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 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering 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 the independent, 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 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering 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 the independent, 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.

Does NordVPN Work in China? Tested in 2024

Lawrence Wachira Updated on 6th February 2024 Fact-checked by Ben Lawson Senior Writer

NordVPN is unfortunately no longer a viable option to bypass the Great Firewall of China (GFW). Fortunately, there are alternative VPNs that still work seamlessly in China to reliably access your Netflix, Google, Twitter, YouTube, and other blocked accounts while visiting the country

My team and I have thoroughly researched and tested 40+ VPNs to bring you the best alternatives to stay connected and secure while navigating the Chinese web. They not only encrypt your traffic to protect your data and avoid online surveillance and privacy breaches but also won't limit your bandwidth and speed. You can install them in just a few clicks as they have easy-to-use apps for the most popular devices.

My top choice for China is ExpressVPN because all its servers are obfuscated, hiding your VPN traffic as regular internet traffic so you don't get blocked. It also protects your online privacy with military-grade (AES 256-bit) encryption, a kill switch, RAM-based servers, and a no-logs policy. You can confidently try ExpressVPN in China since it's supported by 30-day money-back guarantee. If you're unhappy with the VPN, you can get a full refund.

Try ExpressVPN for China >>

Important. Using a VPN in China that has yet to receive government approval is against the law. However, at present, there have been no publicly reported cases of tourists facing penalties for using one. Still, it's important to remember that participating in unlawful online activities can result in legal consequences. To avoid accidentally violating any regulations, familiarize yourself with the most recent laws concerning VPN usage in China before your visit.

Short on Time? Here Are the Best NordVPN Alternatives In 2024

  1. Editor's Choice
    ExpressVPN
    ExpressVPN
    Unrivaled for internet freedom in China with top security and obfuscation tech, plus fast global servers.
    70% of our readers choose ExpressVPN
  2. Astrill VPN
    Astrill VPN
    Evades Great Firewall with Smart Mode, routing only international traffic via VPN.
  3. PrivateVPN
    PrivateVPN
    Advanced leak protection and kill switch ensure high security and privacy in China.

Take note. VPNs can sometimes be temperamental in China due to changing restrictions. Though any VPN may stop working temporarily, the VPNs on this list were carefully selected for their reliability. 

Best Alternatives to NordVPN — Full Analysis (Updated 2024)

1. ExpressVPN — Obfuscation Technology to Access the Internet in China Without Restriction

Best Feature Automatically disguises VPN use to avoid getting blocked
Security & Privacy Military-grade encryption safeguards your online activities in China
Server network 3,000 servers in 105 countries, including Hong Kong and Macau
Works with Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and more

With ExpressVPN's obfuscation, you can easily bypass the Great Firewall of China. VPN obfuscation effectively disguises VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic, so DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) systems in China can't distinguish between them. So, you can access your international accounts when visiting the country, like Snapchat, Instagram, and Zoom.

Its servers and IP addresses are regularly updated to ensure they work in China. This means you can use your preferred online websites and services, including VoIP apps like Messenger and WhatsApp, while in the country. I tested ExpressVPN Hong Kong and UK servers and could always unblock Facebook and BBC.

A screenshot showing you can log in to Twitter while in China using ExpressVPN's Macau serverThe page loaded instantly, and my connection remained stable throughout

AES 256-bit encryption (used by the NSA) protects your devices from snoops and hackers. Perfect Forward Secrecy provides an extra layer of security by regularly replacing your encryption keys. So, no one can read your data even if they steal one key. A kill switch temporarily cuts off internet access if the VPN unexpectedly drops — for example, when your computer goes to sleep.

You can also choose your tunneling protocols — Lightway, OpenVPN, L2TP, or IKEv2 — or have ExpressVPN automatically pick the best one for your network. Lightway and OpenVPN support obfuscation. For high-speed streaming or browsing in China, Lightway is the recommended choice due to its efficient performance resulting from less code usage. However, switching to OpenVPN is advisable for online shopping and banking, as it provides superior security.

Your personally identifiable information is never logged or shared with anyone, thanks to the VPN's audited no-logs policy and its headquarters in the British Virgin Islands (outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances. On top of that, RAM-based servers erase your data with every reboot, so there's no information to collect in the first place. I also tested for IP/DNS/WebRTC leaks and detected none on its servers. So it’s unlikely your online activity will be exposed while in China.

Speeds are impressive across its network, too. I averaged 120.6Mbps on its France, Germany, and Ukraine servers. This is just a 6% drop from my base connection of 128.3Mbps and enough for 4K streaming and lag-free gaming while in the country. You can watch videos in picture-perfect quality while in China.

