China is cracking down hard on VPNs, so even some of the most reliable VPNs don’t work there anymore. Thankfully, I have a new way of testing to find the VPNs that really do break through the Great Firewall of China.
The Chinese government blocks thousands of websites that many of us use every day. Even Facebook, YouTube, news outlets, and major messaging apps, gave in to China’s intense firewall.
Not every VPN is optimized for breaking such blocks, but the right ones still operate in mainland China. I’ve tested hundreds of elements in 300 different elite VPNs, using a new approach to research and testing, and the results surprised me. I only found 10 that are truly reliable and can grant you internet freedom in China. My top choice is NordVPN because it works seamlessly in China and bypasses the Firewall with ease. But I also found nine more quality VPNs, too. Read on to find out more.
Start Using a VPN in China Now!
What Makes The Great Firewall of China So Great?
When you’re in China, everything you do online is seen, tracked, and recorded. Not just that, but the actual sites you can access are highly restricted. While your friends in other countries might be able to update their social channels, watch a few YouTube videos, catch up with the latest news, and reply to a couple of emails, in China, you don’t have that freedom.
The Great Firewall of China stops you from accessing basically anything online. So you need a VPN to help you bypass blocks and surf the web.
But the Firewall has other restrictions, too. The Chinese government also regulates the use of VPNs, so you can’t use most of them, either. In fact, you’ll struggle to even get onto a VPN’s website, never mind download the app to your device.
It sounds near-impossible to get around these blocks, and most VPNs do struggle. But with the right technology and advanced anonymity features, there are some VPNs that can evade blocks and make sure you stay undetected.
A VPN can help you regain internet freedom and shield your anonymity, too. Not only can it give you access to your favorite streaming sites and WhatsApp messenger by hiding you from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), but it also makes sure you’re secure online.
A VPN keeps your activity and personal data complete encrypted and hidden, with no access from the government or any hackers. And in China especially, where you simply can’t risk any data or browsing history leaks, that’s all the more important.
Bypass The Great Firewall of China Now!
The Best VPNs for China in – Full Analysis (Updated August 2020)
After weeks researching and testing, I’ve found 10 great VPNs that will keep you safe, anonymous, and help you access your favorite sites.
- Over 370 servers near China
- Obfuscated servers
- Blazing-fast speeds
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Automatic kill switch
- Strict no-logs policy
- Works with: Disney+, Netflix, CBS, NBC, Lightbox, Hotstar, BBC iPlayer
- Compatible with: Windows, Linux, iOS, macOS, Android, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV
NordVPN is a super-reliable VPN that’s affordable but packed full of the very best features. It’s easy to use, faster than any other VPN I’ve tested, and can knock down nearly any geoblock thrown its way.
It has 5,390+ servers around the world, including many servers in Asia-Pacific countries near China like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan, so you’ll have no trouble accessing domestic sites in China, too. Connecting to a server nearby also means even faster speeds while you’re trying to get around Netflix restrictions, for example.
NordVPN offers obfuscated servers, designed for accessing the internet in locations with heavy censorship, so it’s ideal avoiding VPN blocks, especially in China. You can hop onto one of these servers to disguise the fact you’re using a VPN altogether, so the government can’t even see you’re using a VPN. And that means it can’t block your traffic.
All servers have unlimited bandwidth, lightning-fast connections, and the ability to unblock almost any website. Whether Google, WhatsApp, or Facebook are on your list, NordVPN can access them all so you can regain your internet freedom in China.
You’re secure and anonymous with NordVPN’s 256-bit AES encryption, which hides your IP address, data, and online traffic away from snoops – that includes the Chinese government.
You have an automatic kill switch that steps in to block your traffic if there are any problems with your connection. If you’re video calling on WhatsApp and your VPN connection accidentally drops, no one will know you’re using WhatsApp as you’re traffic is blocked automatically. So there’s no risk of being found, even on public WiFi which are often riddled with hackers looking to intercept your traffic.
Worried about your online history? With NordVPN, you don’t need to. It uses a strict no-logs policy, so it doesn’t hold any information about you or the sites you’ve been visiting, which means nothing can be traced back to you. When your ISP or the Chinese government looks at your browsing history, there’s nothing to be found.
