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How to Access Instagram in China: Use Reels & More in 2023

Many social media sites aren’t available in China — like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The Chinese Communist Party regulates and monitors how people use the internet and blocks certain foreign sites. Still, there’s a way to browse the world wide web and update your Instagram followers.

A VPN lets you securely access your geo-restricted accounts from anywhere. It isn't easy finding one that can reliably access Instagram from China because most VPNs aren’t allowed there. My team and I tested 50+ VPNs and listed services that still work there without issues. They have robust features for bypassing geoblocks on international sites and providing online privacy.

ExpressVPN is my top choice for safe browsing in China. It runs a global network of obfuscated servers to quickly get around firewall blocks and watch Instagram reels. Plus, features like military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and a no-logs policy provide ample privacy while surfing the internet. You can test ExpressVPN with confidence since it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Access Instagram From China Now

Important: You may encounter restrictions on using VPNs in China as most of them aren’t approved by the government. We at vpnMentor do not condone any unlawful activities. Please check the latest regulations before using a VPN in China to avoid accidentally breaking the rules.

Quick Guide: How to Access Instagram From China in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. Use a premium VPN to access Instagram from China, and don’t miss your favorite reels anymore.I recommend ExpressVPN, with its vast network of obfuscated servers, to quickly unblock your social media accounts.
  2. Connect to a server. Choose a location where Instagram is available, for example, the US, UK, or Sweden.
  3. Open Instagram. Get story feeds, watch reels, and share cute panda pictures on your Instagram timeline.

Why You Need a VPN to Access Instagram in China

Most social media sites, including Instagram, aren’t allowed in China. That's disappointing because you can't keep in touch with your family, friends, and Selena Gomez while visiting the country. It's also risky to use WiFi hotspots without any protection due to looming cyber threats. Many third parties, including ISPs, are notorious for collecting information about internet users, so your privacy is at risk.

Instagram has more than a billion active users. One of the reasons for banning it was to promote homegrown Chinese apps, which benefited the country’s economy. It was also blocked to stop spreading pictures of Hong Kong protests into Mainland China after the hashtag #OccupyCentral, popularized by pro-democracy activists, became viral.

However, you can still use your Instagram account from China. Firewalls check your IP address and block access to certain content. A VPN reroutes your traffic through a secure server outside China, allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions. Meanwhile, encryption secures the transmitted data, protecting you from snoops trying to get a hold of your sensitive information.

Unblocking global streaming platforms from China is easy too, including on-demand video services. If you have a Netflix US or BBC iPlayer account, you can safely watch your favorite shows while traveling anywhere.

Note: Even though Instagram is blocked in Mainland China, you can still access it in Hong Kong and Macau.

Access Instagram With ExpressVPN

Best VPNs to Access Instagram From China in 2023

All my shortlisted VPNs are tested and proven to work well in China. They provide strong security and privacy features to keep your data safe and global server networks for bypassing geo-restrictions. You can stream high-quality content on Instagram too, because they’re fast.

Besides, the apps are user-friendly and allow simultaneous connections. Representatives are also on standby, offering 24/7 live chat assistance.

1. ExpressVPN — Obfuscated Servers to Quickly Bypass Instagram Geoblocks Anywhere

Security & Privacy Obfuscation tech and military-grade encryption to keep your personal data safe in China
Speeds Fastest VPN tested on this list for watching Instagram reels without buffering
Server Network 3,000 servers in 94 countries to access your social media accounts from China trouble-free
Can access Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Gmail, YouTube, Netflix US, Disney +, and more
ExpressVPN Offer February 2023: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

To safely browse sites from China, your VPN traffic has to be super-secure. ExpressVPN uses robust obfuscation technology to seamlessly bypass geoblocks anywhere. It disguises your VPN connection as regular traffic, so firewalls can't detect and block you while accessing Instagram. Third parties (like ISPs) can't monitor your VPN activity either.

