9 Best (Still Working in September 2019) VPNs for China – 3 Are FREE

Don't take any chances! China is blocking VPNs, so make sure you'll have unlimited access before you arrive. We tested and verified the top 9 VPNs that are guaranteed to bypass the Great Firewall of China (luckily, 3 are free!). These tried-and-tested VPNs will ensure you have unrestricted internet access to your favorite sites and streaming while in China.

Best VPNs for China
China is cracking down on VPNs. The government wants to completely block all unauthorized services. Most information available about VPNs in China is outdated, so only use those on this list. While others may be useful, we can only guarantee that these ones will successfully keep you safe. We tested all the VPNs on this list in 2019 to ensure they’re still working in China.

China has some of the world’s strictest censorship laws, so you’ll need a VPN to access your regular sites and services. We tested many services to find the best VPNs for China that really work.

The Chinese government blocks thousands of websites that many of us use every day, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Many major news outlets are blocked, as well as messaging apps and streaming services.

If you want to be able to check your Gmail or chat with your friends on WhatsApp while in China, you need a VPN.

However, many VPNs do not work in China thanks to the government’s crackdown on VPN use. Luckily, we are here to tell you which VPNs you can trust to work in China.

We have personally tested all of the VPNs on this list to ensure that they can successfully bypass the Great Firewall of China.

We are going to introduce you to our top 6 premium VPN recommendations for China, as well as 3 free VPNs. The free VPNs come with a lot of limitations compared to a premium service, but they can unblock some of your favorite websites and content while you’re in China.

You will also find a list of services to avoid when selecting a VPN for China. Many excellent VPNs still struggle to get past China’s tough VPN blocks. We are going to help you avoid any unpleasant surprises by making it clear which popular VPNs don’t currently work in China.

If you want to know that you’ll be able to access the internet freely in China, be sure to choose a VPN from this list. We’ll even share a little tip on how you can save money on a premium VPN for China – or even get it for free.

Best VPNs for China

  1. ExpressVPN – ExpressVPN offers lightning-fast speeds and a proven ability to bypass the Great Firewall.
  2. NordVPN – NordVPN has servers in neighboring countries and can unblock just about anything (including US Netflix). It’s the most popular choice for full internet access in China.
  3. VyprVPN – Its unique Chameleon technology helps you bypass VPN blocks while keeping your connection private and secure.
  4. Surfshark – Surfshark can help you get past tough censorship and VPN blocks while securely protecting an unlimited number of devices.
  5. PrivateVPN – Thanks to its Stealth mode, PrivateVPN can bypass the Great Firewall and give you access to your favorite sites.
  6. Astrill VPN – Impressive security features and unblocking capabilities make Astrill VPN a favorite among users in China.

Best Free VPNs for China

  1. Hotspot Shield gives users 500 MB of data every day for free.
  2. Windscribe offers free accounts 10 GB of data per month.
  3. TunnelBear allows free accounts to use 500 MB of data per month.

IMPORTANT! You need to install your VPN on all your devices before you travel to China. Once you land, you won’t be able to download or install any VPN software.

The Great Firewall of China

We all know the Great Wall of China as one of the most famous landmarks in the world, but what is the Great Firewall of China?

The term refers to a group of laws, regulations, and technologies used by the Chinese government to regulate the internet within China.

The Great Firewall blocks anyone in China from accessing a long list of foreign websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many more.

The Great Firewall may also purposefully slow down internet traffic to any foreign websites even if they are not blocked.

If you try to access the internet in China without a VPN, you won’t be able to reach most of your favorite sites due to the Great Firewall’s heavy censorship.

VPN Blocking in China

It didn’t take long for the Chinese government to realize that people were using VPNs to bypass the Great Firewall’s censorship and access blocked websites.

Since then, the government has been taking steps to detect and block VPN use within the country. That’s why it’s virtually impossible to find a VPN with servers in mainland China.

The Great Firewall now seeks out and blocks many common VPN encryption protocols, including OpenVPN.

While it is against the law for VPN companies to operate in China without government approval, VPN use is still legal.

However, not many VPNs are able to successfully bypass the Great Firewall of China. That’s why it’s important to choose a trustworthy VPN that has been tested to confirm that it can reliably work in China.

What You Need to Know about VPNs in China BEFORE You Travel

  • Right now, most VPNs don’t work in China – even ones that have worked there in the past.
  • China has removed almost all VPN apps from the Apple App Store. Google Play, like most other Google services, is blocked.
  • How to use a VPN in China: You MUST install your VPN on your computer or mobile device BEFORE you get there. You will not be able to install the VPN after arriving in China.
  • Without a VPN, you won’t be able to access a long list of popular websites. Click here to check if a website is blocked in China.

Don’t take any chances with the Chinese government’s tough internet laws and enforcement. The VPNs on our list aren’t just guaranteed to give you unrestricted internet access. They also have the best security features.