Install NordVPN on up to six of your devices at once, with just one subscription. That means you can bypass The Great Firewall of China on all of your platforms, no matter where you are.
If you need any help, the friendly 24/7 live chat support is always around.
If you’re ready to sign up, take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee and try it out risk-free.
Want to know more? Explore our NordVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.
Try NordVPN Today!
- 3,000+ servers around the globe and hundreds near China
- Lightning-fast speeds
- Obfuscated servers
- RAM storage, not hard drive
- 256-bit AES encryption
- DNS and IP leak protection
- Works with: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, SHOWTIME, Hulu, ITV Hub
- Compatible with: iOS, macOS, Windows, Android, routers, Chrome, Firefox
ExpressVPN is a great all-round VPN that offers speed, security, and ease of use in one. It also gives you added flexibility with a highly advanced split tunneling feature that puts you in control of which apps go through your VPN.
This VPN’s impressive server network covers over 3,000 servers in 148+ locations all over the globe, including many servers near China. The closer you can get to a server in China, the faster your speeds will be. But ExpressVPN offers lightning-fast speeds anywhere you connect, so you can bypass blocks and stream in ultra HD.
You can use the obfuscated servers to mask your VPN code to look like any other regular traffic. This doesn’t reveal what you’re looking at, so you can still access all your favorite sites and apps while staying hidden from the prying eyes of the Chinese government. They won’t even know you’re using a VPN.
ExpressVPN uses advanced security features like AES 256-bit encryption and a strict no-logs policy, which makes sure you’re completely hidden from your Chinese ISP, even after you’ve logged off. No one can see your browsing activity, since nothing is held.
It even has DNS and IP leak protection, to stop your location or online traffic accidentally being exposed, which gives you extra piece of mind while you’re bypasing the Firewall.
The kill switch is automatically enabled in the app, so you’re protected against connection and device interruptions that might expose you to the Chinese government, without having to manually configure anything yourself.
ExpressVPN uses TrustedServer Technology which includes RAM storage rather than hard drive. This means everything is wiped at the end of your session. Why’s that important? Because nothing can be traced back to you, since your history has been wiped when you logged off. There’s nothing on file for your Chinese ISP to see.
You have five simultaneous connections on offer, plus access to a 24/7 live chat if you need any support setting up.
ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee with a no-questions-asked policy.
Want to know more? Explore our ExpressVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.
Try ExpressVPN Today!
- 700 servers around the globe
- Dynamic server switching for fast speeds
- Unique Chameleon security protocol
- Self-owned servers for greater anonymity
- Public WiFi protection
- Zero-logging policy
- Works with: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Crunchy Roll, ESPN, SkySports
- Compatible with: Routers, Smart TV, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Blackberry
VyprVPN is a highly secure VPN that offers some of the best anonymity features around. And it comes with lightning-fast connections no matter what.
It has over 700 servers globally, with plenty surrounding China, including Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam. VyprVPN gives you the freedom you need to access your favorite Chinese TV channels with greater speeds and quality, and bypass geoblocks elsewhere in the world.
You have reliable and fast speeds, with dynamic server switching to prevent any congested servers slowing you down. This feature quickly connects you to another in the cluster without any interruptions, while keeping you completely anonymous so none of your traffic is exposed to anyone watching – you can’t risk that in China. And it means you have the same great speeds while you’re streaming, gaming, or video chatting with your friends.
Its Chameleon technology is VyprVPN’s very own security protocol, masking your IP address and bypassing the Great Firewall of China with ease – it hides the fact you’re even using a VPN. You can easily circumvent China’s censorship and unblock restricted sites.
You can also choose OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec and PPTP if you want to switch your security protocol, but I’d stay away from PPTP. It’s the most dated protocol and has weak security, despite decent speeds. That might be OK elsewhere in the world, but you need all the privacy you can get in China.
All of your DNS requests are protected with VyprDNS, since VyprVPN owns all of its own servers. So, you don’t need to worry about any man-in-the-middle attacks which might reveal what you’re up to and expose you to prying eyes.
