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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.

5 Best VPNs for China — Tested and Still Working in 2024

Keira Waddell Updated on 13th June 2024 Fact-checked by Christine Johansen Senior Writer

China’s strict censorship system, the Great Firewall (GFW), makes most VPNs useless — and even dangerous. Plus, conflicting reviews online about which VPNs currently work make choosing one extremely difficult. China is constantly updating its GFW to strengthen its VPN blocking and detection technology.

Because of this, even the most reliable VPNs for China may go down occasionally. VPNs operating in the country have to make constant improvements. That’s why we tested the security features of 50+ VPNs that have been known to work within the country.

Our resulting data found that the best VPN for China is ExpressVPN. It offers robust security and 5 locations specifically optimized to work in China. Plus, it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you're not happy with it, you can claim a full refund. Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Try ExpressVPN for China >>

Important: The use of non-government-approved VPNs is not permitted in China, but there have been no publicly reported cases of tourists being penalized by the Chinese government for using one. A VPN doesn’t give you a license to conduct illegal acts, like accessing sites and services that are blocked in the country, so please exercise caution. We don't condone using a VPN in a way that contravenes the law.

Short on Time? Here Are the Best VPNs for China in 2024

  • Editor's Choice
    ExpressVPN
    ExpressVPN
    Fast and obfuscated servers to stay safe on networks in China without slowdowns.
    70% of our readers choose ExpressVPN
  • Astrill VPN
    Astrill VPN
    One of the most reliable VPNs for China, with advanced security features.
  • PrivateVPN
    PrivateVPN
    Bypass network blocks and customize security for safe browsing in China.
  • Private Internet Access
    Private Internet Access
    Global network of servers including China, but its app may be complex for beginners.
  • TunnelBear VPN
    TunnelBear
    Easy to use with fast speeds for smooth browsing in China but no money-back guarantee.
Pro Tip: We recommend avoiding domestic browsers in China, such as Baidu Browser, Cheetah, 360 Browser, UC, and QQ Browser. There have been previously reported instances of some of these browsers transmitting personal user information without adequate protection or with weak encryption. This raises suspicions that these vulnerabilities could be deliberate backdoors for state surveillance.

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

Best VPNs for China — Full Analysis (Updated 2024)

1. ExpressVPN — Overall Best VPN for China With Automatic Obfuscation and Fast Speeds

Best Feature Automatic obfuscation on every server makes it easy to hide your VPN use
Nearby Locations Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Macau, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Security Perfect forward secrecy, RAM servers, launch on startup
Works With Netflix, Max, Prime Video, HBO Go Asia, BBC iPlayer, YouTube TV, and more
Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

ExpressVPN provides automatic obfuscation on all its servers, so you can protect your data online in China easily. With most other VPNs, obfuscation needs to be manually enabled — but ExpressVPN works more intuitively. When it detects a tough firewall, it automatically scrambles your metadata and makes your VPN traffic look like regular web traffic.

Obfuscation tends to cause significant speed loss, especially with slower VPNs. However, ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs I’ve tested, maintaining HD-friendly speeds even with obfuscation. Our tester in Macau used ExpressVPN’s server there to stream local content, and they had just an 11% drop. They didn’t encounter any buffering while watching My Piggy Boss. All its servers support reliable streaming from anywhere in the best possible quality.

Screenshot of My Piggy Boss on iQIYI with ExpressVPN connected to a Macau serverWhile it’s part of mainland China, Macau is exempt from the Great Firewall and offers unrestricted internet access

Furthermore, its website provides a list of servers that are regularly maintained to work in China. They’re in the US, UK, Japan, France, and Singapore. ExpressVPN recommends selecting the Automatic protocol for obfuscation to work effectively. Even better, the app itself offers a list of recommended servers when it detects you’re in China. It will present these under Recommended.

Like the other VPNs on this list, it isn’t always 100% guaranteed to work in China, and there have been reports of downtimes at times. However, ExpressVPN resolves connectivity issues quickly and manages to get back up and running. Plus, all of ExpressVPN’s plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you opt for another service. I tested this via live chat and got a refund in just 2 days.

