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Best VPN for China in 2024

Last updated: March 7, 2024

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Whether you’re living in China or going for a visit, chances are you will discover that you lack access to many popular websites. China famously has very strict internet censorship laws that prevent internet users from accessing websites like social media, streaming platforms, and news sites with what has become known as the Great Firewall of China.

The solution to bypassing blocked websites is usually to use a virtual private network (VPN), but China’s Great Firewall has blocked many VPNs over the years, making it difficult to know which VPN services will even work in China anymore.

We’ve done a deep dive into all the top VPNs on the market to help determine which are the best VPNs to use in China that will help you bypass the Great Firewall so you can access any website you’d like while you’re in China.

In a hurry? Here are the 7 best VPNs for China

7 Best VPNs for China

Devices compatible with ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our top pick for the best VPN for China and, in general, for your VPN needs. It has a great global server network of more than 3,000 server locations across 105 countries, and it has a list of servers that are strategically placed in locations like Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong that are regularly maintained to work in China.

Features: One of the best features of ExpressVPN is its automatic obfuscation on its servers, which will not only help protect your data but will also help hide your VPN traffic. It has unlimited bandwidth and allows for 8 simultaneous connections. It also has a Chinese mirror site, which is a mirror website accessible from China that you can use to install ExpressVPN on any device you may have forgotten about.

Speed: ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs on the market, utilizing its Lightway tunneling protocol, and those speeds generally stay reliable even in China.

Security: ExpressVPN has excellent security features, including RAM-only servers, AES-256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy. It also has stealth servers to hide your VPN connection better.

Streaming: This VPN has amazing unblocking capabilities and can bypass restrictions on social media, news sites, and streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and HBO GO Asia.

Compatibility: This VPN is compatible with most operating systems and devices, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and routers.

Pricing: The downside of ExpressVPN is that it is more expensive than other services on the market. Prices start at $6.67 per month but do come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

VPN Pros:

  • Automatic obfuscation
  • Robust security features
  • Incredibly fast speeds
  • Excellent unblocking capabilities
  • Chinese mirror site
  • Servers work in China
  • 24/7 live chat support

VPN Cons:

  • Expensive option

2. NordVPN 

Devices compatible with NordVPN

NordVPN is a solid and reliable VPN that has good performance in China, and has over 6,000 servers in more than 60 countries.

Features: NordVPN has obfuscated servers specifically intended to bypass online censorship, although they’re not always reliable in China. It also allows for up to 6 simultaneous connections and unlimited bandwidth.

Speed: NordVPN has super-fast connection speeds with its NordLynx protocol, so you won’t have to worry about lag time or buffering while streaming.

Security: This VPN has many of the top security features in the industry, including AES-256 encryption, a built-in ad blocker, a kill switch, a no-logs policy, and IP leak protection.

Streaming: NordVPN can bypass the Great Firewall to unblock plenty of sites, including streaming sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and Amazon Prime Video.

Compatibility: This VPN is compatible with numerous devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and FireTV.

Pricing: Prices for NordVPN start at $3.99 per month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

VPN Pros:

  • Works in China
  • Fast speeds
  • Strong security
  • Torrenting allowed
  • Obfuscated servers
  • 24/7 live chat support


  • iOS devices require manual setup
  • Obfuscated servers don’t always work in China

3. Surfshark 

Devices compatible with Surfshark

If you’re on a budget but don’t want to sacrifice features with your VPN, then Surfshark is the perfect option. With over 3,200 servers in 100 countries, including server locations in Hong Kong and Macau, Surfshark has been working for users in China since 2019.

Features: A big perk with Surfshark is that they offer unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can use the VPN on as many devices as you want under one subscription. It also has NoBorders Mode, which is their version of obfuscation that will automatically turn on if it senses restrictions on your VPN connection.

Speed: Surfshark utilizes WireGuard tunneling protocol, which gives way to very fast speeds that will allow you to browse online lag-free.

Security: Surfshark has great security features, including AES-256 encryption, a zero-log policy, a kill switch, split tunneling, and an ad-blocker to keep your online activities safe. It also has Camoflouge Mode to keep your VPN traffic undetected by Chinese authorities.

Streaming: Surfshark is great at unblocking sites, including streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video.

