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Best VPNs for China that work in 2023


Even if you're just visiting China, using a VPN there is as important as if you were a resident. VPN is a must-have security feature to secure your data, and to help you stay anonymous and protected while browsing.

Unfortunately, China is one of the most strict countries regarding internet censorship and online privacy. Without a VPN, you won't access platforms like YouTube, Twitter, or Blizzard.

The problem is that the Chinese government closely monitors and improves its detection systems. As a result, not all VPNs work with the country's Great Firewall. For this reason, it's best to download a VPN before entering the country; otherwise, you might be left without any privacy tools. Also, you need to make sure you get the best possible one.

In this article, we present you with the best VPNs for China in 2023. All of the VPN recommendations on our list offer the most advanced security to bypass the Great Firewall, speedy connections for lag-free browsing, and additional features to ensure your internet freedom.

The 5 best working VPNs for China

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

  • 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. The specialized 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 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.

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, just as your smartphone could fail you as well. Make sure that your model will work to avoid buying some local brand.
  • Don’t forget that most sites and services will be unavailable without the VPN. That includes search engines (Google), social media and messaging (Facebook, WhatsApp), news sites (The New York Times), streaming platforms (Netflix), pornography, and Wikipedia.

The best VPNs for China – our detailed list:

Not many VPNs work in China, but that didn't make creating this list any easier. Here’s our top recommendations for China VPN to bypass China’s Great Firewall and protect your internet activity.

1. NordVPN – the best VPN to freely browse the internet in China

NordVPN banner
Based in: Panama
Servers/countries:5700+ servers in 60 countries
Unblocks: Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more
Current deal:🔥 Get NordVPN with 63% OFF + 3 months FREE! 🔥

NordVPN is the best VPN to bypass China’s Great Firewall. It provides excellent security and privacy features, plus it works fast in China. Excellent performance is backed by over 5700 servers in 60 countries, out of which there are 70+ servers in Hong Kong and surrounding countries like Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and more.

Security. NordVPN uses AES-256 encryption, has a triple-audited no-logs policy, and allows anonymous payments with cryptocurrencies. More so, extra protection comes from features like multi-hop (Double VPN), Tor over VPN (Onion over VPN), Stealth protocol (Obfuscated servers), and two types of the kill switch.

Speed. The internet speed in China is far from the best, and ISPs tend to throttle your bandwidth. With the proprietary NordLynx, we have managed to retain 79% 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.

Features. NordVPN’s Threat protection feature will secure you from malware threats and malicious ads. There's also a SOCKS5 proxy for your torrenting efforts. Also, this is the perfect streaming VPN since it unblocks all of the popular streaming platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, and more.

Compatibility. With one NordVPN subscription, you’ll get to cover up to 6 devices, and it has dedicated apps for all OS – Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. This allows you to protect any device you own while in China.

NordVPN practically has no downsides, and you can purchase it for $3.29/month with a 2-year plan or pay $12.99 with a monthly subscription. 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 VPN banner
Based in: The Netherlands
Servers/countries: 3200+ servers in 100 countries
Unblocks: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more
Current deal:🔥 Get 82% OFF Surfshark + 2 months FREE 🔥

Surfshark is one of the most wallet-friendly premium VPNs with blazing-fast connection speeds while safely browsing the internet in China. This VPN ensures your anonymity online, has a vast fleet of 3200+ servers in 100 countries, including 4 Macau SAR China virtual location servers and servers in Hong Kong, and complete data protection from ISP and other online threats.

Security. Surfshark has great security and privacy, including AES-256 encryption, an audited no-logs policy, and RAM-only servers. Additionally, you get a strong kill switch, you can turn on the malware blocker (CleanWeb), stealth VPN (Camouflage Mode), multi-hop, and split tunneling (Whitelister).

Speed. This VPN for China offers great performance and seamless and lag-free browsing and streaming with the quickest and safest WireGuard tunneling protocol, which during our tests, retained 88% of the original speed.

