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Best VPN for China in 2023

Best VPN for China has become crucial after Xi Jinping’s Internet shutdown has happened – the beginning of the Great Firewall (GFW) of China. Because of the Chinese president’s vision for individual cyber-development paths, residents of the country are restricted from numerous popular websites and apps, such as ChatGPT or Instagram. Likewise, online privacy is not a matter of the user itself, as the Communist Party is the one who owns control over it.

A reputable VPN that works in China can help both visitors and Chinese residents to almost fully put down the Great Firewall. With it, your online traffic is guarded with virtually unbreakable AES encryption and advanced tunneling protocol. Just like changing your IP address to a foreign one gives you access to all government-restricted content that comes from the West.

With the help of our colleagues residing in China and after going through in-house tests, we have compiled a list of the 7 best VPNs for China that 100% work in 2023. We ensured they bypassed the Great Firewall, didn’t leak IPs, and had servers near China, among other aspects.

Cybernews pro tip

Now that China has re-opened after Covid-19, the first thing to do before going there is to install a reputable VPN that works in China. According to our research, most VPNs fail to bypass the Great Firewall. Therefore, preparing for your journey to China and getting a VPN that will protect your privacy and give access to geo-blocked content should start before you get on the plane.

Top 5 best China VPNs in 2023 – at a glance

📢 LIMITED OFFER: Get NordVPN up to 68% OFF!

What’s new in this review

We updated this review with some important information regarding the legality of VPNs in China. Additionally, we shared some details why many VPN services don’t have servers in China and thus can’t grant a Chinese IP address. However, there is one reliable provider with servers in the region.

What to look for in the best VPN for China

When you’re choosing the best VPN for China, you should carefully consider the security features it provides. A lack of tight measures can leave you exposed to government monitoring.

Servers:Thousands of reliable servers worldwide
Privacy:AES-256 or ChaCha20 encryption, no-logs policy
Speed:WireGuard or equivalent tunneling protocol
Security features:Ad blocking, traffic obfuscation, leak protection

Here are some of the most important features to consider when selecting a VPN for China:

  • Stable connection in China. It’s no secret that all VPNs get blocked in China occasionally. Yet, some VPN providers experience that less often than others, and when they are functional there, the connection is stable. Hence, select a VPN that’s known for great performance and quick technical issue resolution.
  • Strong encryption and security. Choose a China VPN with robust tunneling protocols such as OpenVPN or WireGuard. Also, make sure that the provider offers the most advanced AES encryption. This way, your online activities will be safe from monitoring and interception.
  • Servers. Look for providers that have a large fleet of specialized servers for China and other countries. These servers should be optimized to help bypass the Great Firewall and deliver fast, latency-free connections.
  • Traffic obfuscation. The Great Firewall constantly monitors for VPN connections. Thus it’s important to choose a VPN with efficient obfuscation technology that helps to conceal your VPN usage.
  • Leak protection. Efficient DNS leak protection and a reliable kill switch are essential to maintain privacy and prevent accidental exposure.
  • No-logs policy. Don’t trust providers that collect your data. Instead, opt for VPNs with strict and audited no-log policies. It will help to ensure that your personal data will not reach the hands of any third party.
  • Customer support. Consider a VPN provider that offers 24/7 support. It’s important to have prompt access to knowledgeable support if the VPN stops working or you encounter any other issue while browsing the net in China.
Bypass China’s GFW using NordVPN
You won’t be obstructed by China’s Great Firewall when you have NordVPN, the best VPN for China. Its obfuscated servers can easily circumvent online censorship measures while keeping connection speeds wicked fast.
cybernews® score
4.9 /5

7 best VPNs for China – tried & tested

To find reliable China VPNs, we monitored how well 32 VPN providers performed over two weeks while traveling around China. The final 7 VPNs provided the most stable connections and could consistently unblock geo-restricted content. Here are our top China VPN recommendations for bypassing the Great Firewall.

1. NordVPN – the best VPN for China

NordVPN banner
Based in: Panama
Servers/countries:5,800+ servers in 60 countries
No-logs policy:Audited no-logs policy
Current deal:🔥 Get NordVPN with 68% OFF + 3 months FREE! 🔥

NordVPN is the best VPN for China in 2023 because of its excellent feature arsenal. It provides excellent performance in China which is backed by over 5,800 servers in 60 countries, out of which there are 70+ servers in Hong Kong and surrounding countries like Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and more.

Features. NordVPN uses AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption ciphers, has a triple-audited no-logs policy, and allows anonymous payments with cryptocurrencies. More so, extra protection comes from features like Double VPN, Tor over VPN, obfuscated servers, Threat Protection, and two kill switches.

