to get the latest version.

While ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than other options, I think it’s worth the extra cost for reliable and working connections in China. Plans start at $6.67/month for a 1-year + 3 months subscription, and all plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee. Plus, ExpressVPN accepts payment through UnionPay, so you can subscribe from China.

ExpressVPN works with: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Max, YouTube, Wikipedia, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, New York Times, and more.

ExpressVPN works on: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Nvidia Shield, Xiaomi Mi Box, Chromecast, Roku, Android TVs, smart TVs, 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 — Small but Powerful VPN That Works in China

Key Features:

  • Works in China — servers in Japan and Taiwan
  • Security features include Stealth VPN and perfect forward secrecy
  • Connect 10 devices simultaneously
  • Email support available at support@privatevpn.com
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

PrivateVPN has a small but robust network that works reliably in China. Perfect forward secrecy regularly changes encryption keys to ward off potential spies. Plus, Stealth VPN obfuscation makes it possible to establish a secure connection to access the full web while inside the Great Firewall. Just make sure you switch it on before connecting.

Image of PrivateVPN's Windows app, highlighting the Stealth VPN obfuscation settings.

Stealth VPN obfuscation ensures private and reliable connections

Other security and privacy features that benefit your connections in China include:

  • Optimized server connection for China — PrivateVPN has a dedicated Hong Kong server specifically to support connections from China.
  • AES-256-bit encryption — protects all data within the secure tunnel.
  • L2TP protocol — recommended for use in China as it’s less easily detected than other protocols (like OpenVPN).
  • 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.

You’ll find PrivateVPN’s apps are almost identical across platforms, making it easy to navigate across devices. I found downloading and setting up PrivateVPN was quick, even on devices that don’t support a VPN app — it took around 5 minutes to connect.

With a smaller network (just 200 servers worldwide), PrivateVPN’s speeds are pretty slow. I noticed a bigger drop than other VPNs (up to 60% from my base speed on some occasions), which was caused by Stealth VPN obfuscation. However, waiting a few seconds for content to load isn’t a huge issue when prioritizing security.

Unfortunately, PrivateVPN doesn’t have a mirror site to access its apps when in China. However, this is a small con when it’s a very affordable option at just $2.00/month for a 3-year plan. It’s also one of the best monthly VPNs if you only need one for a short time. Plus, all plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

PrivateVPN works with: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, Twitter, WhatsApp, and more.

PrivateVPN works on: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Nvidia Shield, Xiaomi Mi Box, Chromecast, Roku, Android TVs, smart TVs, routers, and more.

3. VyprVPN — Chameleon Technology Widens Internet Access in China

Key Features:

  • Works in China — recommended servers in Hong Kong
  • Chameleon technology masks data, plus Smart IP regularly switches IP addresses
  • Supports 10 device connections
  • Email support available at support@vyprvpn.com
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

VyprVPN’s Chameleon technology is ideal for China, with multiple layers of security that avoid proxy detection. Running on the secure OpenVPN protocol, 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.

Image of VyprVPN's Windows app, showing the Chameleon protocol settings.

VyprVPN’s Chameleon protocol is the best option for China

To further protect your connections in China, VyprVPN also has the following features:

  • Smart IP — regularly changes your IP address without interrupting your connection, making it impossible to trace you.
  • 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.
  • Owns and operates entire server network — reduces the chance of third-party interference, providing excellent security and solid uptime.

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.

While VyprVPN isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, speeds are still fast. During tests, my speeds were fast enough for UHD streaming on every connection I tried. Long-distance servers are slower than local connections, so I recommend using VyprVPN’s Hong Kong server for the best speeds.

My issue with VyprVPN is that it hasn’t had an independent audit since it was bought by Certida. The company is now headquartered in the US (privacy-unfriendly), and its privacy policy is generic sitewide rather than VPN-specific. This leaves room for doubt about how it could be using your data.

If you’re in China and want to check out VyprVPN, it has a mirror site available and accepts payments through UnionPay. Plans start at $3.00 per month, which I think is reasonable for high-quality security that works in China. All plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

VyprVPN works with: Netflix, Disney+, Max, YouTube, Twitter, and more.

