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.

How to Use WhatsApp in China — Safe and Working In 2024

Andjela Nikolic Updated on 6th February 2024 Fact-checked by Eric Raue Cybersecurity Researcher

The Great Firewall of China blocks many apps and websites, including WhatsApp, because its contents can’t be easily monitored. The government restricts internet traffic using deep packet inspection (DPI) to filter out and block unwanted online activities.

A good VPN replaces your Chinese IP address with another country to use WhatsApp in China. It also encrypts your internet activity, concealing it from prying eyes. Unfortunately, China constantly adds VPNs to its blocklist, so finding one that works is challenging.

After my global team tested 40+ VPNs, ExpressVPN came out on top with its special servers to use in China. It's also fast and reliable, plus you can try it risk-free since it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. You can get a full refund if it doesn’t meet your needs.

Use WhatsApp in China >>

Important. The use of VPNs in China is subject to strict regulations and can be legally ambiguous — only government-approved VPNs are allowed. However, there are no public reports of tourists visiting China ever being reprimanded for using another VPN. Still, familiarize yourself with the rules of using a VPN in your area to avoid potential risks and legal consequences. vpnMentor does not support breaking laws or using a VPN for illegal purposes.

Quick Guide: How to Use WhatsApp in China With a VPN in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download a VPN. I suggest ExpressVPN, as it’s fast, safe, and reliably works with WhatsApp. You can install ExpressVPN before arriving in China or download it from ExpressVPN’s mirror website.
  2. Connect to a server. Select a server in any country, such as Japan, to encrypt your traffic. For the fastest speeds, choose a server near you.
  3. Start using WhatsApp. Open WhatsApp and enjoy making voice and video calls and sending texts to your friends, family members, or colleagues.

Why You Need a VPN to Use WhatsApp in China

WhatsApp is inaccessible in China due to stringent internet censorship, part of a system known as the Great Firewall. Numerous international apps and websites, in addition to WhatsApp, are restricted. This impacts your ability to communicate with loved ones when visiting China.

Using a VPN is the most effective and secure solution for accessing WhatsApp in China. A VPN reroutes your internet traffic through a private server in a different country, masking your actual location. VPNs also encrypt your data, making your online activities invisible to third parties.

For instance, if you're visiting China and need to use WhatsApp, launch your VPN, connect to a server outside China, and start securely messaging. Beyond accessing global apps, VPNs are crucial for safeguarding your sensitive information from hackers and third parties.

Best VPNs to Use WhatsApp in China in 2024

1. ExpressVPN — Easily Use WhatsApp in China With a Mirror Site for Downloading & Intuitive Design

Best Feature Changes its mirror URL constantly to keep ahead of blocklists
Server Network 3,000 servers in 105 countries, including many nearby in Mongolia, Bhutan, and Hong Kong
Works With WhatsApp, Instagram, Viber, Skype, FaceTime, Gmail, Wikipedia, Snapchat, and more
Security Military-grade encryption to protect your online information from hackers and spies

Unlike most VPN websites blocked in China, ExpressVPN provides a mirror site for downloading it from within the country if you forget to install it before visiting. This mirror site regularly switches to new URLs to avoid filtering and getting blocked. Just contact customer support at support@expressvpn.zendesk.com to get the most current URL. Once installed, ExpressVPN apps are straightforward to use across all major devices. During testing, my colleague visiting China could use WhatsApp immediately after connecting to a server in Japan.

Screenshot of a conversation with ExpressVPN live chat support regarding server recommendations for ChinaThe “Pick for Me” option appeared when I typed it into the server search bar

ExpressVPN uses obfuscation to mask your VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic, allowing you to use the VPN in China without getting flagged and blocked. What I like most is that obfuscation is automatically enabled on all servers — no manual configuration is required. However, it only works with the default protocol settings, so if you’ve changed protocols, switch back to Automatic.

Your online activities, like the websites you visit, will be kept private thanks to ExpressVPN's verified no-logs policy — none of your data gets stored or shared. Plus, all servers run on RAM (Trusted Server technology), which means your data gets wiped every time the server restarts. Its headquarters are also in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands, outside the global intelligence-sharing pact of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances. So, your data will be kept from authorities, even when requested.

On the downside, plans are more expensive starting at $6.67/month. However, you can save using its latest deals and discounts; I got 49% of my long-term subscription. You can try ExpressVPN risk-free as it's supported by a 30-day money-back guarantee. I also liked that it accepts Bitcoin payments for additional anonymity.