Compatibility: This VPN is compatible with the most popular devices, including Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Pricing: Prices for Surfshark start at the low price of just $1.99 per month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

VPN Pros:

  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • Affordable price
  • Fast speeds
  • Good security
  • Great for streaming and unblocking sites in China


  • Not as great for torrenting
  • Occasionally slow server

Devices compatible with PIA

Private Internet Access (PIA) has one of the largest server networks, with over 20,000 servers in 88 countries. It has server locations nearby in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but also has a virtual server location within China.

Features: Like Surfshark, PIA offers unlimited simultaneous connections. It also allows for up to 5 simultaneous connections and has SmartDNS and obfuscation features. If you’re having trouble using it in China, it also has a Multi-Hop function to help you.

Speed: Private Internet Access isn’t quite as fast as some of the other VPNs on this list, but it still has above-average speeds and uses WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols.

Security: PIA really shines when it comes to its security features, particularly with its strictly audited no-logs policy that has been vigorously tested. It also has an advanced kill switch, leak protection, and strong encryption.

Streaming: PIA works with unblocking popular streaming sites such as Netflix, YouTube TV, HBO Max, HBO Go Asia, Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.

Compatibility: This VPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Smart TVs, and gaming consoles.

Pricing: Prices for Private Internet Access start at $2.03 per month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

VPN Pros:

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Affordable price
  • Virtual server in China
  • Strong security

VPN Cons:

  • Not as user-friendly
  • Sometimes struggles with Netflix and Prime

PrivateVPN has a much smaller server network compared to others on the market, with around 200 servers in 63 countries. However, the network is always expanding and does have servers nearby in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan.

Features: PrivateVPN allows for up to 10 simultaneous connections and unlimited bandwidth. It also has a StealthVPN mode, which helps to disguise your VPN traffic as normal traffic.

Speed: Despite the small network, PrivateVPN still manages to have decently fast speeds and has several tunneling protocols available to choose from to figure out which will work best for your speeds.

Security: PrivateVPN lets you customize your security so that you can best optimize the VPN in China. You can choose from AES-256-bit and 128-bit encryption levels, which might help improve your speeds. It also has port forwarding, leak protection, and a zero logs policy.

Streaming: PrivateVPN has servers optimized for streaming, including in Hong Kong, and can unblock sites that include Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.

Compatibility: This VPN is compatible with several devices, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Kodi, and some routers.

Pricing: Prices for PrivateVPN start at $2.00 per month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

VPN Pros:

  • Optimized streaming servers
  • Works in China
  • Affordable price
  • User friendly
  • Live chat customer support

VPN Cons:

  • Small server network
  • Some security features slow down connection speeds

Devices compatible with Astrill VPN

Astrill VPN is a favorite among users in China and has a long history of being a good VPN to use in the country. It has a network of more than 300 servers in 58 countries.

Features: With Astrill VPN, you can connect up to 5 devices simultaneously and have unlimited bandwidth. It utilizes Stealth VPN to evade detection, SmartMode to assign you a regional address, and offers a VIP service you can add on with dedicated servers.

Speed: Astrill VPN has super-fast speeds using OpenVPN and OpenWeb protocol, even when connected to server locations that are far away. It’s one of the best VPNs for increasing your speeds while in China.

Security: This VPN comes with great security features that include port forwarding, 256 encryption, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch.

Streaming: When it comes to streaming and unblocking, Astrill VPN does struggle. While it works decently for Netflix, it’s not as reliable with unblocking BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and Disney+.

Compatibility: Astrill VPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and select routers.

Pricing: Prices for this VPN are high, starting at $12.50 per month, which may be a deal breaker for some users. Yo

VPN Pros:

  • Incredibly fast and reliable speeds for China
  • Good security
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Easy to use and configure
  • 7-day free trial

VPN Cons:

  • No money-back guarantee
  • Doesn’t always work with streaming platforms
  • Small server network
  • Expensive

7. VyprVPN

Devices compatible with VyprVPN

VyperVPN provides great support to its users in China with its 700 VPN servers across 70 countries. What sets this VPN provider apart from the others on this list is that they own and operate their own servers, which adds an extra layer of protection from third parties.

Features: VyperVPN allows its users to have up to 10 simultaneous device connections. It also has a Chameleon Protocol that fights VPN blocking, which is designed for VPN usage in countries with strict internet censorship, like China.

Speed: Because this VPN provider owns its servers, there is less traffic than there would be on other VPNs, making the speeds for this VPN very fast and consistent.

