5 Best FREE VPNs for China (100% Working in 2024)

Rosemary S Siluvai Anthony
Last Updated by Rosemary S Siluvai Anthony on May 28, 2024 Fact-checked by Justyn Newman Fact-checked by Justyn Newman

Even some premium VPNs struggle against the Great Firewall of China unless they have super-advanced obfuscation technology to hide your VPN use. Free VPNs rarely work in China because they often don’t offer this tech, plus they tend not to have the funds to upgrade their servers and stealth features.

Additionally, most free VPN services have several limitations, employ business models that pose privacy risks, and lack adequate security measures. When dealing with your personal data in China, it’s essential to avoid unnecessary risks. After conducting extensive research, I’ve discovered a few reliable free VPN choices that work well in China’s online environment.

However, I recommend you get a premium VPN like ExpressVPN for China because even the very best free VPNs can’t match ExpressVPN’s automatic obfuscation tech, speeds, and security features. Plus, you have 30 days to ask for a refund if you change your mind.  Editors’ Note: ExpressVPN and this site are in the same ownership group.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free

Warning! The VPNs on this list are not government-approved and are prohibited in China. There haven’t been any reports of travelers being prosecuted for using a VPN in China. However, use a VPN with caution and refrain from engaging in illegal activities. Since most VPNs and their websites are banned in the country, download the apps before traveling.

Quick Guide: Best Free VPNs for China That Really Work in 2024

  1. ExpressVPN — The #1 VPN for China, with a whole network of obfuscated servers to access the entire web there. Get ExpressVPN for China risk-free. It has a 30 day money-back guarantee.
  2. PrivateVPN — Has a Stealth Mode that’s designed to bypass the Great Firewall of China, but its network isn’t the biggest.
  3. VyprVPN — Access your accounts from back home with Chameleon protocol easily in China, but you can’t pay with cryptocurrency.
  4. Hotspot Shield — Its Catapult Hydra protocol improves speeds for high-bandwidth activities in China, but the free plan can’t access some streaming sites.
  5. hide.me — Up to 10GB of free monthly data, enough for around 500 hours of browsing, but its long-distance connections are quite slow.

The Best Free VPNs for China – Updated 2024

1. ExpressVPN — Most Reliable VPN for China With Built-In Firewall-Breaking Tech

Key Features:

  • A massive selection of 3,000+ servers in 105 countries for access from China
  • Browse safely and privately from China with private DNS on every server
  • You can protect up to 8 devices simultaneously for the best protection
  • 24/7 customer support to answer your questions immediately
  • You can try it risk-free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee

Despite being a premium option, ExpressVPN tops this list because it has features that a free VPN simply can’t match for China. ExpressVPN’s obfuscation (or stealth) feature is automatic and built into every server. If VPN-detection measures are detected (like DPI), obfuscation automatically kicks in to scramble and hide your VPN use, effectively bypassing it; no configuration required.

That being said, the support agent I spoke to suggested servers in Japan (Yokohama), US (Los Angeles – 5), the UK (Wembley), Singapore (Marina Bay), and France (Alsace) for the best performance in China. But you can use ExpressVPN’s Smart Location feature to connect to the fastest server. I tested several of its 3,000+ servers in 105 countries and had excellent speeds.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN speed tests showing servers in the US, UK, Australia, and Germany
Every ExpressVPN server I tested had fast speeds, including its distant servers

Most VPN websites are blocked in China, so it’s best to download one before entering the country. If you’re already in China, you can still download ExpressVPN. Just email the support team (support@expressvpn.zendesk.com) and ask for the most recent mirror link for China. This is an alternative link that hasn’t been blocked because it’s regularly updated – you can use it to access 24/7 live chat and to download the app and updates.

One standout privacy feature is that ExpressVPN offers Private DNS and TrustedServer tech. These are extra measures meant to keep your information hidden so nobody knows which sites you’re accessing. TrustedServer is RAM-based, which means all your online data is totally erased with the flick of a switch.