Speed. With the proprietary NordLynx, we have managed to retain 90% of the original internet speed, which ensures seamless and lag-free browsing. More so, the OpenVPN protocol has been updated for better performance with stealth servers.

Pricing. You can purchase NordVPN for $3.19/month with a 2-year plan. Each plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. There’s also a 7-day free trial for Android devices.

Read more in our NordVPN review.

2. Surfshark – budget-friendly China VPN with blazing-fast speeds

Surfshark banner
Based in: The Netherlands
Servers/countries: 3,200+ servers in 100 countries
No-logs policy:
Audited no-logs policy
Current deal:🔥 Get 82% OFF Surfshark + 2 months FREE 🔥

Surfshark is one of the most wallet-friendly premium VPNs with blazing-fast connection speeds for safe browsing in China. This VPN ensures online anonymity, has a vast fleet of 3,200+ servers in 100 countries, including 4 in Macau SAR China and Hong Kong, plus complete data protection from ISPs and other onlookers.

Features. Surfshark has great security and privacy, including AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption ciphers, an audited no-logs policy, and RAM-only servers. Additionally, you get a strong kill switch, you can turn on an ad blocker (CleanWeb), stealth VPN (Camouflage Mode), and split tunneling (Bypasser).

Speed. This VPN for China offers great performance and lag-free browsing with the modern WireGuard tunneling protocol, which, during our tests, retained 86% speed.

Pricing. You can purchase it for as little as $2.30/month with a 2-year plan. If you want to try it risk-free, there’s a 30-day money guarantee and a 7-day free trial on Apple and Android devices.

For more information, head over to our Surfshark review. Or examine the service against its opponent in our Surfshark vs NordVPN comparison.

3. Norton VPN – safe access VPN for China with antivirus available

norton vpn banner
Based in:United States
Servers/countries: 1,000+ servers in 29 countries
No-logs policy:
No-logs policy
Current deal:🔥 Get up to 56% OFF Norton VPN! 🔥

Norton VPN is a great VPN pick for China. It has servers in Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore, so you can unblock local content and ensure your anonymity. Even though Norton VPN doesn’t disclose a specific number of servers in each location, it has over 1,000 servers in 29 countries overall.

Features. Known for its Norton antivirus suite, this VPN is secure and reliable. It implements market-standard AES-256-bit encryption, a kill switch to protect you from accidental data leaks, and a no-logs policy to ensure no data is compromised.

Speed. Norton VPN implements a single tunneling protocol – OpenVPN – it combines security and speed effortlessly. After our hands-on testing, the speed results were relatively good and didn’t cause issues when browsing, so you can enjoy daily online activities without buffers.

Pricing. Norton VPN has pretty good deals – you get the best value for money with a 1-year subscription for $2.50/month and 5 simultaneous connections, or get 10 simultaneous connections for $4.17/month. If you want a trial – Norton VPN offers a 7-day tryout or a 30-day money refund.

To learn more, read our Norton VPN review.

4. ExpressVPN – versatile VPN for secure browsing in China

ExpressVPN banner
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Servers/countries: 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
No-logs policy:
Audited no-logs policy
Current deal:🔥 Get ExpressVPN, now 49% OFF the 1-year plan! 🔥

ExpressVPN is another great VPN provider to choose for secure browsing in China. This is a secure and speedy VPN that accepts anonymous payments, has a vast server fleet in 94 countries, including the servers in two Hong Kong locations, so you can fully ensure your anonymity online.

Features. This VPN ensures your data anonymity with AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption ciphers, an audited no-logs policy, and RAM-only servers. In addition, there’s protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. Also, there’s a strong kill switch to prevent any accidental data leaks, and stealth servers to hide your VPN connection better.

Speed. ExpressVPN uses a proprietary Lightway protocol, which ensures speedy connections and lag-free browsing by retaining around 77% of the original speed.

Pricing. Compared with other providers on this list, ExpressVPN is one of the priciest and feature-light options. You can purchase a 1-year subscription for $6.67/month and get a 30-day money back guarantee. If you seek a cheaper premium option, we recommend trying out NordVPN.

Check out more in our ExpressVPN review. Alternatively, observe how it differs from the leading option in NordVPN vs ExpressVPN.

5. PureVPN – China VPN with a large server fleet

Based in: British Virgin Islands
Servers/countries: 6,500+ servers in 78 countries
No-logs policy:
Audited always-on no-logs policy
Current deal:🔥 Get PureVPN, now 83% OFF + 3 months FREE! 🔥

PureVPN is a fast and reliable VPN option for China that can secure your online activity from prying eyes, and offers over 6,500 servers in 78 countries, including Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and more surrounding areas.