Using a VPN in China is the only way to stay safe online. Browsing the internet in China without the protection of a VPN is actually dangerous. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best and safest VPNs for China. A good VPN will mask your identity and encrypt all your online activity, keeping your data safe from the prying eyes of the government and other third parties.

What to Look For in a VPN for China

You already know that you need a VPN if you want to use the internet freely in China. You also know that not all VPNs work in China, so you need to carefully choose one that will bypass censorship laws and protect you.

When testing to find the best VPNs for China, these were our criteria:

  • 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. Our recommendations give you unlimited access to Gmail, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, YouTube, international news sites, and more.
  • 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 we made sure to only choose services that passed our rigorous speed tests.
  • Servers in neighboring countries. One of the best ways to ensure a fast connection in China is to connect to a server in a nearby country, such as Japan or Hong Kong (which does not have the same internet laws).
  • Advanced encryption. You need to know that your identity and private information stay private. Mediocre, outdated encryption technology isn’t good enough to keep you safe in China.
  • Kill switch. This important security feature will instantly disconnect you from the internet if your VPN disconnects. This will keep your identity and IP address secure at all times.
  • Ease of use. The VPNs on our list are user-friendly and intuitive, so you’ll have stress-free experience even if you’re new to VPNs. They are all easy to install and set up – no technical background required.

The 6 Best VPNs You Can Count on to Work in China

We tested and verified all the VPNs we recommend. You can rely on them for secure and unrestricted internet access in China. Whether you need a Beijing VPN, a VPN for Shanghai, or simply to protect yourself while you travel, only these VPNs will keep you safe.

Pro tip: If you’re traveling to China for less than a month, you can use the money-back guarantees offered by top VPNs to get a free premium VPN for your trip.

1. ExpressVPN — Fastest VPN

Pros:

  • Consistently ranks at number #1 in weekly speed tests
  • P2P supported on all servers
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Excellent advanced security

Cons:

  • Pricier than other VPNs (but you get great value for money)
  • Only 5 simultaneous connections

ExpressVPN is a very popular choice for China. It has blazing speeds and consistently bypasses the Great Firewall of China.

This VPN’s impressive server network covers 148+ locations all over the globe, including many servers near China. This will ensure faster connection speeds.

On top of that, this ExpressVPN takes your privacy very seriously, with advanced security features and a strict no-logs policy. It also offers customer support in a number of languages, making it a favorite among users all over the world.

ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee with a no-questions-asked policy, so you can try one of the best VPNs for free.

Servers near China:

  • Fast servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand

ExpressVPN can unblock:

  • Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Showtime, Sling TV, DAZN, and BBC iPlayer.

Dedicated torrenting profile:

  • No, but all servers support P2P activity.

ExpressVPN works on these devices:

  • Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox. It also offers an app for use with certain routers.

View ExpressVPN Deals

2. NordVPN — Overall #1 Ranked VPN

Pros:

  • Up to 6 simultaneous connections
  • Dedicated P2P servers
  • The highest security standards
  • 24/7 live chat customer support
  • Website available in simplified Chinese

Cons:

  • iOS app can’t currently access obfuscated servers

With its military-grade encryption and ability to bypass the Great Firewall with ease, NordVPN is our top pick for accessing the internet in China.

This super-reliable VPN has 5,000+ servers around the world, including many servers in Asia-Pacific countries near China like Hong Kong and Japan. This means you’re guaranteed fast connection speeds.

With unlimited bandwidth, lightning-fast connections, and the ability to unblock almost any website, NordVPN is a great choice for streaming. You can also use NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature to automatically bypass geo-restrictions on streaming sites.

If you experience any trouble connecting, you can enable the Obfuscated Servers option in the settings menu. This will open an alternative list of servers specifically configured for heavily-restricted areas.

The friendly 24/7 live chat support is always around and happy to help. It’s no wonder this VPN is so popular among users.

If you’re still not sure if NordVPN is right for you, take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee and try it out risk-free.

Servers near China:

  • Fast servers in Hong Kong (52), Taiwan (7), Vietnam (4), Japan (111), South Korea (10), and Thailand (7)

NordVPN can unblock:

  • Gmail, YouTube, Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, news sites, and popular streaming services like Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

Dedicated torrenting profile:

  • Yes, P2P specialty servers available.

NordVPN works on these devices:

  • Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox. It’s also compatible with routers.

 View NordVPN Deals

3. VyprVPN — Most Reliable in China

Pros:

  • Up to 5 simultaneous connections
  • Unique Chameleon technology
  • Robust security
  • 24/7 customer support

Cons:

  • Torrenting not supported

VyprVPN is another excellent choice for China thanks to its proprietary Chameleon technology. This scrambles OpenVPN metadata to make sure that it can’t be recognized by deep packet inspection (DPI).