VyprVPN works on: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Nvidia Shield, Xiaomi Mi Box, Chromecast, Roku, Android TVs, smart TVs, 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
Audited Zero-Log Policy

Not Audited

Protocols for China Lightway L2TP Chameleon
Chinese Payment Option

Lowest Price $6.67/month $2.00/month $3.00/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

I tested the top VPNs in 2024 to find working services for China and ranked them according to test results in the following criteria:

  • Works reliably in China — each VPN has undergone rigorous testing to ensure reliable working connections from China.
  • Nearby server connections — local servers (in locations like Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore) provide faster speeds and stable connections.
  • Fast speeds — to enjoy smooth connections for streaming, browsing, and other online activities, only VPNs with consistently fast speeds are suitable for China.
  • Top security features — military-grade encryption, server obfuscation, leak protection, and a kill switch are all essential features to protect your connections on China’s networks.
  • Strict privacy policy — a guaranteed zero-log policy ensures your online activity and personal data won’t be saved or shared by your VPN.
  • Easy to use — each recommended VPN has simple apps that are quick to download and available on multiple platforms to suit your needs.
  • Customer support — with no live chat available in China, it’s vital to choose a VPN with responsive email support that replies quickly (ideally within 2 hours).

3 Easy Steps: How to Use a VPN in China

  1. Subscribe to a VPN proven to work in China. Make sure you download a top service like ExpressVPN before you arrive in China, as you won’t be able to access the VPN websites in the country.
  2. Connect to a nearby server recommended for users in China. Not all servers will work, so contact customer service to find the most reliable connections if you’re not sure or having connection problems.
  3. Start browsing securely. You can rest assured your online activity and personal data are safe and private when you’re in China.

VPN Not Connecting in China? Try These Troubleshooting Tips

Even the best VPN services will struggle from time to time as China often implements new methods of VPN detection. Below are some easy fixes that could help you re-establish a working connection:

  • Update the VPN software — before arriving in China, ensure you’ve got the latest version of the VPN app, as new updates could prevent issues you may have.
  • Connect to a new server — the server you’re using may be blocked, but others in the same location aren’t — pick a different server to see if it works.
  • Change the VPN protocol — in your VPN settings, you should find a section for “Protocol” to choose a different one for your connection. 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.
  • Disconnect other VPNs — if you have several VPNs on your device, make sure the others aren’t connected to avoid conflicts between the software.
  • Email customer service — You can contact your VPN’s customer support team for assistance using an email service that isn’t blocked (like Outlook).

Top Tip: Before you travel to China, ask your VPN’s customer support for a list of servers that are recommended for China, and make a note of the support email address. Once you’re in China, the VPN’s website will likely be blocked, so you won’t be able to access it without a working VPN.

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

Unfortunately, these VPNs don’t work consistently in China:

CyberGhost PIA  NordVPN  Surfshark
 IPVanish  PureVPN Proton VPN StrongVPN

China’s proxy detection and firewall technology is constantly improving, and even top VPNs can’t always stay ahead of the restrictions.

Only ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, and VyprVPN reliably and consistently connect in China during tests. On the odd occasion these VPNs can’t connect, the providers quickly add new servers and IP addresses to use.

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

Here are some tips and information you should consider before you go online in China:

  • Where you stay may affect the online resources you can access — China’s provinces can have different online resources available based on location. Some areas completely block certain websites, while others might only limit access.
  • 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 provider.
  • Choose a reliable internet service provider (ISP) — in South China, China Telecom stands out as the most dependable choice. In North China, China Unicom would be the ideal option, while China Mobile is a good choice for Central China.
  • Avoid public WiFi — public WiFi is notoriously risky to use, with hackers and spies targeting networks to steal data and track your activity.
  • Don’t use local apps — Chinese apps, including VPNs, collect and share data with the government, which compromises your data security.
  • Keep your VPN on at all times — it’s important to choose a VPN with unlimited data and bandwidth, so you can keep your connection active constantly to maintain data security.

FAQs on VPNs in China

Are VPNs legal in China?

It depends on the VPN. Government-approved VPNs are always legal but they’re not ideal for private connections or accessing blocked websites. However, the best VPNs for China aren’t government-approved, so they are technically illegal to use there, as they won’t log or share data with the Chinese government.

Most visitors to China arrive in the country with a VPN, and it’s unlikely you’ll get into legal trouble if you’re a tourist in the country. Legal repercussions are rare and are targeted more towards citizens, especially in politically sensitive areas like Xinjiang or Tibet.

Using a VPN doesn’t give you the right to perform acts that are illegal in China, like accessing blocked services, sharing copyrighted content, or online gambling. My team and I don’t condone illegal activity, so make sure you’re aware of local laws before using a VPN in China.