Useful Features

  • Chinese mirror site. Although its official website is blocked by the Great Firewall, ExpressVPN has a mirror website that’s accessible from within China. The URL changes constantly to avoid blocks, but you can always email its customer support to ask for an up-to-date mirror address or contact them through the 24/7 live chat.
  • Chinese payment options. ExpressVPN supports UnionPay for domestic Chinese cards. Plus, it accepts Bitcoin payments, so you can subscribe without leaving a trace. It’s a good alternative if you would otherwise need to use a Chinese bank account to pay.
  • Highly secure. Your data is protected by military-grade 256-bit encryption. Plus, you’ll get robust IPv4, IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection and a Network Lock kill switch to prevent anyone from seeing your real location.
  • Threat Manager. This is ExpressVPN’s customizable blocker. You can choose to prevent ads, malware, and trackers (or a combination) for a safer, more private way to browse in China.
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 — One of the Most Reliable VPNs for China With Advanced Features

Best Feature Very reliable in China with little downtime
Nearby Locations Hong Kong, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Security Auto Clear Cookies, ad and tracker blocker, dedicated IPs (extra fee)
Works With Max, HBO Go Asia, BBC iPlayer, YouTube TV, and more

Astrill VPN deserves its reputation as one of the most reliable VPNs for China after ExpressVPN. Unlike some other VPNs, it has minimal downtime. It offers a good selection of locations close to China, so you can get reliable connections wherever you are. There are also Supercharged servers in the US and Hong Kong, optimized specifically for use in China. These are designed for fast speeds, reliability on tough firewalls, and strong security.

Its proprietary OpenWeb protocol offers exceptional speeds — even over long distances. Our dedicated team of testers recorded slowdowns of just 27% when connecting to Thailand from thousands of miles away. It also offers the StealthVPN protocol, specially built for bypassing tough firewalls. But with slowdowns of 79%, it should only be used as a last resort.

Screenshot of AstrillVPN's speed tests results on US serverAstrill’s simple app includes a neat upload/download graphic so you can gauge your data usage in China

A drawback is that the price tag is dizzying — it’s one of the most expensive VPNs I’ve ever come across. Although, if you’re living in China and you need to protect your online data, the price might be worth it for you.

While it doesn’t have a money-back guarantee, you can use Astrill VPN for free for 1 month if you refer a friend and they sign up for a paid subscription.

Useful Features

  • Choice of 5 proxies. On the rare occasions that Astrill VPN isn’t working in China, you’ll have other options since it offers a selection of 5 proxies. Keep in mind that these won’t encrypt your traffic, though — I only recommend using them as a backup if you have no other option.
  • Protect browsers only or all apps. Using the OpenWeb protocol, you can configure Astrill VPN to protect all apps or just web browsers. That’s useful if you want your non-browser apps to run faster in China.
  • Customizable connections. Using OpenVPN, you can choose between 256, 192, and 128-bit encryption, and you can even turn off encryption completely. Turning your encryption level down could help to boost your speeds without sacrificing security. I don’t recommend turning it off in China, though.

3. PrivateVPN — Customizable Security to Optimize Your Connection in China

Best Feature Adjust encryption levels to balance security and speed in China
Nearby Locations Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Security IPv6 leak protection, external IP checker, port forwarding
Works With Netflix, Max, Prime Video, HBO Go Asia, BBC iPlayer, and more

PrivateVPN’s security settings let you optimize your connections in China. During my tests, I changed my encryption level from 256-bit to 128-bit and experienced a 12% increase in download speeds. You can also choose between a variety of VPN protocols. L2TP is more reliable than OpenVPN for working on restrictive networks.

Screenshot of PrivateVPN's customizable security settings128-bit encryption is faster than 256-bit — while it’s a little less secure, it can help you mitigate the GFW’s slowdowns

It disguises your VPN traffic as normal web traffic through its StealthVPN mode. Unlike ExpressVPN, its obfuscation isn’t automatic; you have to manually enable this mode from the app settings. However, you may need to use the OpenConnect app in China for the best functionality, and PrivateVPN has a guide to help set this up.

It has 200 servers, meaning its network is quite small compared to most of the other VPNs on my list, which did make me worry about overcrowding affecting speeds. However, PrivateVPN purchases internet capacity directly from the transit provider to mitigate major speed drops. I only got a slowdown of 36% when I connected to Japan from the UK.

It’s even possible to try PrivateVPN for free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. I tested this policy to make sure it was legit, and it was just as easy as with ExpressVPN.