With a vast global network across 94 countries, you can use Instagram without issues. After connecting to the Japan server, I instantly unblocked my account and shared traveling photos. While testing ExpressVPN, I also accessed my Netflix US and Disney+ accounts while traveling in China. The VPN lets you view your favorite news sites, like The New York Times, too.

It’s possible to smoothly watch Instagram reels and live streams, thanks to the impressive speeds and swift Lightway protocol. Most of the overseas servers I connected to from China clocked at 45Mbps (a slight drop of only 10% from my 50Mbps base connection). You need just 25Mbps to watch UHD content buffer-free. Bandwidth isn’t limited either, allowing you to stream and torrent without restrictions.

Using the split tunneling feature, you can select which apps should go through the VPN tunnel. This allows you to simultaneously access Instagram and Chinese apps like QQ from the same device.

TrustedServer tech deletes your data during regular reboots. Plus, the VPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which doesn’t belong to the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances (intelligence-sharing countries). A no-logs policy also takes care of your online privacy. It means ExpressVPN doesn't collect and store data about your online activity, like browser searches. So there isn't any information to share even if a legal request is made.

User-friendly apps are available for many devices, such as Android, iOS, and computers. If you run into any issues, the representatives on 24/7 live chat provide quick assistance. There are also easy-to-follow setup guides, such as how to use the VPN on Smart TVs and routers. You can also simultaneously connect up to 5 devices.

One drawback is the pricey subscriptions, which start from $6.67/month. However, ExpressVPN frequently offers generous discounts. I got 49% off and 3 months for free after purchasing the 12-month plan. This longer plan works out to be the most cost-effective choice.

The service is also backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you change your mind, getting a refund is hassle-free. It took only 2 days to get my money back in my PayPal wallet after requesting a refund via live chat.

Try ExpressVPN Risk-free Today

2. Astrill VPN — Fast Speeds for Watching Instagram Reels Without Interruptions in China and Beyond

Security & Privacy Multiple security protocols for safe browsing in China
Speeds High-speed connections for watching Instagram live streams buffer-free
Server Network 113 servers in 57 countries for accessing worldwide content anywhere
Can access Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Gmail, YouTube, Netflix US, Disney +, and more

Astrill VPN offers speedy connections for any Instagram activity. You can even watch live videos in very high quality. I got excellent speeds while testing Astrill VPN for UHD streaming. The US and UK servers mostly ranged between 40 and 43Mbps — just a 14–20% drop from my base speed. I also uploaded and downloaded large files without restrictions because the VPN doesn’t cap bandwidth.

Servers are distributed across 57 countries to easily bypass geoblocks. Besides using the VPN to regularly update my Instagram status, I watched content on my BBC iPlayer and Hulu accounts hassle-free. The servers are physical (not virtual) and can reliably handle high user traffic.

It's safe to browse with the VPN because of AES 256-bit encryption. Multiple secure protocols tunnel your traffic, including an obfuscated StealthVPN protocol, WireGuard (giving a good balance of speed and security), and OpenVPN. Plus, the in-house protocol, OpenWeb, lets you switch servers seamlessly without getting disconnected. There’s also a kill switch and IP/DNS/WebRTC leak protection safeguarding your crucial information during web surfing.

Thanks to a strict zero-logs policy, your online activity stays private. Your browsing history can't be shared with anyone because it isn’t stored in the first place. Like ExpressVPN, Astrill is headquartered in a privacy-friendly country that doesn’t belong to the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances — Seychelles.

Configuring the app is easy on any device (including iOS and Android) due to its user-friendly design. There are also reps on live chat 24/7 to handle any technical problems you may have. You can also use it on up to 5 devices simultaneously.

I was disappointed to see that Astrill VPN doesn't have a money-back guarantee. However, it’s still possible to get a whole month for free using the referral program.