In layman’s terms, this means it can hide the fact that you are using a VPN to easily bypass the Great Firewall of China.

The Chameleon technology works so well that VyprVPN is able to provide some of the most reliable connections possible in China.

The vendor has 700+ high-speed servers around the world, including plenty of locations near China for fast connections. You also get access to unlimited bandwidth and secure, user-friendly apps.

VyprVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test out their service, risk-free. You can also check out what real users have to say about VyprVPN.

Servers near China:

  • Servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, and South Korea

Streaming services that VyprVPN can unblock:

  • Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer.

Supports torrenting: 

  • Yes, all servers support P2P activity.

VyprVPN works on these devices:

  • Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Routers, Android TV, QNAP, Blackphone, Anonabox.

View VyprVPN Deals

4. Surfshark — Best for Families

surfshark devices

Pros:

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • P2P supported on all servers
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Camouflage mode and NoBorders mode help you escape censorship

Cons:

  • Newer provider, so not as extensively proven as some

Users in China have had trouble with Surfshark in the past, but thankfully the VPN is now able to reliably bypass the Great Firewall of China. Surfshark has 800+ servers in 50+ countries, including many high-speed servers near China.

Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections with a single account, which is great for families with a large number of devices.

The VPN’s NoBorders mode is perfect for users in China. When enabled, the mode will automatically connect you to a server with unrestricted internet access to help you escape censorship in China.

All Surfshark servers are compatible with the VPN’s Camouflage mode, which hides the fact that you are using a VPN and allows you to successfully bypass the Great Firewall of China.

Surfshark’s CyberWeb feature will protect your devices from ads, trackers, malware, and phishing attempts. You can also whitelist specific apps and websites to bypass the VPN, which is useful in China when you may want to access some domestic websites within the country while still being able to view the uncensored internet.

You can read what real users have to say, or take advantage of Surfshark’s 30-day money-back guarantee to try the service risk-free.

Servers near China:

  • Servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand

Surfshark can unblock:

  • Netflix, Hulu, CBS, ESPN, Amazon Prime Video, and others.

Dedicated torrenting profile:

  • No, but all servers support P2P activity.

Surfshark works on these devices:

  • Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, FireTV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox.

View Surfshark Deals

5. PrivateVPN — Best for Privacy

Pros:

  • Up to 6 simultaneous connections
  • P2P friendly (Sweden servers recommended)
  • Special Stealth mode that can bypass China’s Great Firewall
  • No-logs policy and strong security

Cons:

  • Small server network
  • Not as fast as some providers on this list

PrivateVPN provides decent speeds and advanced encryption. The vendor has around 150 servers in 60 countries. There is a handful of servers in local countries, including nearby Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan.

While PrivateVPN doesn’t offer as many features as other VPNs on this list, it can still bypass China’s Firewall, and that’s no small feat. The PrivateVPN app comes with a Stealth mode that hides your VPN traffic, allowing you to bypass the Great Firewall of China.

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 currently offer the most reliable connections in China.

Read what users think of PrivateVPN. If you’d like to try it out for yourself, there’s a 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee.

Servers near China:

  • Servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand

PrivateVPN can unblock:

  • Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.

Dedicated torrenting profile:

  • All servers support P2P activity; list of P2P-optimized servers available through the app.

PrivateVPN works on these devices:

  • Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

View PrivateVPN Deals

6. Astrill VPN — Best for Beginners

astrill devices

Pros:

  • Connect up to 5 simultaneous devices
  • Supports P2P on all servers
  • User-friendly apps are very easy to use

Cons:

  • Reported issues with iOS app crashing

Astrill VPN takes your privacy seriously, with advanced security features and a no-logs policy. It has multiple security protocols so it can keep you safe in China.

All of Astrill VPN’s plans come with a StealthVPN mode. This protocol is optimized to hide the fact that you are using a VPN, which will allow you to fly under the Great Firewall of China undetected.

Another useful feature is Astrill VPN’s Smart Mode, which will automatically use your VPN connection to access international websites while using your real IP address to access local websites. This makes it easy to access domestic Chinese websites while hiding your VPN use.

Astrill VPN’s network offers over 300+ servers in 65+ countries, including in nearby countries like Hong Kong and Japan. It gets generally positive reviews.

The company offers a 7-day free trial, but unfortunately, the free trial version is not available in China.

There is a 7-day refund policy, but only under certain conditions. If you want know that you’ll get your money back if, you’d be better off choosing NordVPN or one of the other VPNs on this list.

Servers near China:

  • Servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand

Streaming services that Astrill VPN can unblock:

  • Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and BBC iPlayer

View AstrillVPN Deals

Our Recommended Free VPNs – Get a Free VPN for China

We also tested several free VPNs, and found three that work in China. While these three offer acceptable protection, we’d advise caution. Free VPNs aren’t as secure, fast, or reliable as fully-paid, premium services.