Useful Features

  • Customer support via email. PrivateVPN’s website is blocked in China, so you won’t be able to access live chat. However, you can use its dedicated email to get assistance. I got a reply within 20 minutes when I tested it. Its live chat also uses a translation feature, so Chinese users can get help in their native language.
  • Easy to use. The Advanced View has some solid security settings, but you don’t even have to leave Simple View to secure your connections in China. Just choose a server and hit the big connect button. This makes it a great choice if you’re not super experienced with VPNs.
  • Optimized streaming servers. PrivateVPN offers streaming servers in a few locations that can securely access popular platforms from anywhere. These servers are optimized for the best streaming speeds.

4. Private Internet Access (PIA) — Huge Server Network With a Reliable Virtual Server to Get a China IP

Best Feature Virtual geo-located servers can give you a China IP
Nearby Locations China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, Taiwan, Vietnam
Security Customizable WireGuard and OpenVPN connections, advanced and regular kill switch, robust leak protection
Works With Netflix, Max, Prime Video, HBO Go Asia, BBC iPlayer, YouTube TV, and more
Editors' Note: Private Internet Access and this site are in the same ownership group.

PIA has the biggest number of servers on my list, which includes a virtual server location in China. So, it’s a reliable choice for protecting your data when you’re browsing local Chinese websites. Our tester in Macau watched a whole season of Here We Meet Again securely in HD on WeTV. It also provides servers in 91 countries, including some that are streaming-optimized and work reliably with popular platforms from anywhere.

Screenshot of PIA's privacy settings and virtual servers in the appYou can also enable MACE with one click to get rid of pop-up ads on Chinese sites

It also offers unlimited simultaneous device connections, making it a great choice for large households. If your household has a ton of devices, or you’re like me and love gadgets, you can protect (almost) everything with PIA. Even with my laptop, desktop, mobile phone, and tablet using the VPN at the same time, I still had a stable connection.

Unfortunately, PIA isn’t guaranteed to work in China, but its website offers several workarounds you can try. First, try switching between WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols. If that doesn’t work, try one of PIA’s Multi-Hop connections. You can set this up with the SOCKS5 proxy or Shadowsocks, but the speeds might be affected. As a last resort, you can try manual configuration files with detailed instructions on the PIA website.

You can test PIA for free for 30 days with its money-back guarantee. If it doesn’t work out, claiming a full refund is straightforward.

Useful Features

  • Advanced kill switch. You can lock your connection to PIA to ensure you can’t get online without protection from the VPN. If you live in China, I recommend turning this setting on as soon as you download the app, as it means you won’t accidentally expose any data to the GFW when you power on your device.
  • Connection automation. This tells the app to automatically connect when certain conditions are met, like if you join a public WiFi network. This is really important no matter where you are in the world, but even more so in China.

5. TunnelBear — Easy-to-Use App to Protect Your Online Data in China Without Hassle

Best Feature Simple, family-friendly app with an animated map
Nearby Locations South Korea, Taiwan
Security GhostBear obfuscation, automatic kill switch, split tunneling
Works With Netflix, Max, YouTube TV, Spotify, HBO Go Asia, and more

TunnelBear’s cute and simple interface makes it the most user-friendly VPN for China. Its world map feature allows you to locate a server quickly. When you connect, a cartoon bear digs from your real location to your chosen server. Its servers work well with the most popular streaming platforms from anywhere. Plus, its unlimited device connections are ideal for large households in China.

Screenshot of TunnelBear connected to Taiwan serverThe bear crawls all the way back home again when you disconnect

Even the installation process was funny, as each step was a compilation of bear puns. It has lots of fast nearby servers, too. In my tests, I used the Fastest Tunnel feature, which connected me to the server closest to me for better speeds, which never dropped by more than 39%.

The GhostBear (obfuscation) functionality makes it one of the more reliable VPNs, as it’s able to go undetected on restrictive networks. To activate it, go to Settings > Preferences > Security > GhostBear. I was disappointed that it wasn’t available on iOS, though.

Unfortunately, the service does not offer a simple money-back guarantee. The website explains that while refunds are possible, they are granted on a case-by-case basis.

Useful Features

  • Split tunneling. This feature can help you free up some bandwidth in China since you can choose what traffic goes through the VPN.
  • Trusted Networks. You can add any reliable networks you use to a safelist. That’s useful, given most of China now offers free public WiFi (not that I’d call any of these networks safe, though!).

Quick Comparison Table: China VPN Features

The following table compares the main features of all recommended VPNs. It shows which has an audited no-logs policy to ensure the VPN never records your data.

I also included other relevant features like average connection speeds, the number of servers, and obfuscation. Bear in mind that the things I think are important might not matter so much to you, so use this as a quick guide to my top recommendations.

