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.
Advertising Disclosure

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 a VPN in Russia and China — Working in 2024

Doris Muthuri Updated on 13th June 2024 Fact-checked by Emma Browne Senior Writer
Note: Russia and China are blocking a lot of VPNs, but the ones we shortlisted proved the most reliable in our tests. It’s also becoming increasingly difficult to find payment methods that work in Russia. Visa and Mastercard no longer operate there. In addition, you can't pay with QIWI for the listed VPNs anymore. The good news is that the services below accept multiple payment methods, including crypto.

Russia and China are actively taking measures to block non-government-operated VPNs. You can’t even find their apps in the app stores in either of these countries. The ones that remain accessible are mostly those that are government-approved, which aren't privacy-friendly.

Only a few VPNs with robust obfuscation technology can get around China’s and Russia’s VPN blocks. Our team members in Russia and beyond tested 50+ VPNs and found only a handful that work. They’re ultra-secure and privacy-focused, and some even have mirror websites that you can access to download the VPN from Russia or China.

While even the best VPNs struggle in these countries, we found that ExpressVPN is the best for Russia and China because its automatic obfuscation makes it more reliable and convenient. It also has a mirror website, so you can get it even if you’re already there. Plus, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you're not satisfied with it, you can get a refund. Editors' Note: Transparency is one of our core values at vpnMentor, so you should know we are in the same ownership group as ExpressVPN. However, this does not affect our review process.

Try ExpressVPN Today >>

Important: In China and Russia, you're not allowed to use VPNs that the government hasn't approved. But, there are no publicly reported cases of tourists getting in trouble for using a VPN in China. In addition, accessing websites that are blocked or banned there breaks these countries’ laws. My team and I don't support illegal actions, so be careful when using a VPN in Russia and China. It’s your responsibility to use it within the bounds of the law.

Quick Guide: How to Use VPNs in Russia and China in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Get a VPN. Ideally, you should do this before traveling to Russia or China. I recommend ExpressVPN because it was the most reliable in our tests, and it even has a mirror website, so you can download it from there.
  2. Connect to a nearby server. For example, you can choose a server in Japan if you’re in China. This gives you the fastest speeds.
  3. Start browsing. Once connected to a server, your traffic is encrypted, and you can browse the internet securely. Some VPNs may require additional setups to work.

Why You Need a VPN in Russia or China

Both the Russian and Chinese governments use a combination of legislative actions and network blocks to monitor and restrict internet use. Since VPNs are tools used for internet freedom, these countries have been trying to control or block VPN use as well.

Networks in these countries will determine what you’re allowed to see based on your IP address. A VPN masks your IP address and lets you browse the internet safely and privately by encrypting your data. This way, your internet traffic and personal information will be protected.

However, despite internet filters, only a handful of VPNs with solid obfuscation work reliably in Russia and China, and I’ve listed them below. Their obfuscation features hide the fact that you’re using a VPN and make the encrypted connection look like regular traffic. They also have robust encryption and tunneling protocols to protect you from hackers and snoops.

Best VPNs that Work in Russia and China in 2024

1. ExpressVPN — Automatic Obfuscation to Browse Privately in Russia and China

Best Feature All servers automatically obfuscate your connection to hide your VPN use
Security and Privacy Independently-audited no-logs policy and RAM-only servers to ensure your activity in Russia and China is never stored
Server Network 3,000+ servers in 105 countries, so you can always find a nearby fast server in Russia or China
Works With Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Tinder, Google services, and more
Editors' Note: Transparency is one of our core values at vpnMentor, so you should know we are in the same ownership group as ExpressVPN. However, this does not affect our review process.

ExpressVPN uses sophisticated obfuscation technology to make sure it remains undetected. This allows it to pass through the firewalls and DPI used to inspect and block VPNs. It works with the Automatic protocol and makes your VPN traffic look like regular HTTPS traffic, so your ISP or anyone monitoring the internet can’t detect it. During our international team’s testing, we found that ExpressVPN was the most reliable in Russia and China.