Its encryption is high-end, and there’s an automatic kill switch for maximum anonymity if your device is disabled. It makes sure your traffic always stays hidden, even if your VPN connection is compromised. No leaks means no one knows what sites you’re browsing – including your ISP. And of course, a strict no-logs policy, which makes sure no information is held about you.
You’re protected across any networks, whether that’s secure or public WiFi, so you can get around geo-restrictions at home, in the library, or even on your commute.
When you’re ready to sign up, you can try it out risk-free for 30 days across five of your devices simultaneously.
Want to know more? Explore our VyprVPN review to read the full results of our research and testing.
Try VyprVPN Today!
- 1,040 servers worldwide and surrounding China
- NoBorders mode to bypass Great Firewall of China
- Camouflage Mode for extra anonymity
- Industry-leading encryption
- MultiHop feature
- Clean Web ad and tracking blocker
- Works with: BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO GO, Sky TV, Disney+
- Compatible with: Xbox, Playstation, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, macOS
If you’re looking for a VPN for the whole family, Surfshark is a great choice. It has a fast-growing network of speedy servers and comes with extra privacy features that are great for anywhere, not just China.
Surfshark has 1700+ servers in 63+ countries, including many high-speed servers near China. Choose from servers in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Singapore to get even better speeds and access domestic sites from outside China, too.
You have fast, reliable connections on any server you connect to, so even if you’re trying to stream BBC iPlayer from China, you can watch in HD with no buffering. And reliable speeds aren’t the only thing you can count on Surfshark for – it can easily bypass the Great Firewall of China with its powerful NoBorders Mode designed to evade the toughest geoblocks.
All Surfshark servers are compatible with the VPN’s Camouflage mode, which hides the fact that you’re using a VPN and allows you to spoof your location and VPN traffic simultaneously. This makes it basically impossible for the Chinese government to detect you, because your browsing habits look like usual internet traffic.
You have maximum security with AES 256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and a complete zero-logging policy. There’s no risk of anyone accessing your data or browsing history, whether you’re connected, interrupted unexpectedly, or logged off. So you can enjoy complete internet freedom in China without worry of someone seeing what you’re up to.
Surfshark’s CyberWeb feature protects your devices from ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts for extra privacy. It’s one of the best blockers I’ve found, especially as it’s an all-in-one feature. This is especially useful if you’re unblocking social media from inside China, as many hackers post fake links as click bait and then steal your data.
You can also whitelist specific apps and websites to bypass the VPN, which means you can access some domestic websites within the China while still being able to view the uncensored internet.
You can even connect to multiple locations at once with Surfshark’s MultiHop feature, which makes it harder to trace you as you hop around the globe through several servers. It’s another great feature for China, because your ISP can’t find any single line of traffic to see what sites you’re accessing. You might be routed through Denmark to the UK, for example, and no one has any idea.
Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections with a single account, which makes it the best choice for families with a large number of devices. Or if you just want to use the internet freely on all of your devices in China.
If you’re ready to sign up, take advantage of Surfshark’s 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s completely risk free.
Want to know more? Explore our Surfshark review to read the full results of our research and testing.
Try Surfshark Today!
- 150+ servers in 60 countries and plenty nearby China
- Unlimited bandwidth and data
- Unlimited server switches
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Zero-logging policy
- Works with: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, DAZN, ESPN, YouTube
- Compatible with: iOS, macOS, Linux, Windows, PlayStation, Xbox, Chrome
PrivateVPN is a smaller VPN, but that doesn’t mean it’s not reliable. It’s one of my favorites, because it has top-notch security and it’s rare that you’ll ever see a geoblock using one of PrivateVPN’s servers.
It’s reliable for bypassing the Great Firewall of China and you have a variety of servers nearby to choose from, including in Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan. There are over 150+ servers in 60 countries so you can bypass blocks in any country you need.
You have reliable, fast connections anywhere in the world, even over a long distance. That means you can browse, stream, and game quickly while pushing your traffic as far as it can go.
You have unlimited server switches to unblock geo-restricted sites across the globe with no restrictions. You have the freedom to surf different Netflix libraries, refine your Google searches to local results in different countries, and access your mail from any location you need, even if you’re sat at home in China. And that’s across six of your devices, too.
