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 Watch YouTube in China in 2024 — Fast and Secure

Anshul Jain Updated on 13th June 2024 Fact-checked by Kate Veale Cybersecurity Researcher

YouTube is blocked by China's Great Firewall, but you can still watch it with a VPN. However, not all VPNs work in China, as the government actively stops them.

My team and I tested over 30 providers to find those working inside Chinese borders. Only a handful of VPNs can access YouTube without any issues. The ones on my list also have strong encryption and a strict no-logs policy, so your online activity stays private.

ExpressVPN is my top choice because of its fast speeds and reliable connections. You can also download it from within China using its mirror site. Plus, it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free. If you're not convinced, you can get a full 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.

Watch YouTube in China >>

Important. China heavily restricts VPN usage, and only state-approved VPNs are allowed in the country. However, there is no public record of tourists being penalized for using other VPNs. I recommend reading up on the local laws and regulations to avoid any possible risks or legal consequences. vpnMentor supports the lawful use of VPNs and is strictly against using one for illicit activity.

Quick Guide: How to Watch YouTube in China With a VPN in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. ExpressVPN is my go-to for watching YouTube in China. It’s fast and all its servers automatically conceal your VPN traffic to prevent detection and blocking.
  2. Connect to a server. Choose any server in a region near China where YouTube is accessible, like Japan or Singapore. The closer the server, the faster your speeds.
  3. Start watching YouTube. Visit YouTube and watch your favorite creators’ videos without any interruptions.

Pro tip: It’s best to install a VPN before you arrive in the country.

Why You Need a VPN to Watch YouTube in China

YouTube is blocked in China due to the country's strict internet censorship and regulations. Known as the Great Firewall, this system restricts access to many global websites and apps, including YouTube and other Google Services.

A VPN is the easiest way to watch YouTube in China. It’s a service that encrypts your data and assigns you an IP address from a country of your choice. This makes it seem like you’re accessing YouTube from outside China, so you can watch your subscribed channels as usual.

The encryption that a VPN provides is also essential for keeping your online activities hidden from cyber criminals, your ISP, and other third parties. This is especially important when using public WiFi networks, which are vulnerable to hacking and data theft.

Best VPNs to Watch YouTube in China in 2024

1. ExpressVPN — Fast Speeds to Watch YouTube Without Buffering From China

Best Feature Minimal speed reduction means you can watch YouTube in high-quality
Server Network 3,000 servers in 105 countries including Singapore and Hong Kong
Security Servers are automatically obfuscated for reliable access to YouTube in China
Works With YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, WhatsApp, Google, 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 was consistently the fastest VPN I tested. I could watch Ultra HD YouTube videos with no problem. I chose the Automatic protocol in the app settings, resulting in only a 6% drop from my base speed — 122.55Mbps from 130.23Mbps. So you won’t have to waste time on the loading circle while trying to watch YouTube.

Screenshot of the ExpressVPN Windows app connected to Singapore server with 'Automatic' protocol settings. You can also add YouTube and other sites as shortcuts for easy access

Another thing I liked is that obfuscation is enabled by default on all of ExpressVPN’s servers. You don’t have to dig into advanced settings to turn it on. Across several tests, I could freely access YouTube and other sites blocked in China without any hassle of changing servers or trying different settings.

Unlike most VPNs, you can download ExpressVPN from within China using its mirror site, which frequently changes URLs to dodge blocks. Just contact support to get the current link. The apps are very user-friendly, and I had no trouble setting up the VPN on any of my devices. You can even set it up on a router to protect everything on the network.

The only downside is the VPN’s price, which starts at $6.67/month. But with frequent discounts, you can save up to 49% on long-term plans. Since it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try ExpressVPN risk-free. If it doesn’t work well for you, just request a refund via the 24/7 live chat support.

Useful Features

  • Easy to use. ExpressVPN has intuitive apps with single-click connection, so you don’t have to mess around with the settings. The default options work well in China.
  • Split-tunneling. Route only your YouTube traffic through the VPN tunnel while allowing other apps to connect directly for faster speeds.
  • Network Lock. This is a kill switch that’ll block all internet access if the VPN connection accidentally drops, so you're always protected.
  • 8 simultaneous connections. That’s enough to secure most of your devices while traveling in China, giving you easy access to YouTube on a phone, tablet, or desktop as needed.
  • Threat Manager. This built-in feature blocks malicious websites and downloads, protecting your device from cyber threats. So you can browse YouTube without fear of hackers and snoops.
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. AstrillVPN — Special Obfuscated Servers to Watch YouTube in China

Best Feature Supercharged servers work reliably in China
Server Network 118 servers in 58 countries with special ones for China
Security A variety of security protocols like OpenWeb, StealthVPN, and WireGuard
Works With YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, WhatsApp, Google, and more

AstrillVPN has customized protocols and servers for easy YouTube access within China's borders. Several servers labeled as Supercharged and China Supercharged have been tested to work well inside China. During my tests, I had no issues watching the latest MrBeast videos on YouTube. So, you don't need to test different servers to find one that works.