Security: VyperVPN has good security features, including split tunneling, DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy. It also has VyperDNS, which is specifically to combat government censorship by preventing DNS attacks.

Streaming: VyperVPN can unblock numerous websites and supports streaming on OTTs such as Netflix, YouTube, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

Compatibility: The VPN apps are available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.

Pricing: Prices for VyperVPN start at $5.00 per month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

VPN Pros:

  • Owns its own servers
  • Great for combatting online censorship in China and other restrictive countries
  • Strong security
  • Fast speeds
  • 24/7 customer support

VPN Cons:

  • Doesn’t allow torrenting
  • Will suspend your account if you violate copyright laws
  • Stores limited access to logs for 30 days

Why you need a VPN for China

Due to strict censorship laws implemented by the Chinese government, many websites are blocked in China that the government deems inappropriate. This includes websites like news sites, social media, streaming platforms, and more.

A reliable VPN can help you bypass the restrictions put in place and keep you secure so that you can remain undetected while using a VPN to access any site you want. If you plan to live in or travel to China and want access to all these sites, then a VPN is a must-have.

How to choose the best VPN for China 

When it comes to combatting the Great Firewall of China, there are a number of factors you should consider when choosing a VPN to use in China:

  • Strong security and privacy features. Online safety is crucial, so it’s important to choose a VPN that has robust security features to help protect your data and privacy from any online threats or third parties. You also want a VPN with obfuscation technology that will make it difficult for prying eyes to detect that you’re using a VPN.
  • Reliable at bypassing the Great Firewall. Choose a VPN that has proven to be able to bypass strong internet restrictions in China so that you know you’re getting a service that will help you access the sites you need.
  • Fast speeds. There can be a lot of server traffic coming in and out of China, which can slow your connection down. So, look for a VPN with fast speeds that won’t contribute to the lag and will provide you with fast VPN connections.
  • Server network. You want a VPN that has a broad server network so you won’t have to deal with too much VPN traffic, and that will have servers that work in China.
  • Customer support. Things don’t go right all the time, so when you have an issue, you want to know that the service you chose has good customer support. Look for VPN companies that offer live chat support, email support, and an informative FAQ page.

How to use a VPN in China 

If you’re planning to travel to China, we recommend setting up a VPN before you arrive in China. There is a good chance that the VPN website could be blocked by the Great Firewall, making it more difficult to install once you’re in the country. To get started with a VPN in China, follow these steps:

  1. Subscribe to the VPN provider that you would like to use. We recommend ExpressVPN.
  2. Follow the provider’s instructions for downloading the VPN app onto your chosen device.
  3. Launch the app and sign in with your details.
  4. Select a server in a country outside of China.
  5. Once the server is connected, you’re good to go. Enjoy unrestricted access to social media, news, and streaming platforms.

If you are having connectivity issues, try connecting to a different VPN server or changing the VPN protocol you are using.

How to install a VPN in China

If you don’t have a chance to install VPN software on your devices before you get to China and need to figure out how to access VPN websites, there is a solution.

Start by downloading The Onion Router (TOR) and use it together with a Shadowsocks proxy in order to access the VPN’s website and get a subscription. Some VPNs will even have dedicated onion websites that are made for those who need to get around censorship. For example, ExpressVPN has a mirror website accessible in China for this exact purpose.

From there, you can download the VPN to your device and then follow the rest of the steps to start using it with ease.

Can I use a free VPN for China?

Yes, there are free VPNs that work in China. However, if you want to use one of these free VPN providers, there’s a catch.

In order for these free services to work in China without constant interruption, the VPN service must be approved by the Chinese Communist Party. This is because most free VPNs are weak when it comes to security and reliability and simply do not have the means to bypass the Great Firewall without approval from the Chinese government.

The risk with using one of the Chinese government’s approved VPNs is that it means the VPN services are required to log all their users’ data and online activities, and share it with the government. So, you essentially would have no online privacy measures in place.

Some free VPN services offer premium plans you can subscribe to, which don’t then need to share logs with the government. However, their scope still tends to be limited, and they usually struggle with bypassing the Great Firewall. We recommend sticking to premium VPN providers that are demonstrated to not only work well in China but also provide robust privacy and security features.

What is The Great Firewall of China?

