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8 Best VPNs for China (All VPNs Working in 2021)

Updated on: September 4, 2021

Best VPNs for China

If you’re planning a trip to China, you may have already heard about the infamous Great Firewall that will be there to welcome you upon arrival.

In China, not only is your Internet heavily censored by the Chinese government, but the sites that you regularly access multiple times a day from outside of China — like Google, YouTube, Twitter, or even Netflix — are simply impossible to access without using VPN software.

Because VPNs in China are blocked aggressively, finding a VPN that works well in China (if at all) is particularly tricky. We have done the legwork for you, testing dozens of VPN companies from China in order to put together a list of the 8 most powerful VPNs that will reliably work in China. The best VPN options for China will not only help you access your blocked sites, but will also ensure that your IP address remains hidden and your traffic is sent through the highest level of encryption, so you can stay off of the radar of the Chinese authorities and protect your privacy from the government’s prying eyes.

Keep reading to find out about our top VPN providers that work in China in 2021.

In a Hurry? Here Are the 8 Best VPNs for China

Though the Great Firewall works hard to prevent the use of VPNs in China (that are not pre-approved by the Chinese government), there are some that have managed to overcome the odds. If you are looking for the best VPN for China, here is a list of some VPNs that we have tested and found to work well in China in 2021:

  1. ExpressVPN: The best VPN for China with top-notch speeds, servers in local countries, and military-grade encryption.
  2. NordVPN: Great China VPN with obfuscated servers and top security and privacy features.
  3. Surfshark: Competitively priced China VPN with No Borders mode to access sites blocked in China.
  4. Private Internet Access: Reliable VPN for China with top encryption and huge server network.
  5. PrivateVPN: Fast speeds and nearby servers for access to sites blocked in China using Stealth Mode.

Keep on reading for 3 more services that you can use any time you need a VPN in China.

Why the Great Firewall of China is So Hard to Break Through

The Great Wall of China was built to protect China from physical invasion, and the Great Firewall was created to protect the Chinese population from an invasion of content that the government deems harmful or contrary to Chinese society.

Although the Great Wall of China was virtually impenetrable, Genghis Khan proved in the year 1213 AD that there was a way through. The Great Firewall may seem just as strong as its namesake, but it, too, can be breached with the right strategy and the right persistence.

The reason that the Great Firewall is so hard to break through is that it offers multi-layered protection. The government uses many of its own methods of blocking content from entering its country, but it also engages the media, Internet companies, authorities, and Internet Service Providers in backing these policies of censorship.

In addition to blocking many websites, the Firewall also blocks VPN services in order to keep its citizens, and any foreigner on Chinese soil, from accessing outside content. Because of the consistent process of blocking VPNs, it is extremely hard to find any VPN service that is able to stay ahead of these restrictive regulations and blacklists. To find a VPN that works in China, you need a VPN that is willing to put in the time and resources to stay ahead of the blocks and ahead of the Chinese authorities.

How to Choose the Best VPN for China

Picking the name of a VPN out of a hat won’t give you much success if you are using that method to find the best VPN for China.

When looking for the best VPN to unblock the exhaustive list of sites that are blocked in China, it’s important to make sure to use a VPN that’s vetted for effectiveness at getting around Internet censorship.

On top of this, adequate VPN connection speeds are vital in order to make sure that any sites you are browsing or content you are streaming in China are accessed without buffering or lag.

Because of the risks of connecting to a VPN server in a country where outside VPNs are not allowed, it is only wise to use VPNs in China that offer military-grade encryption, top-notch safety, privacy features, and a no-logging policy so you are protected and secure at all times.

Keep reading to find out the VPN services that work the best from China, and how we chose these VPN services for our list.

8 Best VPNs for China

After reviews of dozens of VPNs in search of an effective and reliable VPN for China, here are our top China VPN candidates that work in 2021:

Devices compatible with ExpressVPN
Company Location: British Virgin Islands
Servers: 3000+
Countries: 94
Connections: Up to 5
Speed: Great
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: No
Free Trial: 7 Days for Mobile
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $6.67/month

ExpressVPN is our #1 choice for Best VPN for China in 2021, with over 3,000 high-speed servers in 94 countries around the world. Whether you are connecting to a local server near China or a server around the globe, your connection speeds when using this VPN service will be consistently, reliably fast.

