Does CyberGhost Work in China? No, But Here’s a Fix (2024)
- Quick Guide: How to Use a VPN in China in 3 Easy Steps
- Best VPNs for China in 2024
- ExpressVPN — Automatic Obfuscation on Every Server Effectively Bypasses Network Restrictions
- AstrillVPN — China-Optimized Servers for Private and Reliable Connections
- PrivateVPN — Advanced Security Options to Fine-Tune Your Connection in China
- Tips on How to Choose the Best VPN for China
- Is Your VPN Not Working in China? Here's What to Do
- FAQs on VPNs for China
- Get the Best VPN for China
CyberGhost was once highly recommended for China. But due to upgrades to the Great Firewall (GFW), our tests reveal that CyberGhost no longer works reliably in China. State-approved VPNs are available, but on the stipulation that they provide the Chinese government with 100% user data. So your privacy is not protected by these VPNs.
The good news is, there are alternative VPNs that are dependable for use in China. Like CyberGhost, they are independently run in countries outside of China, so they’re not obligated to hand over your data. That way, anyone who visits or moves to China can still safely access their favorite global sites and apps.
Of the 50+ VPNs tested, ExpressVPN is the safest and most reliable service I recommend for China. Its automatic obfuscation allows it to work in the country more effectively while protecting your privacy, plus, its fast speeds help minimize speed loss. Best of all, you can test ExpressVPN out risk-free as it comes with a money-back guarantee, so you can claim a full refund within 30 days if you’re not completely satisfied.
Important! In China, only government-approved VPNs are technically legal. Despite the fact there have been no public reports of a tourist being penalized for using non-approved VPNs, we strongly advise staying updated with the latest laws to avoid any potential issues. Also, remember that due to restrictions, VPNs in China can be unpredictable in their performance. Though any VPN can face a temporary outage, the ones listed here proved to be the most consistent in reliability.
Quick Guide: How to Use a VPN in China in 3 Easy Steps
- Download a VPN. It’s easiest to do this before arriving to China since the GFW blocks VPN websites. ExpressVPN is my no.1 choice as it offers solid security and fast speeds. You can try ExpressVPN without risk since it has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Connect to a server. I recommend Macau since it’s in China (which means you’ll get better speeds) but it isn’t subject to the GFW or government surveillance.
- Start browsing. You now have the ability to visit central Asian or global websites and services, like in the US, UK, or Australia.
Best VPNs for China in 2024
1. ExpressVPN — Automatic Obfuscation on Every Server Effectively Bypasses Network Restrictions
Tested February 2024 Try Risk-Free for 30 Days
|Nearby Server Locations
|Macau, Hong Kong, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Singapore, South Korea, Pakistan, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
|Automatic obfuscation on every server
|RAM-only servers, 256-bit encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch
|Ease of Use
The GFW uses advanced VPN blocking known as deep packet inspection (DPI). But ExpressVPN works in China since it offers automatic obfuscation on its entire network of 3,000 servers. When it detects DPI, it scrambles your data and makes it look like regular internet traffic. This can slow your speeds (especially on long-distance connections), but it’s effective at evading detection.
Its fast speeds make it a fine choice for use in China. When I tested 4 long-distance servers, I only lost an average of 10% below my starting speed, which is pretty impressive. I’ve tested some VPNs that have caused slowdowns of up to 50-80%. A fast VPN is especially crucial since the GFW causes significant speed loss as it is.
A huge number of websites are inaccessible in China, but ExpressVPN offers exceptional unblocking capabilities. I got easy access to Facebook, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn. Quite simply, it worked with every app, site, and international online service we threw at it. You can also save shortcuts for one-click access to your favorite sites and apps.
It protects your online sessions in China with robust privacy features. It’s based in the British Virgin Islands, which is outside of the 14-Eyes data-sharing alliance. ExpressVPN also adheres to a strict no-logs policy, which has been independently audited. For added assurance, it uses TrustedServer technology (RAM servers) to automatically wipe user data upon reboot.
One small con is that ExpressVPN’s subscription prices are on the higher end. That said, it usually offers money-saving discounts. For instance, I saved 49% when I signed up for a long-term plan.
