6 Best (100% FREE) VPNs for China That REALLY WORK in 2021
- The Best Free VPNs for China – Full Analysis (Updated 2021)
- ExpressVPN — Lightning Fast Speeds and Unlimited Data
- Hotspot Shield – Speed and Security in One
- Windscribe – Double Privacy and Streaming Access
- ProtonVPN – No Data Caps or Ads
- hide.me – Secure, Free Singapore Server
- TunnelBear – No Server or Speed Limits
- What You Need to Know About VPNs in China BEFORE You Travel
- How We Tested and Ranked These Free VPNs
- What’s The Catch With Free VPNs?
If you don’t want to pay for a VPN during your next trip to China—or you’re a resident looking for a no-cost solution—there are plenty of free options out there. But finding one that actually works in the country and keeps you secure at the same time isn’t quite as easy.
Remember: Every free VPN has its limitations. Some place restrictions on bandwidth, data, server list, and security, and some can be full of hidden risks you’re not aware of. And China is not a place you can afford to take risks, even though China fights VPNs by blocking VPNs instead of going after users. For this reason, I prefer to use a reliable VPN like ExpressVPN. It’s fast, safe, and works in China.
As free VPNs can still be useful for some tasks and may be alright for very short-time use, I’ve thoroughly tested over 49 free VPNs to bring you the 6 best options for China. The ones on this list are guaranteed to work, and they’re safe, too.
Short on time? Here are the best free VPNs for China
- ExpressVPN — Ultra-fast speeds, AES-256 bit encryption, and unlimited data. You can try it risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Hotspot Shield – Speedy and secure free plan, but only 500MB of data per day—fine for light browsing, but only 1.5 hours of streaming available.
- Windscribe – 10GB of data for more streaming and browsing, but slower speeds cause some buffering and there’s no access to Netflix.
- ProtonVPN – Unlimited data and high-end security measures, but only three servers available on the free plan and deliberately throttled speeds.
- hide.me – Advanced encryption, reliable connections, and access to Netflix Canada, but only 2GB of data each month. That’s enough for two hours of SD streaming on Netflix before you run out.
The Best Free VPNs for China – Full Analysis (Updated 2021)
Finding a free VPN is easy. Finding a free VPN for China isn’t quite as simple. But after weeks researching and testing, I’ve found six that are guaranteed to work—and some have great extra features, too. Free does mean limited, though, so don’t expect a feature-rich package for no cost.
- Lightning-fast speeds
- 3,000 servers worldwide
- AES 256-bit encryption, automatic kill switch, and DNS leak protection
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 5 simultaneous connections
- Works with: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Vudu, Hulu, and more
- Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Linux, routers, Apple TV, and more
ExpressVPN is a premium VPN and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can buy it with confidence. Connect while in China, and see if it provides everything you need. If it doesn’t, you can ask for your money back within the 30-day period — no questions asked.
This VPN is extremely reliable for China, with servers in the US, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore that bypass the Great Firewall of China. Simply use the servers in these countries for the fastest speeds in China. Worldwide, you have a total of 3,000 servers in 90 countries. Connect to servers in the US for Netflix and Hulu, or servers in the UK for BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub.
ExpressVPN’s speeds are some of the fastest I’ve experienced. No matter where you connect, you have lightning-fast speeds, which makes it ideal for streaming, gaming, or browsing. It also offers unlimited data, so there are no restrictions on how much Netflix you can binge.
You’re secure with advanced 256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch. This makes sure that you’re always anonymous and protected, even if your connection ever drops.
The strict no-logs policy also means none of your online behavior is tracked, and its NoSpy servers ensure that all data is removed after each reboot, so no digital footprints are ever recorded.
ExpressVPN uses obfuscated servers that work in China, which hide the fact you’re using a VPN. They scramble your IP address, which then comes across as normal traffic to your ISP. That means there’s less chance of being detected and blocked.
Secure all of your devices at once, as ExpressVPN allows 5 simultaneous connections. And if you need any support, there’s a helpful 24/7 live chat.
Want to know more? Explore our ExpressVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.