Features. With market-standard AES-256 and modern ChaCha20 data encryption, as well as a reliable kill switch, PureVPN ensures your data is sufficiently protected. Additionally, this VPN has a strict no-logs policy with an always-on audit, so you can be certain that your data is stored securely.

Speed. PureVPN employs the speedy WireGuard tunneling protocol, so you get to enjoy seamless and lag-free browsing. During our tests, this VPN managed to retain 67% of the original speed.

Pricing. The only real flaws for us were the few connection issues and that with WireGuard tunneling protocol, you do not get all the features available. However, if that’s not a dealbreaker for you, you can purchase PureVPN for $2.08/month with a 2-year plan for the best deal.

Learn more in our detailed PureVPN review.

6. Ivacy VPN – secure VPN to bypass China’s internet restrictions

Ivacy VPN banner
Based in:Singapore
Servers/countries:5,700+ servers in 68 countries
No-logs policy:
No-logs policy
Current deal:🔥 Get Ivacy VPN, now 90% OFF + gift! 🔥

Ivacy is one of the cheapest VPNs that you can get for secure and anonymous browsing in China. With a vast list of 5,700+ servers in 68 countries, including servers in Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and other surrounding locations, you’ll get to enjoy the needed internet freedom.

Features. Ivacy VPN covers all the needed security bases from anonymous browsing in China. This VPN offers AES-256 and ChaCha20 (with the WireGuard tunnel) encryption ciphers, a secure kill switch, leak protection features, and has a strict no-logs policy.

Speed. This isn’t one of the speediest VPNs on the market. Even with the market-standard WireGuard tunneling protocol, we have experienced around 32% speed retention. It should be all right for browsing, but torrenting or streaming might be laggy.

Pricing. If you wish to purchase Ivacy VPN, the best deal comes with a 5-year subscription costing you only $1.00/month. All plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee and permit connecting up to $1.00/month different devices simultaneously.

Learn more in our Ivacy VPN review.

7. Proton VPN – a reliable VPN service to browse anonymously in China

ProtonVPN banner
Based in:Switzerland
Servers/countries:2,970+ servers in 69 countries
No-logs policy:
Audited no-logs policy
Current deal:🔥 Get up to 50% OFF Proton VPN! 🔥

Proton VPN offers security and privacy that will let you feel comfortable in countries like China where the internet is highly censored. With over 2,970 servers in 69 countries, including servers in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and other surrounding locations, you’ll be able to use the internet freely.

Features. Proton VPN is based in privacy-friendly Switzerland, comes with AES-256 and ChaCha20 encryption protocols, is open-source, has a strict no-logs policy, and a reliable kill switch. So, you can be certain your online activities are secure and anonymous.

Speed. With the WireGuard tunneling protocol, you can expect stable download speeds while browsing the internet in China. During our tests, Proton VPN managed to retain 85% of the original internet speed

Pricing. Proton VPN subscriptions start at $4.99/month, which is pricier than other China VPNs we tested. On the other hand, it offers an unlimited free version if you want to bypass the GFW at no expense. However, we recommend using the 30-day money-back guarantee to test the powerful premium version.

Learn more in our detailed Proton VPN review.

Things to know before using a VPN in China

Aside from choosing a reliable China VPN that will give you uninterrupted access to resources behind the Great Firewall, consider the following things:

  • Get a VPN for China while you’re still outside. The government blocks the providers’ websites, and you might need to use a proxy or another VPN to access the mirror, potentially compromising your privacy. Luckily, most premium services have separate links for downloading the app from China, but you want to avoid all this additional trouble.
  • Know where you’ll be staying. The country is divided into multiple provinces, and some web resources may be available in one and blocked in another. Of course, provinces like Tibet offer fewer options and even limit your online presence to a few hours a day.
  • Get a Chinese SIM card. Your regular card may not work in China, so it’s important to equip yourself with a local SIM card on time. The simplest option is to buy a card at the airport and look at the most popular telecom providers, such as China Telecom, China Unicom, or China Mobile.
  • Don’t forget that most sites and services will be unavailable without a VPN. That includes search engines (Google), social media and messaging (Facebook, WhatsApp), news sites (The New York Times), streaming platforms (Netflix), pornography, and Wikipedia.
Cybernews pro tip

With time, China is regulating VPN usage more vigilantly. Therefore, a single reputable VPN installed on your device may not be enough, as the ISP may quickly block it. That's why we recommend you install at least a couple of VPNs that bypass the Great Firewall of China, such as NordVPN or Surfshark, before coming to the country.