If you are looking to connect to a remote server from China to stream the latest movies and shows, ExpressVPN can help you access your content in HD with no buffering or lag, and with consistently stable connections.

When put to the test, ExpressVPN is great to stream Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, Disney+, ESPN+, Showtime, YouTube, Google, and the many other sites we tested from China.

ExpressVPN has apps for all main platforms and devices, including Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox, routers, Linux, Chromebook, smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, gaming consoles, and others.

If your whole family is traveling to China, it’s good to note that you can connect up to 5 simultaneous devices using the same user account, so all of you can be streaming, gaming, or browsing simultaneously under the radar of the Chinese authorities.

As for privacy, ExpressVPN offers military-grade 256-bit encryption, split tunneling, DNS leak protection, a Kill Switch, and OpenVPN across all platforms, so all of your information will remain private and secure at all times.

It’s also good to remember that ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance; and that ExpressVPN has a verified no-logs policy, so there really, truly is never any worry that your information is being kept by anyone.

The one drawback of ExpressVPN is that it is one of the more expensive VPN services. But, in all honesty, I am willing to pay the extra few bucks to make sure I am always able to find a VPN server to connect to from China that works reliably, and I am certainly willing to pay the extra few bucks to make sure I am browsing safely from a very heavily censored country.

My advice would be to test out this VPN for China from outside of China for a few weeks to get the hang of how it works before you have to put it to use in China. If you need any guidance or have any questions, you can use ExpressVPN’s 24/7 live-chat customer support; and, if you want, you can even cancel your subscription for a full refund within 30 days. If you decide this VPN software works well for you, make sure it is installed on your devices before you head to China.

VPN Pros:

  • Exceptional speeds
  • Widespread server network
  • 24/7 live-chat support
  • Top privacy and security features
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • Works in China
  • 30-day refund guarantee

VPN Cons:

  • More expensive than the other VPNs

Devices compatible with NordVPN
Company Location: Panama
Servers: 5200+
Countries: 60
Connections: Up to 6
Speed: Great
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: No
Free Trial: No
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $3.71/month

NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for China, ranking a close second on our list. It has over 5,400 VPN servers in 59 countries worldwide and, although it’s not as fast as ExpressVPN, NordVPN consistently delivers good speeds and reliable connections.

If you are looking for VPN servers close to China, you can connect to NordVPN’s obfuscated servers in Japan, Hong Kong, or Singapore.

NordVPN has proven to reliably unblock services like YouTube, Google, Netflix, Hulu US, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video Disney+ — and many more — from China.

NordVPN works in China with its obfuscated servers that can bypass firewalls and geographic restrictions; and it has the option of using a double VPN that sends your traffic through an extra layer of encryption, giving you the most secure experience possible.

This VPN service protects your activity with its AES 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN, and IKEc2/IPSec protocols that will keep your footprint hidden. Its CyberSec feature also provides an extra layer of protection from malware and annoying ads that may pop up.

If you are worried about surveillance, it is good to note that Nord is based in Panama, far from the 5/9/14 Eyes surveillance, and it has a strict no-logs policy, which we have verified to be reliable.

NordVPN has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, smart TVs, routers, and Linux, so there should never be a problem finding an app that is compatible with your device. If you are traveling with your family or in a small group, it’s good to know that you can use up to 6 devices simultaneously with a single NordVPN subscription, so all of you will be able to use this VPN from China.

Yes, NordVPN will work well in China, but only if you download the VPN app to your device before you head overseas. Go ahead and install this China VPN a few weeks before your trip so you can get used to the service and see how you like it. NordVPN has stellar 24/7 live-chat customer support that you can use in case any problems arise, and if you are not sold on NordVPN after the first few weeks, you can opt-out and take advantage of the 30-day refund guarantee.