- 500MB per day
- Reliable, fast connections
- 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch
- Zero logging
- Malware protection
- Easy-to-use app
- Works with: YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Kodi
- Compatible with: macOS, iOS, Chrome, Windows, Android, Blackberry
Hotspot Shield offers a high-speed free plan that’s guaranteed to work in China and comes with 500MB of data per day. If you’re just after light browsing, it’ll keep you going for eight hours. But for streaming, you’ll run out after 1.5 hours on YouTube in standard definition.
While Hotspot Shield has 1,800 servers worldwide, you can only connect to a US server on the free plan. This means you’re limited as to which sites you can unblock. It’s reliable for unblocking Google, WhatsApp, and YouTube, but you can’t access Netflix and other streaming sites.
Your bandwidth is capped at 2Mbps, but I found Hotspot Shield’s speeds fast enough during my tests. I could browse and watch YouTube videos with little lagging. But with access to only one server, you run the risk of it being overloaded with users, which can cause slower speeds at certain times of day.
Hotspot Shield offers 256-bit AES encryption, plus built-in malware and phishing protection, so it’s solid when it comes to security.
You’ll also enjoy zero-logging whether you’re a paying user or not, so there’s no risk of your data falling into the wrong hands. There’s also an automatic kill switch, which is an essential for China where you don’t want any of your online traffic being leaked.
The app is easy to use and set up only takes a matter of minutes, so you can unblock your favorite sites without delay. If you do experience any trouble, there are plenty of FAQs, but the live chat is only for premium users.
You only have one simultaneous connection available on the free plan, which means you can’t use your mobile phone and laptop (or any other device) at the same time.
Want to know more? Explore our Hotspot Shield review to see the full results of our research and testing.
- 10GB of data per month
- 170 server locations, including Hong Kong
- Steady, reliable connections
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Combine browser extension and app for free
- 24/7 live chat
- Works with: Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Google, YouTube, Vudu, Kodi, Facebook
- Compatible with: Windows, Android, Linux, macOS, iOS, Chrome, Firefox
For a free plan, Windscribe is generous with its data. You have 10GB available each month, which is enough for three hours HD streaming on Hulu or 166 hours of browsing. It’s great for checking email and updating social media, but not ideal for binging your favorite TV show.
You have a choice of 170 server locations, including Hong Kong and the US, among others. Connect to the server in Hong Kong for faster speeds, since it’s close to China and reliable for unblocking domestic sites.
Speeds are steady, so they’re quick enough for you to stream or video call without much buffering or fuzzy pictures. But of course, they aren’t as fast as the premium plan.
Windscribe offers high-end security, including 256-bit AES encryption, for complete anonymity and safety while you’re surfing the web. It also has a zero-logging policy.
Windscribe doesn’t restrict its ad, malware, and tracking blocker, R.O.B.E.R.T., either. You have full protection against any harmful risks that could compromise your anonymity.
For added privacy, you can combine Windscribe’s desktop app with the browser extension—they’re both free. This acts like a double VPN to encrypt your data even further. If your connection is compromised through the browser extension, you’re still secure with the app.
You only have one simultaneous connection though, so you can secure only one device. If you have any questions, the live chat is available 24/7.
Want to know more? Explore our Windscribe review to see the full results of our research and testing.
- Unlimited data
- Servers in Japan
- Built-in ad and malware blocker
- Zero-logging policy
- High-end encryption
- Public WiFi protection
- Works with: YouTube, Kodi, Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter
- Compatible with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Opera
ProtonVPN is one of the few free VPNs that offers completely unlimited data. That means there are no restrictions on how much you can stream or browse online. But there are some limits on where, since it can’t unblock any Netflix libraries. It can access Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, though.
You can connect to servers in three countries—Japan, the Netherlands, and the US. Having servers close to China is a plus, but only three servers means you’re sharing with a lot of other free users, which can cause slow speeds.
ProtonVPN deliberately throttles speeds on its free plan, so you only have lightning-fast connections if you upgrade. You can browse with little delay, but I experienced lagging while video-calling on WhatsApp.
You don’t need to worry about exposing your traffic, as ProtonVPN offers military-grade encryption to keep you secure. It even keeps you protected on unsecured public WiFi if you want to browse on-the-go.