Why do I need a VPN for China?

A high-quality VPN secures your online activities from third-party surveillance, which is essential when in China. The government has very invasive internet surveillance, so an unsecured connection leaves your activity and personal information exposed and easily monitored.

It’s also a good idea to use a VPN in China to boost your overall security. Cyber threats and malicious actors exist on public WiFi networks, and phishing scams, fake links, and viruses are widespread. A VPN connection keeps your data and devices secure, even on public WiFi, for your peace of mind.

Can I just use a Chinese VPN when in China?

I don’t recommend using a government-approved VPN in China. Unlike the top VPNs for China, Chinese VPNs are heavily regulated and monitored by the government. They are required to log and share user data with the authorities, which defeats the purpose of using a VPN in the first place. You won’t have any online privacy or security when browsing online.

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 connection settings should I use in China?

To get the best security and privacy when using a VPN in China, here are the recommended settings for your connection:

  • Turn on your kill switch to make sure your data isn’t exposed if the VPN connection is interrupted.
  • Check that your data isn’t leaking by running an IP leak test — you can use an IP checker like this one.
  • Use a secure protocol like Lightway, OpenVPN, WireGuard, or LT2P — try using your VPN’s automatic protocol first, as this is the best way to connect consistently.
  • Use obfuscated servers, as these help avoid VPN detection by China’s network by disguising your VPN traffic to look like regular traffic.
  • Connect to a nearby server in a country like Hong Kong, Japan, India, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, or Taiwan to keep connection speeds fast.

Are there alternatives to VPNs to use in China?

There are some alternatives, but they aren’t as secure, and they don’t always work. If you can’t get a top-tier VPN for China, you can try these options:

  1. Proxies (Shadowsocks) — Proxies disguise your IP address but don’t encrypt your connection. You can connect to sites and services without giving away your true location, but your activity can (and will) be monitored.
  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, letting you still visit the site when in China.
  4. FreeBrowser — Only for Android — A free web browser designed to navigate around online restrictions. However, other activities (like apps and messaging) will still be restricted or blocked.

Why is my VPN slow in China?

Your connection may be slow in China due to network restrictions and limited bandwidth for connections to sites outside of the country. However, the best VPNs for China will only slow your speeds a small amount, as they’re designed to keep speeds fast while maintaining top security.

You may notice more of an impact as China’s internet can be slow depending on your location and your ISP. To keep speed loss to a minimum, connect to servers in nearby countries and choose a VPN with consistently fast speeds.

Which sites and apps are blocked in China?

There are many blocked websites and apps in China, with more being restricted every day. It’s technically possible to access these using a VPN, but my team and I don’t condone this behavior as it goes against the local laws.

  • Streaming sites like YouTube, Twitch, Vimeo, Hulu, HBO, Vevo, Dailymotion, and Spotify.
  • Social networks and messaging like Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, WhatsApp, Twitter, Tinder, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
  • Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGO.
  • VPN, proxy, and other similar sites like ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN, VyprVPN, DNS proxies, and other sites and apps that circumnavigate online restrictions.
  • File-sharing sites like Imgur, Dropbox, Google Drive, and all torrent sites.
  • News and information sites like The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, WordPress, The Guardian, and Wikipedia.

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 might not 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.

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. These countries, plus Macau, aren’t under the jurisdiction of China’s Great Firewall. Popular sites can be accessed without a VPN, but it’s still in your best interest to use one for data security.

China still controls Taiwan, but internet censorship is far less intense. 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 VPNs disabled their Hong Kong servers to protect users from new security laws.

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 strong network restrictions.

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

Instead, I recommend you use a premium service in China. You’ll have unlimited data and bandwidth, reliably fast speeds, and strong security to protect your data and activity. While they’re not free, most VPNs comes with a money-back guarantee — if you’re not satisfied with the service, you can get a full refund.

What is “The Great Firewall of China”, and why does it block VPNs?

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.
  • 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.

China’s government blocks non-approved VPNs 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.

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

Finding a reliable VPN for China is a challenge, with so many providers claiming they work. The truth is even the best VPNs don’t work 100% of the time due to China’s constant upgrades to its detection technology. However, there are a select few VPNs that consistently work to establish secure and private connections.

Of the VPNs tested, ExpressVPN is the best choice for China, known for its robust security and reliably fast speeds. Every plan is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it for yourself. If you’re not satisfied, you can get a full refund.

Summary: These Are the Best VPNs for China (2024)

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