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6 Best Free VPNs for China Working in 2022

July 2, 2022

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It is not a secret that China is one of the most heavily censored countries in the world.

If you are living in or planning a trip to China, in order to continue visiting the sites that you want to visit online, you are going to need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Keep in mind: Free VPNs all have their limitations. Some free VPNs intentionally offer very limited features on their free plans to encourage users to upgrade to their premium paid options, and others simply offer subpar features because they have very limited resources to put toward features like security, privacy, or servers.

If you opt for a completely free service, make sure your expectations are realistic, as some of them put limits on your data or bandwidth, have very limited access to servers, or very limited privacy and security features.

Because of the risks that are involved in getting caught using a blocked VPN in China, my preference is to use a safe, reputable VPN like ExpressVPN. While ExpressVPN is not free, it does have a 30day moneyback guarantee, so you can use it for free and cancel your plan within those 30 days for a full refund.

Unfortunately, most VPNs do not work in China at all, and many will require you to pay a monthly subscription fee. If you want to find out the best free VPNs for China that actually work, keep reading!

In a Hurry? Here Are the Best 6 Free VPNs for China

How We Analyzed & Ranked These Best Free VPNs 

Not all VPNs — free or paid — will successfully get past China’s heavy censorship.

In order to find the VPNs that work best in China, here are the features that we assessed:

☑️ Speeds: Good speeds are crucial if you want to access the internet from China without buffering and lag. It is hard to find a free VPN that has good speeds because free VPNs often put limits on your bandwidth and throttle your speeds. While these free VPNs aren’t going to be as fast as the top paid VPNs, some will give you good enough speeds to help you browse the web rather smoothly and with minimal buffering.

☑️ Ability to Bypass GeoRestrictions: It is important to pick a VPN that has a proven reputation for getting past China’s very serious blocks to help you access your sites. The VPN services on our list can successfully help you access WhatsApp, Google, YouTube, and other popular sites that are blocked in China, and some will even help you access streaming sites like Netflix.

☑️ Security Features: Important features to look for in a free VPN for China are a no-logging policy, a Kill Switch, and ad-blockers so that you are protected from online threats. If you do not have a feature like a Kill Switch, your real IP address may be exposed to the Chinese authorities if your VPN connection cuts out unexpectedly.

☑️ Data Caps: Choose a VPN that gives you enough data allowance so you can enjoy your activity online without running out of data right away. It is a huge bummer to begin streaming a show only to run out of data after an hour.

☑️ Strong Encryption: This is key when using a VPN in China, as you want to make sure you are accessing the internet anonymously without your activity being exposed. All of our free China VPNs offer users 256-bit encryption, so your traffic is indecipherable by any third parties, hackers, or the Chinese authorities.

6 Best Free VPNs for China

If you are looking for the best free VPN for China, we have done the research and have verified that these 6 choices will all give you consistent access to the internet, bypassing the Chinese restrictions when you are living in or visiting China.

While the last 4 are completely free VPNs with no subscription fee required, the first 2 options are paid VPNs that give you a moneyback guarantee, so you can use them for free for up to 30 days and get a full refund with no strings attached. Keep on reading to find out more about these 6 China VPNs:

1. ExpressVPN: Server Locations in 94 Countries

Devices compatible with ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a premium VPN that is our go-to choice for the best VPN for China, hands down.

This provider offers the very best speeds, and access to a network of over 3,000 servers in 94 countries around the globe, including nearby locations like Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan, which will make it easier to get a fast local VPN connection from within China.

In terms of unblocking geo-restricted services around the world, ExpressVPN can do this really consistently and with no buffering with pretty much any popular blocked service, like YouTube, Google, WhatsApp, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and over 20 Netflix streaming libraries.

If you want to make sure the VPN service you are using in China is safe, ExpressVPN offers users AES 256bit encryption to hide your online traffic from third parties, the Chinese government, and your internet service provider; a strict nologging policy, DNS leak protection, a Kill Switch, split tunneling, and RAMonly servers.