The Great Firewall of China, also known officially as the Golden Shield is responsible for censoring internet access inside China. The Chinese government has ownership over all local internet service providers (ISPs), which means they can block websites at will and monitor your online activity. Unfortunately, the block list of websites has grown long and includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, and various news sites and search engines.

China’s crackdown on the internet became serious in 1997. The Golden Shield was launched in 2003 as a way to officially censor content while also promoting the Chinese Communist Party and ensuring only the news and history they want citizens to hear is being reported.

The government uses several methods for online censorship, such as blocking IP addresses, manual blocking, DNS tampering, and using Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) for keyword filtering. So, without a China VPN, you’ll be limited by what websites you are allowed to use, the government will have access to your data, and you can only shop at government-approved online stores.

The best VPNs for China have to be able to avoid DPI and have strong privacy and security features.

How VPNs navigate through the Great Firewall

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to get through the Great Firewall. A good VPN will encrypt your connection; this way, no one will be able to detect your activity and block you from any web pages that you’re trying to access.

Additionally, your VPN connection gets passed through an outside server network, which has unrestricted internet access. This way, even if you’re physically located in mainland China, you can experience the internet as if you’re located somewhere else.

It’s important to know that China has really cracked down on detecting VPNs, especially free VPNs, and proxies where it can detect and block their IP address. So, make sure you choose a VPN that is reliable for China and has the necessary features to avoid blocks.

Why are most VPNs blocked in China?

China likes to run a tight ship when it comes to the information that its citizens are allowed to access. By limiting access to online content, the government can control this and make sure citizens aren’t being influenced by foreign sources while also making their own propaganda available. Part of this means that the authorities will spy on the online activities of users in the country to make sure they’re not accessing undesirable content.

VPNs can be used to unblock restricted websites and grant online freedom, which the Chinese government sees as damaging and dangerous for their policy. So, authorities are always on the lookout for VPNs that people within China are using for activities the government doesn’t approve of.

However, some VPNs get left alone, which is perhaps because the government also recognizes that allowing some access is good for the country’s economy and international business relationships.

How can I bypass The Great Firewall without a VPN?

Bypassing the Great Firewall without a VPN is a major challenge, and the government has implemented measures that will not make it easy for you. However, if you want to give it a try without a VPN, here are some possible options for you:

  • Proxies: You can try to bypass Chinese censorship by using proxy tools such as Shadowproxy, which will obfuscate your traffic. However, this takes some technical knowledge to set up.
  • Tor software: Tor software is made for anonymous browsing and can help bypass censorship. However, you need advanced configurations to make it work because it can be easily detectable otherwise and will get blocked.
  • Lantern software: Lantern software is software used for circumventing internet censorship that obfuscates your traffic.

Tips to shield your digital footprint in China

As previously discussed, because of the strict online censorship in China, your digital activity could be at risk from prying eyes. But if you follow this list, you can keep your digital footprint off the radar.

  • Always use a VPN: You should have a VPN enabled 24/7 when you’re in China, specifically a VPN that is not owned by a VPN company or cooperating with the Chinese Communist Party. Using a reliable VPN like ExpressVPN can keep you safe and secure.
  • Avoid Bluetooth devices: Using a Bluetooth connection in China is risky, as it makes it easier for authorities to eavesdrop on your conversations, podcasts, or music. Better to stick to cable headphones.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi in China is not safe and can be used by hackers to rob you and be used to track your activities.
  • Protect stored data: If you have sensitive data stored on one of your devices, make sure it’s protected before you travel to China by either encrypting the file or using a file locker.
  • Stay off local apps: It might be tempting to use local Chinese apps while you’re there, but many of these apps are owned by the government, meaning your data won’t be private on them.
  • Use a password manager: We recommend protecting your private information with password managers that can help provide encryption and multi-factor authentication.
  • Use a disposable phone: Using a pre-paid disposable phone can help you avoid getting spyware on your phone, especially if you will be in China for business.

Websites Blocked in China

Due to internet restrictions in China there are numerous international websites that have been blocked in the country. The blocked websites include:

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • New York Times
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google
  • Vimeo
  • GitHub
  • Google Maps
  • Wikipedia
  • Twitter
  • Dropbox
  • Pinterest
  • Gmail
  • BBC
  • Reddit
  • CNN
  • Spotify

Is Google Blocked in China?

Yes, Google is completely blocked in China. As soon as you are in China, you will no longer have access to Google or any of the Google-affiliated sites and apps like Google Maps, Gmail, or the Google Play Store. To access Google from China, you will need to use a premium VPN service and connect to a server nearby in countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macau.