Another useful feature is its proprietary StealthVPN protocol, which disguises your traffic as regular HTTPS data. This makes the Firewall think you’re not using a VPN. I recommend turning this on with Smart Mode, which lets you use Chinese apps and services normally while rerouting any international site through the VPN.

Screenshot of the AstrillVPN Windows app connected to Hong Kong Supercharged server with StealthVPN protocol.You can also enable the ad blocker inside the settings menu

Like ExpressVPN, Astrill offers robust security features like AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, and IP/DNS leak protection. You can choose AES-128 encryption for slightly better performance, albeit with less security. All this helps retain your privacy in China and protects you from potential spies.

Unlike others on this list, this VPN lacks a money-back guarantee. So, if you buy a subscription starting at $12.50/month, you’re locked in for the entire period. But you can use its referral program to get 1 month free for each friend who signs up. Astrill supports payments through cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, which is a bonus for your anonymity.

Useful Features

  • Mirror link in China. Similar to Express, you can contact Astrill support and get a mirror link that lets you download the VPN app in China. Really helpful in case you forgot to install it before arrival.
  • App Guard. This will stop the selected apps from connecting to the internet if the VPN connection fails, hence protecting your privacy.
  • Ad Blocker. Having this feature built-in makes it much easier to block annoying ads and pop-ups on YouTube and while browsing the web.

3. PrivateVPN — Beginner-Friendly Apps for Streaming YouTube in China

Best Feature Intuitive apps to connect and watch YouTube in just a few clicks
Server Network 200 servers in 63 countries with multiple ones near China, including South Korea and Taiwan
Security Adjustable encryption (128-bit or 256-bit) to balance speed with security
Works With YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, WhatsApp, Google, and more

PrivateVPN is an excellent choice for watching YouTube in China, particularly if you’re new to VPNs. Its intuitive apps make it quick to connect to a desired server and start streaming. In my tests, finding a nearby server and connecting to it only took me 15 seconds. If you need more control over the settings, click Advanced View.

Similar to AstrillVPN, a StealthVPN option obfuscates your connection to make it look like regular internet traffic. You should turn this on for the best results. If you face any issues while accessing YouTube from China, PrivateVPN recommends using the OpenConnect app. There’s a step-by-step guide available on its website to set that up.

Screenshot of the PrivateVPN Windows app connected to Japan - Tokyo server with Advanced View.You can change the protocol and encryption level as needed

One minor con is that it has a much smaller server network than the other services. However, several locations near China work reliably well, and I could use any of them during my tests. So you’ll still get fast speeds and be able to watch YouTube.

A long-term PrivateVPN plan costs only $2/month. You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee to try out its features and see if it works for you. I tested the refund policy via its 24/7 live chat and got my money back in my PayPal after 4 days.

Useful Features

  • Connection Guard. Within the Advanced View of the app, you get several features like IP/DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and an Application Guard that you can turn on for advanced security.
  • 10 device connections. This makes it easy to activate the VPN on almost all your devices, so you can watch YouTube and freely browse the web in 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 Watching YouTube in China

Selecting the right VPN for watching YouTube in China isn’t easy. Based on my extensive testing, here are the key factors I focused on, which you can use to make a decision:

  • Proven reliability in China. Most VPNs are actively blocked by the Great Firewall, so only a few reliably work in the country. I made sure to only recommend VPNs with a long track record of successfully working in China and could connect to YouTube every time.
  • Fast speeds. Slow buffering and video quality drops ruin the viewing experience. I tested streaming capabilities on nearby Asian servers to ensure fast connections.
  • Obfuscation technology. This hides VPN traffic as regular HTTPS data, which prevents the Great Firewall from blocking your VPN connection. I made sure all my recommended VPNs have obfuscation.
  • Servers near China. For the best streaming performance, you need to connect to a server near China, like Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, etc. So I checked for VPNs that have a wide server network.
  • Strong security. Military-grade VPN encryption and features like a kill switch, leak protection, and a no logs-policy are key to maintaining your privacy while watching YouTube in China.
  • Easy to use. The VPN apps should be straightforward, especially if you’ve never used such a service before.
  • Reliable support. Having your VPN fail you while trying to watch YouTube is frustrating, so access to customer support at any time of day is essential. I checked how responsive and helpful each VPN’s customer service was to make sure they could handle any issues.

