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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.

Does NordVPN Work in China? Tested and Updated in 2024

Agnieszka Stec Updated on 7th May 2024 Fact-checked by Christine Johansen Cybersecurity Researcher

NordVPN is unfortunately no longer a viable option for China, but luckily, there are other VPNs that work reliably in the country. We recommend pre-installing the VPN before traveling, but if you’re already in China and are looking for a better solution, our list includes VPNs that can be installed from within the country.

My team and I have tested 40+ VPNs to bring you the best NordVPN alternatives for China. They not only encrypt your traffic to protect your data and avoid 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. It also protects your online privacy with military-grade (AES 256-bit) encryption, a kill switch, RAM-based servers, and a no-logs policy. Plus, you can try it out for 30 days and see if it suits your needs. Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Try ExpressVPN for China >>

Important: Using a non-government-approved VPN in China is illegal. While there are no publicly reported penalties for tourists using such VPNs, engaging in illegal online activities can have legal repercussions. Ensure you understand the latest VPN regulations in China before your visit.

Short on Time? Here Are the Best NordVPN Alternatives for China in 2024

  • Editor's Choice
    ExpressVPN
    ExpressVPN
    Viable VPN for China that provides both great quality and reasonable prices.
    70% of our readers choose ExpressVPN
  • Astrill VPN
    Astrill VPN
    Very reliable VPN for China with premium features but expensive plans.
  • PrivateVPN
    PrivateVPN
    Solid VPN for China with fast speeds and affordable prices but fewer features.

Best Alternatives to NordVPN That Work in China More Reliably in 2024

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 overall reliability over longer periods of time.

1. ExpressVPN — Advanced Obfuscation For Reliable Connections in China

Best Feature Automatically disguises VPN use through obfuscated servers
Security & Privacy Military-grade encryption combined with perfect forward secrecy safeguards your online activities in China
Server Network 3,000 servers in 105 countries, including nearby connections in Hong Kong, Macau, and Japan
Works With Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and more
Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

ExpressVPN implements advanced obfuscation across all its servers. This scrambles your metadata, therefore disguising your VPN traffic as regular internet traffic so your VPN use remains undetected. Additionally, ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology means its servers operate exclusively on RAM, so all data is wiped upon reboot for ultimate privacy​​.

It also provides methods for signing up from within China, addressing the common challenge of VPN website blocks in the region. By contacting support@expressvpn.zendesk.com, you can obtain a mirror link to its website. This provides an alternative method for signing up or logging in.

Speeds are impressive across its network, too. ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol gave me the fastest results in my speed tests. It’s designed to minimize slowdowns, using fewer resources than traditional protocols. However, ExpressVPN’s support team recommends that you set the protocol to Automatic for use in China — so you may or may not get connected to Lightway.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN app settings with Automatic protocol chosenTo enable obfuscation, I chose the recommended Automatic protocol setting

You can take ExpressVPN for a test drive, thanks to a 30-day money-back guarantee. I was a bit surprised that it doesn’t support payments through Amazon Pay and Google Pay, but it accepts credit cards, cryptocurrencies, PayPal, and more, so it wasn’t a big deal for me.

Useful Features

  • Servers in Hong Kong and Macau. These Chinese connections are private since they’re outside of the Great Firewall, but will still allow you to get a Chinese IP address. Plus, they’re beneficial for minimizing speed loss since your data won’t have to travel as far to servers completely outside of the country.
  • Strong encryption. AES with 256-bit keys, also used by the US government, ensures a high level of security and protection from hacker attacks.
  • Full leak protection. DNS/IP leak protection and its Network Lock kill switch keep your data secure by halting all internet traffic if the VPN connection drops. It’s especially useful while using public WiFi in China.
  • Threat Manager. This feature enhances online privacy and security by blocking apps and websites from communicating with known trackers and malicious entities. You can also enable ad blocking for smoother browsing.
ExpressVPN Offer June 2024: For a limited time only, you can get an ExpressVPN subscription for up to 49% off! Don't miss out!

2. Astrill VPN — Premium Servers in Asia For Speed and Stability

Best Feature VIP package for China, including additional servers with optimized speed for Asia
Security & Privacy Leak protection, a kill switch, and an adjustable ad/tracker blocker for private browsing
Server Network 118 servers in 58 countries, including paid servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and China
Works With Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and more

Astrill VPN’s specialized VIP add-on enhances speeds and stability in China. For an extra monthly fee, you get premium VPN connections (called Supercharged servers) with optimized speed and reduced latency. The VIP package guarantees prioritized traffic on all servers, so even if the server you’re using is overloaded, you won’t notice any slowdowns. The standard plan works reliably, too, but connections aren’t as smooth or speedy.

Screenshot of Astrill VPN app connected to Hong Kong serverAstrill offers 4 Hong Kong server locations

Astrill's Multi-hop VPN feature offers an additional layer of privacy and security. By routing your traffic through multiple servers and locations, it’s harder to trace. However, it does slow your connection significantly. The feature is available as an add-on.