ExpressVPN also has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try ExpressVPN risk-free. I tested this policy by using its 24/7 live chat feature. The agent responded immediately and asked no questions. My request was approved, and I was fully refunded 4 days later.
- User-friendly app. After installing, I could connect to a server with a single click. That makes ExpressVPN a great China VPN for beginners and Bejingers alike!
- Threat Manager. Blocks malicious sites and trackers, which is particularly useful when browsing unfamiliar sites in China.
- Exclusive Lightway protocol. ExpressVPN has removed all the code that isn’t necessary for a commercial protocol, giving you lightweight, fast, but secure connections. Lightway also conserves battery on mobile devices, making it useful when using public WiFi hotspots in China.
- Shortcuts. You can access your favorite apps and websites with just 1 click using ExpressVPN's Shortcuts feature. The only thing you need to do is go to the Options menu, select the Shortcuts tab, and add up to 5 apps or websites you use regularly in China. These will appear on the main screen on the app for easy access after you connect to the VPN.
|Nearby Server Locations
|Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam
|SuperCharged servers in the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore
|A kill switch, StealthVPN protocol, no-logs policy, double VPN
|Ease of Use
AstrillVPN has China-optimized connections (also known as SuperCharged servers) in the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. These servers were tested by my colleagues in China, who confirmed they work reliably. They accessed a variety of blocked sites, like Facebook, Google, and US Telegram.
It effectively accesses websites and apps in China using StealthVPN and OpenWeb protocols, which help obfuscate your traffic. Additionally, AstrillVPN's Site Filter feature allows access to Chinese IP-enabled websites. At the same time, it tunnels blocked websites through the VPN for accessibility and to bypass restrictions.
It wasn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, but still, AstrillVPN gave me lag-free performance. It never lost more than 35% of my speed while connected at long distances. For the fastest connections from China, I recommend using AstrillVPN's Hong Kong servers. These help minimize speed loss by reducing the distance your data has to travel.
AstrillVPN does log certain information (connection time, IP address, and device type), but this is permanently deleted upon server disconnection. In addition, when you sign up for AstrillVPN, all payments are final — and it’s pretty pricey compared to some VPNs.
- Strong security features. AstrillVPN provides leak protection and an automatic kill switch. It offers AES 256-bit encryption for all protocols, and with OpenVPN, users have the option to select 128-bit, 192-bit or 128-bit encryption to balance between speed and security.
- Privacy friendly. It routes connections through its private DNS servers, preventing data logging and third-party visibility of visited websites. Plus, it’s based in Seychelles, which is outside of the 14 Eyes jurisdiction.
- Mirror URL. Users who are already in the country can email support (firstname.lastname@example.org) and get a mirror URL to download the VPN from China.
- SecureVPN. AstrillVPN's SecureVPN feature allows users to establish an SSL/TLS connection, providing an extra layer of encryption and security for sensitive data.
|Nearby Server Locations
|Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam
|Strong, adjustable security settings
|Military-grade encryption, Stealth VPN, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy
|Ease of Use
PrivateVPN offers Stealth VPN, which is an obfuscation feature designed to VPN connections look like regular ones to access blocked websites. By disguising VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic, it ensures your privacy and enables a more open and unrestricted internet experience within the country.
It also has an IP masking feature to help enhance your privacy in China. By concealing your IP address, it protects against tracking by websites, or ISPs. This enables access to blocked sites while safeguarding online identity. I tested 5 servers for DNS/IP leaks and found none.
Your data isn’t subject to government surveillance since PrivateVPN is based in the privacy-friendly country of Sweden. Additionally, its strict no-logs policy gives assurance that your online activities won’t be traced back to your account.
While in China, you won't be able to download the PrivateVPN application through mirror URLs. However, it's recommended that you download it before you arrive in the country. Once installed, it's considered one of the most dependable VPNs for use in China.
You can test PrivateVPN without risk since it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you're not pleased with it, the quickest and easiest way to claim your refund is through its 24/7 live chat feature.
- Reliable unblocking abilities. PrivateVPN consistently unblocks the most popular sites and apps, including social media platforms, search engines, and news sites.
- Fast nearby servers. Its server network is small, but PrivateVPN maintains what it calls a “High-Quality Network” to ensure smooth connections. That said, its long-distance speeds aren’t always consistent — I lost 75% of my base speed on its LA server. So for use in China, it’s best to use one of its nearby servers (like in Hong Kong or Taiwan).