In addition to these privacy and security features, this VPN provider is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes information-sharing alliance, so you never have to worry that your information will be passed on if requested from other countries.

While most free providers put caps on your data and bandwidth, ExpressVPN does not limit your bandwidth or data usage, so you will be able to stream and browse as much as you want for as long as you want with the best speeds.

Using this provider, you can connect up to 5 devices to your VPN simultaneously without seeing a decrease in speed, so your family can unblock multiple services at once all on the same account.

Pros:

  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited data allowance
  • No-logs policy
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Broad server network
  • 5 simultaneous connections

Cons:

  • Paid VPN

2. NordVPN: Over 5,100 Servers Worldwide

Devices compatible with NordVPN

NordVPN is another paid VPN option that can be used risk-free with its 30day moneyback guarantee hack in order to use it for up to 30 days for free.

NordVPN, like ExpressVPN, has a sizable server network, with over 5,100 servers in more than 60 countries worldwide.

If you want to make sure you are using only the best VPN services to break through the Great Firewall of China, NordVPN is one of the most secure and private VPN services for China, with AES 256bit encryption, a nologs policy, a Kill Switch, and a Double VPN option that allows you to send your traffic through the second layer of encryption for extra protection in heavily censored countries, like China.

Unlike most of the free VPNs for China, NordVPN does not put caps on your bandwidth and data usage, so you can bypass Chinese censorship to stream and browse sites outside of China with great server speed for as long as you want.

While most of the free VPNs for China have very limited server locations to which you can connect on their free plan, NordVPN has plenty of server locations from which to choose, including local VPN server options in Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other nearby places for fast local connections from China.

If you are planning to visit China for a period of time and want to use a good free VPN that does not skimp on its features, NordVPN or ExpressVPN are great options. You can subscribe to one of these VPN providers before your trip, use it for the duration of your trip, and cancel within 30 days for a full refund. This puts these VPNs on the same playing field as the completely free VPNs further down our list but gives you way more bang for your buck.

Pros:

  • Military-grade encryption
  • 6 simultaneous connections
  • DoubleVPN
  • No-logs policy
  • Secure VPN service
  • Unlimited bandwidth

Cons:

  • Not a free provider

3. Windscribe: Unlimited Devices Allowed

Windscribe is another free VPN that offers free users access to up to 10GB of data monthly.

Unfortunately, the speeds you will experience with this free VPN will be slower, with intermittent buffering, so it is not the best option for smooth streaming in China.

Unlike other free VPNs that only offer very limited server access, Windscribe offers users access to over 170 free server options in 10 countries, including nearby Hong Kong, which bodes well for users who want a faster local connection.

This free VPN for China is able to unblock popular websites and services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Kodi; and you can unblock them with unlimited devices at once, which is an extremely unique asset when it comes to free VPNs!

You can relax a bit if you are worried about your privacy in China, knowing that your internet traffic will be encrypted with 256bit encryption on this free plan and that you can ask any of your questions to customer support via 24/7 live chat.

Pros:

  • 10 GB monthly
  • Servers in nearby Hong Kong
  • 24/7 live chat
  • Military-grade encryption
  • No-logs policy
  • Unlimited devices

Cons:

  • Not great for streaming

4. Hide.Me: Unlimited Bandwidth

Devices compatible with Hide.me

Hide.me allows users in China free unlimited bandwidth, which is already a huge part of why this VPN made it onto our list of best free VPN services for China. Since Hide.me permits this endless bandwidth allowance, it has no reason to throttle your speeds.

In terms of privacy and security, Hide.me offers users access to a nologs policy, Kill Switch, IP leak protection, and 256bit encryption, all of which are uncommon in free VPNs.

This service lets users access up to 10GB of data monthly, even allowing users to unblock some Netflix libraries from China. Unfortunately, you can’t unblock your steaming content without buffering, though.

For unblocking the web in China, it is useful that this VPN has servers in Singapore, which is close enough to China to be a local server. It also offers access to 3 other server locations in the Netherlands, the United States, and Canada.