The PrivateVPN app comes with a Stealth mode that hides your VPN traffic, which is essential for China. Without this feature, you’d struggle to bypass the Firewall. This keeps you hidden from your ISP while they’re monitoring your traffic, so it thinks you’re just a normal internet user.
PrivateVPN has you covered with industry-leading AES 256-bit encryption and multiple security protocols. You can choose from OpenVPN UDP/TCP, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, or even IKEv2. For China, I’d make sure you stick with OpenVPN or L2TP/IPSec, as these are the most secure, keeping you safe from any potential leaks or hackers. OpenVPN is my top recommendation as you have speeds and security in one, without compromising.
Tip: Since there is a fairly small server network, it’s a good idea to contact customer support before your trip to ask exactly which servers offer the most reliable connections in China. Use the live chat – it’s available 24/7.
Its jurisdiction is within Sweden, which is a privacy-friendly country, so there’s no need for any of your data to be handed over to the government. Not that there’d be anything to share, since PrivateVPN has a strict zero-logging policy. You’re anonymous at all times.
If you’d like to try it out for yourself, there’s a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Want to know more? Explore our PrivateVPN review to read the full results of our research and testing.
Try PrivateVPN Today!
- Servers in China and 3,200+ worldwide
- Catapult Hydra Technology
- Automatic kill switch
- Advanced encryption
- Zero-logging policy
- Five simultaneous connections
- Works with: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO, HBO Now
- Compatible with: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Blackberry
HotSpot Shield is a speedy VPN (it ranked #4 in our tests), that comes with high-end security and worldwide server reach. It even has its own security protocol, which rivals the most modern security protocol OpenVPN, to provide you with improved speed and security.
Hotspot Shield is one of the only VPNs I’ve seen that actually has servers in China, which means it’s ideal for accessing domestic sites at higher speed. It does have plenty nearby, too, including Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. It also has over 3,200 other servers in 80+ countries, so you can evade blocks anywhere you need.
Its speeds are impressive, so you can stream, browse, and game without any delays. You can thank Hotspot Shield’s Catapult Hydra technology for that, since it’s designed to give you lightning-fast speeds and maximum security without needing to compromise on either. It fights through China’s geo-restrictions with ease and keeps you highly secure, so there’s no risk of any leaks that might expose your internet traffic.
If your WiFi connection drops unexpectedly, there’s an automatic kill switch to protect you and block your traffic until your connection is restored. This adds the extra layer of protection you need in China, so you’re always securely hidden and away from your ISP’s invasive tracking.
Hotspot Shield offers a strict no-logs policy, so you don’t leave any data trail behind, which is essential in China where you don’t want your ISP seeing that you’ve been streaming all seasons of Peaky Blinders on Netflix US.
You also have advanced encryption alongside built-in malware protection, which blocks any potential phishing scams or websites that could infect your device. And that means you don’t run the risk of being exposed or your data falling into the hands of the Chinese government.
Want to protect more devices at once? You can, with five simultaneous connections.
Live chat is available 24/7 with any questions you have. Your money is protected with a 45-day money-back guarantee if you want to try it out risk-free first.
Want to know more? Explore our Hotspot Shield review to read the full results of our research and testing.
Try Hotspot Shield Today!
- 110+ servers in 62 countries
- Fast speeds
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- StealthMode for VPN invisibility
- SmartMode for automatic VPN connection
- Automatic kill switch
- Works with: Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, HBO GO, NowTV
- Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, routers
Astrill is a reliable, smaller VPN designed for complete anonymity. But added privacy doesn’t mean you compromise on speeds – you can enjoy the best of both, anywhere in the world.
It has a StealthMode that hides your VPN activity, so you can bypass the Great Firewall of China undetected and unblock your favorite websites and apps, whether that’s Google, Netflix, or your daily news fix.
It has 110+ servers in 62 countries. While it doesn’t offer mass server coverage, it does have servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and other areas surrounding China. This means you can easily access domestic sites from within China. And the other global servers are reliable for giving you access to the sites you can’t get in China.
You have super-fast speeds across all servers. When I tested the Hong Kong and Japan servers, I had barely any speed loss. It’s reliable further afield too, so you don’t need to worry about buffering TV on a UK server.