Best China VPNs comparison

After testing each VPN’s performance in China, speed, features, and other factors, we decided to compare providers.

BrandRatingPerformance in ChinaSecurity featuresLoggingServers/ countriesStreamingAnonymous paymentsAverage speedPriceReview
The most secure and stable VPN for China.AES-256 encryption, RAM-only servers, obfuscation, Double VPN, kill switch, Threat ProtectionNo-logs independently audited by PwC5,800+ servers in 60 countriesNetflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and moreAccepts crypto353 MbpsFrom $3.19/month with a 2-year planNordVPN review
One of the fastest VPNs to use in China. AES-256 encryption, antivirus, RAM-only servers, kill switch, multi-hop, obfuscationNo-logs, independently audited by Deloitte3,200+ servers in 3,200 countriesNetflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and moreAccepts crypto326 MbpsFrom $2.30/month with a 2-year planSurfshark review
Norton VPN logo for tables
Secure and reliable connection for daily use for China.AES-2556 encryption, antivirus, a kill switch, ad blockerNo-logs, not audited1,000+ servers in 29 countriesBBC iPlayer, MaxDoesn't accept crypto276 MbpsFrom $2.50/month with a 1-year planNorton VPN review
Stable connection speeds for lag-free browsing and streaming in China.AES-256 encryption, RAM-only servers, ad blocker, obfuscation, leak protection No-logs, independently audited by PwC3,000+ servers in 94 countriesNetflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and moreAccepts crypto389 MbpsFrom $6.67/month with a 1-year planExpressVPN review
Excellent data protection and all the needed features to browse safely in China.AES-256 encryption, obfuscation, kill switch, always-on audit.No-logs, always-on audit6,500+ servers in 78 countriesNetflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTubeAccepts crypto342 MbpsFrom $2.08/month with a 2-year planPureVPN review
Ivacy VPN
Great security features for anonymous browsing.AES-256 encryption, leak protection, kill switch, anti-malware tool.No-logs, not audited5,700+ servers in 68 countriesNetflix, BBC iPlayer, YoutubeAccepts crypto166 MbpsFrom $1.00/month with a 5-year planIvacy VPN review
Proton VPN
Another option to consider for China due to its feature-richness, security, and reliability. AES-256 encryption, kill switch, NetShieldNo-logs, independently audited by Securitym2,970+ servers in 69 countriesNetflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, HBO Max, Disney+Accepts crypto210 MbpsFrom $4.99/monthProton VPN review

We nominated NordVPN as the winner due to its impeccable security specifications for users in China. It employs the leading encryption, reliable leak protection, and respects users' privacy. On top of that, it delivers great speed and streaming capabilities.

Other VPNs we tested for China

We tested dozens of VPN providers to select our list of the 7 best options for secure internet browsing in China. However, that left several popular options out of our list. Here they are:

  • Windscribe – with unlimited connections, basic security, servers around China, and solid connection speeds, Windscribe is a pretty decent choice for browsing anonymously in China. However, a lack of trust in security features is why it didn’t make our list.
  • Astrill VPN – large server fleet with servers in Hong Kong, great security features, and Stealth VPN tunneling protocol, Astrill VPN easily bypasses the Great Firewall of China. A small server fleet, outdated apps, and pricey subscriptions turned this VPN away from our list.
  • Hide.me VPN – offers the security and privacy needed to feel comfortable while browsing online in China. A large server fleet and servers around China make this a solid option. On the other hand, high price points, outdated apps, and a few issues with certain features are the reasons this VPN isn’t on our list.

How we tested VPNs for China

To offer you the best VPN that works in China, we regularly monitor news from reputable VPN providers regarding their connection status in China. However, we first had to select the services to keep an eye on. So, we evaluated each VPN out of 32 using the following criteria:

  • Security. We picked the providers with AES-256 encryption, a no-logs policy, leak prevention (DNS, IPv6, WebRTC) features, secure tunneling protocols, and a strict kill switch as the basis for our list.
  • Privacy. Selecting a VPN with a no-logs policy isn’t enough, we recommend choosing one that has an independently audited no-logs policy or one that has been proven by courts not to collect and store user information. Finally, avoid any VPNs that are operated out of China itself.
  • Speed. All VPN services will slow down your connection to some degree. That's why picking from the fastest VPNs is advised to make sure that you still have some juice left for streaming or torrenting after beating the Great Firewall.
  • Customer support. China is hard on VPNs, so you might expect some issues you've never had before. Therefore, 24/7 customer support becomes indispensable. Don't settle for anything less than a live chat option to avoid waiting days before your issue is solved.
  • Streaming. Plenty of people in China simply want to watch Netflix US. So if a VPN is unable to help with geo-blocking, check out the competitors that can. Also, consider that some providers unblock even more Netflix libraries across the world, meaning there's a greater chance to find your desired movie or TV show.
  • Torrenting. P2P blocking is a nuisance worldwide, and China is one of the worst places for torrenting. Luckily, with a reliable VPN, you'll be able to download speedy, freely, and securely.
  • Price. When choosing a VPN for China, saving money shouldn't lead to a less secure or private option. That being said, some top-notch providers are quite reasonably priced.