Tests proved that ExpressVPN has a strong suite of security features to make sure no hackers or prying eyes in China can track your online activities, including:

  • Military-grade 256-bit encryption — prevents your data from being accessed by unauthorized parties.
  • IPv6 leak protection — keeps your real IP address hidden behind the VPN’s so that it can’t be found by a potential attacker.
  • An automatic kill switch — cuts your internet in case the VPN ever disconnects, for maximum security.
  • Threat Manager — stops apps from tracking you for targeted advertising.
  • British Virgin Islands jurisdiction — has privacy-friendly laws.

If there’s a favorite show you simply have to watch while in China, ExpressVPN is an exceptional VPN to access your usual streaming services. As well as helping unblock Netflix US, it accesses:

Disney+ Hulu Max Amazon Prime Video Paramount+ Peacock TV
ESPN Discovery+ Showtime BBC iPlayer BritBox Starz

One minor issue is that ExpressVPN is not the cheapest VPN for China. But I think it’s well worth the price for its reliability and lightning-fast speeds. You can also save money with a 49% discount on the 1-year + 3 months plan, which is only $6.67/month.

Test ExpressVPN out for yourself risk-free in China. If you don’t feel it’s right for you, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee. To test this, I asked for a refund via live chat. The agent was friendly and didn’t press me to keep my subscription. My refund was issued that day and I had my money back 3 days later.

Editors' Note: ExpressVPN and this site are in the same ownership group.

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 — Stealth Mode Sneaks Your Traffic Past the Anti-VPN Technology Used by China

Key Features:

  • 200+ servers in 63 countries, giving you fast access in China
  • One subscription is enough to protect 10 devices at once
  • Stealth Mode helps your traffic get past the Great Firewall of China
  • Knowledgeable live chat support for fast assistance
  • Try it out with its 30-day money-back guarantee

PrivateVPN’s Stealth Mode is a powerful obfuscation feature to access the internet freely in China. It helps to disguise your traffic as regular data since China mainly looks for and blocks VPN connections. When using Stealth Mode, you can access sites such as local news pages from back home without being blocked.

Screenshot of Stealth Mode settings on PrivateVPN's app

Unlike ExpressVPN, you need to activate this feature in Settings

Additionally, PrivateVPN has some of the best security features available to keep you protected in China, such as:

  • An automatic kill switch — disconnects you from the internet if the VPN connection drops in China.
  • 256-bit military-grade encryption — keeps your data out of reach of potential intruders.
  • IPv6 leak protection — makes sure your real IP address stays private.
  • Zero log policy — means that none of your data is stored or saved on the servers.

I contacted support and asked which servers would give me the best connections. He suggested the nearest Taiwan server which gave me fast and steady connections. A Youku video played in less than 3 seconds and there was no buffering or lag.

Even though it doesn’t have as many servers as ExpressVPN, it’s not a big problem. PrivateVPN’s network allows you to connect to most websites easily from China including streaming services such as:

ITV Hub Netflix Hulu Disney+ Amazon Prime Video Paramount+
Peacock BBC iPlayer Hotstar RTE fuboTV Discovery+

Though another premium option, it’s one of the best monthly VPNs. The best value plan is its 3-year subscription, costing just $2.00 a month. Plus, PrivateVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. To test it, I sent an email to customer support and an agent replied in an hour confirming the cancellation. I got my money back in 4 working days.

2024 Update! PrivateVPN has dropped prices for a limited time to a crazy $2.00 per month with the 3-year plan (you can save up to 85%)! This is a limited offer so be sure to grab it now before it’s gone. See more information on this offer here.

3. VyprVPN — Chameleon Protocol Helps You Access Your Home Accounts Easily From China

Key Features:

  • 700+ servers in 63 countries including Hong Kong to access global content
  • Internally-owned servers to prevent security abuses and an automatic kill switch
  • Access global content from 10 devices at once in China
  • 24/7 live chat and email support plus helpful setup guides
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

VyprVPN’s Chameleon protocol ensures you’re not blocked out of your accounts in China. Since it scrambles your connection until it’s unrecognizable as VPN traffic to the Chinese firewall, you can access most websites, including streaming services like:

Netflix US Hulu Max Amazon Prime Video Disney+ Crunchyroll

The servers in Macau and Hong Kong are recommended to get the fastest speeds from China. While it isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, tests gave an average of 60 Mbps overall. This is fast enough to stream in UHD without any interruptions.