The SmartMode feature automatically activates the VPN when it detects when you’re trying to access an international site. This helps you bypass geoblocks without any extra configuration and stops any accidental leaks. Even if you accidentally forget to turn the VPN on while you’re opening WhatsApp, it kicks in for you to keep you shielded from your ISP.
An automatic kill switch further prevents any IP or DNS leaks, too, so you’re always hidden from snoopers, whether that’s the government or hackers.
If you’re after more anonymity, use the multi-hop feature to connect to several locations at once. That way, you don’t have a single line of traffic that could be traced. I’d recommend this feature for China as it means even lower risk of being found. But it will slow your speeds slightly.
You have unlimited simultaneous connections and access to P2P sharing on any server. Plus, a 24/7 live chat, but I did find agents slow to respond during my tests.
There’s no money-back guarantee, but you do have a 7-day free trial.
Want to know more? Explore our Astrill VPN review to read the full results of our research and testing.
Try Astrill VPN Today!
- Servers in Japan on the free plan
- Unlimited data
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Built-in ad blocker
- Works with: Kodi, YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter WhatsApp
- Compatible with: Linux, Android, Windows, macOS, iOS
ProtonVPN is a reliable choice if you’re looking for a free VPN with no limits on data and no compromise on security. It does come with some other limits though, so you can’t unblock every site you need around the world.
ProtonVPN’s free plan comes with servers in three countries, which includes the US, Holland, and Japan. Since Japan is near China, you’ll generally have better speeds if you choose this server.
For a free plan, ProtonVPN doesn’t hold back on data allowance – it offers unlimited data. That means you can browse as much as you like, without worrying you’ll be hit with China’s censorship when your data runs out.
It’s not reliable for streaming on any sites other than YouTube and Kodi, but it can unlock other sites restricted by China’s censorship like Google, social media apps, and WhatsApp.
Your speeds are deliberately throttled, though, so watching videos on YouTube could get frustrating with loading times. But I found browsing fast enough, so it’s reliable if you just want to do a quick Google search or reply to a few emails without being blocked.
You’re highly secure with military-grade encryption, even on the free plan, so there’s no way anyone can access your data or traffic, even in China where the government uses advanced tactics to see what you’re up to. And there’s a strict no-logs policy, so there’s no risk of your data or online activity being held.
There’s also a built-in ad blocker to protect your device against any malware or viruses that might compromise your safety or anonymity and expose you to the watchful eyes of your Chinese ISP.
For any support, use the online ticketing system.
Want to know more? Explore our ProtonVPN review to read the full results of our research and testing.
Try ProtonVPN Today!
- Servers in 10 countries, including Hong Kong
- 10GB data per month
- High-end encryption and no-logs
- R.O.B.E.R.T ad and tracking blocker
- Steady speeds
- Works with: Google, Netflix, YouTube, Kodi, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video
- Compatible with: Chrome, Firefox, Windows, macOS, iPhone, Linux, Android
Windscribe is a trustworthy, free VPN that has your privacy online in mind. It offers high-end security features, generous data allowance, and reliable connections so you can evade blocks and stay undetected.
Windscribe has a widespread global network, but the free plan only comes with 10 locations. It includes the US, UK, Canada, and Hong Kong, so there are servers nearby China for improved speeds.
You have 10GB of data on offer per month, which is fine for streaming in standard definition for 7.5 hours on YouTube or scrolling through social media for 166 hours. If you don’t provide your email address upon sign up, you only have 2GB. Make sure you use this trick when you get started to have internet freedom for the maximum amount of time.
With Windscribe, you have reliable connections, but don’t expect them to be as fast as some of the other vendors in this list. They’re still quick enough for you to do plenty online without much lagging, though.
Its security is strong, with industry-leading encryption and a built-in ad and tracking blocker which it calls R.O.B.E.R.T. It stops anyone tracking your activities and infecting your device, and also improves speeds because there’s no need to wait for ads to load on the page.
You’re completely anonymous while you’re surfing the web in China with no identifying logs, and even after you’ve finished using the VPN, so you don’t need to worry about your ISP finding you.
You still have access to the 24/7 live chat for any support, whether you’re on the free plan or not.
Want to know more? Explore our Windscribe review to read the full results of our research and testing.
Try Windscribe Today!