The cheapest price starts at $6.67/month, which is somewhat pricey. However, ExpressVPN regularly offers generous discounts. I managed to get 49% off a long-term subscription and 3 months of service free.

Getting a refund is hassle-free if you’re not happy with the VPN. I canceled my subscription via its 24/7 live chat to test the 30-day money-back guarantee. After 2 business days, my credit card was fully reimbursed.

Useful Features

  • No physical server in China. ExpressVPN protects your online privacy in China by not operating any server within the country. That means it isn’t subject to Chinese laws mandating the logging, storing, or sharing user data.
  • Mirror URL. This is the version of ExpressVPN’s website that’s accessible in China. Unfortunately, the Chinese government can take it down without notice, so download and install the app before your trip.
  • Easy to use apps. The VPN can quickly be installed on most operating systems, including Windows, Mac, and Android. Additionally, settings can be customized for use in China with minimal effort.
  • Device connections. The VPN lets you surf, stream, and torrent on up to 8 devices at the same time.
ExpressVPN Offer February 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. Astrill VPN — Smart Mode to Avoid IP Blocks and Access International Services Safely in China

Best Feature Easy access to any content within China without having to switch the VPN on and off
Security & Privacy A kill switch cuts out internet connection if the VPN fails, protecting you from accidental data exposure
Server network 120 servers in 58 countries, many in the US to unblock Snapchat and Instagram
Works With Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and more

AstrillVPN’s Smart Mode intelligently balances VPN usage by automatically routing some traffic outside its encrypted tunnel, so you can access both local and global websites simultaneously. For example, if you visit WeChat with Smart Mode on, the local version of the app will be displayed. However, if you attempt to access Twitter, the VPN will automatically use a foreign IP to access it. This feature is available when using OpenWeb — simply click “Settings” and choose “Smart Mode” to activate it.

A screenshot showing that AstrillVPN offers a wide range of customizable protocols to secure your connection.Customer support is available via 24/7 live chat if you need any assistance

Advanced security measures, like AES 256-bit, safeguards your online identity and activity. There's also App Guard, which blocks only specific apps from accessing the internet without the VPN connected, allowing you to use the VPN for international websites while maintaining direct access to local Chinese services (this feature is currently only available on desktops). I also tested AstrillVPN's servers in Taiwan and Hong Kong for leaks and found none, thanks to the VPN’s DNS/IPv6 leak protection.

The OpenWeb and StealthVPN features are specifically engineered to protect you from being detected by ISP and the Great Firewall of China, thanks to obfuscation, which makes your encrypted connection appear as ordinary internet traffic. Like ExpressVPN, AstrillVPN is headquartered in a privacy-friendly country, Seychelles, and maintains a strict no-logs policy. Additionally, your data gets permanently erased once you end the session.

The VPN's strict no-refund policy is a minor drawback. However, if you succeed in referring a friend, you can enjoy its unrestricted use for a whole month, completely free of charge.

Long-term plans are available at $12.50/month. To pay less, I opted for the 2-year option when signing up. For extra privacy, you can purchase your subscription using Bitcoin.

Useful Features

  • Fast speeds. Connection speeds are excellent for a smooth online experience. My speed dropped by only 22% (from 119Mbps to 93Mbps) using the WireGuard protocol and connecting to a Hong Kong server.
  • Application and site filters. With these features, you can route the traffic of some apps/sites via the VPN and let the other traffic bypass the encrypted tunnel.
  • User-friendly apps. AstrillVPN is easy to set up and straightforward to use, thanks to its intuitive design. Tweaking its apps for use in China is also painless.

3. PrivateVPN — Robust Security Features Keeps Your Data Private While Browsing, Streaming, or Torrenting in China

Best Feature IPv6 and DNS leak protection prevents your actual location from being exposed
Security & Privacy A kill switch ensures your internet traffic is never transmitted over an unsecured connection
Server Network 200 servers in 63 countries, including Hong Kong and Japan
Works With Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and more

PrivateVPN maintains a high level of privacy while using the internet in China with its advanced leak protection and kill switch features. Its kill switch swings into action when your VPN connection is interrupted to prevent accidental exposure of sensitive data. I tested PrivateVPN using ipleak.net and didn’t detect any leaks. You don’t have to worry about your information being exposed while using the internet in China.

On top of that, enabling its Stealth VPN (obfuscation) mode adds an extra layer of privacy by disguising your VPN traffic. This makes your connections (secured with AES 256-bit and Perfect Forward Secrecy) look like normal internet traffic. A strict no-logs policy prevents anyone from ever getting their hands on your data since PrivateVPN doesn't collect any.