Features. P2P connections are readily available and secure, you can also choose to protect only this traffic with the split tunneling feature. More so, Surfshark is able to unblock Netflix and all the other popular streaming sites. Another thing is that you can also get the Surfshark antivirus and prevent malware threats for your device.

Compatibility. Surfshark supports major platforms like Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Plus, Amazon Fire devices, Android TV, routers, and NAS.

The provider is a solid option for China. The only issue with this service is that there’s a bit more complicated process of connecting, which requires installing OpenVPN GUI. However, using the VPN in China while traveling or doing your day-to-day activities is worth a little effort.

You can purchase it for as little as $2.30/month with a 2-year plan. Alternatively, you can buy it monthly for $12.95. 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.

3. Atlas VPN – reliable VPN for China to bypass internet restrictions

Atlas VPN banner
Based in:United States
Servers/countries: 1000+ servers in 42 countries
Unblocks: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
Current deal:🔥 Get Atlas VPN, now 85% OFF + 3 months FREE! 🔥

Atlas VPN is another great option to access the internet in China. This is a very secure VPN that ensures that your data will be hidden and you’ll stay anonymous while browsing. More so, there are more than 1000 servers in 42 countries available, and this list includes servers in Hong Kong and Japan, among several other surrounding locations.

Security. This VPN protects your information with AES-256 data encryption, has a strict no-logs policy, and operates with secure tunneling protocols. In addition, there’s a reliable kill switch that will prevent any accidental data leaks.

Speed. With the market-standard WireGuard protocol, Atlas VPN performs very well and keeps great connection speeds, retaining around 78% of the original speed. This means that with this VPN, you’ll get to enjoy seamless browsing and lag-free streaming.

Features. Atlas VPN comes with a safe browser feature that blocks malicious websites. In addition, there’s a data breach monitor and SafeSwap, for rotating your IP address. More so, this is a great streaming VPN that unblocks Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and others.

Compatibility. Atlas VPN is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices. The mobile apps are a bit better than the desktop ones; however, all are very easy to use for beginners and experienced users.

According to the provider, users sometimes experience hiccups when establishing a VPN connection in China. Yet the team is constantly implementing solutions to provide the service in restricted areas. Another issue with Atlas VPN is that unlike NordVPN, it resides in the jurisdiction and lack of independent audits for their no-logs policy. If you can look past this, then you can get an Atlas VPN subscription for $1.82/month with a 2-year plan, or pick a limited free option.

Learn more in our Atlas VPN review.

4. ExpressVPN – versatile VPN for secure browsing in China

ExpressVPN banner
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Servers/countries: 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Unblocks: Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+
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 really secure and speedy VPN provider 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.

Security. This VPN ensures your data anonymity with AES-256 encryption, 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 has its own proprietary Lightway protocol, which ensures speedy connections and a seamless lag-free browsing experience by retaining around 66% of the original speed. More so, with Lightway, you’ll also get to enjoy high-quality streaming.

Features. The Threat Manager feature will prevent tracking and other online threats from targeting your data, and a split tunneling feature to customize what apps require a VPN tunnel. ExpressVPN also unblocks all of the popular streaming sites, including Netflix, HBO Max, and others.

Compatibility. ExpressVPN has apps for all of the popular OS, like Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. In addition, there are browser extensions and support for Kodi and Fire devices and a separate application for routers.

ExpressVPN is another provider affected by ongoing connectivity issues in China. The provider claims that normally its service works in China. However, engineers are now working to restore connectivity.

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. Another option is a month-long plan for $12.95. If you seek a cheaper premium option, we recommend trying out NordVPN.

Check out more in our ExpressVPN review.

5. PureVPN – China VPN with a large server fleet

purevpn-banner-new
Based in: British Virgin Islands
Servers/countries: 6500+ servers in 78 countries
Unblocks: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
Current deal:🔥 Get PureVPN, now 81% OFF + 3 months FREE! 🔥

PureVPN is a fast and reliable VPN option for China that can secure your online activity from prying eyes, offers over 6500 servers in 78 countries, including Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and more surrounding areas.