Lowest monthly price China-optimized servers? Audited no-logs policy? Obfuscation? Chinese payment options? Chinese live chat support? Server Network Speed
(average drop on nearby servers)
Money-back guarantee
🥇ExpressVPN $6.67/month Yes Yes Yes — automatic on every server Yes — UnionPay Yes 3,000 servers in 105 countries 8% 30 days
🥈Astrill VPN $12.50/month Yes No Yes — StealthVPN protocol Yes — UnionPay No 118 servers in 58 countries 9% No
🥉PrivateVPN $2/month No No Yes — Stealth VPN feature Yes — UnionPay Yes 200 servers in 63 countries 15% 30 days
Private Internet Access $2.03/month No Yes Yes — Multi-Hop via a proxy server No Yes 29,650 servers in 91 countries 22% 30 days
TunnelBear $3.33/month No Yes Yes — GhostBear No No live chat (only a robot in EN) 5,000 servers in 47 countries 21% Case-by-case basis

Tips on Choosing the Best VPN for China

As the Great Firewall uses increasingly advanced technology, it’s getting harder and harder to find VPNs that work reliably in China. To make my recommendations as helpful as possible, I shortlisted the most important features to look for when selecting a VPN for China.

  • Reliably works in China. I looked for VPNs that offer specific features that are needed for China. These include multi-hop for an extra layer of security and obfuscation, which scrambles your metadata and makes the VPN harder to detect. We continuously research the best VPNs for China and only include those that have a high working rate and are the least likely to experience downtime.
  • Robust security features. I only considered VPNs with military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection. These features prevent your data from being exposed to third parties while traveling in China and keep you safe on public WiFi networks.
  • No-logs policy. This protects your privacy in China because it guarantees that your online activity won’t be recorded by the VPN. I read the privacy policy of every VPN and made sure it adhered to a strict no-logs policy.
  • Fast speeds. All traffic leaving China must go through a limited number of gateways, which can lead to congestion. Hence, I only considered VPNs with fast speeds so they won’t add too much on top of the existing slowdowns. It’s even better if your VPN offers servers in or close to China for faster connections.
  • Ease of use. Do you want plenty of adjustable settings to tailor your connections for China? Or a simple plug-and-play solution? In my list, you’ll find a variety of VPNs to suit all technical preferences.
  • Helpful customer support. Help should be easily accessible when you need it. The VPNs on my list have several support channels available, including 24/7 live chat, email support, and a detailed FAQ page. Many VPNs also offer live translation through their customer support, so native speakers can get assistance in their own language.
  • Trustworthy money-back guarantee. A reliable refund policy will ensure you get your money in case your VPN doesn’t work reliably in China. Ideally, you want to test it out for around a month before making a commitment.
Pro Tip: Before traveling to China, I suggest asking your VPN provider for a list of servers that work there. It’s also beneficial to get an email address you can use to contact them directly with any issues. This is helpful since VPN websites are blocked in China, and you can’t refer to them for support or use live chat.

Quick Guide: How to Use a VPN in China in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN because it has automatic obfuscation on all its servers and military-grade security to protect your privacy while you’re in China. It’s best to download it before arriving in the country because it can be a bit tricky once you’re already there.
  2. Connect to a server. If you’re using another VPN, make sure you enable any obfuscation settings, or your connection might fail.
  3. Start browsing in China. Now, you can use the internet safely and protect your privacy.

Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Is It Legal to Use a VPN in China, and Is It Safe?

Only government-approved VPNs are legal in China. This regulation primarily targets organizations, though. And there have been no publicly reported cases of tourists being penalized by the government for using one. Government-approved VPNs are heavily monitored, meaning they don’t protect your privacy.

The common practice in China is to simply block VPNs, so there’s no access to them outside of authorized instances. That’s easier than tracking down a tourist who’s using a non-government-approved VPN app.

However, there are a few independent VPNs with advanced security features that can keep your data safe in China. Among other things, they obfuscate your connection to hide that you’re using a VPN. Just remember to download and install your VPN before setting foot in the country because most VPN websites are blocked there.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to inform yourself of up-to-date laws surrounding VPN use in China so you can comply with the regulations. The digital landscape in China is changing all the time. Please note that we don’t condone using a VPN to conduct illegal acts, like accessing sites and services that are blocked in the country.

What If My VPN Stops Working in China?