- Choice of protocols. It offers 4 protocols, but the top 2 I recommend for China are L2TP and OpenVPN. My colleagues found that L2TP works best for bypassing VPN blocks. But with OpenVPN, you can switch between 128-bit (for faster speeds) and 256-bit encryption (for stronger security).
Tips on How to Choose the Best VPN for China
Here are the standards I used to assess and list the best VPNs for China. You can use these standards to guide you in choosing the right VPN tailored to your requirements.
- Works in China. There’s a long list of websites blocked by the GFW, apps, and services — including independently-run VPNs. The best China VPN should have no problem overcoming the GFW, while accessing international sites from within the country.
- Server locations. The more servers a VPN has in China and nearby countries, the better its performance will be. Look for a VPN with servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Singapore, as they provide better speeds and stability.
- Encryption and security. Choosing a VPN that offers strong encryption and security is essential. Also, consider a VPN with features like a kill switch and DNS leak protection to ensure your browsing remains private.
- Protocols. Some protocols, such as PPTP and L2TP, are less secure and the GFW can easily detect and block them. Choose a VPN with protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, or WireGuard, as these are more secure.
- Speed. A fast VPN is crucial for keeping your online activities smooth. Choose a VPN with fast and stable speeds, especially when connecting to servers outside of China — the GFW limits speeds on sites from outside of the country, as it is.
- Customer support. You may encounter technical issues or have questions about the service when using a VPN in China. Look for a VPN that offers 24/7 customer support through live chat, email, or phone. Also, consider a VPN with a comprehensive knowledge base or FAQ section.
- Money-back guarantee. Ensure your VPN comes with a money-back guarantee, so you can get a full refund if it doesn’t work in China.
Is Your VPN Not Working in China? Here's What to Do
The Chinese government is known for enforcing strict rules related to internet censorship, and it's not uncommon for the Great Firewall (GFW) to block VPN services. In this section, I'll offer some suggestions on what to do if you find your VPN isn't working properly.
- Change servers. This is often the easiest solution when you’re having issues with your VPN. Try reconnecting to a different server or changing locations to a nearby country like Hong Kong or Taiwan, as these locations provide good performance.
- Change protocol. If changing servers doesn't work, try changing your VPN protocol. Some VPN protocols, such as PPTP and L2TP, are known to be less secure. Try switching to a more reliable protocol like OpenVPN or IKEv2.
- Check for updates. VPN providers often release software updates to help their services work more effectively in China. These updates may include improvements that help you access websites and services in the country.
- Contact customer support. Reach out to your VPN provider's customer support team. They may be able to help troubleshoot the issue or provide guidance on how to get their service to work reliably in China.
- Consider alternative VPNs. If all else fails, consider using a different VPN. Not all VPNs work in China. Look for VPNs with a good track record of working in the country. Check if they offer a money-back guarantee in case the service doesn't work properly.
FAQs on VPNs for China
Why do I need to use a VPN in China?
The Great Firewall of China blocks social media platforms, news outlets, and other sites that the Chinese government deems inappropriate or threatening. That’s why many people who visit or move to China turn to a VPN for safe and open access to the internet. VPNs encrypt internet traffic, making it difficult for the government to track online activities or intercept data. But it's super important to keep in mind that there are regulations surrounding VPN-use in the country. You should always check up on the most recent local laws to ensure you don't get into trouble accidentally.
Finally, using a VPN in China helps secure your browsing from hackers. Using public WiFi hotspots in China can make you vulnerable to cyberattacks. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, preventing cybercriminals from intercepting and stealing your data. This keeps your browsing private and prevents unauthorized access to your information.
Should I use a VPN in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan?
Yes, using a VPN in these locations can be helpful for accessing geo-restricted websites. Even though this is beyond the GFW, there are still geoblocked sites and apps in these cities — just like in other parts of the world.
Another reason to use a VPN in these regions is to protect your online privacy. While Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan have more relaxed online censorship laws than mainland China, there are still concerns about online surveillance and privacy. Using a VPN is always a good measure to protect your privacy from prying eyes and cybercriminals.
Are VPNs illegal in China?