The VPN is based in Lichtenstein, which is a privacy-friendly jurisdiction outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances, an agreement between governments to share information on their citizens. During my tests, I got confirmation that Astrill doesn’t keep logs through a chat with support. So far, it hasn’t undergone an independent audit to confirm it, though.

The biggest drawback is its price — Astrill is one of the most expensive VPNs I’ve come across. The VIP package comes on top of the already pricey subscription, with no free trial or money-back guarantee. However, despite these shortcomings, Astrill VPN has garnered positive feedback from Reddit users, who, in the majority, praise its performance in China.

Useful Features

  • Mirror URL. Like ExpressVPN, Astrill VPN provides a mirror URL for its website at https://astrill-mirror.com. There is also a Tor.onion link available on its site as well. Both options offer private, additional methods for downloading the VPN in China.
  • Smart Mode. The feature automatically routes some traffic outside its encrypted tunnel using a regional IP. That way, you can visit both local websites (like WeChat) and bounce to global websites without switching servers. It not only makes your connection less suspicious, but it helps minimize speed loss.
  • StealthVPN. This proprietary protocol created by Astrill builds upon the foundation of OpenVPN. It incorporates an advanced obfuscation technique to render network traffic invisible to automated firewall detection systems.
  • App Guard. Set this up to block only specific apps from accessing the internet without the VPN connected. That way, you can still visit local sites while protecting only specified app traffic. It’s currently only available on desktop, though.

3. PrivateVPN — Stealth Mode for Disguising Your VPN Traffic

Best Feature Stealth VPN mode adds an extra layer of privacy to disguise your VPN traffic
Security & Privacy Military-grade encryption plus the super secure OpenVPN protocol to safeguard your connections
Server Network 200 servers in 63 countries, including servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and China
Works With Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, and more

Stealth VPN enhances security and reliability by using obfuscation to disguise VPN traffic as regular internet traffic. It makes it challenging for firewalls and network monitors to detect the use of a VPN on restrictive networks.

The VPN maintains a high level of privacy while using the internet in China with its advanced leak protection and kill switch features. I found these in the Connection Guard menu on macOS. 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.

Screenshot of PrivateVPN Connection Guard settingsTo find the app's settings, click on Advanced View in the bottom right corner

Unlike ExpressVPN and Astrill VPN, PrivateVPN is based in a country that is a part of 14 Eyes Alliance — Sweden. Like Astrill VPN, PrivateVPN has yet to conduct a third-party audit of its privacy policy. It doesn’t mean that its no-logs policy is not solid or the VPN is less safe, but it’s one of the reasons it ranks lower on my list.

PrivateVPN is an affordable VPN with great deals on long-term plans. Although it’s not packed with features like ExpressVPN or Astrill (for example, it doesn’t have an ad-blocker), it’s an easy-to-use and reliable VPN for China. Thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee, you can test it without a financial commitment.

Useful Features

  • Beginner-friendly apps and comprehensive guides. PrivateVPN's user-friendly interface makes it a great option for newbies. You can tailor it for use in China in just a couple of clicks.
  • SOCKS5 proxy and port forwarding. You can use these features to improve torrenting speeds in China. Plus, the VPN doesn’t limit bandwidth.
  • 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.

Quick Comparison Table: NordVPN China Alternatives

The table below provides a quick comparison of the discussed VPNs, enabling you to see how they stack up against one another. I compared important privacy features for China — no-logs policy and the VPN’s location as well as price, speed, and number of servers.

Lowest Price Speed No-Logs Policy Server Network Based in a Privacy-Friendly Country? Mirror Site URL?
🥇ExpressVPN $6.67/month Very fast Yes, independently audited 3,000 servers in 105 countries Yes Yes
🥈Astrill VPN $12.50/month Inconsistent Yes, but not audited 118 servers in 58 countries Yes Yes
🥉PrivateVPN $2/month Inconsistent Yes, but not audited 200 servers in 63 countries No No

Tips on Choosing the Best China VPN Alternatives to NordVPN

The best VPN for China allows you to browse the internet 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.

  • Works in China reliably. Look for VPNs with features optimized for reliable use in China. All VPNs on my list use obfuscation, which makes the use of VPNs harder to detect.
  • Robust security and privacy measures. All VPNs I included have a kill switch, IP/DNS leak protection, and military-grade encryption. These features will keep you safe while using the internet in China.
  • 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.
  • Servers in Asia. To maintain stable connections, a VPN should offer servers in China or neighboring locations. Macau and Hong Kong servers are among the best options.
  • Easy-to-use apps. No matter if you prefer using the VPN’s default settings or looking into more customizable options, the VPNs on my list have you covered.
  • Helpful customer support. Due to constant firewall updates, VPNs in China can be temperamental. Competent and fast-responding customer support should be able to help you in case of any issues.