It also uses military-grade encryption enhanced with perfect forward secrecy to regularly update your encryption key and guard against third-party interference. Its kill switch, Network Lock, ensures none of your data leaks even if your connection drops unexpectedly. I also tested its IP/DNS/WebRTC leak protection, and my data never leaked.

A screenshot of a successful IP/DNS/WebRTC leak test while connected to ExpressVPN's Amsterdam serverYou don't need to enable anything on the app to activate the leak protection, as it's automatic

Its TrustedServer technology ensures its servers run only on RAM memory, which means all server information is deleted after each reboot. Since there is nothing to recover, it makes it much harder for your ISP or anyone else to see your online activities in Russia and China.

The only downside is that ExpressVPN doesn’t offer phone support, which can come in handy while you’re in Russia or China. However, it has a mirror website that you can use there and a 24/7 live chat. I tested the chat together with the legitimacy of its 30-day money-back guarantee. The representative replied in just a few seconds and kindly accepted my refund request.

Important: To use ExpressVPN in Russia, you must pair it with a RU-sanctioned VPN like the free Kaspersky. I don’t recommend using Kaspersky on its own, however, because it may provide user data when requested by the government. ExpressVPN maintains a strict no-logs policy to protect your privacy in Russia.

Useful Features

  • Lightway protocol. ExpressVPN’s proprietary protocol is designed to give you fast speeds without compromising security. I tested dozens of servers in Europe and the US from Nairobi, and my speeds never dropped below 12%.
  • Threat Manager. ExpressVPN's Threat Manager enhances your online safety by actively blocking access to websites known for viruses and malware. This tool is especially useful in Russia and China, as it prevents you from visiting dangerous websites by maintaining a regularly updated list of harmful domains.
  • Split tunneling. It lets you choose which internet activities (apps and websites) go through the VPN. This frees up some bandwidth, which is really useful in China and Russia, where the internet can be quite slow sometimes.
  • Easy-to-use apps. ExpressVPN offers apps that are easy for new and experienced users. This means you can quickly connect to nearby servers in Hong Kong or Ukraine within just a few clicks. The app also auto-selects the best protocol, so you don't need to change settings.
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 — China-Optimized Servers and Private Russian IPs for Secure Browsing

Best Feature Special servers for China and static IPs for Russia to surf securely and easily
Security and Privacy A kill switch that protects your data and privacy even if your connection drops unexpectedly in Russia and China
Server Network 118 servers in 58 countries, including in countries close to Russia and China
Works With Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Tinder, Google services, and more

Astrill VPN has special China-optimized servers and unique dedicated IPs for Russia, which help you keep your data secure. I tested its China-optimized servers, and they all proved to have no leaks. Our tester in Russia also used its server Russia IPs and reported that the connection was always stable without any noticeable slowdown.

A screenshot of Astrill VPN's app showing its servers in China and RussiaThere are no specialized servers for Russia, but the normal servers work great

AstrillVPN also offers Smart Mode, which is a type of split tunneling designed for use in China. When you activate it, your traffic will load through the VPN server you selected, but you can browse local sites without turning off the VPN because it assigns you a regional IP. The beauty of this is that it works automatically, so you don’t need to specify which sites you want to visit without the VPN.

Like ExpressVPN, I also found that Astrill VPN has a special website accessible from China or Russia. Very few providers have this, and it’s a massive advantage since both governments block access to many foreign VPNs. This way, you can install Astrill VPN even when you’re already in one of these countries.

The downside is that it offers no refunds, and its subscription plans are quite expensive, starting from $12.50/month. But Astrill recommends that if you just want to try it out, you should go for the shortest plan available. However, it has an Invite Friends System. The friend you invite has to purchase the subscription, and then you can use it for up to a month for free.