Besides the strong Chameleon protocol, VyprVPN has many security and privacy features that are useful for China like:

  • Public WiFi protection — automatically starts a VPN connection whenever you use an unknown hotspot in China.
  • Kill switch — disables all internet activities if you are disconnected from the VPN.
  • No-log policy — audited by Leviathan Security Group to prove that VyprVPN doesn’t retain your activities in China.
  • Smart IP — regularly switches your IP address, making it extremely difficult to track your activity.

Screenshot of audit report from Leviathan Group with favorable findings and actions

VyprVPN’s audit report by Leviathan Group reassured me that it’s safe for China

It would have been nice to be able to subscribe to VyprVPN with cryptocurrency. Still, I didn’t mind paying with my credit card since it has an audited no-log policy that I trust. Plus, it’s based in privacy-friendly Switzerland.

VyprVPN doesn’t have a free plan, so I recommend subscribing to the 2-year plan for $3.00 a month. Since it has a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can easily ask for a refund via 24/7 live chat. VyprVPN processed my refund request immediately and I got my money back in 6 days.

4. Hotspot Shield — Enjoy High-Speed Connections in China with Catapult Hydra Protocol

Key Features:

  • A selection of 1,800+ servers in 80 countries for premium users in China
  • Proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol for great speed without compromising security
  • The free plan allows 1 simultaneous connection while going premium increases that to 10
  • 24/7 live chat assistance, email support, and in-depth guides
  • Premium plans are backed by a 45-day money-back guarantee

Hotspot Shield has Catapult Hydra protocol to improve your connection speeds for bandwidth-heavy activities in China. During tests, I downloaded Captain Kidd, a 966 MB public domain movie, in 45 seconds using Catapult Hydra.

To protect your privacy, Hotspot Shield lets you download and use the free plan without creating an account. This means you can instantly encrypt your data and browse freely in China. The best part is, the free plan has premium security features that include:

  • AES 256-bit military-grade encryption — keeps your data out of reach of prying eyes.
  • Tor over VPN — lets you access onion sites anonymously from China.

Hotspot Shield’s free plan offers 500MB data per day and 1 connection to a server in the US with the basic tier. You’ll see some ads but it’ll help you access services like:

Google Facebook Skype Instagram WhatsApp Zoom

Unfortunately, you can’t use its free plan to access popular streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ from China. But if you want to upgrade to Hotspot Shield’s full suite of services for China, its prices are reasonable and you should get access to most popular sites. The 3-year plan is just $2.99 a month.

Hotspot Shield has a generous 45-day money-back guarantee. To see how reliable the policy is, I sent an email to the help desk asking to cancel my policy. The rep quickly approved my request, and I had my money back 3 days later.

5. hide.me VPN — A Generous 10GB Monthly Data Allowance for Easy Browsing in China

Key Features:

  • Premium subscribers can use 2,400+ servers located in 55 countries while free users get 8 locations to access from China
  • Its Stealth Guard feature keeps you safe from data leaks, even with the free plan
  • Premium subscription lets you connect 10 devices but a free plan supports 1
  • 24/7 live chat support, email, and online guides
  • Try all its premium features risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee

hide.me generously lets you use up to 10GB of data every month for free in China. This is perfect for video chats with family and friends and to upload photos to social media while you travel.

A reassuring no-log policy confirms none of your data is stored while the free version also secures your data with other features like:

  • Stealth Guard — disconnects you from the internet if it becomes unable to prevent data leaks.
  • P2P Support — allows you to download torrents safely from China, even with the free plan.

The free hide.me plan allows you 8 server locations including nearby Singapore. These can help you to access popular platforms from China. However, hide.me doesn’t guarantee that it’ll always work in China, so a paid VPN is more reliable.