How to use a VPN in China?

The best advice you'll ever get regarding VPN usage in China is to plan in advance. If you're not already in China, it's best to download, install, and set up VPN software before landing in the country. That way, you'll already have tools to bypass the restrictions.

  1. Get a VPN with servers in or near China before going to China. We recommend NordVPN as it has a great track record for bypassing the Great Firewall
  2. Sign up for the service
  3. Download the software to your devices and install it
  4. Log in to your account
  5. Locate obfuscated servers to mask your VPN connection and connect to one which is close to China when you get to the country

Don't forget that tunneling protocols like OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP are blocked in China. So, your best bet is to use other methods to unblock restricted websites.

Why do you need a VPN in China?

The most important reason to use a VPN in China is to secure your data from government and ISP surveillance. However, there are more issues you should consider before browsing online freely:

  • Security. Cybercriminals and other online threats are real issues for your data security. A secure VPN will protect your data and device from any leaks or hacks. Moreover, a well-equipped VPN can block online ads, thus improving your overall browsing experience and page load times.
  • Privacy. China is one of the most surveillance-heavy countries, meaning citizens have little online privacy. Thankfully, a VPN will mask your activities and make you invisible to ISPs, government organizations, network administrators, and other nosy entities.
  • Accessing geo-restricted content. Some sites only provide regionally targeted content, for example, the variety of Netflix content libraries. So, if you wish to access more content, then you need a reliable VPN to change your IP address location and then enjoy unlimited amounts of global content.
  • Unblocking sites. China is very strict with its online censorship and what sites are available for internet users to access. Therefore, there’s a vast list of sites, especially from the western side, that are blocked. With a VPN, you can bypass the restrictions placed and freely browse any site you wish.

What is the Great Firewall of China?

Officially known as the Golden Shield project, the Great Firewall of China censors internet access inside the country. Since all internet service providers (ISPs) belong to the government, it can monitor all your traffic and block certain websites that are deemed dangerous or inappropriate. Sadly, the block list is quite long, including Facebook, Twitter, most search engines, and messaging services, not to mention Netflix and YouTube.

China started seriously censoring the internet in 1997, only three years after going online. In 2003, the Golden Shield project was started to not only censor but also promote Communist Party ideology. For example, you'll learn that Hong Kong and Taiwan are part of China, and you won't learn anything about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

How does China censor the internet? Well, it uses a number of sophisticated methods, such as IP blocking, DNS tampering, keyword filtering via Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), and manual blocking. DPI is also used to detect and block VPN traffic. That's why the best VPNs must be able to avoid DPI to work in China.

Without a VPN, you'll be forced to use local apps and websites for communication, online shopping, and anything else. Your search keywords will be modified and you'll see government-approved businesses at the top of the results page. Most importantly, your online privacy will be non-existent due to the online surveillance apparatus of China.

How VPNs bypass the Great Firewall

Bypassing the Great Firewall is possible by using an encrypted connection with the outside servers. Although there are many methods to go about it, VPNs are the most popular and simplest way for most users.

A VPN encrypts your connection, making it impossible to detect and thus filter out the pages you're trying to access. Moreover, your connection is passed through the outside server network that has unrestricted access to the Internet. That way, you're experiencing the Internet as if you were located somewhere else, but physically you're still located in China.


It's worth mentioning that China has cracked down on most free VPN services and proxies. The Great Firewall detects some free VPN's IP ranges and blocks them in their tracks, making them useless. So, if you want any guarantee that a VPN will work for you, it's not a bad idea to think about the paid VPN service provider.

Is VPN illegal in China?

No, VPNs in China aren’t strictly illegal. They can freely operate in the country if they cooperate with the government and don’t undermine the regime. Naturally, that means complying with their online censorship and internet restrictions, which defeats the purpose of using a VPN for most people in China.