Quick Guide: How to Use NordVPN Alternatives in China in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN because of the automatic obfuscation on all its servers. It’s advisable to install the VPN before arriving in China, but if you are already there, you can always try to use the mirror link.
  2. Connect to a server. Use your VPN’s recommended protocol for China (for ExpressVPN, set it to Automatic). If you’re using a VPN other than ExpressVPN, obfuscation may need to be enabled. Now you’re ready to connect to a server, and those nearby will be the fastest — for example, in Macau or Hong Kong.
  3. Start browsing. Now, you can safely use the internet in China.

Why Aren’t Most VPNs Working in China?

Most VPNs struggle to work in China due to China's Great Firewall (GFW). The Chinese government enforces the GFW as a way to regulate the country’s strict censorship laws. With this system, several tactics (including Deep Packet Inspection) are employed to limit access to certain foreign websites and services, including VPNs.

Due to this, only government-approved VPNs are available, which aren’t the safest. So, it sort of defeats the purpose of using a VPN in the country at all since these don’t offer users the privacy or online freedom they’re seeking.

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

  • Blocklisted servers. When detected by the GFW, the IP addresses of VPN servers are systematically blocked in China and won’t work there. VPNs that regularly refresh their IP addresses and have larger server networks are usually most successful in overcoming this.
  • Weak security. If a VPN doesn’t offer obfuscation or at least a multi-hop feature, you can pretty much bet it’s not going to work in China at all. Plus, some VPNs can’t even pass a simple leak test and expose your IP address any time you go online.
  • Blocked websites. Many VPN websites are blocked in China, making it difficult to download and install VPN software in the country. Some services offer mirror links to their websites to provide China-based users with an alternative for downloading the VPN from the country.
  • Outdated protocols. The GFW can easily pick up on outdated protocols and block any traffic being routed through them altogether. That’s why VPNs with proprietary protocols (like ExpressVPN’s Lightway or Astrill’s StealthVPN) are the most successful for disguising VPN traffic.

Despite these challenges, a few premium VPNs work reliably in China by offering strong privacy protection, large server networks, and advanced security features. Just be sure that you familiarize yourself with the current VPN regulations and use a VPN responsibly.

FAQs on NordVPN and the Best Alternatives for China

Why doesn’t NordVPN work in China?

It’s hard to say exactly what prevents it from working in China. It offers an obfuscation feature to help disguise VPN traffic, which used to allow it to work within the country. However, this is no longer the case after the most recent GFW update. In fact, only a few VPN providers currently reliably work in China.

Is it legal to use a VPN in China?

While it's not explicitly illegal 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.

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. Even though there are no publicly recorded cases of tourists being punished for using one, you should still familiarize yourself with the most recent regulations in the country.

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 for China?

ExpressVPN is the best NordVPN alternative for China. Not only is it one of the only VPNs that reliably works in the country, but it also offers great value for money (compared to some China VPNs). Plus, it has automatic obfuscation on all its servers, top privacy features, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s also one of the fastest VPNs I’ve tested, which is useful when connecting to servers in faraway locations.

Does NordVPN work in China according to Reddit reviews?

Most Redditors complain that NordVPN doesn’t work in China anymore, although it used to work in the past. Currently, Redditors recommend Astrill VPN among others, although some users are disappointed with the high prices and add-ons that need to be purchased separately.

Is NordVPN owned by China?

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

Can I download NordVPN in China?

No, the NordVPN website and VPN itself are blocked entirely in China. You’re better off with reliable alternatives like ExpressVPN and Astrill VPN if you plan on using a VPN in China. These options both provide mirror URLs for an alternative way to download the VPN from within the country. Plus, they have recently proven to work effectively in China and can be set up in minutes.

Does NordVPN have servers in China?

NordVPN has servers in Hong Kong, which is great if you need a Chinese IP. However, at the time of writing, it’s not capable of keeping stable connections from within China. Luckily, a few VPNs have servers in China and also work reliably from within the country.

Can I use a free NordVPN alternative for China?

It’s highly unlikely. Premium services offer more advanced security features, like obfuscation. Most free VPNs don’t provide premium features like this, so they are easy to detect and block.

Plus, free VPNs cap bandwidth and throttle speed, have limited servers, and use poor encryption, pushing you to upgrade. Some even have a history of selling user data to third parties and ad networks. So, it’s not the best option if you’re looking to secure your privacy in China.

Get the Best NordVPN Alternative for China

Finding a good NordVPN alternative for China can be challenging due to many restrictions and Great Firewall updates. However, there are a few trustworthy services that have been tried and tested to work reliably in the country. They also offer responsive customer support to help answer any questions or provide troubleshooting tips.

ExpressVPN is my top recommendation for China because of its automatic obfuscation, which enables it to work reliably in the country. Plus, it has fast servers, including some in Macau and Hong Kong. You can try it yourself, and if you’re not satisfied, you have up to 30 days to claim a refund.

To summarize, these are the best NordVPN alternatives for China

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

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

Visit ExpressVPN

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

About the Author

Agnieszka is a Junior Writer at vpnMentor and a passionate technology enthusiast with a strong interest in cybersecurity. She specializes in researching and reviewing VPNs to provide readers with honest and in-depth reviews.

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