We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

How to Use Google in China (2024): Docs, Maps, and Gmail

Andjela Nikolic Updated on 2nd April 2024 Fact-checked by Kate Veale Cybersecurity Researcher

The easiest way to use Google in China is with a VPN. These are simple apps that encrypt your browsing activity, which means the Great Firewall can’t tell you’re trying to access Google. However, many VPNs don’t work from within China.

My team and I tested 40+ VPNs that claim to work in China. I found only a few that could reliably access Google and its suite of services in the country. Those I’ve shortlisted have strong obfuscation which allows them to avoid VPN detection. They also use military-grade encryption to secure your connection so you can use Google freely.

Among these, ExpressVPN stood out as the best VPN for using Google in China. On top of solid encryption and obfuscation, it’s one of the fastest VPNs I tested. Plus, you can download it when you’re already in China as it operates mirror sites that the Firewall can’t block. If you’re still hesitant, note that the VPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk in trying it out. Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Access Google From China >>

Pro tip. If you're traveling to China, download and install the VPN before leaving your country. Additionally, keep a list of customer support contacts handy, including email or a secure messaging service, in case you need assistance while in the country.

Quick Guide: How to Access Google in China With a VPN in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. ExpressVPN is my top recommendation for consistently accessing Google in China due to its automatic obfuscation technology that prevents your VPN use from getting flagged and blocked. It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Connect to a server nearby. Choose a server in an area where Google isn't restricted, like Hong Kong.
  3. Start browsing. Open Google and use its apps as you would back home, with full functionality restored.
Important. VPN usage in China falls under stringent regulations, with only state-sanctioned VPNs being officially permitted. Despite this, no public record of tourists being penalized for using alternative VPN services exists. Still, it's wise to familiarize yourself with local VPN regulations to sidestep any possible risks or legal issues. vpnMentor advocates for lawful behavior and does not endorse using a VPN for illicit activities.

Why You Need a VPN to Access Google in China

China censors and blocks Google and its subsidiaries, such as Gmail. These restrictions change over time from total bans to partial restrictions. Even when Google search is not entirely banned, its keywords are heavily censored. For example, if you search for specific topics like the Dalai Lama, Falun Gong, or the Tiananmen Square event, you will likely see an error page instead of results.

These limitations are imposed by China’s censorship Firewall (known as The Great Firewall ). The Firewall reads your data to see which site you’re trying to access and blocks your connection if it’s not allowed. You can use a VPN to encrypt this information so the Firewall can’t detect you're trying to access Google services.

This sounds complicated, but it isn’t. VPNs route your traffic through their own private servers, which encrypts it and hides your IP address. Consequently, other sites outside China can't see you accessing them from another country. This is useful if you also need to use sites from home, such as your online banking app or PayPal account.

Best VPNs for Using Google in China in 2024

Warning. The Chinese authorities are constantly updating their methods to block VPN usage. The following VPN services worked for accessing Google from within the People's Republic of China during our testing. It's important to note, though, that the situation could evolve, and such changes are beyond our control.

1. ExpressVPN — Automatic Obfuscation to Easily Access Google in China

Best Feature The Lightway protocol keeps your data secure without compromising on speed
Works With Google Search, Gmail, Maps, Translate, Drive, YouTube, Play Store, WhatsApp, and more
Server Network 3,000 servers in 105 countries, including Mongolia, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Hong Kong
Security & Privacy Military-grade encryption protects your data from surveillance
Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Your VPN use is less likely to be detected and blocked, thanks to all ExpressVPN servers using obfuscation to make your VPN traffic appear as regular internet traffic. Unlike other VPNs on this list, I didn’t need to configure the VPN settings to enable this function. While testing ExpressVPN, my traffic was obfuscated as long as I used the default protocol settings (Automatic).

Screenshot showing a conversation with ExpressVPN live char support regarding the VPN use in ChinaYou can find the "Pick for Me" server by using the server location search bar

If you’re already in China, you can still download ExpressVPN by visiting one of its mirror sites. China blocks most VPN websites, so ExpressVPN frequently changes URLs to dodge these restrictions. To get the most current mirror site URLs, contact the VPN's 24/7 customer service at support@expressvpn.zendesk.com — they typically reply right away.