Security. With market-standard AES-256 data encryption and a reliable kill switch, PureVPN ensures that your data is sufficiently protected and hidden. Additionally, this VPN has a strict no-logs policy with an always-on audit, so you can be certain that your data is anonymous and secure.

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 66% of the original speed.

Features. In addition to the security features, PureVPN also offers split tunneling, obfuscation to bypass strict restrictions like the Great China Firewall, and port forwarding. More so, for an extra cost, you can get the PureKeep password manager.

Compatibility. With one subscription, you get up to 10 simultaneous connections. Additionally, PureVPN has dedicated apps that cover all popular OS, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. So all your devices will be sufficiently protected.

To make sure that PureVPN works in China, users should connect the VPN manually. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll get connected every time, the provider ensures that its service does work in China. Another PureVPN drawback, we don't see in top providers like NordVPN, is a lack of features and connection issues related to the WireGuard tunneling protocol.

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:5700+ servers in 68 countries
Unblocks: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Youtube
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 5700+ servers in 68 countries, including servers in Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and other surrounding locations, you’ll get to enjoy the needed internet freedom.

Security. Ivacy VPN covers all the needed security bases from anonymous browsing in China. This VPN offers AES-256 encryption, 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 50% speed retention. It should be all right for browsing, but torrenting or streaming might be laggy.

Features. There aren’t too many features available either, but the ones you do get truly enhance your security. There’s a split tunneling tool, a Secure Download feature that works as an anti-malware tool, and dedicated IP if you wish to use the same IP address for certain sites.

Compatibility. Ivacy VPN offers dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS users that are all well-developed and provide all security features. Additionally, one subscription will give you 10 simultaneous connections.

Ivacy VPN claims that it does work in China at all times. Yet some users report connectivity issues. What we do know for sure is that Ivacy VPN has slow speeds and a lack of features can be serious drawbacks. Although, if you do wish to purchase it, the best deal comes with a 5-year subscription costing you only $1.00/month. Alternatively, the month-long subscription will be $9.95.

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:1800+ servers in 66 countries
Unblocks: Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, HBO Max, Disney+
Current deal:🔥 Get up to 50% OFF Proton VPN! 🔥

Proton VPN offers security and privacy that will let you feel comfortable in countries where the internet is highly censored, like China. With over 1800 servers in 66 countries, including servers in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and other surrounding locations, you’ll be able to use the internet freely with a Chinese IP address.

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

Speed. With WireGuard tunneling protocol, you can expect pretty stable download speeds while browsing the internet in China. During our tests, Proton VPN managed to retain 69% of the original internet speed

Features. Apart from all the security features, Proton VPN also had NetShield to block malware websites and trackers, the secure core that works like double VPN, split tunneling, Tor over VPN, and alternative routing, amongst others.

Compatibility. Proton VPN offers well-developed and easy-to-use apps for all popular OS, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Additionally, with a premium subscription, you get to enjoy up to 10 simultaneous connections.

If we were to ignore only slightly above-average performance results, a smaller server fleet, and slow customer support response times, then Proton VPN is a great option for China VPN. You can purchase the premium subscription for $4.99/month or pick a very limited free version.

Learn more in our detailed Proton VPN review.