Useful Features

  • StealthVPN protocol. This proprietary protocol adds an extra layer of obfuscation on top of OpenVPN, making it effective against deep packet inspection (DPI) and firewall blocks. These are both methods used by Russia and China to restrict internet access.
  • App Guard feature. An enhanced version of a kill switch on Windows, App Guard, blocks apps from accessing the internet without a secure VPN connection. This is especially useful in countries that monitor your connection, like Russia and China.
  • Router compatibility. You can set up Astrill VPN on your router and simultaneously protect all your household devices while in Russia and China. You just need to ensure your router is compatible with the OpenVPN protocol.

3. Proton VPN — Secure Core Servers for Enhanced Security and Privacy in Russia

Best Feature Double encryption for enhanced security against Russia's sophisticated tracking methods
Security and Privacy A variety of VPN protocols to choose from so you can adjust to your specific needs
Server Network 6,333 servers in 100 countries, including locations close to Russia
Works With Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Tinder, Google services, and more

Although Proton VPN doesn’t seem to work in China currently, it works well in Russia. Its Secure Core servers route your traffic through multiple servers to improve your privacy in high-risk jurisdictions like Russia. This feature routes your internet through servers in privacy-friendly countries before it reaches your chosen destination. This way, your data remains safe even if your chosen server is compromised.

A screenshot of Proton VPN connected to Hong Kong via SwitzerlandThe circle next to each server shows the load to help you choose a fast connection

I also like that Proton VPN, similar to Astrill, offers a Stealth protocol that disguises your VPN traffic as a regular connection. This makes it more likely to avoid VPN detection tools so you can browse without being tracked. Our tester in Russia used this to browse the internet privately. It also doesn't keep records of your online activity, so you can be confident your data is safe.

My only disappointment is that Proton VPN dropped my speeds by up to 43% on some servers. However, I didn’t have many issues since my base speed is pretty fast. I could still play games and download large files without major slowdowns.

Long-term pricing starts at $4.49/month. Plus, you can test Proton VPN for free for 30 days since it has a reliable money-back guarantee.

Useful Features

  • No-logs policy. The service does not store user activity logs, which is vital in Russia for protecting your privacy against network surveillance.
  • Tor over VPN. Proton VPN allows direct access to the Tor network without you needing to install the Tor browser on your devices. This feature is crucial in Russia as it provides an extra layer of anonymity, making it significantly harder for third parties to track your online activities.

4. PrivateVPN — Intuitive China and Russia VPN, Great for VPN Beginners

Best Feature Clutter-free apps to help even VPN beginners secure their connection in China and Russia
Security and Privacy Stealth mode makes the VPN invisible, so your ISP and other third parties can’t see what you do online
Server Network 200 servers in 63 countries covering North America, Europe, and Asia
Works With Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype, Twitter, YouTube, Netflix, Tinder, Google services, and more

PrivateVPN’s apps are effortless to install and use. I was impressed that it allows you to sort servers by distance, making it easy to find one close to Russia and China for faster speeds. When testing, it took me less than 3 minutes to install and connect to a server in the Netherlands. I also like that you can “favorite” your most used servers so you don’t have to search the full list every time.

A screenshot of PrivateVPN's dashboard showing how to access its advanced security featuresThe IP/DNS leak protection and kill switch are active by default, so you don't need to change any settings

It also offers excellent speeds. While they might not rival those of ExpressVPN, they remained consistent throughout my tests. I tested dozens of servers in Europe, Asia, and the US from Nairobi, and my speeds never dropped by more than 23%.

A slight shortcoming is that PrivateVPN has a pretty small server network compared to some other VPNs on my list. However, I found that all the servers I tested were reliable and enabled me to browse the internet securely and privately.

PrivateVPN is budget-friendly, costing $2/month for its longest-term plan. You can also claim your money back within 30 days if you find it’s not working for you.

Useful Features

  • Multi-platform support. PrivateVPN supports various platforms, an essential feature for users in China and Russia who access the internet on different devices.
  • 24/7 customer support. Reliable customer support is crucial for resolving connectivity issues quickly in regions with complex internet restrictions like Russia and China.