VPNs in China can suffer downtimes on sensitive dates (like national holidays) or high-level government meetings. This is due to the government's efforts to tighten control over internet access and restrict the flow of information across its borders. The government aims to control how citizens access the internet using VPNs, with a preference for the use of government-approved VPNs.

Some VPNs can still function effectively in China by using obfuscation techniques to hide VPN traffic and employing servers in nearby regions to maintain good speeds. However, there is no guarantee that even the most reliable VPNs won’t go down from time to time.

If your VPN stops working, make sure you’re using one that is optimized to work in China. Even the VPNs recommended here might have issues at times. It’s possible a certain server was detected and blocked. However, the best VPNs for China monitor and maintain their servers regularly to ensure they work reliably.

Here are a few tips you can try to get your VPN running again:

  • Change your VPN protocol. Some protocols are better than others for use in China. You can keep experimenting with all available protocols until you find something that works.
  • Connect to a different server. There could be some issues with the server you’re using. Simply switching servers can fix the problem.
  • Update the VPN software. It’s possible that your provider has made some changes to the VPN app that require an update for it to work in China.
  • Make sure you have no other VPNs connected. If you’re testing out a few different VPNs, make sure you have no other connections running simultaneously.
  • Email customer support. If all else fails, you should contact customer support and ask for a list of servers that work from China.

These VPNs Don’t Currently Work in China

Not all VPNs can effectively work in China. Here are just a few VPNs that currently face challenges operating in the country:

  • CyberGhost: Even though it used to be a good VPN for China, CyberGhost now struggles due to the Great Firewall's enhancements, making it unusable in the country​​.
  • NordVPN: Despite its popularity, NordVPN no longer works in China, as it confirms on its website.
  • Surfshark: While previously effective, Surfshark's ability to work in China has been compromised.
  • Proton VPN: Its performance in China is hit or miss, with no guaranteed reliability, making it a less preferable choice.
  • StrongVPN: This service (that has merged with Buffered VPN and SaferVPN) faces difficulties ensuring consistent access within China due to the strict internet censorship policies​​. Like Proton VPN, it can be a hit or a miss.

Other VPNs that have recently proven unreliable to work in China are Ivacy VPN, PrivadoVPN, Total VPN, TorGuard, Hotspot Shield, and AtlasVPN.

It's crucial to choose a VPN service that is known to work reliably within the country with little reported downtime. While some services face difficulties, others have adapted to China's restrictions, offering obfuscated servers and enhanced privacy features.

What Sites and Apps Are Blocked in China?

International streaming sites (like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu) have to adhere to strict licensing agreements that mean they can’t offer their content in China. That said, it is possible to securely access platforms from anywhere with a VPN that offers global servers.

Social media platforms, news outlets, video streaming sites, search engines, and messaging apps are also affected by these restrictions​​. Some of these include:

Facebook Instagram Pinterest X (Twitter) The New York Times
The Financial Times The Economist The Wall Street Journal BBC Bloomberg
YouTube Vimeo Google Bing Yahoo
DuckDuckGo Messenger Snapchat Telegram Signal

FAQs on VPNs for China

Can I protect my privacy in China with a domestic Chinese VPN?

It’s unlikely. Domestic Chinese VPNs face strict regulations and surveillance by the government, including mandatory data logging. As a result, using a Chinese VPN would defeat the purpose of seeking private and secure internet access. For this reason, it’s better to get an independent VPN that uses advanced technologies like obfuscation and robust encryption.

However, no VPN is guaranteed to work in China 100% of the time, and users may face challenges due to the ongoing efforts by Chinese authorities to block VPN traffic. It's crucial to choose a VPN that keeps up-to-speed with the latest technology developments and Chinese internet regulations.

For individuals, using a VPN in China comes with potential risks. While no foreign VPN users have been publicly reported to be punished for mere usage, the legal landscape is unpredictable. It's advisable to consider the risks and the importance of staying informed about current regulations and enforcement practices​​​​​​.

Is it a good idea to use cracked VPNs in China?

No, because cracked VPNs, which are unauthorized versions of paid VPN services obtained through illegal means, pose many security risks, including malware. Additionally, they may not provide reliable or secure connections, making them ineffective for use in China.

For those needing to protect their privacy in China, it is advisable to use a legitimate and reputable VPN service with advanced features.

Can I download a VPN in China?

It can be tricky, but it’s possiblea few VPNs offer mirror sites that work in China. Usually, it's not possible to download a non-government-approved VPN while you’re in China since most of these VPNs’ websites are blocked there. Some VPNs use alternative URLs that haven’t been blocked by the GFW to get around this.