The use of unauthorized VPNs is prohibited in China. China has been tightening its grip on internet censorship and cracking down on VPNs that don’t comply with its regulations. So it’s best to get a reliable VPN for China before you travel. State-approved VPNs like Shadowrocket are available in China, but the government will monitor your data through these.
Why is my VPN so slow in China?
The Great Firewall of China slows down VPN traffic by blocking certain VPN protocols. Protocols such as PPTP and L2TP are known to be less effective in bypassing the GFW and are easy to block. Switching to a more secure protocol like OpenVPN, IKEv2, or ExpressVPN’s exclusive Lightway can help improve your speeds.
You may also consider using local Chinese versions of the sites you usually visit. Domestic speeds are much faster than those from outside China. the GFW puts heavy restrictions on traffic from outside the country.
Another reason for slow VPN speeds in China is network congestion. China is home to more than a billion internet users. Such a high number can cause network congestion and slow internet speeds, including VPN traffic. Connecting to a VPN server close to your physical location can help improve your speed.
Can I use a proxy in China?
You can, but you should be wary of the limitations and risks. A proxy can change your virtual location, which might help you access some sites, but it doesn’t offer much privacy protection. The safest and easiest way to access global services from China is with a VPN.
Since proxies don’t offer strong security features, like encryption, they’re not as dependable as a VPN for protecting your personal data. This also makes it much easier for the GFW to detect and block proxy traffic — so the websites they reliably access is pretty limited.
What is the Great Firewall of China?
The Great Firewall of China is a complex system of online censorship and surveillance that the Chinese government operates. It’s also known as The Golden Shield Project. The GFW controls and restricts access to the internet, blocking millions of websites and services that are super common in other parts of the world.
The GFW’s system includes a range of tools, like IP blocking, DNS filtering, and deep packet inspection (DPI). It detects and blocks access to websites and services that the government finds politically sensitive or problematic. The GFW also includes strict regulations that require ISPs to monitor and censor content that it deems inappropriate. This is why VPNs are commonly used in China.
Does CyberGhost have any servers in China?
Yes, CyberGhost has 12 servers in Shenzhen. So while it no longer works reliably from within China, it’s a good choice if you’re traveling outside the country and want access to Chinese websites securely. VPNs with advanced security features, such as obfuscation, are usually the most reliable options for use in China.
How can I get a VPN if I’m already in China?
It can be a little more tricky, but there are a couple of workarounds if you’ve got the know-how. It’s usually easiest to get a VPN for China before entering the country. The GFW imposes restrictions on VPNs and their websites, making it difficult to sign up for or install a service from within the country.
That said, one way to get around this is if someone outside of China downloads and sends the VPN client. This can be risky, however, as the Chinese government intercepts and monitors internet traffic.
Also, a VPN can be downloaded from China if the provider offers a mirror site on the dark web (like ExpressVPN). However, the GFW also blocks the Tor browser, which is the most-used gateway to the dark web. It’s possible to configure Tor so it works in China, but it’s really tricky, so the first method is by far the best.
Can I use a free VPN in China?
It may be possible, but I don’t recommend it. Using a low-cost premium VPN for China is the safest and most reliable option. The right premium VPN will come packed with advanced security features that offer trustworthy privacy protection. Plus, paid VPNs tend to offer faster speeds, which is critical for getting smooth and reliable connections from across the world.
Free VPNs often have limitations on locations, data, and speeds, which can cause slow connections and poor performance. They also tend to lack key security features, making them useless for unblocking international sites from China, while leaving your data vulnerable to prying eyes and cybercriminals.
Get the Best VPN for China
While CyberGhost is one of my favorite services for gaming and security, it doesn’t work dependably in China. That can be a problem if you visit or live in China and wish to access essential websites and services safely and freely. Luckily, there are a few VPNs that offer advanced privacy features that make them better equipped to work in the country.
My no.1 alternative for use in China is ExpressVPN. Its automatic obfuscation allows it to reliably hide the VPN traffic, while offering strong privacy protection. Plus, its fast speeds are ideal for minimizing speed loss and keeping your connections smooth. You can test ExpressVPN risk-free since it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If it’s not for you, claiming a refund is straightforward.
To summarize, these are the best VPNs for China...
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