During tests, hide.me’s speeds on distant servers were quite poor compared to the other VPNs in this article. But the nearby servers in Singapore had average speeds with popular websites loading in less than 8 seconds.

The premium 2-year + 2 months plan gives you the best deal at just $2.69 per month and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Although I had to wait a couple of days for my refund request to be acknowledged, the money was returned to me within 7 days.

VPN Comparison Table — 2024’s Best Free VPNs for China

Here are the top features of the best free VPNs for China:

Free plan Free Data Speeds Server countries Device Limit
ExpressVPN Unlimited Fastest 105 8
PrivateVPN Unlimited Fast 63 10
VyprVPN Unlimited Fast 63 10
Hotspot Shield 500MB per day Fast 1 1
Hide.me 10GB a month Average 8 1

Editors’ Note: ExpressVPN and this site are in the same ownership group.

Things You Need to Know About VPNs in China

The Great Firewall of China refers to the country’s internet censorship system made of technological filters and laws that regulate the internet within its borders. Some of the methods the firewall uses to restrict the internet include:

  • IP Blocking — China has a list of IP addresses belonging to banned websites (including non-government-approved VPN websites) and blocks your traffic when you attempt to connect to them.
  • DNS Spoofing — when you attempt to access a blocked website, the DNS responses are manipulated to redirect your traffic to a different IP address like an error page or a government-approved alternative website.
  • URL Filtering — the firewall also scans URLs for flagged keywords so that pages with anti-communism or anti-government sentiments are blocked while the rest of the website is accessible.
  • Deep Packet Inspection — during a ‘deep packet inspection’, the firewall scrutinizes blocks of unencrypted data to identify sensitive keywords and avoids transmitting unfavorable packets.
  • Manual Filter — the government also pays people to scan the internet for content that needs to be blacklisted.

Although the Great Firewall of China actively stops VPN traffic, it can’t block all. The Chinese government ordered Apple Store to remove all VPN apps and blocked all unapproved VPN services. But the best VPNs still work there due to advanced technology and features.

VPNs encrypt your internet traffic so that the Great Firewall can’t see what websites you’re visiting. They also send your traffic to a VPN server in another country so that it doesn’t look like it originated from China. Top VPNs have strong obfuscation features to make your data look like regular HTTPS traffic to avoid China’s deep packet inspection.

ExpressVPN also updates its servers regularly because China’s firewall can still block VPNs by blacklisting the entire block of IP addresses linked to a VPN server. Most free VPNs don’t have the funds to constantly acquire new IP addresses, which is why they don’t work in China.

Other methods to bypass the Great Firewall of China aren’t as effective or safe as using a VPN since they don’t protect your privacy. If you’re looking for alternatives, you can try:

  • Proxies — spoofs your geo-location but even the best free proxy services don’t encrypt your traffic like a VPN. Shadowsocks, which uses the SOCKS5 internet protocol, is the most effective proxy for China.
  • Lantern — an open-source P2P software to bypass web filters by using volunteers located in other countries to share their bandwidth with China users. However, it doesn’t keep you anonymous or your activities private.
  • Mirror Websites — Some of the sites you’re trying to access might have ‘mirror sites’ on Tor that haven’t been blocked by the Great Firewall, like ExpressVPN and VyprVPN.
  • TOR — The Onion Router is a web browser that routes your traffic through a network of random servers for privacy. It’s safer than a proxy server but slower than most VPNs and it’s difficult to get it to work in China due to the advanced configurations it requires.
  • FreeBrowser — a free Android-based web browser with built-in technology to bypass firewalls. Since it’s just a web browser, your traffic from all other banned apps will still be blocked in China.
  • Try hotel WiFi — some Chinese hotels have VPNs paired with their networks for travelers to access all the sites they’re accustomed to. You can try those or download your own VPN for better privacy.
  • Download APK file — if a VPN site is blocked and you’re using Android, you may be able to download the APK file from a third-party site, but be careful since these sometimes contain viruses.
  • Change App Store location — Apple Store isn’t blocked in China, so you can either create a new account or change the location in your current one to where VPNs are available.