Your data and browsing activity remain private with ExpressVPN as it upholds a strict no-logs policy. This policy has been verified by independent audits, affirming that it truly doesn’t collect, store, or share user data. Additionally, all its servers run on RAM, not hard drives. This means all your browsing information gets deleted as soon as you disconnect.

The VPN's pricing is a slight drawback. However, you can save up to 49% on long-term subscriptions and get 3 extra months for free. Additionally, thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee, you can get a full refund if you’re not 100% happy with it. To test its refund process, I contacted customer support via live chat. The agent didn’t pressure me to stay, and the money was back in my bank account in 2 days.

Useful Features

  • Network Lock kill switch. This feature automatically cuts off your internet connection if the VPN drops unexpectedly. This means that the Firewall won’t be able to see that you’re using Google, even when switching servers.
  • 8 simultaneous connections. You don't have to choose which device to secure, providing convenience and flexibility.
  • Perfect Forward Secrecy. Each of your ExpressVPN sessions is secured with a unique key. In the unlikely event that one key is compromised, it cannot be used to decrypt past or future sessions. This makes it extremely difficult for anyone to intercept and decode your browsing activity.
  • Fast connection speeds. ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN I tested for China (only a 5% drop testing nearby servers), especially using its proprietary Lightway protocol. Use servers near China to get the best performance and avoid long loading times.
ExpressVPN Offer June 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. Astrill VPN — Optimized Servers for Connecting From China

Best Feature Balance speed with security when accessing Google from China
Works With Google Search, Gmail, Maps, Translate, Drive, YouTube, Play Store, WhatsApp, and more
Server Network 118 servers in 58 countries, so you can access sites in many other countries
Security & Privacy Follows a no-logs policy, so your Google browsing data won't be collected or shared

Astrill’s Supercharged Servers are optimized with the best settings for use in China. I found them really useful, as they eliminate several extra steps when setting your VPN up to use Google, and you get the best security possible, including vital leak protection. When I tested its Supercharged Seattle server, I detected no data leaks.

Screenshot showing Astill VPN live chat window with information about mirror links for ChinaI like how easy it is to remember this mirror site URL

To reliably access Google in China with Astrill VPN, I recommend activating StealthVPN and Smart Mode. StealthVPN disguises your VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic, which is crucial for use in countries with deep packet inspections. At the same time, Smart Mode hides your VPN use and improves your speed by tunneling international websites through a foreign IP, while local sites use a Chinese server.

Astrill VPN protects your data with AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and the OpenWeb protocol. OpenWeb makes it possible to switch between servers without disconnecting. This is great for China, where server availability and performance can vary. It means you don’t need to risk your security and privacy while searching for the right server that works well with your Google apps.

Unfortunately, Astrill VPN doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee and is more expensive than most VPNs. However, this is somewhat offset by its referral program, where you can earn one month of free service for every friend you refer who purchases a subscription. It accepts various payment methods, including credit and debit cards, PayPal, and even cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Monero.

Useful Features

  • Auto Clear Cookies. Astrill VPN automatically clears your cookies on your desktop device. Clearing cookies prevents websites from tracking your activities after you've disconnected from the VPN, which is great for maintaining privacy and security after accessing Google in China.
  • App Guard. With Astrill VPN's App Guard feature, you can specify which applications are allowed internet access only when the VPN is connected. So, if your VPN connection drops unexpectedly, those applications will not leak sensitive information.
  • Onion Over VPN. This feature offers an additional layer of security by routing your VPN connection through the Tor network. The combination of VPN and Tor network encryption makes your online activities extremely difficult to trace.

3. Private Internet Access — Unlimited Connections to Access Google in China on All Your Devices

Best Feature Your entire household can use the VPN simultaneously in China without a drop in performance
Works With Google Search, Gmail, Maps, Translate, Drive, YouTube, Play Store, WhatsApp, and more
Server Network 29,650 servers in 91 countries, including Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, and South Korea
Security & Privacy Choose your level of encryption and protocol for enhanced speed or security
Editors' Note: Private Internet Access and this site are in the same ownership group.

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a great solution for families traveling to China, as multiple devices can access Google and other restricted sites with a single subscription. There’s no need to risk your online data by disconnecting a device to connect another to the VPN. While testing PIA, my speed remained stable no matter how many devices I connected, with an average reduction of 9% testing servers near me.