You can get Astrill VPN for as low as $12.50/month. The long-term plans offer better value for money, that's why I recommend the yearly plan. Bitcoin payment is supported, so you don’t have to provide your credit card details if you don’t want to.

Try Astrill VPN Today

3. NordVPN — Intuitive Apps to Easily Find the Best Server for Instagram While in China

Security & Privacy AES 256-bit encryption and leak protection for a secure connection while browsing Instagram
Speeds Fast speeds for uninterrupted web browsing and video calling
Server Network 5,384 servers across 60 countries to unblock your Instagram account in China and beyond
Can access Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Gmail, YouTube, Netflix US, Disney +, and more

It's straightforward to access Instagram in China using NordVPN. You can instantly connect to a server in your desired location from the app's home screen and start browsing. This service is compatible with several devices, including Android, iOS, and laptops, and offers 6 simultaneous connections. Customer reps can also help you set up the VPN to work in China. I got prompt assistance from the support team while testing NordVPN’s 24/7 live chat.

Among the high-end security features are AES 256-bit encryption and a kill switch. Obfuscation tech is provided, making it easier to unblock sites. You can find it under the Specialty Servers list. There's also IPv6/DNS leak protection to keep your identifiable details safe and a no-logs policy for enhanced online privacy.

The VPN has reliable connections for browsing Instagram. My speeds reached 40Mbps while connected to UK servers, dropping only 20% of my base connections. Similar to Astrill, NordVPN has a proprietary protocol, NordLynx. It gave me the fastest speeds during my tests. Besides watching high-quality Instagram reels, I streamed UHD content on my Netflix US account without buffering.

One downside is that some servers can be hit-and-miss. Still, the network covers 60 countries to conveniently bypass geo-restrictions in China. So unblocking your Instagram and other social media accounts is trouble-free.

Subscriptions start from $3.49/month. My recommendation is the 2-year plan because it’s the most pocket-friendly.

You can try NordVPN for free since all the subscriptions have a 30-day money-back guarantee. It's not rocket science to get a refund if the service doesn’t work out for you. I sent an email to customer support, and my credit card was reimbursed 3 days later.

Try NordVPN Today

Tips for Accessing Instagram in China

Here are some recommended practices for using Instagram in China without any hassle.

Download a VPN Before Going to China

Some app stores, like Google Play, are blocked in China. Those that work (for example, Apple Store) don’t offer VPNs because they aren’t allowed by the government. It’s advisable to get your VPN software before arriving in the country to avoid problems. However, there are still many ways to download a VPN if you’re already in China.

Because of the software blocks in China, you might find it hard to purchase a subscription. Some international payment services aren't allowed in the country. So it’s recommended to get a VPN subscription in your home country.

Set Up the VPN Beforehand

Most communication services, like Gmail, don't work in China. Solving any technical issues and having your questions answered before traveling is important. Liaise with support on live chat to get optimal settings for China, including the best servers, before your departure.

Don’t Use Your Data Roaming to Access Instagram

It’s advisable to get a prepaid SIM card from local operators like China Telecom, China Unicom, or China Mobile. Even though some network carriers provide international roaming, it’s still too expensive. Plus, many hotels, airports, and cafes offer free WiFi hotspots.

Use Chinese Hashtags

If you’re after more Instagram followers, try hashtagging in Chinese. Even though most VPNs are blocked in China, there are millions of users in the country.

Access Instagram With ExpressVPN Now

FAQs on Accessing Instagram in China With a VPN

Is using Instagram in China legal?

You can legally use Instagram with government-approved VPNs in China. However, they are heavily regulated and not openly available to the public. Fortunately, there are other VPNs designed to work in China. They have high-end security features to protect your data from snoops and global server networks to easily access your Instagram account.

The government isn’t known to persecute tourists who use non-approved VPNs to access international social media sites. Still, it’s crucial to understand China's laws about using VPNs to avoid getting in trouble with the authorities.