VPN Pros:

  • Very fast streaming speeds
  • Double VPN and obfuscated servers
  • No-logging policy
  • 24/7 live-chat support
  • Great VPN for China
  • 30-day guarantee
  • 6 devices connections on one plan

Cons:

  • Speeds can be slower in advanced mode

Devices compatible with Surfshark
Company Location: British Virgin Islands
Servers: 3200+
Countries: 65
Connections: Unlimited
Speed: Good
Torrenting: No (but support p2p)
Logs: No
Free Trial: 7 Days (Mobile Only)
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $2.49/month

Surfshark is another great China VPN that is able to bypass the Great Firewall consistently. If you are looking for VPN servers close in proximity to China, you can connect to Surfshark’s servers in Hong Kong, Japan, or Singapore.

Though Surfshark’s speed does not compare to ExpressVPN or NordVPN, its servers are still plenty fast for browsing or streaming with hardly any buffering or lag.

Surfshark has proven to be successful at unblocking sites like YouTube, Google, Hulu, Netflix, HBO GO, Disney+, ESPN+, BBC iPlayer, and more.

Surfshark passes all the tests for security features with its AES 256-bit encryption, split tunneling, double encryption, Kill Switch, and its special CleanWeb suite, which blocks ads and protects against malware.

Like NordVPN and ExpressVPN, Surfshark is located outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, and it has a strict, verified no-logging policy, so you should never be worried that your online activity is ever being tracked or kept.

This VPN has apps for pretty much all devices and platforms you use, including Windows, Android, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Fire TV, and Apple TV; But part of what makes Surfshark really stand out is that it allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices to a single VPN account, making it a great VPN for China if you are traveling with a larger family or a larger group.

All Surfshark servers are compatible with the VPNs Camouflage mode, which conceals the fact that you’re using a VPN, and makes it almost impossible for the Chinese government to detect you because your browsing mimics normal Internet traffic. This mode makes it a great choice for a China VPN.

Surfshark offers impressive 24/7 live-chat customer support and a 30-day refund guarantee, giving you the chance to try this VPN for a few weeks and then change your mind without penalty.

VPN Pros:

  • Live-chat support
  • 30-day guarantee
  • Camouflage mode for use in China
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Cheapest of the top VPNs
  • Great safety and security features

Cons:

  • Slightly slower speeds
  • Split Tunnel only on Windows & Android

Devices compatible with PIA
Company Location: USA
Servers: 19,000+
Countries: 77
Connections: Up to 10
Speed: Good
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: Yes
Free Trial: No
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $2.69/month

PIA is a good VPN for China that has good enough speeds to maintain HD streaming with almost no buffering or lag. PIA is able to unblock YouTube, Google, Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and other popular sites.

With PIA, you can actually customize your data encryption standards, so you can choose AES-128, AES-256, or no encryption at all. The standard these days for best security is AES-256, and this is definitely the degree of encryption that you will need in China. Lowering the level of encryption will increase your speeds, but it will also make your browsing less private, so this may be a good option to test in scenarios where you are not in a heavily censored location like china.

A downside of PIA is that this service is based in the US, which is a 5-Eyes country, so even though it has a strict no-logs policy, it is in a privacy-unfriendly location.

It is easy to use PIA on a variety of platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and more, and you can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, which makes it a great China VPN for large families traveling together who all want to be connected to the same VPN service.

The reason PIA is not at the top of the list, despite its huge server size, is because it does not come close to the connection speeds of more highly ranked VPNs, like ExpressVPN.

PIA will be totally sufficient for the average streamer, but if you hate to experience any buffering at all, you should opt for one of the top three servers on this list that are known for smooth, super-fast connectivity.

PIA — like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark — offers live-chat customer service, as well as the pretty standard 30-day refund guarantee.

VPN Pros:

  • Large server network
  • Affordable VPN plan
  • 24/7 live-chat customer service
  • Good China VPN
  • 30-day refund guarantee
  • 10 simultaneous device-connections

VPN Cons:

  • Inconsistent speeds
  • In 5-Eyes country

Newest resolution
Company Location: Sweden
Servers: 200+
Countries: 60
Connections: Up to 6
Speed: Average
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: Yes
Free Trial: 7 Days
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $2.07/month

PrivateVPN is another good China VPN that offers nearby servers to connect to from China in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan. So, while this VPN has fewer servers, it would be a shame to discount it when you are looking for a VPN to use in China.

