10 Best VPNs for China (That STILL WORK) in 2020 + 3 for FREE!
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 47 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. Read on to find out more.
Short on time? Here are the best VPNs for China
- NordVPN – Speedy, safe, and my #1 choice for bypassing digital censorship in China.
- ExpressVPN – Fast speeds and highly reliable for unblocking the Great Firewall.
- Surfshark– Unique security features to easily access restricted sites and unlimited simultaneous connections.
- PrivateVPN – Stealth mode to disguise VPN use and securely access your favorite sites.
- VyprVPN – High security and encryption for maximum online anonymity and peace of mind.
The Best VPNs for China in 2020: Complete Analysis
After weeks researching and testing, I’ve found 10 great VPNs that will keep you safe, anonymous, and help you access your favorite sites.
NordVPN’s Key Features
- 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 has 5,100+ servers around the world, including many servers in Asia-Pacific countries near China like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan.
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.
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 government.
You have an automatic kill switch that steps in to block your traffic if there are any problems with your connection, so you don’t run the risk of being found, even on public WiFi.
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.
NordVPN also offers obfuscated servers, designed for accessing the internet in locations with heavy censorship. You can hop onto one of these servers to disguise the fact you’re using a VPN altogether, so the government can’t block your traffic.
Install NordVPN on up to six of your devices at once, with just one subscription. That means you can bypass digital censorship on all of your platforms.
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.
ExpressVPN’s Key Features
- 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 choice for China, not least for its super-fast speeds and reliability for bypassing the Great Firewall of China.
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.
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.
ExpressVPN uses advanced security features like AES 256-bit encryption and a strict no-logs policy. It even has DNS and IP leak protection, to stop your location or online traffic accidentally being exposed.
The kill switch is automatically enabled in the app, so you’re protected against connection and device interruptions 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.
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.
Surfshark’s Key Features
- 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
Surfshark has 1040+ servers in 61+ countries, including many high-speed servers near China. Choose from servers in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or even Singapore.
You have fast, reliable connections on any server you connect to. And reliable speeds aren’t the only thing you can count on Surfshark for – it can easily bypass the Great Firewall of China, too with its powerful NoBorders Mode.
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.
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.
Surfshark’s CyberWeb feature protects 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 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.
Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections with a single account, which is great for families with a large number of devices.
If you’re ready to sign up, take advantage of Surfshark’s 30-day money-back guarantee. That way, you can get every penny back if you change your mind before the time’s up.
Want to know more? Explore our Surfshark review to read the full results of our research and testing.
PrivateVPN’s Key Features
- 150+ servers in 60 countries
- 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 with 150+ servers in 60 countries, but that doesn’t mean it’s not reliable for bypassing the Great Firewall of China.
Nearby China, you have access to servers in Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan, so you can enjoy reliable, fast connections. In fact, no matter where you connect around the world, even over a longer distance, you still have decent speeds.
You have unlimited server switches to unblock geo-restricted sites across the globe with no restrictions. And that’s across six of your devices, too.
The PrivateVPN app comes with a Stealth mode that hides your VPN traffic, so it can easily unblock geo-restrictions even in China. All your favorite streaming sites and apps are right at your fingertips.
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.
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.
If you’d like to try it out for yourself, there’s a 7-day free trial and 30-day money-back guarantee.
Want to know more? Explore our PrivateVPN review to read the full results of our research and testing.
VyprVPN’s Key Features
- 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. It has over 700 servers globally, with plenty surrounding China, including Malaysia, Japan, and Vietnam.
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, so 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 also choose OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec and PPTP if you want to switch your security protocol.
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.
Its encryption is high-end, and there’s an automatic kill switch for maximum anonymity if your device is disabled. And of course, a strict no-logs policy.
You’re protected across any networks, whether that’s secure or public WiFi.
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.
Catapult Hydra Technology for great speeds and security
Hotspot Shield’s Key Features
- 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, DAZN
- Compatible with: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Blackberry
Hotspot Shield has over 3,200 servers in 80+ countries. And it’s one of the only VPNs I’ve seen that actually has servers in China. It does have plenty nearby, too, including Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.
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. And it fights through China’s geo-restrictions with ease.
If your WiFi connection drops unexpectedly, there’s an automatic kill switch to protect you and block your traffic until your connection is restored.
Hotspot Shield offers a strict no-logs policy, so you don’t leave any data trail behind.
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 wrong hands.
Want to protect more devices at once? You can, with five simultaneous connections.
As for support, 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.
Astrill VPN’s Key Features
- 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 designed for complete anonymity, with its StealthMode that hides your VPN activity, so you can bypass the Great Firewall of China undetected.
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.
You have super-fast speeds across all servers. When I tested the Hong Kong and Japan servers, I had barely any speed loss.
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. An automatic kill switch further prevents any IP or DNS leaks, too.
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.
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.
ProtonVPN’s Key Features
- 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’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, with no restrictions.
It’s not reliable for streaming on any sites other than YouTube and Kodi, but it can unlock 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 quick enough.
You’re highly secure with military-grade encryption, even on the free plan. 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.
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.
Windscribe’s Key Features
- 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 has a widespread global network, but the free plan only comes with 10 locations. It includes the US, UK, Canada, and Hong Kong.
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.
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, no identifying logs, 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 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.
hide.me’s Key Features:
- 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
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.
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,
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.
There’s also a no-logs policy and no requirement to hand over your email address when you sign up.
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.
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 are 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.