A screenshot showing PrivateVPN lets you choose the level of encryption.I use AES 128-bit for a faster connection and AES 256-bit to maximize security

While it’s slightly slower than ExpressVPN, PrivateVPN’s speeds are fast enough for a smooth internet experience in China. I averaged 104.8Mbps on its Canada, France, and Germany servers. This was only a 14.8% drop, and I could stream videos on HBO Max and Hulu without interruptions.

The only drawback I find with this VPN is its comparatively small network. Nevertheless, PrivateVPN is devoted to ensuring your data's confidentiality by not hosting any of its servers in China. As a result, PrivateVPN isn't compelled by the Chinese authorities to keep logs or distribute user information.

Prices are fair, starting as low as $2/month. I opted for the long-term option as it offers the best savings.

You can test PrivateVPN free for 30 days using its money-back guarantee. I contacted customer support via 24/7 live chat, and the money was back on my credit card after 5 days.

Useful Features

  • Alternative download link. The VPN doesn't have mirror URLs for use in China but provides alternative download links. Ask customer support for the link in advance, as the site may be inaccessible inside the country.
  • Beginner-friendly apps. PrivateVPN's user-friendly interface makes it a great option for newbies. I tailored it for use in China in just a couple of steps.
  • SOCKS5 proxy and port forwarding. You can use these features to improve torrenting speeds in China. Plus, the VPN doesn’t limit bandwidth.

Quick Comparison Table: NordVPN Alternatives Features

The table below provides a quick comparison of the discussed VPNs, enabling you to see how they stack up against one another.

Lowest Price Speed Obfuscation # of servers Based in a privacy-friendly country?
🥇ExpressVPN $6.67/month The fastest VPN I tested Yes 3,000 servers in 105 countries Yes
🥈Astrill VPN $12.50/month Good Yes 120 servers in 58 countries Yes
🥉PrivateVPN $2/month Consistently fast Yes 200 servers in 63 countries No

Tips on Choosing the Best VPN Alternatives to NordVPN

The best VPN for China gives you full access to the internet while in the country without compromising your security or speed. I've evaluated these VPNs based on specific criteria — feel free to use this checklist for your personal tests.

  • Bypasses the Great Firewall. Only a few VPNs can get through this firewall. For your encrypted traffic to pass through it, look for a VPN with features such as obfuscation and Stealth VPN.
  • Robust security and privacy measures. Maintain your privacy in China by choosing a VPN with AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, leak protection, and a no-logs policy.
  • Fast speeds. Look for a VPN that doesn’t lower your speeds by more than 30% to surf, stream, or torrent at top speeds in China.
  • Worldwide network. A VPN with a global network makes it a breeze to access your international subscriptions like Snapchat and Zoom from China. Try connecting to a nearby server in Hong Kong or Macau to also access Chinese content.
  • Easy-to-use apps. Choose a VPN with an intuitive design so you can use it right away or tweak it with ease. Responsive online support is a must in case you need assistance.
  • Trustworthy money-back guarantee. Pick a VPN with a reliable refund policy so you can test it risk-free and get reimbursed if it doesn’t suit you.

Quick Guide — How to Use NordVPN Alternatives in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN because its obfuscated and fast servers let you enjoy unrestricted internet while in China. Make sure to download the VPN in advance, as the GFW may prevent you from doing so when in the country.
  2. Connect to a server. If you don't have preferences, pick a server nearby (e.g., Macau or Hong Kong) to prevent significant speed drops.
  3. Start browsing the internet. You can now access WhatsApp, YouTube, and Gmail with increased privacy.

With some minor adjustments, ExpressVPN always works in China. Implementing these steps allows you to fully utilize ExpressVPN's capabilities in China, providing secure and unrestricted access to the internet.

FAQs on VPN Alternatives for NordVPN That Work in China

Why are VPNs not working in China?

VPNs may not work in China due to the country's strict internet censorship policy, called the Great Firewall of China. This system employs several tactics to block or limit access to certain foreign websites and services, including VPNs. Despite these challenges, a few premium VPNs work reliably in China by regularly updating their server IPs, using obfuscation techniques to disguise VPN traffic, and more.

Here are the main reasons why VPNs may not work in China:

  1. Regulation and Legislation. The Chinese government has laws in place that regulate the use of VPNs. Only government-approved VPNs are allowed; these approved services typically do not offer the level of access or privacy many users seek from a VPN.
  2. Blocking VPN servers. The Chinese government systematically identifies and blocks the IP addresses of VPN servers. When a VPN server's IP address is blocked, you cannot connect to that server from within China.
  3. Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). The Great Firewall uses DPI technology to inspect data packets sent over the internet. The data packets can be blocked or throttled if they are identified as VPN traffic.
  4. Blocking VPN websites. Many VPN websites are blocked in China, making it difficult to download and install VPN software in the country.
  5. Disrupting VPN protocols. Certain VPN protocols can be directly disrupted or blocked by the Great Firewall, making it difficult for these VPNs to establish a stable connection.