Using this VPN, services like YouTube, Google, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer can be easily unblocked from China, and you can connect your VPN to lots of different devices as it is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Android, Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV, and routers. Just make sure to install your VPN before arriving in China!

In terms of security, PrivateVPN does live up to its name with its Kill Switch and AES-256 bit encryption. Private VPN uses OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and IPSec protocols. In China, though, you would need to use L2TP for its extra layer of security.

PrivateVPN also has a Stealth VPN, which helps you bypass blocks in heavily censored places like China.

If you are concerned about your VPN being based in a privacy-unfriendly country, it is important to note that this VPN does have a no-logs policy, but it is based in Sweden, which is in the 5/9/14-Eyes territory.

PrivateVPN gives you a 7-day free trial, but to get this trial code you have to email its customer support. If you want a bit more time to test this VPN, you can subscribe to PrivateVPN and cancel your service without penalty with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

If you click on our link (below) to PrivateVPN, you can actually get the cheapest deal of all the VPNs — only $2.08/month for 24 months.

VPN Pros:

  • 30-day refund guarantee
  • 7-day free trial
  • Top encryption standards
  • 6 simultaneous connections
  • 24/7 live chat service
  • Stealth mode for use in China

VPN Cons:

  • Based in a privacy-unfriendly country
  • Slower than some of its competitors
  • Live chat is sometimes unreliable

Devices compatible with VyprVPN
Company Location: Switzerland
Servers: 700
Countries: 64
Connections: Up to 5
Speed: Average
Torrenting: No
Logs: Yes
Free Trial: No
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30 Days
Netflix: Yes
Price: From $1.66/month

VyprVPN is another one of the best VPN options for China. Although its number of serves is smaller than some of its competitors, VyprVPN has server locations near China in places like Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan.

If you are looking for a great China VPN, VyprVPN offers a really cool feature: its Proprietary Chameleon protocol. This feature gives users extra power to break through geo-restrictions in heavily censored places like China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

When we tested it, VyprVPN was quickly able to unblock sites like YouTube, Google, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Hulu from China.

In terms of privacy and security, VyprVPN keeps up with the standards set by the other VPN services on this list with a verified no-logging policy, a Kill Switch, AES 256-bit encryption, and DNS leak protection.

If you are concerned about your VPN being in a privacy-unfriendly country, it is good to note that VyprVPN is based in Switzerland, which is outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes alliance.

On top of this, even though it is a much smaller VPN than some, it is spread widely across different countries around the world, and its servers are owned by VyprVPN itself, so it doesn’t have to rely on third-party hosts, which may compromise security.

You can use up to 5 devices simultaneously with VyprVPN, and VyprVPN is compatible with all major platforms.

VyprVPN offers a live-chat service and a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can sign up and try this product with no commitment, and cancel for a full refund.

VPN Pros:

  • Great China VPN
  • Chameleon protocol for use in China
  • Good privacy and security features
  • 30-day refund guarantee
  • VyprVPN-owned servers
  • Server locations near China

VPN Cons:

  • Slower connections
  • No built-in ad blocker

7. Astrill VPN — Great China VPN with Stealth VPN

Devices compatible with Astrill VPN

While Astrill is on the smaller end of VPN providers, the question here isn’t which VPNs are the biggest. So, does this VPN work in China? Yes.

While the server size is small, Astrill does have server locations in areas near China — like Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong — which will help ensure that your VPN speeds are optimal when connecting.

Connecting to this VPN from China will give you access to services like YouTube, Google, Netflix, and US Hulu, and its apps are compatible with all major platforms.

Astrill also uses the Stealth VPN protocol that helps bypass censorship in countries like China; and Smart Mode, which lets you use a local IP address, making it more difficult for any prying eyes to tell that you are using a VPN.

Astrill has military-grade encryption, and a Kill Switch to make sure your Internet is killed if your VPN ever cuts out, ensuring that your data and IP are never leaked.

So, are there any downsides to this VPN for China? Yes. While the other providers give you a free trial or a money-back guarantee, Astrill does not. So, using it before you get to China to test it out is an option, but you have no recourse if you don’t like this VPN.