ProtonVPN’s headquarters are in Switzerland, a privacy-friendly country. And is has a strict no-logs policy for maximum anonymity, even after you’ve disconnected.
The built-in ad and malware blocker stops any ads getting in the way and protects your device from safety risks, too. But you only have one simultaneous connection to use it on.
If you need any support, there’s a ticketing system. I found agents quick to respond, but it’s no live chat.
Want to know more? Explore our ProtonVPN review to see the full results of our research and testing.
- Four free servers, including Singapore
- 2GB monthly data allowance
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Kill switch
- Advanced encryption
- 24/7 live chat
- Works with: HBO GO, Netflix Canada, Amazon Prime Video, Sky GO, Google, WhatsApp, YouTube
- Compatible with: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Chrome, Firefox
hide.me offers a reliable free plan that has servers in four countries, including Singapore, so it’s reliable for unblocking Chinese domestic sites as well as others. You also have access to the US, Canada, and the Netherlands, but the remaining 56 countries are reserved for premium users.
While some free plans throttle your speed, hide.me offers unlimited bandwidth. Its speeds aren’t quite fast enough for you to stream with zero buffering, but you can still watch a few movies without much hassle. It can unblock Netflix Canada, too.
You have 2GB of data per month, which is enough to stream on Netflix in standard definition for two hours, but you can’t watch anything in HD as you’ll run out of data before you finish. If you just want access to Google, Facebook, and other sites, though, 2GB keeps you going for over 30 hours.
You only have one simultaneous connection, but you’re secure on that device with advanced AES 256-bit encryption and an automatic kill switch. It’s rare to see a kill switch on a free VPN, so this is a huge advantage, especially in China.
There are more security features, too, through the strict no-logs policy and IP leak protection. None of your data or activity is held and it’s protected from any accidental leaks.
hide.me doesn’t serve you any ads while you’re using the app, so you can hop straight onto your social media without any interruptions.
You also have access to a 24/7 live chat for any support queries.
Want to know more? Explore our hide.me review to see the full results of our research and testing.
- Servers in 40 countries
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Up to 1.5GB data per month
- 256-bit AES encryption
- Zero-logging policy
- GhostBear Mode
- Works with: HBO GO, Kodi, YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp
- Compatible with: Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, Chrome, Firefox, Blackberry
If you’re looking for a higher server count, TunnelBear is a good choice. You can connect to servers in 40 countries, whether you’re a free or premium user. You have plenty of server locations close to China, including Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan.
TunnlBear offers unlimited bandwidth, so you have reliable, fast connections while you’re unblocking your favorite sites. It can’t unblock Netflix or other streaming platforms, unfortunately.
You have 500MB data per month, which runs out quickly whether you’re browsing or streaming. With this much data, you have eight hours of browsing or just over one hour of YouTube videos in standard definition.
If you want more data, tweet TunnelBear for an extra 1GB.
TunnlBear’s security for its free service is no different than its premium plan, with 256-bit encryption, a zero-logging policy, and an automatic kill switch. You’re guaranteed anonymity whether you’re replying to messages or doing a quick Google search.
TunnelBear also offers an added feature that’s great for China. It uses GhostBear mode, which disguises your VPN traffic to look like usual internet activity. Your ISP or any sites you visit can’t see that you’re using a VPN, so they can’t block you.
Support is available through the ticketing feature.
Want to know more? Explore our TunnelBear review to see the full results of our research and testing.
What You Need to Know About VPNs in China BEFORE You Travel
China has strict censorship laws and also regulates the use of VPNs. Some VPNs don’t work at all in China. Others do, but the places you download them, such as individual websites and the Google Play and Apple App stores, are blocked. Even though non-government-approved VPNs are illegal in China, no tourist has ever been penalized for using one in China.
To make sure you can bypass geoblocks, download your VPN before you get to China. If you wait until you get there, you’ll be locked out.
How We Tested and Ranked These Free VPNs
VPNs that work in China, especially free ones, are hard to come by. And of the free ones that do work, their limitations mean that you’re not always useful or even secure, so it’s not worth the risk. I spent hours testing and re-testing to make sure every VPN on this list is safe and reliable. Here’s what I looked for:
- Ability to bypass geoblocks: You need a VPN that’s actually going to work in China and help you access the sites you need. All of the VPNs on this list can unblock Google, WhatsApp, YouTube, and social media sites. Only a select few will give you access to streaming sites like Netflix, though—you usually need to pay for that.