The Google Play Store and Amazon App Store aren’t available in China, either. You can access the Apple App Store, but it is heavily monitored, and you won’t find non-government-run VPN apps on it. Your best option is to download a VPN onto your device before arriving in China.

Which VPN servers should I use in China?

It’s best to use nearby servers for optimal speeds. Make sure to choose a VPN that offers servers close to Mainland China. Most VPNs (including the ones on this list) don’t offer servers in Mainland China because the government would either shut them down or force the providers to hand over user data, which renders them unsafe.

That said, you can still experience fast speeds by connecting to nearby locations (like Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan). All the VPNs on this list have servers close to Mainland China, which I recommend using to keep your speed loss to a minimum.

Why is my VPN so slow in China?

Your VPN might be slow in China due to frequent interference from the Great Firewall. To improve your experience, I suggest selecting a VPN that’s proven to be reliable in China and regularly switching servers.

Furthermore, China reserves very little bandwidth for data traveling outside the country. It does this to encourage citizens to use domestic Chinese services instead of the everyday global sites you’re used to. If you want to access these sites, you’ll be sharing little bandwidth with a lot of people.

So, it’s best to use a VPN with minimal speed drops. While you won’t be able to bypass the GFW’s slowdowns, your VPN won’t slow your browsing, streaming, or torrenting down to a complete halt, either.

Is all of China behind the Great Firewall?

No, not all of China is behind the Great Firewall. While it affects the majority of Mainland China, there are exemptions for Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. You can select servers in those regions to use the internet safely with a reliable VPN for China.

How does the Great Firewall block VPNs?

The Great Firewall blocks VPNs through deep packet inspection (DPI), which identifies and blocks VPN traffic. It constantly updates to detect and prevent the use of VPNs. That’s why some VPNs offer obfuscation and other advanced features. This makes VPN traffic look like regular unencrypted traffic.

What's the best VPN protocol for China?

That depends on what you’re trying to do. ExpressVPN’s Lightway was the best protocol for speed in my tests. However, since you have to set the protocol to Automatic for it to work in China, you might not always have the choice to use Lightway. We found that StealthVPN was also reliable, thanks to its built-in obfuscation. WireGuard and OpenVPN can work, but they’re not as reliable.

Many VPNs also offer proxy servers, like SOCKS5, Shadowsocks, and ShadowsocksR (SSR). These can be effective, but they don’t encrypt your data, so they’re not ideal for privacy. However, you can try them as a last resort if you’re having issues.

It’s worth noting that the VPN protocol you choose is just one factor in whether your VPN works in China. I suggest looking for a VPN that offers multiple protocols and regularly updates its obfuscation techniques, as these will be more reliable on China’s strict networks.

Can I use a free VPN in China?

Yes, but I don’t recommend it. I advise investing in a reputable low-cost VPN for reliable and secure use. Many free VPNs lack the encryption and protocols you need to protect your privacy in China. Even reputable free VPNs often don’t have the resources to work reliably in the country and keep up with any changes.

Additionally, they may compromise your privacy and security or monitor your browsing to sell to third parties. We also found several free VPNs that contained malware, spyware, and other malicious code.

Get the Best VPN for China

Finding a trustworthy VPN that works in China can be difficult because the country has increased its crackdowns on VPNs. The Great Firewall only permits government-approved VPNs, which the state heavily monitors. Plus, because China updates its GFW technology all the time, even the most reliable VPNs don’t work 100% of the time.

That said, a few independent services have been proven to work there reliably, and all the VPNs on this list are designed to work on restrictive networks. Additionally, they can access tons of global content from anywhere while maintaining a safe and private connection.

ExpressVPN is easily the best VPN for China. All of its servers have automatic obfuscation, and it has several locations that are continuously maintained to ensure they work in the country. It’s also backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied, it’s easy to get a refund.

To summarize, these are the best VPNs for 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
9.2 /10
9.2 Our Score
Save 85%!
4
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 83%!
5
9.0 /10
9.0 Our Score
Save 67%!
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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

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About the Author

Keira is an experienced cybersecurity and tech writer dedicated to providing comprehensive insights on VPNs, online privacy, and internet censorship.

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Comments (1)
Jack Hsu
11 May 2024
11 May 2024

Just to be clear, unlike Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan is NOT part of China and doesn't block any VPN services and internet traffic.

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