Compared to ExpressVPN, which lets you use 5 devices on a single VPN account, and NordVPN, which offers 6 connections at once, Hide.me only lets you use a single device connection with your free VPN usage, so if you are looking to have more than one member of your family connect at once, you will have to go with a difference provider.

Pros:

  • 24/7 live-chat support
  • 10GB monthly data
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Kill Switch
  • 256-bit encryption

Cons:

  • One device connection
  • Some buffering
  • Only 4 servers

5. Hotspot Shield: Free VPN with 256-bit Encryption

Devices compatible with Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is a pretty reliable free VPN for China, with a user-friendly app.

While this free VPN is fast and secure, it only offers free VPN users 500 MB of data daily, so you will have very limited browsing and streaming options. In fact, this amount of data will only let you stream for an hour and a half each day, which is not enough time to binge-watch anything!

While the paid version of the Hotspot Shield VPN service lets you access almost 2,000 servers in different server locations around the world, the free version only gives you access to a server in the US, so you will be limited in what you can unblock. You will not be able to access streaming sites, but you will, however, be able to access WhatsApp, Google, and YouTube.

Hotspot Shield caps free VPN bandwidth at only 2Mbps, but this was actually sufficient for watching YouTube for a short while with minimal lag.

As far as privacy and security, this free VPN for China offers users top 256bit encryption, a nologs policy, a Kill Switch, as well as built-in phishing and malware protection, which is not too shabby.

If you need any troubleshooting help while using this free VPN, you are pretty much out of luck, since the live chat is reserved only for the premium paid users. You will have access to the FAQs, but that is all.

Pros:

  • 256-bit encryption
  • Kill Switch
  • Usable app
  • No-logs policy
  • Phishing/malware protection

Cons:

  • One device connection
  • Access to 1 server
  • No live support
  • 500MB daily

6. ProtonVPN: Free VPN with Unlimited Data

Devices compatible with Proton VPN

Unlike many of the free VPN services that limit user data, ProtonVPN offers users unlimited data with no caps. This means that you will be able to stream or surf the web without worrying about using up your data after one show or video.

…But don’t get too excited. While this is a good free option, ProtonVPN’s free VPN plan only lets you access 3 servers in the US, Japan, and the Netherlands. This limited server network means that you will have trouble accessing a lot of blocked services around the world.

If you are accessing the web from China with this free VPN, it is a definite asset that there is a ProtonVPN server location close by in Japan, since the rule of thumb is that the closer the server, the better the speeds. Unfortunately, the fact there are so few servers with this plan means that there will likely be server crowding, which will counteract the proximity, slowing you down when streaming.

This service can access popular platforms like Twitter, Google, or Facebook, but it won’t successfully unblock Netflix outside of your region.

ProtonVPN has been reported to throttle users speeds, which makes it very frustrating to stream or use video features.

In terms of privacy and security, this free VPN service offers users a nologs policy, militarygrade encryption, and is located in Switzerland, which is outside of the information-sharing alliance.

Pros:

  • Unlimited data
  • Server in nearby Japan
  • 256-bit encryption
  • Built-in ad blocker
  • No-logs policy

Cons:

  • Only 1 connection at a time
  • Only access to 3 servers
  • Throttles speeds
  • Can’t unblock Netflix
  • No live-chat support

Tips on Using VPNs in China 

Because China has very strict censorship practices, most free VPNs will not work at all at getting past the Great Firewall of China.

These restrictions are so serious that users who try to access VPNs from within China will find that the VPN sites and app stores (Apple App Store and Google Play Store) are not accessible at all.

If you want to use a VPN in China, make sure to download it to your devices before you arrive in China, since VPN websites are blocked from access by the Great Firewall.

Another tip on using a VPN in China is that you will likely get the fastest speeds by connecting to a server that is closer in proximity. This means that you will want to use a VPN that offers servers in Asia close by.

Free VPNs for China: Are They Really Good? 

Since the regulations in China regarding VPNs are extremely strict, you will want to make sure that you are browsing the web in China completely anonymously to avoid consequences if you access sites that are forbidden.