Is YouTube Blocked in China?

YouTube is owned by Google, so it is also blocked in China. However, if you want to access the site for streaming, you can unblock it using a VPN. Just follow these steps:

  1. Choose a VPN proven to unblock streaming platforms in China. We recommend ExpressVPN.
  2. Install the VPN app on your device before you travel to China.
  3. Launch the VPN app and log in with your details.
  4. Connect to a server nearby, like in Hong Kong or Taiwan.
  5. Clear your browser and cookie cache.
  6. Open up YouTube and start watching videos.

Is Instagram Blocked in China?

Yes, Instagram is one of the social media sites that has been blocked in China. If you try to open it there, you will receive an error message that your feed cannot be refreshed. However, with a VPN, you can access it by changing your IP address to one that’s in Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Is Netflix Blocked in China?

Netflix has libraries available in 100 countries, but China is not one of them. Instead, most Netflix content gets licensed through local Chinese video streaming platforms. Direct connections to the Netflix website are blocked from mainland China, and to bypass this block and watch Netflix on your account, you will need to use a VPN.

Is WhatsApp Blocked in China?

WhatsApp is blocked in China as part of the government restrictions in place. In order to access the app so you can communicate with your friends and family, you will need to use a reliable VPN.

VPN Not Working in China: Possible Fixes

If you’re struggling with your VPN in China, the first thing is to make sure that you’re using a VPN that actually works in China and is optimized to work there. Here are some possible fixes for common issues you may be having:

  • Connect to a different server. It’s possible the server you’re trying to use has been blocked or is having connectivity issues, so try connecting to a different VPN server to see if that changes things.
  • Change VPN protocols. Some protocols work better than others for bypassing restrictions, so try a different protocol if the first one doesn’t work.
  • Make sure your VPN software is up to date. VPN companies are frequently making updates and changes to their product, which can affect their ability to work well. So, make sure your software is up to date for the best user experience.
  • Contact customer support. If you’ve exhausted every possibility and can’t figure out how to fix your VPN, then it’s time to contact customer support and see if they can help you with the issue.

Does ExpressVPN Work in China?

Yes, ExpressVPN works in China. We consider ExpressVPN to be the best VPN for China, with its excellent speeds, security, and ability to bypass The Great Firewall.

Does NordVPN Work in China?

Yes. NordVPN is among the best VPNs for China and works very well at bypassing the internet restrictions in place.

Can I Use Surfshark in China?

Yes, you can use Surfshark VPN in China. This is an especially great option if you want a quality VPN for China that isn’t too expensive.

VPNs That Don’t Work in China 

China is constantly blocking VPNs, and there are many that are simply not optimized to work in China. If you need a VPN in China, these are the ones we recommend avoiding:

  • IPVanish: While technically you could get IPVanish to work in China, it’s not an easy task and has had mixed results. The only way to get around the Great Firewall is through manually connecting and inputting IP addresses instead of connecting to server names. Even if you succeed that way, most of this VPN’s IP addresses have been blocked by Chinese authorities, giving you limited options.
  • PureVPN: The speeds on PureVPN tend to be less than ideal and are simply not sufficient enough to be effective for use in China.
  • HideMyAss!: This VPN company has even stated that their service is not capable of bypassing the Great Firewall and will not work in China.


Is using a VPN in China legal?

Yes, using a VPN in China is technically legal, but only if you are using one of the government’s approved VPNs that allow Chinese authorities access to all of their users’ information.

Other VPN services that do not cooperate with the government are not allowed. It is important to look up all the laws and familiarize yourself with the legalities before using VPNs while in China.

Which VPN is the best for China?

The best VPN for China is ExpressVPN. You can try it risk-free for 30 days and get your money back if you’re unsatisfied.

Which VPN to use in Beijing?

We recommend using ExpressVPN and connecting to a server in Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Which VPN can bypass the Great Firewall of China?

The top three VPNs to bypass the Great Firewall are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark.


Whether you’re traveling to China for business, as a tourist, or planning to live there for a time, you will find that you will be blocked from many websites and apps because of the country’s strict internet censorship laws.

With a quality VPN, you can bypass these restrictions and have access to sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix, and Google. We recommend subscribing to ExpressVPN so that you can have full internet freedom from within China.

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