This state of affairs means trustworthy no-logs VPNs that respect customer privacy don’t cooperate with the CCP. Therefore, such VPN services (with a few exceptions) don’t even have servers in China.

Despite all of this, VPNs are still pretty popular in China. This contradiction happens because the government rarely cracks down on VPN use. Furthermore, the consequences vary depending on if you’re a citizen or a foreigner.

For example, travelers may have to deal with detention and eventual deportation if they’re caught using a VPN. Meanwhile, citizens may have to pay a fine or even face jail time. In any case, the severity of the punishment depends on the circumstances, i.e., what you were doing while using the VPN.


The legality of VPNs in China is complicated, and you should consult an actual lawyer for up-to-date information regarding this topic.

Why does China block most VPNs?

China is an authoritarian regime that likes to spy on its citizens and visitors alike. Limiting the available online content helps to spread government propaganda and keep foreign sources unavailable. Since VPNs help unblock websites and services by bypassing the Great Firewall, China sees them as dangerous and detrimental to its policy.

As a matter of fact, a VPN is a powerful tool that gives you access to a number of blocked services. We're talking about social media and messaging, search engines, news sites, streaming, torrenting, and more. Without one, citizens are made to use local online services while also giving away their IP addresses and online activity logs to ISPs, which, by the way, are state-controlled.

Strangely enough, those VPNs that have worked before tightening things up in 2018 continue to work today. That's probably because without any VPNs, China would hurt itself economically. After all, there are foreign businesses that need access to various online resources to function. So in a sense, China is leaving those few VPNs in relative peace for its own good.

Can I bypass the Great Firewall without a VPN?

Bypassing the Great Firewall of China without a VPN is quite challenging. The Chinese government has implemented sophisticated and well-designed censorship measures that are hard to circumvent. However, if you’re eager to sought an alternative, here’s what you can try:

  • Tor software. Dedicated to anonymous browsing, Tor software may help to bypass strict restrictions in China. Since, on its own, the software is quite easy to detect and block, users need to make advanced configurations for it to work.
  • Proxies. By using proxy tools such as Shadowproxy, you may bypass censorship in China. It obfuscates your traffic to make it appear as regular HTTPS traffic. However, it takes some technical knowledge to set it up.
  • Lantern software. This internet censorship circumvention software used various techniques to obfuscate traffic and bypass censorship in China and other heavily restricted countries.

Do free VPNs work in China?

Yes, there are free VPNs that work in China. However, the situation there is different for those considering a free-of-cost VPN provider. For a VPN to work in China without interruptions, the service must be approved by the Chinese Communist Party. This means that the VPN provider must agree to collect users’ data and share it with the government.

Since the majority of completely free VPNs don’t have strong enough security suites to bypass the Great Firewall without making an agreement with the government, finding a reliable free VPN for China is tough.

Nevertheless, some free VPN services also have profitable premium plans that cover the expenses of a free plan. This way, a VPN doesn’t need to obey the Chinese government and may function in a heavily-restricted country on its own. The only free and reliable VPN to bypass the Great Firewall that we selected after testing was Windscribe, which is one of the best free VPNs overall.

However, for the best security, connection speeds, and features, check out these premium VPNs with risk-free money-back guarantees:

  • NordVPN – the best and one of the fastest VPNs for China, has an extensive list of globally various server locations, provides great security, and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • Surfshark – a speedy VPN solution to ensure your anonymity while browsing online in China, can unblock plenty of geo-restricted sites, and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Cybersecurity checklist for China

Online regulations coming from Beijing are said to be here to protect Chinese residents' well-being. However, not only the country’s visitors but also local people themselves are forced to meet vigorous privacy violations.

A non-Chinese company-owned VPN is the first thing to take care of before your flight to China, as they use servers that aren’t physically based in the PRC to bypass the Great Firewall. In fact, subscribing to a couple or even a few VPNs is even better, as even the most reliable providers can be taken down for some time.

However, there are more checkboxes to fill in to stay as secure as possible while visiting China, whether you’re a tourist, businessman, or student.

