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

How to Use Instagram in China — Tested & Working in 2024

Andjela Nikolic Updated on 11th April 2024 Fact-checked by Aleksandra Kovacevic Cybersecurity Researcher

You can’t access Instagram in China due to the strict internet censorship laws enforced by the Great Firewall. Alongside Instagram, other popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are also blocked.

The easiest way to unblock Instagram in China is with a VPN. However, the Great Firewall also blocks most VPNs, and many outdated guides online recommend VPNs that no longer work. My team and I tested 40+ VPNs and found the ones most reliable for using Instagram when visiting China.

ExpressVPN is my top recommendation for accessing Instagram in China. It’s easy to use, conceals your VPN traffic to avoid detection, and allows you to download it from within the country. Thanks to a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try ExpressVPN risk-free Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Use Instagram in China >>

Important. In China, the use of VPNs is tightly controlled, with only government-approved VPNs allowed. However, there have been no publicly reported cases of tourists facing penalties for using other VPN services. Ensure you understand the local VPN/site access laws to avoid accidentally breaking them — the vpnMentor team and I don't condone any illegal activities. Also, all VPNs may temporarily encounter issues in China due to changing restrictions. Still, the VPNs listed below were the most reliable in our tests.

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

  1. Download a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN because you can set it up in a few clicks from China, and it automatically hides your VPN traffic to avoid detection. Plus, it has a get a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Connect to a server. Choose a server nearby in a country where Instagram is usually available, such as Hong Kong. The closer the server is to your location, the less your speed will drop.
  3. Start browsing. Open your Instagram app and continue using it as you would back home.
Pro tip: Download a VPN before arriving in China since many VPN websites are blocked. Otherwise, choose a VPN, like ExpressVPN, that offers a mirror site, allowing you to download the VPN in China.

Why You Need a VPN to Access Instagram in China

The Great Firewall of China blocks many popular social media sites and apps, including Instagram. This sophisticated censorship system inspects your internet traffic to identify the content or site you're trying to reach. Your connection is promptly blocked if it recognizes that you're attempting to access a restricted platform like Instagram.

A VPN encrypts your internet data, allowing you to use Instagram freely in China. This encryption disguises your internet traffic, making it indecipherable to the censorship system, thus allowing you to access platforms like Instagram.

However, the Great Firewall has evolved to detect and block VPN traffic. To counter this, advanced VPNs use obfuscation techniques, which make VPN traffic resemble regular internet traffic, allowing it to go undetected. Premium VPNs also protect your online privacy by following strict no-logs policies and using IP/DNS leak protection and a kill switch.

Best VPNs to Unblock Instagram in China in 2024

1. ExpressVPN — Advanced Obfuscation to Avoid Blocks and Use Instagram in China

Best Feature Automatically hides your VPN traffic to remain undetected in China
Server Network 3,000 servers in 105 countries, including Mongolia, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Hong Kong
Downloadable From China Yes. For the latest mirror site URL, contact support@expressvpn.zendesk.com.
Works With Instagram, Facebook, X, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, FaceTime, Google, Snapchat, and more
Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Since it's preconfigured with obfuscation, you don't need to tinker with ExpressVPN's settings to make it work in China. Just ensure you use the default protocol selected, and your VPN traffic is disguised as regular HTTPS, allowing you to access Instagram in China without getting flagged and blocked. Its DNS/IP leak protection is also enabled by default. I tested ExpressVPN for data leaks and my real location remained private.

ExpressVPN also conducts regular server tests to identify the most reliable ones for China. I got the latest list of these servers by contacting customer support via live chat (available 24/7). Since Instagram is available in most countries worldwide, you can let ExpressVPN pick the best server when visiting China. All you need to do is type “Pick for Me” in its server location list.

Screenshot showing the I recommend "Pick for Me" as the most reliable option for China

Thanks to the VPN's verified strict no-logs policy, your data isn't stored or shared with anyone. Additionally, ExpressVPN servers run on RAM-only (TrustedServer technology), wiping all information with each server reboot. I also like that its headquarters are located in the British Virgin Islands, outside the jurisdiction of the surveillance alliances of the 5/9/14 Eyes.

The only drawback is the price starting at $6.67/month. However, if you opt for a long-term plan, you can get a discount of up to 49%, plus 3 months free. All its subscriptions also have a 30-day money-back guarantee and can be used simultaneously on up to 8 devices. Getting a full refund is easy if you're not 100% happy with it; just contact support via 24/7 live chat.