Most free VPNs actually decrease your online security, compromising your privacy and exposing you to online threats. While paid VPNs encrypt your traffic and help you maintain your anonymity online, many free ones often log your data, and many even sell it to third parties for a profit. These risks make it very important for you to choose a free VPN with good privacy policies, like the ones on our list.

In terms of internet privacy, while reputable paid VPNs have features like a Kill Switch or adblocker, most free VPN services do not offer these. This means that if your encrypted internet connection cuts out in China, your IP addresses will then be exposed, making you vulnerable online.

In terms of browsing quality, free VPN services most often put caps on your data and bandwidth, which will mean that you won’t be able to stream with good speeds, or that you will have to wait while your pages load on the internet. And who has the patience for waiting, these days?

For all of these reasons and more, we prefer using a paid VPN and taking advantage of a moneyback guarantee instead of opting for a completely free service in China that might not work, and might actually put us at risk.

FAQs

Why does China block VPNs?
The main reason that the Chinese government decided to block VPNs was to prevent its citizens and visitors from accessing sites that it does not permit in its country. These may be sites that have content that is not in line with Chinese values, or sites that pose a threat to the power in China.

While most VPNs are blocked in China, there are some China-approved VPNs that are allowed, but these are not private or secure, so we would not use them.

While China does frown upon VPN use, we have yet to hear about any users who have been punished for using a VPN not approved by China in the country.

What sites are banned in China?
Many popular sites that are go-to destinations for lots of users are outright blocked by the Great Firewall of China.

China has blocked social media sites, popular search engines, streaming services, email platforms, and many other sites and apps, so you will need to use a VPN to get access to any of these.

Some of the popular sites and platforms that are blocked in China are:

☑️ Discord
☑️ Dropbox
☑️ Facebook
☑️ Google
☑️ Pinterest
☑️ Reddit
☑️ Tumblr
☑️ Twitter
☑️ Vimeo
☑️ WhatsApp
☑️ Wikipedia
☑️ YouTube
☑️ VPN sites
☑️ Many news sites

Keep in mind that some of these sites are only accessible if your VPN offers connections in the appropriate country. For this reason, it is a good idea to use a VPN service that offers servers in multiple counties.

Which VPN is the best for China?
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China. While not technically considered the best free VPN for China, you can essentially use ExpressVPN for free by subscribing before your trip, using it for the duration of your short stay in China, and canceling it for a full refund within 30 days.

Because of the heavy government censorship in China, we do not like to take risks with free VPNs, since a free version of any service often has gaps in its privacy, security, or important features.

Since VPNs for China have to be completely reliable and secure, we only like to use a premium service, like ExpressVPN. If you cancel this paid VPN for China within 30 days, you will get a full refund, and you will have had access during your trip to the best, most reliable China VPN.

Can you get in trouble for using a VPN in China?
Yes. Because the government in China does not allow VPNs, you may find yourself in trouble if you are caught using one. That being said, VPNs for China are becoming more and more commonplace, and we have not heard of anyone being jailed or slapped with a fine for being caught using a China VPN.

Since there is always the risk, we would suggest using a premium VPN for China that makes it its mission to continue to stay ahead of the Great Firewall, like ExpressVPN.

Best Free VPN for China: Conclusion

While we can understand why anyone would want to find a good free VPN for China, even the best free VPNs come with their limitations. All of the completely free China VPN services above sacrifice one feature or another, whether it be data caps, limits on bandwidth, subpar security, or a small server network in limited countries.

If you are looking for the most reliable, secure free VPNs for China, we would suggest using a vendor that offers a free trial instead of a free plan, like ExpressVPN.

So, it’s possible that the best free VPN for China isn’t actually “free” at all, but refundable, which might be better than using a VPN China will be able to easily block, or a free VPN for China that really cannot access the sites and services you are looking to unblock.

If you want to use a foolproof VPN China has still not outsmarted, give ExpressVPN a chance on our next trip.

Click here for 49% off of your ExpressVPN plan, and remember that you can cancel it within 30 days with no strings attached.

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