  • Avoid using Bluetooth. Sounds nearly impossible when everyone loves their AirPods now and can’t imagine a day apart from them. However, using a Bluetooth connection in China is risky, as this allows the government to enable eavesdropping. Hence, even on your flight to China, make sure you use a cable instead of Bluetooth.
  • Use a VPN at all times. No matter your goal of visiting China, a VPN should always be enabled. Better yet, install and subscribe to a couple of reliable providers, like NordVPN or Surfshark, and connect to servers outside China, like Malaysia or South Korea.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi. Whether you’re staying in a hotel or want to scroll online at the restaurant, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi network. Numerous people in China who use publicly accessible networks get robbed online, and their online activity is also tracked.
  • Keep yourself from local apps. Even though testing Chinese applications may be tempting, we strongly recommend against it. The majority of applications in China belong to the government itself. Consequently, programs like WeChat collect large amounts of personal data and share it with the government.
  • Protect data stored on devices. If you’re traveling to China for business or simply have easily accessible, sensitive information on your devices, we suggest you install a file locker like NordLocker. Encrypting your files will help you avoid Chinese government interference and cybercriminal attacks.
  • Use a password manager. Anyone going to China, especially students or professionals, should protect their credentials with advanced encryption and multi-factor authentication. For this, we recommend using one of the most reputable password managers.
  • Get a throwaway mobile phone. If you plan to go to China for business, get a pre-paid phone in your home. This will help you avoid getting spyware on your work phone and prevent eavesdropping by not using a Chinese device.

How do I get a Chinese IP address?

As mentioned previously, most VPNs don’t cooperate with the Chinese government. In fact, countless tech companies avoid partnering with the country because of its vulnerability disclosure demands that would make state-sponsored hacking easier. Thus, many organizations don’t have any server hardware in mainland China.

At best, they have servers in neighboring regions like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. And while these countries may have access to Chinese content like BiliBili or Youku, you’ll have better luck with a Chinese IP address.

Some of the exceptional VPNs that offer servers in China include CyberGhost VPN. As of writing, the service offered only 12 servers in Shenzhen. This low server count led to severe congestion and connectivity issues while testing the service. That means you’ll likely experience lagging and extended loading times while connected to these servers.

If you want to try your luck with neighboring regions like Taiwan or Hong Kong, we recommend leading VPN services like NordVPN and Surfshark. These providers are some of the fastest VPNs on the market, ensuring blazing-fast speeds no matter what country you connect to.

The Great Firewall seeks to protect Chinese citizens from Western governments tracking their online activity through applications and websites. Consequently, a lot of worldwide content isn’t available in China. Here are some of the examples:

  • Social networks. It goes without saying that social networking sites like Facebook (Messenger included), WhatsApp, Telegram, Line, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Tinder, Reddit, Discord, Snapchat, Viber, and Signal are completely banned. But what’s more surprising is that even TikTok, which the Chinese developer owns, isn’t available there.
  • Streaming sites. China also bans most popular streaming sites and services like Netflix, Youtube, Vimeo, Twitch, DailyMotion, Spotify, SoundCloud, Hulu, HBO, Pandora, Periscope, and Vevo.
  • Game publishers. China has recently banned Blizzard from distributing its games in China. The Steam community is also blocked, while the Steam store is partially blocked.
  • News and informational pages. As China’s levels of internet censorship are sky-high, you won’t be able to access any Western news pages or informational sites. This includes BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg, The Guardian, Medium, Quora, Financial Times, Time, and Wikipedia.
  • Search engines. Even search engines aren’t immune to China’s blocks. Without a VPN, you won’t access Google, Yahoo, Amazon (Alexa), or DuckDuckGo.
  • Internet censorship circumvention websites. It goes without saying that websites like NordVPN, Surfshark, or ExpressVPN are on the block list as they would allow you to bypass the blocks.
  • File-sharing websites. From Imgur to DailyMotion to torrent websites, all of them are blocked to make it more difficult to exchange files, all of those websites are blocked.
  • Productivity programs. Services that the world is used to implementing into their work routine are also unavailable in China, including Google Apps, Gmail, Dropbox, Slack, Microsoft OneDrive, Hootsuite, and Google Play.
  • AI tools. Another Western technology that concerns the Chinese government is the US-based Open-AI chatboxes, like ChatGPT. Consequently, these services aren’t available in the country, and local AI tools are getting released.

Is Google totally blocked in China?

To answer your question, is Google blocked in China, let us tell you that yes, Google is entirely unavailable in China. That means, once you cross the border of the country, you no longer have access to Google images or maps, Gmail, Google Play Store, or even YouTube.

Google has started using Google.com.hk instead of routing its traffic through Google.cn. This move was made in response to China's requests to self-censor search results and remove links to certain overseas websites, which were denied by Google. All of this led to Google getting blocked in China and only being available in surrounding countries, such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau.

However, you can still bypass these regulations implemented by the Great Firewall by using a robust VPN service, like NordVPN, and connecting to foreign servers.

Is YouTube blocked in China?