- Servers in Singapore, plus three others
- 2GB data per month
- Military-grade encryption and IP leak protection
- Automatic kill switch
- Strict no-logs policy
- 24/7 live chat
- Works with: Netflix Canada, HBO GO, Google, Sky Go, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, WhatsApp
- Compatible with: Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox
If you’d rather no one knew you were even signing up for a VPN, hide.me is a good choice. It’s free and comes with high encryption and complete anonymity from the moment you download, but there are some restrictions on your server network and data allowance.
hide.me offers servers nearby China on its free version. You can connect to servers in Singapore, plus the US, Canada, and the Netherlands. But these are the only four locations on offer.
Your connections are reliable and steady, though data-intensive activities like streaming do cause some lagging. However, I found using Google was fairly quick, so it’s fine for some light browsing. If you’re using it to unblock Skype in China, though, be prepared for some fuzzy video calls.
You have 2GB of data on offer per month, which is enough to stream on Netflix for a couple of hours. Remember though, once you run out, that’s it for another month, so you’ll be faced with blocks once again.
Its security is high-end, which includes industry-leading encryption, a kill switch, and IP leak protection. This last feature stops your location being revealed if there’s ever an interruption to your connection, so you can’t be found by your ISP or the government.
There’s also a no-logs policy and no requirement to hand over your email address when you sign up, which means you can start using the app completely anonymous.
You’ll find the app easy to use and set up, so connecting to a server is straightforward. You don’t need to sit through any ads while using the app, either.
Support is available through the 24/7 live chat — a feature most VPNs reserve for paying users only.
Want to know more? Explore our hide.me review to read more about the results of our research and testing.
Try hide.me Today!
The VPNs That Don’t Work in China
It’s not easy to find a VPN in China. I tested 300 hundred VPNs and only found 10 reliable vendors. Here are some VPNs to avoid.
CyberGhost is a reliable for a lot of things, but bypassing The Great Firewall of China isn’t one of them. You can use it for streaming any Netflix library, though, and it’s reliable for P2P sharing. You can read more about CyberGhost in our full review.
I put IPVanish through plenty of tests with the Firewall, and it didn’t pass any of them. Its website states that it’s not reliable for China, so it’s best to avoid this VPN. You can use it for other things, though, like unblocking streaming sites and keeping yourself anonymous online elsewhere in the world. Read more about IPVanish is our detailed review.
You won’t get past China’s tough geoblocks with ZenMate. While its website says that it’s trying to find ways around these restrictions, there’s no solution just yet. But it’s still a highly secure and fast VPN that you can use once you’re not in China – find out more in our full ZenMate review.
UltraVPN couldn’t bypass China’s VPN blocks during my tests, although the claims on its website sound like it should. Still, it does have some attractive features like a large server network and the ability to unblock Netflix, which you can read more about in our UltraVPN review.
What You Need to Know About VPNs in China BEFORE You Travel
Right now, most VPNs don’t work in China – even the ones that have been reliable in the past. But don’t worry, we repeat tests regularly to find the ones that do.
China has removed almost all VPN apps from the Apple App Store. As for Google Play, like most other Google services, it’s completely blocked.
So, to use a VPN in China, you must download the app to your device before you get there. If you try to do download an app when you arrive in China, you’ll have no luck.
Want to check if a website is blocked before you arrive? Use our interactive tool to help.
Research Methodology: How We Tested These VPNs
As China’s blocking technology has become even tougher recently, it’s hard to find a VPN that’s reliable for bypassing the Great Firewall. To get a complete picture of a VPN’s constant performance, I researched and tested hundreds of different elements within each VPN service. That way, I know every VPN on this list really does work.
Here’s how I judged each VPN:
- Ability to bypass the Great Firewall of China. This firewall is one of the most advanced censorship systems in the world. Bypassing it is a challenge – if not completely impossible – for most VPNs. I tested and tested again over different devices, servers, and sites to make sure you have access to what you need, anywhere you need it.
- High speeds. Unrestricted internet access doesn’t mean staring at a blank screen while you wait for your favorite websites to load. Some VPNs significantly slow down your connection in China, so I made sure I tested connection, browsing, streaming, and gaming speeds across multiple servers so you’re covered for whichever activity.