Editors' Note: Transparency is one of our core values at vpnMentor, so you should know we are in the same ownership group as ExpressVPN. However, this does not affect our review process.

Tips on Choosing the Best VPN for Russia and China

I used the criteria below while selecting the best VPN for these countries. The VPNs on my list are the most reliable choices for China and Russia. Still, you can use the points below as a checklist if you want to test the VPNs yourself.

  • Large global server network. I’ve only included VPNs with a large network of servers in multiple countries, as this means you can have plenty of server locations to choose from while using a VPN in Russia and China.
  • Advanced security features. You need a VPN with strong security features to protect your sensitive information while browsing the internet from Russia and China. I’ve only considered VPNs that offer obfuscation, AES 256-bit encryption, DNS/IP leak protection, and a kill switch.
  • Fast speeds. I focused on VPNs with fast download speeds and unlimited bandwidth. This way, you can browse, stream your local licensed streaming platforms, and game with your friends from other countries without any delays.
  • Audited and proven no-logs policy. I’ve only included VPNs with a trustworthy no-logs policy. These don’t collect, store, or share your online activity or personal information with anyone. So, you can use a VPN in Russia and China with peace of mind.
  • Device compatibility. I chose VPNs with native apps for all major operating systems and devices. That way, you can privately browse the internet on most of your devices.
  • Reliable customer support. These VPNs provide friendly and knowledgeable support either through live chat, email, or phone. I’ve also prioritized those that offer 24/7 support. This availability means that any issues you encounter can be promptly and efficiently resolved, no matter what timezone you’re in.

How to Download and Set Up a VPN in Russia or China

The first and most important step is to choose the right VPN. Not all VPNs can work well in countries with heavy censorship. As already mentioned — my top recommendation is ExpressVPN. It has obfuscated servers, excellent speeds, and it works right away with no additional setups.

Pro Tip: Many VPN websites are blocked in Russia and China, so you won’t always be able to download the VPN while there. Some VPNs, like ExpressVPN, have a mirror site accessible with the Tor browser. Still, I believe the best alternative would be to get a VPN before traveling to Russia or China.

Here’s how to set up ExpressVPN in China or Russia:

  1. Download ExpressVPN. Choose the suitable app for your device (it supports all major OSs and devices). The installation is very straightforward; all you need to do is follow the prompts.
  2. Open the ExpressVPN app. If you already have an account, you can just sign in. If you don't have an account, you’ll need to sign up for one first.
  3. Choose a secure protocol. I recommend you choose the Automatic protocol to enable obfuscation on all servers. If you’re not using ExpressVPN, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard are good alternatives that are offered by many other VPNs.
  4. Select the server you want. I recommend choosing a server relatively close to Russia or China for the best speeds. Then, click the power button to connect.
  5. Start browsing privately. Now, you can browse, stream, game, and more without worrying about snoops or hackers.

What If My VPN Is Not Working in Russia or China?

If your VPN isn’t working in Russia or China, you might’ve selected one that isn’t reliable, or it’s just blocked, so you might need a new one. All the VPNs listed above proved the most stable during our tests, and they work in Russia and China due to the advanced features they offer.

If the VPN you selected normally is working, but it isn’t now, you can try the following:

  • Connect to another server. The server you’ve chosen might be overloaded, or its IPs might be blocked, so simply changing the server can help you get the VPN working.
  • Change the VPN protocol. Protocol choice is very important when it comes to using a VPN in these countries. For example, ExpressVPN recommends using the Automatic protocol. If you’re using another VPN, try out all the protocols and see which one works best.
  • Update the VPN app. Using an outdated version of the VPN app can pose some issues, so make sure that you always update it to the latest version.
  • Contact the VPN’s customer support. If none of the above tips help, your VPN’s customer support team can help you by giving you specific instructions on what servers and settings to select so that the VPN works in Russia or China.

FAQs on Using VPNs in Russia or China

Are VPNs legal in China and Russia?