Useful Features

  • 24/7 live chat. To use WhatsApp without disruptions, you need access to help right away. ExpressVPN's customer support replied in under 2 minutes when I asked which servers are best in China.
  • Leak protection. Your data is protected from accidental exposure with ExpressVPN's kill switch (Network Lock) which cuts your connection should the VPN accidentally drop. Plus. IP/DNS leak protection keeps your actual location confidential.
  • Perfect Forward Secrecy. This security feature ensures that each session has a unique encryption key. In the unlikely event that one session's key is compromised, your other sessions remain unaffected. It's an extra layer of security that helps keep your online information confidential.
  • Fast speeds. Thanks to ExpressVPN's Lightway protocol, which was engineered to move data faster, my average download speed was reduced by only 3% testing servers nearby. You'll be able to send and receive videos via WhatsApp without delays.
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 — Strong Obfuscation for a Reliable WhatsApp Experience in China

Best Feature StealthVPN protocol makes the VPN undetectable to unblock WhatsApp in China
Server Network 120 servers in 58 countries, with ones closeby in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea
Works With WhatsApp, Instagram, Viber, Skype, FaceTime, Gmail, Wikipedia, Snapchat, and more
Security Various protocols, including Wireguard, to balance of speed and security

Astrill VPN's StealthVPN protocol obfuscates your VPN traffic to freely use WhatsApp in China — your VPN traffic will be seen as normal internet traffic. Additionally, Smart mode masks your VPN use by using a Hong Kong IP for Chinese services and a foreign IP for international traffic. To access WhatsApp in China, ensure StealthVPN and Smart mode are activated. When I tested Astrill VPN, the Smart mode was automatically enabled for iOS but not Android.

Screenshot of a conversation with Astrill VPN live chat support regarding the VPN use in ChinaSome VPNs only offer live support for subscribers, so I was pleasantly surprised

You can optimize your connection in China by choosing your encryption level. AES 256-bit is recommended for robust security and 128-bit for speed, as there are fewer levels of encryption. Like ExpressVPN, Astrill VPN offers enhanced protection with its kill switch and defense against IPv6 leaks. It also has App Guard, a feature that lets you block selected apps from accessing the internet if the VPN disconnects.

My speed with Astrill VPN was impressive. I clocked an average download speed of 119.91Mbps from a base connection of 126.03Mbps ( only a 5% decrease) testing servers near me. It also offers specialized servers for use in China, optimized for improved security and speed. These servers are labeled as Supercharged and China Optimized. My colleague visiting China didn't experience any interruptions while torrenting.

The VPN has a hefty price tag and no money-back guarantee. However, you get 1 month for free if you refer a friend and they sign up. If you’re concerned about privacy, Astrill VPN accepts Bitcoin payments.

Useful Features

  • Auto Clear Cookies. When you disconnect, this automatically clears all your browser cookies to reduce the chance of being tracked or profiled when using the internet in China.
  • Ad and tracker blocker. By preventing ads and trackers from running, it safeguards your privacy and optimizes your data usage. When I tested this, my browsing was slightly faster due to reduced data usage from ad loading.
  • Split tunneling. You can route WhatsApp through the VPN while other apps connect directly to the internet. This helps improve speed, since only some of your traffic will be encrypted.

3. PrivateVPN — Advanced Security Features for Safe WhatsApp Messaging in China

Best Feature High-level encryption and leak protection keep your data secure
Server Network 200 servers in 63 countries, including Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan
Works With WhatsApp, Instagram, Viber, Skype, FaceTime, Gmail, Wikipedia, Snapchat, and more
Security Stealth VPN hides your VPN traffic as regular traffic, but it must be enabled

PrivateVPN protects your data in China with AES 256-bit encryption — the same level governments and cybersecurity companies use. Like ExpressVPN, it employs a kill switch and IP/WebRTC/DNS leak protection to prevent anyone from knowing your online identity. After conducting several leak tests, my colleague in ChinaI's real IP address was never revealed. It also doesn't log your data, providing peace of mind when using search engines in China.

Screenshot of PrivateVPN's Advanced View interface on Windows while connected to a server in Hong KongIn case of WhatsApp video chat issues, change encryption to the faster AES 128-bit

One minor con is PrivateVPN's smaller server network. However, our tester in China had no problem finding a server that worked with WhatsApp. I recommend nearby servers, like Hong Kong, to minimize speed loss. This prevents choppy video calls. You may need to use the OpenConnect app in China for the best functionality — PrivateVPN provides a step-by-step guide to help set this up.

A long-term PrivateVPN plan is affordable at only $2/month and has a 30-day money-back guarantee. I tested its refund policy and found it straightforward. I canceled and requested my money back via 24/7 live chat. The agent only asked my reason for canceling before continuing with my request. The refund was paid to my PayPal 5 days later.

Useful Features

  • Connection Guard. Use this to automatically close WhatsApp if the VPN isn’t connected, preventing any attempt to use it unsecured in China.
  • Dedicated IPs. Having a dedicated IP means you get a unique IP address not shared by other users, reducing the chances of being blocklisted by apps or network restrictions.