Yes, YouTube is blocked in China, as it belongs to Google. Nevertheless, the streaming platform is still available in countries located close to China. Meaning, you can use a VPN to unblock YouTube in China and enjoy great connections by connecting to nearby server locations. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Select a VPN that bypasses the Great Firewall. NordVPN has proven to work in China
  2. Download and install the application before coming to China
  3. Log in to your account or sign up for the service
  4. Connect to an obfuscated server located close to China. It can be Hong Kong, for example
  5. Clear your browser’s cache
  6. Head to YouTube and enjoy videos

Is Instagram banned in China?

Yes, Instagram is banned in China, and accessing it from there will give you an error message telling you that the feed can’t be refreshed. And yet, neighboring countries, like Taiwan or Hong Kong, still have access to this popular social media platform, so you can easily benefit from that with the help of a VPN. Here’s how:

  1. Get a VPN that works in China. NordVPN consistently bypasses the Great Firewall
  2. Download and install the application before your flight to China
  3. Log in or sign up for the NordVPN service
  4. Find obfuscated servers in countries near China and connect
  5. Restart Instagram and start browsing


A VPN for China is the best way to access geo-blocked websites, protect your information, and keep you anonymous online. So, your ISP won’t be able to track your activity online and log it.

In addition, there are extremely strict government restrictions that Chinese citizens have to deal with. They are cut off from accessing many websites, social media, and other information sources freely available to the rest of us.

The best VPN for China is NordVPN. This VPN provider offers excellent data protection tools, has an obfuscation feature that helps to bypass the Great China Firewall, and, in turn, works really well in China.

More so, NordVPN offers excellent connection speeds and unblocks all of the popular streaming sites. So, you can enjoy lag-free browsing and unlimited content libraries. You can also try this VPN provider with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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prefix 2 years ago
I’m a vpn user in China. Until now , strong vpn can be used fluently in China. VyprVPN ,however , doesn’t work as well in China as it does abroad.I think strongvpn might be a better choice for users in China.
prefix 2 years ago
Saw many people on Reddit recommending not only Nord VPN or express von for china but also Astrill. Do you know anything aboout it? Would you recommend it as well? I believe here I could get more reliable information than reddit though people have been saying they used it for years and the performance is amazing. .Thank you!
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 2 years ago
Hello, Edward. Astrill is a good VPN for China, but we don’t recommend it for the following reasons. One, it’s even more expensive than ExpressVPN. Two, it no longer has a money-back guarantee. So if you can get the same result by paying less, Astrill automatically goes down the list.
she is.
prefix 2 years ago
Many Chinese websites are not available back here but I’d like to visit them out because I’m learning mandarin. Thank you so much for any iOS VPN China server recommendations<3
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 2 years ago
Hello, she is. You can try CyberGhost or Hotspot Shield – both have apps for iOS. Good luck with learning the language!
There's Suard
prefix 2 years ago
I’m planning a business trip and would need a fast vpn in China. What’s the speed difference between Surfshark and Nordvpn?
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 2 years ago
Hi, There’s Suard. Both VPNs are really fast, and it’s hard to say which one will perform better in China. I’d choose NordVPN, though, because it’s our best VPN for China, and its NordLynx protocol shows better results than a direct WireGuard implementation.
prefix 2 years ago
hi! interesting review. buuuut I missed one of the top providers. How would you rate how good is nordvpn vs express vpn for china ?
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 2 years ago
Dear Fowler,
Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are great for China. However, I haven’t included the former because of its high price.
prefix 2 years ago
How do I setup android phone vpn for China? I read I need to download apk files but I’m not sure how to proceed. I also read my phone might have a built-in vpn so does that mean I don’t need to install anything?
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 2 years ago
Dear cerber,
Thanks for stopping by. Some smartphone models have a built-in VPN, but its quality is nowhere near what any of the providers above can offer. You can download the .apk files from a mirror website in case the official one is blocked in China.
prefix 2 years ago
What’s best MAC vpn for china internet surfing? I have macOS so need compatible service. Thank you.
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 2 years ago
Hi, HARSH MAC. I’d say it’s NordVPN. It has a macOS app that’s as good as the Windows version.
Jame sat
prefix 2 years ago
What a good tip to get a vpn for china before entering the country! I just realised that probably nothing would be working as you come into this absolutely different space on internet. I can’t even comprehend trying to google something and it wouldn’t pop up! We got so used to that!! But what would happen if you don’t take care of some detail regards your safety and try to contact some vpn provider? How would that be possible?
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 2 years ago
Hi, Jame sat. You’re totally right! That sounds like and IS like being on another planet 🙂 If you haven’t set up your VPN before entering China, you can still find mirror sites of some providers, such as NordVPN, that aren’t blocked yet. There’s also an option to write an email to your customer support.
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