Only government-approved VPNs are legal in Russia and China. However, these are heavily monitored and controlled, so they may not fully protect your security and privacy. Thankfully, there are a few independent VPNs with advanced security features that can keep your data safe in these countries. Plus, they all have obfuscation technology to hide that you’re using a VPN to help you use them on restrictive networks.

Keep in mind that using a non-government-approved VPN is not allowed in China. However, there haven’t been any publicly reported cases of visitors penalized by the Chinese government for using them. Still, we strongly advise you to use VPNs responsibly and within the bounds of the law.

Which VPNs work in China and Russia?

Only top-tier VPNs that use obfuscation can work in countries like Russia and China, like the ones recommended above. These also have robust security and privacy features to protect you against hackers and snoops. Plus, they offer excellent speeds, so you can enjoy your online activities without slowdowns.

Note that due to the heavy restrictions in these countries, a lot of VPNs struggle to work there reliably. But the ones I shortlisted proved to be the most stable.

As mentioned earlier, using a non-governmental-approved VPN in China is not permitted. However, no cases have been publicly mentioned of tourists getting penalized for using them. That said, always ensure to use VPNs responsibly and don’t break the law.

How do VPNs work in China and Russia?

In internet-restricted countries, VPNs work by using advanced technologies like obfuscation, which makes them less detectable. VPNs with obfuscation technology disguise your VPN traffic as regular internet traffic, making it harder to detect. They also frequently change their IP addresses, which helps them stay ahead of detection efforts by both the Chinese and Russian internet regulators.

Can you use a free VPN in China or Russia?

Probably not. Free VPNs don’t usually have the resources to invest in the obfuscation technology necessary to work in these countries. As a result, I found no free VPNs that work reliably in these countries. That’s why I recommend using a premium VPN instead. The VPNs I’ve recommended are the most reliable options for Russia and China.

Free VPNs tend to be less secure than their premium competitors. Even if they did work in Russia and China, they’re a far riskier option. Some sell your data to advertisers and other third parties in exchange for the free service, and others are poorly disguised scams or malware.

Can foreigners use VPNs in Russia and China?

Yes, foreigners can use VPNs in Russia and China. The Chinese and Russian governments impose severe restrictions against VPN use, which include only allowing VPNs that have been approved by them. However, there haven’t been any public reports of foreigners being fined or punished for using a VPN in China.

The laws are always changing, so it is crucial to stay informed on VPN regulations within these countries. Remember, it’s your responsibility to use a VPN within the bounds of the law.

Get the Best VPN for Russia and China

China's Great Firewall and Russia's Single Register are designed to restrict access to certain content and services, including apps like VPNs. These technologies also use detection and blocking techniques to restrict all VPNs that don’t comply with the regulations. We tested 50+ VPNs and found a few that still work in China and Russia.

My top recommendation is ExpressVPN. It uses advanced automatic obfuscation on every server, so it was the most reliable option for these countries in our tests. Plus, it comes with a money-back guarantee. If you're not happy with it, you can get a refund within the first 30 days of subscribing.

To summarize, the best VPNs for Russia and China are…

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 55%!
4
9.2 /10
9.2 Our Score
Save 85%!

Editors' Note: Transparency is one of our core values at vpnMentor, so you should know we are in the same ownership group as ExpressVPN. However, this does not affect our review process.

Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

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

Doris is a tech writer and a cybersecurity researcher for vpnMentor. She is enthusiastic about educating people about their rights to online freedom and provides actionable ways to protect their data.

Did you like this article? Rate it!
I hated it! I don't really like it It was ok Pretty good! Loved it!
out of 10 - Voted by users
Thank you for your feedback

Please, comment on how to improve this article. Your feedback matters!

Leave a comment

Sorry, links are not allowed in this field!

Name should contain at least 3 letters

The field content should not exceed 80 letters

Sorry, links are not allowed in this field!

Please enter a valid email address

Thanks for submitting a comment, %%name%%!

We check all comments within 48 hours to ensure they're real and not offensive. Feel free to share this article in the meantime.