Tips on Choosing the Best VPN for WhatsApp in China

I’ve tried numerous VPN services to pinpoint the ones that work seamlessly for WhatsApp in China. Here’s a peek into the key factors you need to take into consideration if you want to do your own testing:

  • Works in China. Many VPNs claim to work in countries with strict censorship, but only a few deliver on their promise. All the VPNs on my list have proven track records of working in China.
  • Obfuscation technology. This hides VPN traffic, which is vital in China, where most VPNs get blocked when detected.
  • Keeps no logs. Choose a no-logging VPN to keep your online data hidden from prying eyes. I reviewed the privacy policies of several providers and only considered those that don’t collect or share your information.
  • Strong security features. Check the VPN’s website or ask support to make sure it includes at least AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and DNS leak protection.
  • Fast speeds. Interruptions during WhatsApp calls can be extremely frustrating. I conducted speed tests on multiple providers and only listed ones that consistently deliver high-speed connections.
  • 24/7 customer support. This is crucial if your VPN suddenly stops working (common for China) or you need a list of working servers. I contacted various VPN support teams to assess their responsiveness and the quality of assistance.
  • Free trial or money-back guarantee. A risk-free period allows you to test the waters before committing. I investigated the trial and refund policies of different services. Always check the fine print in a VPN’s terms and conditions.

How to Safely Download and Use WhatsApp in China With a VPN

  1. Choose a reputable and highly secure VPN. Of all the VPNs I tested, ExpressVPN is my top pick for its easy use in China, robust security, and compatibility with various devices. It even has a mirror site, so you can download it in China. You can contact ExpressVPN support, and they’ll send you the link.

    Screenshot of ExpressVPN's home page with download links for various devicesI installed ExpressVPN on all my devices, as it allows 8 simultaneous connections

  2. Activate advanced security features. Before proceeding, ensure that the VPN's essential security measures are enabled, like its kill switch and leak protection. While many VPNs require you to turn on obfuscation manually, ExpressVPN uses it by default.

    ExpressVPN's Windows interface showing its list of servers and general settingsUsing "Smart Location", ExpressVPN automatically picks the best server for your connection

  3. Connect to a server. Choose a server nearby for the best speed. You can also contact customer service for guidance on the best server choices. This will save you frustration so you can access WhatsApp without hitches.

    Screenshot of ExpressVPN's The “Pick for Me” feature connects you with the best server for China

  4. Install WhatsApp. Once connected, you can safely download WhatsApp from your app store. Now, you can chat, call, and share videos while keeping your connection private.

    Screenshot showing the download page on WhatsApp's website while connected to ExpressVPN's I confirmed many ExpressVPN servers will work for downloading WhatsApp securely in China

FAQs on Using WhatsApp in China With a VPN

Is it legal to use WhatsApp in China with a VPN?

WhatsApp isn't exactly illegal in China, but the app is blocked. The Chinese government has blocked it because they believe it spreads "undesirable" information. However, people visiting the country can use a reliable VPN to access WhatsApp securely. Still, familiarize yourself with the local laws regarding VPNs and WhatsApp before visiting to avoid breaking any rules.

Can I access WhatsApp in China with a free VPN?

It's doubtful that you'll be able to access WhatsApp in China with a free VPN. Plus, free VPNs might put your data at risk since they lack robust security features. To ensure reliable access to WhatsApp, opt for a reputable paid VPN that prioritizes security and has a proven track record of working in China is better.

Some free VPNs have also been found to embed malware into their app, and others sell user data to marketers. Even if you can find a free VPN that works in China, your speed and bandwidth will be limited.

Why is WhatsApp blocked in China?

WhatsApp is blocked in China due to the country's internet censorship policies, commonly referred to as the “Great Firewall.” The government blocks apps and websites that it perceives as threats to national security or social stability. Visitors to the country can use a reliable VPN to access WhatsApp.

Platforms like WhatsApp, which offer encrypted messaging, make it challenging for the authorities to monitor communications. Hence, it was blocked to favor domestic apps that comply with the government's surveillance and data requirements.

Can I use WhatsApp in China without a VPN?

Using WhatsApp in China without a VPN is not usually possible. However, some travelers have reported occasional success with accessing WhatsApp in certain locations or during specific times. Still, downloading a reliable VPN tested for China is the best solution for consistent and secure access.

Is there a WhatsApp alternative for China?

Yes, there is a popular WhatsApp alternative in China called WeChat. However, WeChat adheres to censorship laws and is monitored by the government, so your communications won’t be private. To protect your online safety and stay anonymous, use a secure China VPN, and stick to WhatsApp or another encrypted messaging app.

Use WhatsApp in China in Minutes

Internet censorship continues to persist in China. If you’re traveling to China, you’ll lose access to mainstream platforms like WhatsApp. A VPN is the most reliable method for using WhatsApp in China without errors. However, there aren’t many VPNs that work in China.

After extensive tests, I recommend ExpressVPN for China. Its encrypted and obfuscated servers conceal your online data and hide your VPN connection so you won't be locked out of WhatsApp. It also offers fast speeds and has a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try ExpressVPN risk-free.

To summarize, these are the best VPNs for using WhatsApp in China...

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 49%!
2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
Save 59%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 85%!
Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

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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 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

Andjela is a technology and cybersecurity writer for vpnMentor, dedicated to helping readers protect their privacy online with detailed VPN reviews, testing all features, and providing the facts.

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