Useful Features

  • Split tunneling. You can choose which apps use the VPN and which don’t. This allows you to access local Chinese websites normally while using Instagram via the VPN. My connection speeds improved slightly when I only routed Instagram traffic through ExpressVPN.
  • Lightway protocol. ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol is designed for faster speeds and quicker reconnections. While testing it, I only had a 6% speed loss testing nearby servers.
  • Network Lock kill switch. This feature automatically stops internet traffic if the VPN connection unexpectedly drops (which never happened to me). It prevents your data from getting exposed while you scroll through Instagram in China.
ExpressVPN Offer July 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. Astrill VPN — Specialized Servers for Reliable Instagram Access in China

Best Feature Easily use Instagram in China with servers designed for security and speed
Server Network 118 servers in 58 countries, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea
Downloadable From China Yes, with a mirror link that's accessible even without a VPN
Works With Instagram, Facebook, X, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, FaceTime, Google, and more

Astrill's Supercharged servers provide enhanced security, faster load times, and lower latency. Since they provide you with a US IP address, they won't get blocked from accessing Instagram. These servers were much faster than the regular Astrill VPN servers I tested, with an average speed reduction of only 9%. This impressed me since the US is thousands of miles from my actual location.

Like ExpressVPN, Astrill offers obfuscation when using its StealthVPN protocol; however, it will slow you down a bit. I recommend the OpenWeb protocol for a smoother Instagram experience in China, as it was the fastest during my tests. But if you get blocked, switch to StealthVPN instead.

Screenshot of a conversation with Astrill live chat support regarding VPN use in ChinaI got the list of recommended servers and the mirror link for China

Use Astrill VPN’s Smart Mode to get a local IP for domestic sites and a foreign one for international traffic. This helps hide your VPN use, so you can access all your accounts without restrictions. Additionally, the Application Filter can help improve your speed if you only need a VPN for Instagram. It lets you select which apps and websites to bypass the VPN.

Unfortunately, there's no money-back guarantee, and the VPN costs more than others on this list. However, you can reduce the price to $12.50/month by opting for a long-term subscription. Additionally, Astrill offers a month of free service for every new subscriber you refer that signs up, helping to mitigate the cost.

Useful Features

  • Onion Over VPN. You can route your traffic through the Tor network on top of the VPN, adding an extra layer of encryption and privacy. It makes your online activity extremely difficult to trace.
  • Auto clear cookies. Automatically clearing cookies can prevent tracking of your online activities. This enhances your privacy while browsing Instagram.
  • Ad and tracker blocker. This helps reduce unwanted ads and prevents trackers from monitoring your online behavior. It won’t hide sponsored posts on Instagram, though.

3. PrivateVPN — Strong Security Features to Keep Your Instagram Use Private in China

Best Feature High-level encryption protects your online activities from prying eyes
Server Network 200 servers in 63 countries, with nearby locations in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan
Downloadable from China No. You'll need to download the VPN before visiting China
Works With Instagram, Facebook, X, WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, Google, Snapchat, and more

PrivateVPN secures your data and online identity with virtually uncrackable AES 256-bit encryption, the same level used by the US military. It also follows a strict no-logs policy, keeping your browsing activities private. I tested 12 PrivateVPN servers, and my real IP address was always hidden.

Like ExpressVPN and Astrill, it also obfuscates your traffic to reduce the chances of getting detected and blocked, but you need to use the Stealth VPN protocol. If the VPN isn’t working in China, I recommend using the multi-protocol client (OpenConnect) for the best results. If you’re unsure how to set this up, you can find a detailed step-by-step guide on PrivateVPN’s website or contact its 24/7 live chat support for help.

Screenshot of PrivateVPN's Windows interface showing how to activate Stealth VPNFor better results, I recommend switching to port 443

On the downside, the server network is relatively small, so you might be unable to connect to a server in your preferred country. However, all PrivateVPN servers I tested were fast enough to quickly upload photos and videos to Instagram, including watching reels without buffering​​​​.

You can get PrivateVPN for as low as $2/month if you choose a long-term subscription. Use its 30-day money-back guarantee to test it out for Instagram in China and get a refund if you don’t like it.

Useful Features

  • Connection Guard. You can set up specific apps like Instagram to only operate when your VPN connection is active.
  • Connect automatically on startup. PrivateVPN can be set to connect as soon as you power on your device, so you get immediate protection and access to Instagram without manually connecting to a server.
  • Easy to use. Suitable for beginners and experienced users with its Simple and Advanced app modes.