VPN Pros:

  • 24/7 live-chat
  • Servers in countries near China
  • 5 VPN device connections
  • Stealth VPN mode

VPN Cons:

  • Smaller size
  • No money-back guarantee

8. Hotspot Shield — Servers in China

Devices compatible with Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is a high-speed VPN that offers over 3,200 servers in more than 80 countries, including China!

Hotspot shield can unblock sites from China, like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video.

While its ability to break through the Great Firewall is not quite as much of a sure-thing as its competitors, this VPN does have a proprietary protocol, Catapult Hydra, that is designed to help users get great speeds and a secure connection in heavily censored locations, like China.

Hotspot Shield uses AES 256-bit encryption and has an automatic Kill Switch that will protect you in the event that your VPN connection drops. It also has a useful built-in ad blocker to protect against malware and annoying ads.

Unfortunately, we have found that Hotspot shield — despite its no-logs policy — does log more information than one would like. We are constantly keeping our eyes out for changes in this practice; but for now, we would sooner opt for one of the other providers for use in China or anywhere.

If you do want to give this VPN a shot, it actually offers a longer trial period than the other VPNs on this list, with 45 days to get your money back if you are not satisfied with this service.

VPN Pros:

  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in China
  • 24/7 live-chat
  • Catapult Hydra protocol
  • 5 device connections

VPN Cons:

  • Logs some information
  • Works inconsistently in China

VPNs that Don’t Work in China in 2021

Since VPNs are aggressively blocked in China, finding one that works in China is a challenge, and there are, unfortunately, many more providers that don’t work in China. Here are some VPN services that simply don’t make the cut and either don’t work well in China — or don’t work in China at all.

Here are some of the VPNs that won’t break through the Great Firewall:

☑️ CyberGhost: We are big fans of CyberGhost for general VPN use, but when it comes to unblocking content from China, it just doesn’t work. Even though CyberGhost has servers in China, these sites only work if you are trying to access Chinese content from outside of China, which does not help in this case.

☑️ ZenMate: While some VPNs claim to work in China, ZenMate outright states that it does not, which is a huge help in terms of the time it takes for all of the trial and error.

☑️ IPVanish: Like ZenMate, IPVanish does us the favor or stating on its site that it does not work in China; and we appreciate this honesty.

Other VPNs that failed our tests and are not recommended at the moment for use in China are:

☑️ UltraVPN
☑️ TigerVPN
☑️ AnonymousVPN
☑️ Betternet
☑️ BTGuard
☑️ CactusVPN
☑️ HideMyAss
☑️ and many more

Download a VPN Before You Travel to China

Map of China

Finding VPN providers that work in China is hard enough, but if you find one and forget to load it on your device before you arrive, you are pretty much out of luck.

Because of China’s strong blocks on VPNs, you won’t even be able to find the VPN apps you are looking for if you search the Apple App Store from China; and it is very likely that you won’t be able to even access the Google Play Store at all, since many Google services are just plain blocked.

So, when you are making a packing list for your trip to China, add this to your list and download your VPN before you head overseas!

How We Tested Our Top VPNs for China

While real walls tend to erode over time, China’s virtual wall has just grown stronger. In order to find the best VPNs for China, our team tested over 100 VPNs, paying attention to the following criteria:

☑️ Speed: If a VPN can help you unblock your blocked websites but you are unable to access them without annoying buffering and frustratingly high loading times, is the VPN worth it? We tested the efficacy of the VPN connection, streaming and browsing speeds, and gaming speed/lag on an array of servers to make sure your speed will be sufficient no matter what you are doing online.

☑️ Server Proximity: To get adequate connection speeds, it is important to use a server that not only works in China, but is close enough to China. We tested servers in nearby locations, such as Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong, to verify that the VPN servers are reliable and fast.

☑️ Security and Encryption: Only the top level of encryption — AES 256-bit military-grade encryption — is sufficient when using a VPN for China. If its encryption was not up to market standards, we gave it a pass and moved on to the next VPNs.

☑️ Usability: Since you can’t start looking for a new VPN from within China if yours is too complicated to use once you get to China, it is important to make sure the one you have chosen is easy enough to navigate, even for newbies. All the VPNs we chose as the best VPNs for China are intuitive and user-friendly.