How to Protect Your Online Activities in China in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Get a VPN – You can try ExpressVPN in China risk-free. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can buy in confidence.
  2. Install and open the VPN’s app. Connect to a server in the country you want. Be sure to install the VPN before you travel to China.
  3. You’re now protected online in China. Use the platforms and services you’re subscribed to without interruptions!

Editors’ Note: ExpressVPN and this site are in the same ownership group.

Warning! Avoid These Free VPNs in China!

Although there are several good free VPNs, all of them have limitations and even fewer work in China. Even worse, some free VPNs on the market can risk your security. After testing many free VPNs, I recommend staying away from:

Betternet

Betternet was found to expose users to malware and adware while also earning money by promoting third-party apps to its customers. A brand of the AnchorFree Corporation, Betternet’s terms state that you might get viruses or other harmful software while using it and that it can’t be held liable for security issues it causes. Plus, it won’t help you fix them.

Betternet can give you viruses screenshot

Betternet’s Terms of Service

CrossVPN

CrossVPN ranks as the 5th worst service for taking advantage of its user’s data. It injects viruses, trojans, and other malware into your devices, putting your online privacy at serious risk.

Hola

Hola has been caught stealing and reselling free user bandwidth through its subsidiary company Luminati. Using its free service allows premium users to connect through your own personal IP address, which can be used to identify you. This means that you’re responsible for any illegal activities other users carry out with your IP. Hola also doesn’t encrypt your data.

How I Tested and Ranked the Best Free VPNs for China

These are all the criteria I evaluated to select the best free VPNs for China:

  • Ability to circumvent censorship – The VPN needs to be able to bypass geoblocks and get around China’s censorship for you to browse freely.
  • Sizeable server network – More global servers provide access to unrestricted international content from China.
  • Reliable security – Strong encryption, a kill switch, and a strict no-log policy are all necessary for keeping your data away from the Chinese government.
  • Generous data allowance – The best free VPNs offer plenty of data so you don’t have to limit what you do online in China for fear of using up your allowance.
  • Fast speeds – Fast speeds help you stream without lag, and stop you from experiencing interruptions while you’re online in China.
  • Responsive customer support – It’s essential that you can reach a customer support agent if you have any issues with China’s firewall.

FAQs on Free VPNs for China

Is it legal to use a free VPN in China?

No, the best free VPNs for China aren’t legal. The Chinese government only allows state-approved VPNs. Unfortunately, those VPNs won’t let you use the internet privately as they’re monitored by the government. There haven’t been any cases of foreign citizens being prosecuted for using a non-approved VPN, but it can happen. Always exercise caution when using a VPN in China and do not use a VPN for illegal activities.

Are free VPNs safe?

Some are, but not all. There are many free VPNs that you should avoid because they have a poor security and privacy track record. Some free VPNs may expose you to viruses, cyberattacks, and even sell your information on the black market. You don’t want to experience this in any location, but even more so when you’re connecting from China due to heavy data surveillance and restrictions.

Which sites are banned in China?

The list of banned websites in China is constantly changing, so this is not an exhaustive list. Always protect yourself with a top VPN for China when attempting to access these sites from the country. Among the banned sites are:

Google Facebook Wikipedia
WhatsApp Netflix Instagram
Skype Pinterest Twitter

Which free VPNs have servers in China?

All the top VPNs in this article have servers in Hong Kong, but these servers aren’t always available with the free plans. Free plans also come with data limits that can interrupt your online sessions and cause a lot of frustration while you’re in China.

Instead, I recommend using a premium VPN while you’re in China. My recommended VPNs maintain your security and privacy in China, while giving you fast speeds and multiple server locations so you can stream, contact family, and keep up with your usual websites easily while you travel abroad.

What can I do if my VPN stops working in China?