They are more susceptible to leaks and hacks, and cannot offer the same impressive security functions. They typically limit the servers you can access and the amount of data that you can use. You will also find that free VPNs usually can’t access popular streaming sites like Netflix.

You can see a full list of free VPNs that work in China here.

1. Hotspot Shield VPN

Pros:

  • Military-grade encryption
  • Proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol improves speeds
  • P2P supported

Cons:

  • Free users limited to 500 MB of data per day
  • Free accounts can only access US servers
  • Hotspot Shield Free can’t access Netflix

Hotspot Shield is one of the few free VPNs that work well in China. The provider takes your privacy very seriously and uses military-grade encryption to secure your data.

Hotspot Shield offers multi-platform compatibility and advanced security protocols.

However, the free version has some serious limitations compared to the paid version. Your speeds may suffer by being limited to distant and crowded free US servers, and you won’t be able to access most popular streaming sites like Netflix.

On the other hand, Hotspot Shield is still a good choice if you are looking for a free, user-friendly VPN that will allow you to check Facebook and browse the internet without censorship while in China.

All things considered, it is no wonder that this free provider has so many positive reviews.

View Hotspot Shield Deals

2. Windscribe VPN

Pros:

  • Free accounts can access nearby Hong Kong servers
  • Strong encryption and data protection
  • P2P supported on designated servers

Cons:

  • Free users limited to 10 GB of data per month
  • Windscribe Free can’t access Netflix

Windscribe is another rare example of a free VPN that consistently works in China. The provider has fast servers across the world. While the free version restricts which of these you can connect to, you are guaranteed to have access to the nearby servers in Hong Kong.

Windscribe uses robust encryption, keeps to its no-logs policy, and blocks malware on all your devices, even for free accounts. It’s compatible across multiple devices.

You won’t be able to access Netflix with a free account, but you may have some success with other streaming platforms like Amazon Video.

Considering that this VPN is free, the number of features that it provides its users with is out of the ordinary. Read what users think of Windscribe VPN.

View Windscribe Deals

3. TunnelBear

tunnelbear devices

Pros:

  • Strong encryption and security features
  • Good mobile support
  • P2P supported
  • Free users can access all servers, including nearby servers in Hong Kong and Japan

Cons:

  • Not great for streaming
  • Free users limited to 500 MB of data per month

Tunnelbear is a popular VPN with a free version that consistently works in China. Unlike many providers, Tunnelbear allows free users to access the entire server network. The VPN has servers in 20+ locations around the world. Local servers in Hong Kong and Japan will give you faster connection speeds while in China.

Don’t plan on using Tunnelbear for streaming, since the free version isn’t able to access most popular streaming sites. Free users are limited to 500 MB of data per month, which wouldn’t be enough for much streaming anyway.

Tunnelbear is still a decent option if you are just looking for a free VPN to help you browse the web and update your Twitter.

View TunnelBear Deals

These VPNs Don’t Work in China

These days, most VPNs cannot bypass the Great Firewall of China – even some that have worked there in the past. If you want to be sure you will have unrestricted internet access in China, these VPNs are not the best choice:

Although some of these popular VPNs have worked in China in the past, currently they are not working in China.

We always recommend that you choose a VPN with a good refund policy or a free trial to use in China, because it is difficult to guarantee that any VPN will be able to get past the Great Firewall.

If you really need to access the unrestricted internet while in China, it’s also a good idea to choose a second VPN to install as a backup before your trip. That way, you’ll still have options to turn to even if you find that your first choice VPN isn’t working once you arrive in China.

Since most of the VPNs on our list have good money-back guarantees, you can always purchase multiple subscriptions and then request a refund on the services you don’t use.

How to Unblock Sites Without a VPN

If you are already in China, you will be unable to download a VPN. Luckily, there are a few other ways to unblock sites in China. You can read about these methods here.

Keep in mind that a VPN is by far the easiest, fastest, and most secure way to unblock your favorite websites in China.

Summary

If you are looking for a free VPN to stream or use regularly while traveling in China, you should consider taking advantage of NordVPN’s risk-free money-back guarantee. This will give you a free month of premium VPN service, which is perfect for a short trip to China.

You may have noticed that most of the VPNs on our list offer free trials or money-back guarantees. If you’re only traveling for a short time, you can always cancel your subscription when you get home.

However, once you get used to all the benefits of a premium VPN service, you might decide to keep using it at home.

Either way, before you sign up for a VPN service, be sure to check our coupon page for all the hottest deals going on VPNs at the moment.

If you are trying to find the best VPN to get a Chinese IP address, take a look at our guide.

If you want to learn the more about VPNs, how they work, and what they can do for you, our VPN newbie guide is a great place to start.

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