Why is Instagram blocked in China?

Authorities in China want to control the information reaching its citizens. This has resulted in bans on several social media sites, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. The safest way to access Instagram as a tourist in China is via a VPN. It masks your location and encrypts all data transmitted by your device, allowing you to use Instagram without restrictions.

Hong Kong and Macau are exempt from most of the China bans. Many sites, including Instagram, are available there. However, you still need a VPN for protection against various cyber threats.

How can I watch Instagram reels from China?

The easiest way is to use a VPN. China isn't among the countries where Instagram reels are supported. It’s best to change your location to a country where reels are accessible, like the US or UK. Afterward, open your Instagram account and watch stories and reels from anywhere.

Do Chinese celebrities have Instagram accounts?

Yes, Chinese celebrities have millions of Instagram followers. There are many Instagram users in the country. VPNs let you safely access global content and browse from China. You can follow your favorite celebrities on Instagram or share your photos with the world while traveling to any geo-restricted location.

Are there any alternatives to Instagram in China?

Chinese site Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book) works similarly to Instagram. However, the language barrier might be an issue for many tourists. If that's the case, you may still use a VPN to keep in touch with family and friends on Instagram. You simply have to connect to servers in a location that isn’t blocked.

More alternatives to Instagram in China are:

  • WeChat Moments
  • Nice
  • QZone (QQ)

How can I access Instagram in China on my MacBook, Chromebook, and other devices?

Instagram doesn’t have a full desktop app, but you can install it via PlayStore on a Chromebook. On a MacBook or PC, you can access it via an emulator or web browser. The site is geoblocked in China, meaning you need a VPN to access Instagram on any device.

You could try using a 3rd-party app or browser extension to view Instagram, too. Go to the Apple, Chrome Web, or Microsoft Store. Some examples are Instagram Web or Instagram for Chrome. An Android emulator, like BlueStacks, can also do the job.

Which sites are banned in China?

Most popular sites are blocked in China, including Instagram and Facebook. If you travel to the country, you might run into many issues while trying to access international content. Using a VPN is an easy way to get around geoblocks. You can safely browse sites and communicate with people back home while on vacation.

Other apps and sites that aren’t allowed in China are:

  • Twitter
  • WhatsApp
  • Telegram
  • YouTube
  • Gmail
  • Slack
  • SnapChat
  • TikTok
  • Netflix
  • Pinterest
  • Wikipedia

On the other hand, some of the social media platforms available in China include:

  • Skype
  • Tencent QQ
  • WeChat
  • DouYin
  • Meituan
  • Zhihu
  • Sina Weibo
  • Bilibili

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

Free VPNs can’t reliably get around Instagram geo-restrictions. It's also not recommended to use them because most aren’t safe. Instead, try out a premium low-cost VPN with a money-back guarantee to effortlessly access Instagram from China. Quality services offer ample global servers, and robust security features like obfuscation and military-grade encryption.

Some free VPNs can even install malware on your device to monitor your online activities. Worse still, they share or sell your data to other third parties. Plus, most free services restrict speeds and bandwidth, so you may encounter buffering while streaming live Instagram videos. It’s also possible to use proxies, but they don’t provide online security and privacy like premium VPNs.

Try ExpressVPN Today

Access Instagram in China Now

It's super easy to access Instagram from China with a premium VPN. You can watch reels and share photos without interruptions while visiting the country. Plus, the VPN keeps your browsing activities and sensitive information hidden from prying eyes.

ExpressVPN is my top recommendation that reliably works in China. Its global network of obfuscated servers lets you safely access Instagram, and military-grade encryption protects your connection from snoops. The speeds are excellent for smoothly streaming UHD videos. It's backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try ExpressVPN without risking you money.

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

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About the Author

Kennedy is a keen tech writer with a strong background in digital privacy. He's most enthusiastic about testing VPNs and educating people on the safest ways to access the internet.

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