First, make sure you’re using one of the best free VPNs for China. If you are, try to:

  • Change protocols — access the security settings and connect with a different protocol like ExpressVPN’s Lightway or Hotspot Shield’s Hydra. If the option is available, also try using TCP rather than UDP.
  • Enable obfuscation — some VPNs like PrivateVPN have Stealth Mode that needs to be switched on manually in order to bypass the Great Firewall of China.
  • Change servers — this can sometimes fix problems related to IP leaks.
  • Change ports or DNS settings — if your VPN lets you switch ports and manually configure your device’s IPv4 and IPv6 DNS settings, do it.

Which VPNs have Android APK files for download?

All the VPNs on this list have Android APK files for download. One of the main things to know about using a VPN in China is that Apple Store doesn’t have VPN apps for download in the country. This includes APKs for Android devices, so you’ll have to find alternative ways to install them.

You can use APKPure to download VPN apps from China, but remember that it’s risky to download APK files from third-party sites. Fortunately, ExpressVPN has an official APK file that you can download safely from its website.

Why is my VPN so slow in China?

A top-tier VPN like ExpressVPN is very fast, but some VPNs can be slow in China because:

  • You’re connected to a distant server that requires your data to travel further.
  • All VPNs slow down connection to a certain degree due to the encryption process and top security is essential in China.
  • Your traffic goes through a deep packet inspection by the Great Firewall of China.
  • The obfuscation feature in VPNs also slows speed down slightly.

Why can’t I access Google and other sites and platforms in China?

The Chinese government bans many services and content in China for political and economic reasons. The best way to access blocked sites is to use a VPN in China. It’ll give you access to all the services and apps you regularly use, such as Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, news sites, WhatsApp, and more.

What’s the Best Free VPN for China?

All the free VPNs recommended in this article are safe for China. However, I strongly encourage you to use a premium VPN like ExpressVPN to avoid the limitations posed by most 100% free VPNs. It’s superfast, doesn’t limit your bandwidth or the number of global servers you can connect to. Also, it allows a maximum of 8 devices instead of just 1.

How Do I Get a Chinese IP Address?

You need a VPN with servers in China like Hotspot Shield. It’s accessible with a premium plan as free VPNs don’t usually offer servers in China. Even premium VPNs usually only have servers in nearby countries like Hong Kong or South Korea.

When you connect to a VPN server in China, it will hide your real location and give you a Chinese IP address. This makes it look like you’re connecting from China and you’ll be able to access all the local services and platforms without restrictions.

Is Social Media Blocked in China?

Most social media platforms are blocked in China, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. If you have accounts with them, you’ll need a top VPN that works in China to access them.

However, there are many other social media apps that work in the country such as WeChat, Douyin (TikTok China), InCareer (LinkedIn China), YouKu, and Xiaohongshu. However, be aware that government-approved social media sites in China are heavily monitored and you will not be able to maintain your privacy while using them.

Can I use a free VPN to watch Netflix and other streaming sites in China?

It’s possible, but unlikely to work well since free VPNs rarely have the budget for technology and security. As well as ExpressVPN which is my top premium choice for China, I recommend PrivateVPN or VyprVPN to watch Netflix and other streaming sites. Using any of these secure and reliable VPNs, you just have to connect to a server in your home country to access Netflix and start streaming normally.

Stay Safe While in China With a Reliable Free VPN

China has one of the strictest internet censorship schemes, blocking many of the websites that are usually accessible elsewhere. Since many VPNs don’t work in China, it can be challenging to find a free provider that can safely access the websites you need. Additionally, most free VPNs’ logging policies aren’t clear and so aren’t safe for use in China.

If you don’t want to take any risks with your personal information, get a premium VPN for China like ExpressVPN. It’s the best for connecting from China while keeping your data safe from spies and hackers.

You can try ExpressVPN in China without any risks. It is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you don’t like it you can claim a full refund. asked to cancel my policy on the final day of the guarantee and the conversation was fast and easy. My money was refunded 3 days later.


Summary: Here Are the Best VPNs for China in 2024

Top Ranked Top Choice
ExpressVPN
$6.67 / month Save 49%
PrivateVPN
$2.00 / month Save 83%
VyprVPN
$3.00 / month Save 70%
Hotspot Shield
$2.99 / month Save 77%
Hide me VPN
$2.69 / month Save 73%
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