Tips for Accessing Instagram in China

Only a few VPNs work in China and those that do usually need a specific configuration for use in the country. Here’s how you can improve your chances of unblocking Instagram in China with a VPN.

  • Download a VPN before going to China. The Great Firewall restricts many VPN websites, making it essential to install your VPN before arrival. While some VPNs (like ExpressVPN) offer mirror links for China, finding those links from within the country may take time.
  • Enable obfuscation. This disguises your VPN traffic as regular internet data, which is crucial in a country with stringent internet censorship. While ExpressVPN obfuscates your traffic automatically, most VPNs require manual configuration.
  • Use servers optimized for China. Check if your VPN app offers dedicated servers for China. These servers are less likely to be blocked and may even provide better connection speeds in China.
  • Activate leak protection and kill switch. These features prevent your real IP and DNS requests from being exposed during accidental disconnections. I tested this by intentionally disrupting my VPN connection to check if these features work effectively. All the VPNs on this list kept my actual location private.
  • Switch protocols. Some security protocols are more reliable than others in China. I recommend looking for obfuscated VPN protocols like StealthVPN for the best results.
  • Contact customer support. You can ask for recommended settings and servers for China. Most premium VPNs offer 24/7 assistance, so you can get help immediately.

How to Install a VPN and Download Instagram From China

  1. Choose a reliable VPN. Most VPN websites are blocked in China, so you should download a VPN before arriving. However, you can install ExpressVPN using its mirror link for China if you're already there. If the link doesn't work now, contact support@expressvpn.zendesk.com to get the most current URL.
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN's website with live chat support sharing the URL for ChinaI recommend bookmarking this URL for easy access from China
  2. Connect to a server. Check if your VPN offers servers optimized for use in China, or ask its customer support for recommendations. Servers nearby, are are usually the fastest.
    Screenshot of ExpressVPN's Windows interface and recommended servers for ChinaMake sure to get the updated list, as this can change at any time
  3. Download Instagram. You can safely download Instagram from your app store.Screenshot of Instagram installation page with ExpressVPN connected to a Any recommended server for China will work for downloading Instagram

FAQs on Unblocking Instagram in China

Is using Instagram in China legal?

Accessing Instagram in China violates Chinese internet regulations. However, there are no public reports of people being penalized for using a VPN to unblock Instagram. Remember to download your VPN before arriving in China, as most VPN websites are blocked there.

Why is Instagram blocked in China?

Instagram is blocked in China primarily because it enables the free flow of information and content sharing. This challenges the Chinese government's control over online discourse. However, you can still use Instagram in China with a premium VPN.

Do Chinese celebrities have Instagram accounts?

Yes, some Chinese celebrities do have Instagram accounts. Although the platform is blocked by the Great Firewall, there are still ways to access Instagram from China. However, most Chinese celebrities prefer to use domestic social media platforms like Weibo, WeChat, and Douyin to connect with their fan base.

Are there any alternatives to Instagram in China?

Yes, several alternatives to Instagram exist in China, such as Weibo, WeChat, and Douyin. While these platforms offer similar features for content sharing, social networking, and influencer marketing, they adhere to censorship laws. To use Instagram safely and without restrictions, get a reliable VPN for China.

Which sites are blocked in China?

China blocks access to numerous websites and online services, including popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google. The government restricts access to these platforms to control information flow and maintain ideological conformity among its citizens. If you’re visiting China, you need a VPN to unblock your local accounts and to keep your data private from prying eyes.

Can I use a free VPN to access Instagram in China?

Probably not, since free VPNs usually don’t work in China. They also often lack the security and speed required for seamless browsing. Additionally, most VPN websites are blocked in the country, and there are only a few VPNs that can still be downloaded from within China. Some of them, like ExpressVPN, come with a trustworthy money-back guarantee, so you can try them risk-free.

Use Instagram in China in Minutes

Using a VPN is the simplest solution to retain access to your Instagram account when visiting China, enabling you to stay connected with friends and the world beyond the Great Firewall. Unfortunately, very few VPNs effectively work in the country.

I recommend ExpressVPN for reliable Instagram use in China. Its servers automatically conceal your VPN so you can unblock Instagram from China without adjusting settings. You can even download it from within the country. Plus, with ExpressVPN's 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, there's no risk in trying it.

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

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
5.3 /10
5.3 Our Score
Save 59%!
3
9.2 /10
9.2 Our Score
Save 85%!
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The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

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

Visit ExpressVPN

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

About the Author

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

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