- Advanced encryption: Only VPNs with high-end encryption pass my tests. This ensures you’re always anonymous and minimizes the risk of your data or traffic being exposed. All of the VPNs on this list offer 256-bit encryption, which is the industry standard.
- Extra security features: Features like automatic kill switches, ad blockers, and no-logs policies add extra layers of privacy and protection to keep you secure and anonymous online—essential in China. It’s not always easy to find free VPNs that offer these features, but they’re important for protecting you and your device from harmful risks.
- Data allowance: You need a VPN that’s not going to run out of data immediately, so I found free VPNs that offer the highest possible data and work in China, so you’re not blocked before you finish replying to your friend’s messages.
- Speeds: High speeds are important for keeping buffering and lagging to a minimum while you’re streaming and browsing. Free VPNs usually throttle speeds, which makes finding a fast free VPN much harder. While the VPNs on this list aren’t as fast as premium VPNs, their connections are reliable enough for you to surf the web without many interruptions.
What’s The Catch With Free VPNs?
In China, you don’t want anyone having access to your data or knowing you’re using a VPN, as there can be consequences if you visit sites you aren’t supposed to. That’s why you have to be careful about using free VPNs.
Many free services compromise your online security by reserving their no-logs policies for premium users. This means they’ll retain some (or all) of your data, including personal information or browsing activity. Most of the time, they’ll sell this info to third parties for marketing purposes, such as tailored ads.
Other free VPNs may limit their security features, such as removing automatic kill switches and ad blockers. No access to a kill switch is especially risky in China because if your VPN connection drops, you’ll be exposed.
Free VPNs don’t offer the best browsing experience because they limit your data usage and slow down your internet speeds. Staring at a blank white screen while you wait for your Gmail to load isn’t exactly how you want to spend your time in China, is it? And neither is running out of data halfway through your favorite movie.
These are serious concerns and things you need to carefully think about when choosing a free VPN. I thoroughly reviewed every free VPN I’ve recommended to ensure they’re as safe as possible. They won’t compromise your safety, and they offer decent features and speeds considering that they come at no cost.
What is the Great Firewall of China?
The Chinese government imposes strict censorship laws that block many sites, including Google, WhatsApp, YouTube, and even app stores. This is known as the Great Firewall of China. With such intense and advanced digital censorship, bypassing the firewall is tough, even for a VPN.
Why does China block VPNs?
Only government-approved VPNs are allowed in China. The government cracked down on VPN use in order to regulate traffic and stop users from accessing sites that aren’t permitted, including the actual VPN sites themselves. However, no tourist has ever been penalized for using a non-government-approved VPN in China.
You can find VPNs that offer obfuscated servers, which hides the fact you’re using a VPN altogether. It’s rare to get this with a free VPN, but plenty of premium vendors offer this feature.
What sites are banned in China?
China blocks many of the sites and apps that we use every day, including social media, email, and search engines. If you want to check whether a site is blocked, use our website checker.
The Bottom Line
Although I’ve found six free VPNs that work in China and are safe and trustworthy, you should remember there are always limitations. None of these VPNs hold back on their security, but instead, you sacrifice your data allowance, speed, and server list.
Only need a VPN for a short time? There are plenty of vendors that offer free trials, such as TunnelBear and Hotspot Shield, so you can try the premium features at no cost. You can also choose a VPN like ExpressVPN which is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can buy with confidence. If it doesn’t work out, you can claim a refund within the 30-day period.
Tempted by a premium VPN? See how you can get unrestricted, safe internet access in China with one of these top VPNs. If you’re ready to make to make a purchase, check out our coupons and deals page to see how you can cut the cost of your premium subscription.
Already in China and need help unblocking sites? See our guide for some ways to gain access.
The Best Premium VPNs for China 2021 are…
Free VPNs might be OK as a short-term solution, but their limitations and lack of extra features can be frustrating. Take a look at this list of the best premium VPNs for China instead. They all offer feature-rich, affordable packages with no server, data, or speed limitations.
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