How we tested VPNs for China

We want to take some time to explain how we've chosen the best VPNs to use in China. At first, we crossed out all providers that don't work in China or cannot provide a stable service. Then we evaluated each VPN 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Best China VPNs comparison

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

BrandPerformance in ChinaSecurity featuresLoggingServers/ countriesStreamingAnonymous paymentsAverage speedPriceReview
NordVPNThe most secure and stable VPN for China.AES-256 encryption, RAM-only servers, obfuscation, Double VPN, kill switch, Threat ProtectionNo-logs independently audited by PwC5700+ servers in 60 countriesNetflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and moreAccepts crypto353 MbpsFrom $3.29/month with a 2-year planNordVPN review
SurfsharkOne of the fastest VPNs to use in China. AES-256 encryption, antivirus, RAM-only servers, kill switch, multi-hop, obfuscationNo-logs, independently audited by Deloitte3200+ servers in 3200 countriesNetflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and moreAccepts crypto326 MbpsFrom $2.30/month with a 2-year planSurfshark review
AtlasVPNRobust security features to browse the internet in China safely.AES-256 encryption, kill switch, ad blocker, IP rotator, data breach monitorNo-logs, not audited1000+ servers in 42 countriesNetflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTubeAccepts crypto384 MbpsFrom $1.82
/month with a 2-year plan
Atlas VPN review
ExpressVPNStable 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 PwC3000+ servers in 94 countriesNetflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+Accepts crypto389 MbpsFrom $6.67/month with a 1-year planExpressVPN review
PureVPNExcellent 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 audite6500+ servers in 78 countriesNetflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTubeAccepts crypto342 MbpsFrom $2.08/month with a 2-year planPureVPN review
Ivacy VPNGreat security features for anonymous browsing.AES-256 encryption, leak protection, kill switch, anti-malware tool.No-logs, not audited5700+ servers in 68 countriesNetflix, BBC iPlayer, YoutubeAccepts crypto166 MbpsFrom $1.00/month with a 5-year planIvacy VPN review
Proton VPNAnother option to consider for China due to its feature-richness, security, and reliability. AES-256 encryption, kill switch, NetShieldNo-logs, independently audited by Securitym1800+ servers in 66 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. 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.

Why do I 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. Hackers and other online threats are still real issues for your data security. And a reliable and secure VPN can protect your data and device from any leaks or hacks. Additionally, China is known to monitor internet traffic, so a VPN allows you to browse anonymously and safely without the government or ISP knowing what you’re doing online.
  • 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.

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 and set up VPN software before landing in the country. That way, you'll already have tools to bypass the restrictions.

  1. You'll need a reliable VPN provider. We recommend NordVPN as it has a great track record for bypassing the Great Firewall
  2. Sign up for the service and download the software to your devices.
  3. Once the software is installed, log in to your account.
  4. For a VPN to work, you'll need to connect using obfuscated servers.

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.

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.

bypass-fw

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.

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?

There are already very few premium VPNs that work in China, so finding a secure free VPN is practically impossible. The only free VPN that we’ve tested and can say that can bypass the Great Firewall is Windscribe.

Windscribe is the best free VPN in China as of 2023. This service gives you 10 GB/month to browse, stream, and torrent. So, with Windscribe, you'll be able to watch a three-hour-long movie or browse for more than five hours each day.

In addition, Windscribe’s free subscription offers servers in 10 countries. That includes Hong Kong, so the speeds will be better than when connecting somewhere on the other side of the globe.

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.

If a website is worth a damn, chances are high it will be blocked in China. This includes:

  • Social networks. It comes without saying that such social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Tinder, Reddit, Discord, Snapchat, Viber, and Signal are completely banned.
  • Streaming sites. China also bans most popular streaming sites and services like Netflix, Youtube, Vimeo, Twitch, Dailymotion, Spotify, SoundCloud, Hulu, HBO, and Vevo.
  • Game publishers. China has recently banned Blizzard from distributing its games in China, so in turn, banning Blizzard games as well. 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, and Wikipedia.
  • Search engines. Even search engines aren’t immune to China’s blocks. Without a VPN, you won’t access Google, Yahoo, 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.

China also blocks various messaging apps like Telegram, Messenger, Slack, or WhatsApp, as well as cloud storage and sharing websites like Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive.

Conclusion

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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FAQ

Comments

Zelin
prefix 1 year 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.
Edward
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.
Fowler
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.
cerber
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.
HARSH MAC
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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