Step-By-Step Guide: How to Set Up a VPN to Watch YouTube in China

  1. Choose a reputable VPN that works in China. Among the few that work in the country, ExpressVPN is my top pick because of its speed. Its mirror link in China makes it easy to sign up even if you’ve already arrived on the mainland.
  2. Download and install the VPN. Head to ExpressVPN’s download page; you can find a link to most platforms, including Apple TV, FireTV, and routers.
    Screenshot of the ExpressVPN download page with links for each platformFor Android/iOS devices you can also visit the App Store
  3. Connect to a server outside China. Any location near China will work well since ExpressVPN has automatic obfuscation on all of its servers. It also comes pre-configured with the optimal settings.
    Screenshot of the ExpressVPN Windows app connected to 'Pick for Me' server with 'Favorite' VPN location list. If you’re not sure, I recommend the ‘Pick for Me’ option
  4. Visit YouTube and watch your favorite videos. Go to YouTube as usual, log in if you need your subscriptions, and start watching.

FAQs on Watching YouTube in China With a VPN

Why is YouTube blocked in China?

YouTube is blocked in China due to the country's extensive internet censorship system known as the Great Firewall. Not only YouTube, but its TV, Music, and other related Google services are also restricted in China. You’ll need a reliable VPN to access YouTube while traveling in China.

Is it legal to watch YouTube in China with a VPN?

Technically, using a VPN not approved by the government is illegal in China. However, the government’s focus has been deterring providers and technologically enforcing bans rather than targeting individual users — there have been no public-reports of people getting into trouble. It’s possible to use an independent service like ExpressVPN to watch YouTube in China, which has a mirror site that works in the country.

Do remember to read up on local laws and regulations to stay wary and abide by them as necessary. vpnMentor does not condone using a VPN for any illegal activities.

What YouTube alternatives can I use in China?

Popular YouTube alternatives in China include Youku, iQiyi, Tencent Video, Bilibili, and Xigua Video. While these platforms contain a wide range of Chinese content, they’re also heavily censored and don’t have a library as vast as YouTube. A VPN is best for watching YouTube and other services not available in China.

Can I watch YouTube in China without a VPN?

There are a few ways to watch YouTube in China without a VPN, but they aren’t as reliable or safe. You could use a proxy service or the Tor Browser. They’re not as good as tried-and-tested VPNs that work well in China, but they might help you in a pinch.

Proxy services come in many forms: as standalone apps, browser add-ons, websites, and more. Proxies generally don’t have encryption or obfuscation. So they may or may not work, since the Great Firewall constantly updates to block new proxies.

The Tor Browser can be used alongside a proxy or a private Tor bridge, but it needs to be downloaded and set up before you arrive in China. Since the Tor Browser is very slow, you won’t be able to stream high-quality videos on YouTube without buffering.

What should I do if my VPN stops working in China?

If your VPN stops working in China, try connecting to a different server and changing the protocol setting. If you’ve tried a combination of different servers and protocols and nothing works, it’s best to contact the VPN’s customer support. A reputable VPN usually has 24/7 live chat to make it easy to troubleshoot such issues.

The customer service can likely point you to a special server or optimize the app settings to make sure your VPN connection works in China.

Can I use a free VPN to watch YouTube in China?

Free VPNs are usually unable to access YouTube in China reliably. This is likely due to their limited servers and lack of security features like obfuscation or special protocols. For consistent and smooth streaming, it’s recommended to use a premium, paid VPN service that’s known to work in China.

It’s also important to note that free VPNs can be disastrous for your privacy, as several are known to log user data and share it with the highest bidder.

Watch YouTube From China in Minutes

While YouTube is blocked in China, some VPNs allow you access. To watch your subscribed channels and stay updated on global news during a trip to the mainland, you need a VPN with robust security features, obfuscation, and servers near China.

My top pick for watching YouTube in China is ExpressVPN. With fast speeds, automatic obfuscation, and intuitive apps, it’s the best choice for high-quality YouTube streaming. You also get 30 days to try it risk-free. If you’re not satisfied, request a refund.

To summarize, these are the best VPNs for watching YouTube 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%!

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

Anshul is a vpnMentor writer and cybersecurity enthusiast, focusing on helping readers navigate the online world with peace of mind that their data and online identity will remain private.

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