☑️ Kill Switch: In China, where VPN use is frowned upon, it is important to make sure that your activity is protected even if your VPN cuts out suddenly. A Kill Switch will ensure that your IP address and activity are secure at all times. If there was no Kill Switch, we gave the VPN a pass and moved on to the next VPNs on our list.

☑️ Reliability at Breaking through Great Firewall: After all of these features check out, it is important to verify that the VPN you choose works in China reliably and that it doesn’t just break through the Great Firewall once as a fluke. To check this out, we tested out different servers on an array of devices and platforms to make sure all the popular sites — like YouTube and Netflix — were accessible consistently.

☑️ Guarantee: Since you can’t download a new VPN from China, we would highly recommend using a VPN that has a money-back guarantee and downloading it far enough in advance of your trip that you can test your VPN and get a refund if the service doesn’t feel right to you. This way, you can work out any kinks before you travel and be sure you’ve chosen the right VPN for you in advance.

Which VPN Is Best for China?

Our top choice for the best VPN for China is ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN checks all the boxes in every category listed above.

ExpressVPN has over 3,000 high-speed servers located in 94 countries around the globe, including in places close to China, like Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong.

ExpressVPN is actually known as the fastest VPN service on the market, and we verified this with our speed tests to make sure that your speeds for any streaming, gaming, or browsing would be more than adequate. Based on our results, you will be able to use ExpressVPN in China with no buffering or crazy loading times when accessing your sites, whether Google, Netflix, YouTube, US Hulu, or loads of other options.

ExpressVPN has the highest level of encryption — AES 256-bit encryption — and also has a Kill Switch to make sure that your Internet activity and IP address are never leaked in the event that your VPN disconnects suddenly while browsing in China.

You can test ExpressVPN for 30 days with their money-back guarantee, and you can also use these 30 days to troubleshoot any issues or questions you may have by using its round-the-clock live-chat customer service option. Whether you are a complete VPN newbie who is first learning how to use a virtual private network or a VPN pro who is trying to explore some of the more advanced features that ExpressVPN has to offer, its 24/7 customer representatives can answer your questions quickly, professionally, and knowledgeably.

ExpressVPN is a bit more expensive than its competitors, but, as we consider this the premium VPN option, we are more than willing to pay these extra few dollars for the speed and reliability that we have come to count on with ExpressVPN, especially when it comes to using this service in a heavily censored country like China where a faulty VPN can get you into trouble.

How can I use VPN in China?
First, to use a VPN in China, you will need to make sure you download it to your devices before you land in China. Once in China, you can connect to a VPN in any country outside China in order to gain access to blocked apps, sites, and services, like Netflix, YouTube, or Google. If you are looking for regional services, your best bet is to connect to a more local server, like one in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, or Hong Kong.

If you are using your VPN in China to access services in a specific geographic location, like Hulu in the US, then you will need to connect to a US server.

How do I get a VPN in China?
You will not be able to get an effective VPN in China. In order to use a VPN to unblock your sites in China, you will need to make sure to subscribe to your VPN outside of China and download it to your devices in advance of your trip to China.

While the Chinese government does have certain “approved” VPNs that it allows people to use, these VPNs are not going to effectively unblock any of the content you are looking to unblock, and will likely just be used as a tool for the government to surveil your activity.

If you want to be sure that you have chosen a VPN that you know how to use and that works effectively, subscribe to a service a few weeks before your trip to China, test it , and you can cancel your subscription with almost all of the top VPNs for at least the first month with no penalty

Are VPNs legal in China?
VPNs are not illegal in China, but they are certainly frowned upon. While they do prohibit VPNs that are not government-approved, we have never heard of a visitor arrested for using a VPN while on Chinese soil. So, at least at this point, you don’t have to be worried that you will be stuck in a Chinese prison for life if you are caught using a VPN overseas.
What is the Great Firewall of China?
While it is easy to envision the Great Wall of China, the Great Firewall takes a bit more explaining.