I recommend activating Multi-Hop and Shadowsocks when you’re in China. Multi-Hop routes your internet traffic through multiple servers in different locations, making it more difficult to trace your online activities back to you.

Screenshot of PIA's Multi-hop and Obfuscation (Shadowsocks) feature on Windows To find PIA's settings, click on the three dots in the app's upper right corner

The abundance of options in PIA’s apps might seem daunting to less tech-savvy users. Luckily, there are clear, straightforward explanations next to each setting within the app. Additionally, all its settings are easy to find, plus there’s 24/7 live chat support to help you with anything.

You can get PIA’s long-term plan for only $2.03/month. All subscriptions also include a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try its service for free while attempting to access Google in China​​.

Useful Features

  • Advanced kill switch. While a regular kill switch only works when your VPN is switched on, this feature blocks unencrypted internet traffic even when PIA off. This prevents any data leaks that could expose your browsing activity to third parties in China.
  • MACE. This ad, tracker, and malware blocker enhances your browsing experience by not only protecting your privacy but also improving page load times by blocking unwanted content​.
June 2024 Update: PIA doesn't usually have deals or discounts (it's already so affordable), but right now you can get a new subscription for a crazy 83% off!

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.

How to Install a VPN to Access Google if You’re Already in China

  1. Select a secure VPN that has a working website in China. Of all the VPNs I tested, only a few had a solution for accessing their websites from China. While both ExpressVPN and Astrill have mirror links you can access from China, only ExpressVPN offered additional options in case the current URL (https://rtvvdqc.com/) gets blocked.
    Screenshot showing a conversation with ExpressVPN live char support regarding its mirror URLs for ChinaYou can install ExpressVPN on almost any device, including routers and gaming consoles
  2. Download the VPN app for your device. In addition to Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux, ExpressVPN also offers custom apps for routers and smart TVs like Apple TV and Android TV.
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN's download pageIt took me only 2 minutes to install ExpressVPN on my Windows laptop
  3. Connect to a server. You don’t need to activate any feature for ExpressVPN to work in China. Once you download the app, simply click on the big power button to connect to a server, and start Googling.
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Windows interface showin its Pick for Me server optionIf you need a specific location, write it down into the search bar

FAQs on Using Google With a VPN

Are all Google apps and services blocked in China?

Not all Google services are blocked — some are partially available, or otherwise accessible but censored. This includes the Google search engine, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, and other services. To access Google services from China, you need a premium VPN.

Can I use Google in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau?

Google services are accessible in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau without restrictions. These regions are not subject to the same internet censorship laws as mainland China, so you can use Google and its services freely there​​. However, using a reliable VPN is still recommended to protect your data from hackers and spies.

Are there any Google alternatives in China?

Yes, Baidu is the leading search engine in China. There are local equivalents for most Google services, including WeChat for social media and communications, Alibaba and JD.com for e-commerce, Youku and iQiyi for video streaming, and Autonavi for maps and navigation​​. However, you can still access Google in China using a trustworthy VPN.

Is it legal to use a VPN for accessing Google in China?

The use of unauthorized VPNs to access restricted content is against Chinese law. However, there are no public reports of individuals getting into trouble for using an alternative VPN. Still, most VPN websites are blocked in China, although some providers have a workaround for downloading their apps from within Chinese borders. It's essential to proceed with caution and be aware of the current regulations and their enforcement.

Do free VPNs work to access Google from China?

Free VPNs usually don’t work in China. Additionally, most free VPNs are unreliable and slow due to overcrowded servers and limited resources. Try a reputable, low-cost VPN service tested for China for consistent access to Google services. These VPNs also have a trustworthy money-back guarantee, so you can try them out first.

Access Google in China in Minutes

Many international services, including Google and most VPNs, are blocked in China. If you’re traveling to China, you won’t be able to check your Gmail or talk to friends on Facebook and Instagram. Luckily, a few VPNs still work in China.

I recommend ExpressVPN for reliably accessing Google in China. It stands out with its user-friendly automatic obfuscation and the availability of mirror sites for downloading the VPN from within China. You also get access to private servers in 105 countries and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

To summarize, these are the best VPNs for accessing Google in China...

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
5.3 /10
5.3 Our Score
Save 59%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 83%!
Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

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The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Andjela is a technology and cybersecurity writer for vpnMentor, dedicated to helping readers protect their privacy online with detailed VPN reviews, testing all features, and providing the facts.

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