- Servers in neighboring countries. You need servers in neighboring countries to get the best connections, so I made sure each VPN has servers in countries such as Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore – and that these servers are reliable for speed and performance,
- Advanced encryption. Mediocre or outdated encryption isn’t enough to keep you safe in China, so I made sure each VPN has industry-leading encryption, before I even ran any other tests. If it was anything less than 256-bit AES encryption, it didn’t pass my test.
- Kill switch. This important security feature instantly disconnects you from the internet if your VPN disconnects. This is essential for keeping your identity and IP address secure at all times, so it’s crucial for China. Every VPN on this list has a kill switch that’s guaranteed to help you avoid detection. Even if a VPN has servers in China, if it doesn’t have a kill switch, I wouldn’t recommend it for you.
- Ease of use. The VPNs on my list are user-friendly and intuitive, so you’ll have a stress-free experience even if you’re new to VPNs. They’re all easy to install and set up – no technical background required.
🚫 What is the Great Firewall of China?
The Great Firewall of China is a set of laws, regulations, and technologies used by the Chinese government to regulate internet use in China.
You don’t need to know every detail of the laws, but you do need to know that the Great Firewall of China is what stops you accessing a long list of foreign websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many more.
The government tracks your location so it knows when you’re inside China. And when that happens, geoblocks get in the way of your internet freedom.
The Great Firewall of China may also purposely throttle your speed to foreign websites even if they’re not blocked, which makes being online slow and frustrating.
With a VPN, though, you can unblock censored sites by hiding your location, so you can regain control of your online activity.
🛑 How does China block VPNs?
The government can also see that you’re using a VPN. In some locations, this isn’t a problem, but in China it’s a different story.
The government has become stricter over VPN use, and in some cases, banned certain VPNs altogether. And that means even if you’re using a VPN to stream Netflix, if the government sees that you’re using a VPN, you’re still blocked straight away.
China does allow some VPNs, but they have to be government-approved. So, this is why so many VPNs don’t have servers in mainland China, or simply don’t work.
But VPNs are clever, and there are ways to beat censorship – if you choose the right one. That’s why you need a VPN that’s trustworthy. A VPN disguises your location by connecting to a server in another country, so the government thinks you’re somewhere else. It hides your IP address and all of your online traffic, so you’re completely anonymous.
🛡️ Can I use a free VPN in China?
There are some free VPNs that work in China. Both Windscribe and Hotspot Shield offer free plans which are reliable for bypassing some geoblocks.
However, I’d never recommend a free plan over a paid one, because they’re usually stripped back of important features. If that means less security features like no kill switch, more ads, or lower-level encryption, you’re inevitably less secure online. In China especially, you need security, so paying premium really does matter. Plus, free VPNs usually throttle your speed and limit your data allowance which is annoying, if nothing else.
📱 Can I still use my apps if I’m traveling to China?
If you try and use apps like Gmail and WhatsApp when you travel to China, they’ll be blocked, regardless of whether or not these apps are allowed in your home country. But if you use a VPN, you can use these apps freely anywhere in the world, including in China.
⛔ Which sites are blocked in China?
There are a whole host of sites blocked in China. This includes Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and many, many more. For a full list of all blocked sites, check out our quick guide.
⏰ Should I leave my VPN on all the time?
It’s not necessary to leave your VPN on all the time if you only need it occasionally. However, in China, I’d always recommend leaving your VPN on as much as possible as it keeps you more secure and private, plus it helps you bypass digital censorship.
If you leave your VPN on, it also reduces the risk of you forgetting to turn it on in more vulnerable areas, like public WiFi.
Internet freedom and China aren’t two things you hear often in the same sentence. Since the Chinese government places heavy restrictions on the sites you can visit and which apps you can download, there’s little room for a truly open internet.
But if you use a VPN, you can regain your freedom.
For the highest online security and unrestricted internet, I’d recommend NordVPN. It has severs all over the world, offers lightning-fast speeds, and unblocks almost any site you put in its way.
If you’re looking to unblock WhatsApp in China, follow our simple three-step guide to get you back up and running in no time.
Want complete anonymity online? See our review of best no-log VPNs.
To summarize, the best VPNs for China are…