The Great Firewall of China is the nickname that refers to the complex internet censorship that goes on within China. The Chinese government, as part of an official project called the Golden Shield, ensures that their government-controlled ISPs censor and restrict access to many sites on the web, significantly limiting access to any content outside of China.

The way in which the Great Firewall carries out this enormous task involves a combination of blocking IPs, deep packet inspection, filtering URLs, tampering with DNS, filtering keywords, and also manually enforcing these restrictions with the cooperation of Chinese authorities.

In order to get past the intensely restrictive blocks, most effective VPNs will use obfuscation tools so that their traffic is scrambled, making it look like the traffic going through its servers is not coming from a VPN.

How does China block VPNs?
If you are coming from a country that frowns upon government surveillance, you may be surprised to hear that all of your internet activity in China is being censored by its Firewall.

The Great Firewall of China checks the internet traffic going to and from all devices around the country. It restricts access to sites it does not see as befitting its culture and citizens (and government interest) by blacklisting certain domains and IP addresses. It is easier to do this in China than one might think since the Chinese government actually controls all of the ISPs in the country.

Because this blacklist affects VPN providers, you will need to load your VPN onto your device before arriving in the country. To make things easier for you, you can actually leave your VPN connected to a VPN server the entire time you are in China; Just change your VPN settings so your VPN connects automatically when you power on your device.

Can I use a free VPN in China?
While you are welcome to try installing a free VPN on your device for use in China, we would strongly advise you not to. For one, free VPNs will have almost no likelihood of getting past China’s restrictions since they tend to have fewer resources than the paid VPNs that also struggle to get past the Great Firewall.

On top of this, it is important to remember that just because a free VPN is not charging you a subscription fee does not mean that it is not making money from you. To make ends meet, free VPNs have been known to actually sell user IP addresses and data to third parties for a profit. This puts you and your information at risk, which is the opposite of what a VPN is meant to do.

If you want to make sure you are protected from Chinese censorship and from potential repercussions if you are caught disobeying the rules in China, a free VPN is not the safest best. Just remind yourself this: While free VPNs may save you a few bucks in the short run, they could cost you big in the long run.

That being said, if you insist on using a free VPN, make sure to read reputable reviews first. Reviews from verified sites on the effectiveness of specific free VPNs can a least give you a better chance of success when trying to use one China.

Which sites are blocked in China?
While the list of sites blocked in China goes on and on, here are some of the blocked services that you will need to access with a VPN from within China:

  • DropBox
  • Facebook
  • Flick
  • Google
  • Instagram
  • Skype
  • Snapchat
  • Spotify
  • Tinder
  • Twitter
  • Vimeo
  • Wikipedia
  • WhatsApp
  • YouTube

And, in addition to these sites, many foreign news sites are also blocked in China, like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, and more.

Which VPN would you recommend to a businessman traveling to China?
My top VPN recommendation for a businessman heading to China would be ExpressVPN. Based on our research and experience, ExpressVPN is a sure thing when it comes to getting through the Great Firewall, and it has all of the features needed to ensure that can serve any purpose needed from overseas. ExpressVPN has servers in 94 countries around the globe, including in countries geographically close to China, and offers military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and the fastest connections speeds you will find, which are necessary if you are trying to do business privately from a remote location.

Conclusion

In most of the free world, we take for granted how easy it is to access any sites on the Internet that we choose, whenever we choose to access them. Because of the restrictive nature of the Great Firewall of China, users have to be much more discerning when choosing a VPN that will give them access to the free web while remaining protected from government surveillance.

If you are looking for VPN services that will be able to consistently bypass the Great Firewall of China, check out some of the providers we’ve reviewed in this article. Our top VPN recommendation that will provide the most reliable, consistently fast connection to any sites you want to reach from China is ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN offers the most reliable connection speeds and offers servers in 94 countries around the world, including in countries that are in close proximity to China, which will ensure that your speeds are even better.

ExpressVPN’s military-grade encryption ensures that even the most persistent prying eyes in China won’t gain access to your private activity online.

While ExpressVPN is more expensive than its competitors, you can use this link to get you 3 months free, and a 1-year subscription at only $6.67/month. And, remember, you can only use this VPN from China if it is downloaded and installed on your device from outside of China.

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