Is it legal to use a VPN in China?

While it's not explicitly illegal for individuals to use a VPN, the Chinese government tightly regulates VPN services. Only state-approved VPNs, which are usually used by businesses and corporations, are officially allowed. If you plan a trip to China and intend to use a VPN, download and set it up before you arrive.

The government has taken measures to block non-approved VPNs. It has also cracked down on VPN providers operating without a license. Using a non-approved VPN in China could lead to fines or penalties. However, enforcement varies and is often unclear.

Regardless of whether a VPN is used, it's important to remember that any online activities that are illegal without a VPN (like downloading copyrighted files) remain illegal when using one.

What is the best NordVPN alternative?

ExpressVPN is the best alternative to NordVPN because all its servers are automatically obfuscated, making it harder for the VPN to be detected and blocked. ExpressVPN has a global network of servers in 105 countries to access your international accounts while visiting China. It's also easy to use and provides many advanced security features to keep you safe online without compromising speed.

Is there a NordVPN alternative that offers specialized servers?

Yes, there are. AstrillVPN has servers that are optimized to access content in China, and it’s easy to access them. On the home screen, simply click the expand button and choose a specialized server from the list that pops up.

Do NordVPN alternatives offer similar security features?

Yes, they offer comparable security features, and it’s important to choose one that takes your privacy seriously. These alternatives come with military-grade encryption, a kill switch, leak protection, and no-logs policies to ensure your data stays safe.

Is NordVPN a Chinese company?

No, NordVPN is owned by Tesonet, which specializes in business solutions. The VPN is based in Panama, a privacy-friendly country, and NordVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy like its alternatives for China. This prevents it from logging, storing, or sharing any of your identifiable information with third parties.

Which sites and services are blocked in China?

China blocks access to a wide range of foreign sites, social platforms, and streaming services. The government does this to shield its citizens from outside ideas, influence, and potentially harmful information. ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs to help you access your international accounts when visiting China, including Gmail, BBC, and Instagram.

The Computer Information Network and Internet Security, Protection, and Management Regulations ordinance (1997) sets guidelines for the appropriate use of the internet. It outlines several activities that individuals are prohibited from engaging in. This includes using the internet to spread rumors, distort the truth, and damage the reputation of the state.

These are some of the sites and services that are blocked in China:

  • Social media sites and apps: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and more.
  • International news outlets: CNN, BBC, The Guardian, Bloomberg, NBC, and more.
  • Streaming platforms: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO Max, Twitch, and more.
  • Messaging services: Gmail, WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Slack, Zoom, and more.
  • Search engines: DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, Startpage, Google, Bing, and more.

Can I download NordVPN in China?

NordVPN is no longer operational in China, so there's no point installing it in advance. You’re better off with reliable alternatives like ExpressVPN and AstrillVPN if you plan on using a VPN in China. These options have been known to work effectively in China and can be set up in minutes.

How do I check if a site is currently blocked in China?

It’s easy to check if a website is blocked in China or not with the right tool. We at vpnMentor recommend using this special tool to check if a site or service is blocked. It’s incredibly user-friendly, and displays result in seconds.

Can I use a free alternative to NordVPN?

Free NordVPN alternatives aren’t reliable for navigating the Great Firewall of China. The country's strict restrictions on VPN usage make it so that only premium services with obfuscation and other advanced features can give you unrestricted access to the internet.

Plus, free VPNs cap bandwidth, throttle speed, have limited servers, and use poor encryption, forcing you to upgrade. Some even have a history of selling user data to third parties and ad networks, compromising your privacy. Worse, they may damage your device as they’re often riddled with malware.

Get the Best NordVPN Alternatives for China

Several alternatives to NordVPN reliably work in China. These VPNs mask your encrypted connection and make it look like regular internet traffic. As a result, the Great Firewall lets your VPN traffic pass, allowing you to enjoy your international accounts while in the country, like WhatsApp and YouTube.

ExpressVPN is my top recommendation for China because the entire network is tailored to conceal VPN usage in the country. On top of that, it has servers in Macau and Hong Kong that let you access local and global content without compromising on speed or security. You can try ExpressVPN yourself, and if you’re not satisfied, you have up to 30 days to claim a refund.

To summarize, these are the best alternatives to NordVPN that work in China...

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1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
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2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
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3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
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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 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering 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 the independent, 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

Lawrence Wachira, a Senior Writer at vpnMentor, is passionate about making the internet safer. Lawrence writes insightful product reviews, comparison pages, and blog posts to help readers protect their online privacy and choose the best VPNs.

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