China is one of the most strict countries regarding internet censorship and the privacy citizens have online. That is why a VPN is a must, to protect your anonymity online and to access sites and platforms that are blocked behind the Great Firewall, like YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook among others.
However, not all VPNs can pass China’s Great Firewall. Testing VPNs for China is also a great challenge because the Chinese government closely monitors and improves their detection systems. However, we did manage to collect a list of the best VPNs that work in China and ensure internet freedom for the users.
In this article, we present you with the best VPNs for China in 2023. All of the VPN recommendations on our list offer excellent data protection, speedy connections for lag-free browsing, and additional features to ensure your internet freedom.
Top 5 best VPNs for China
- NordVPN – the best VPN for China in 2023
- Surfshark – the cheapest VPN to use in China
- VyprVPN – reliable China VPN with great performance
- ExpressVPN – secure VPN for internet users in China
- Windscribe – VPN with unlimited connections
What to know before using a VPN for 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.
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 internet in China
|Servers/countries:||5500+ servers in 60 countries|
|Unblocks:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more|
|Current deal:||🔥 Get NordVPN with 63% OFF 🔥|
If you haven't used a VPN in China before, we strongly recommend NordVPN. This service provides excellent security and privacy plus the best speeds. In fact, it's our best VPN overall in 2023.
Servers. NordVPN offers a vast list of 5500+ servers in 60 countries, out of which 70+ servers are in Hong Kong and surrounding countries like Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan
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 the ISPs tend to throttle your bandwidth. With the proprietary NordLynx, you’ll achieve excellent speed performance. 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. This provider supports all popular devices, including Android TV and Amazon Fire Stick & TV. You can also manually configure it on different routers or NAS.
NordVPN’s price starts at $3.49/month and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read more in our NordVPN review.
- Works great in China
- Excellent security and privacy
- Blazing-fast connection speeds
- Anonymous payments methods
- Unblocks all popular streaming services
- Torrenting allowed (SOCKS5 proxy)
- 24/7 live chat
- No free version
2. Surfshark – excellent budget-friendly VPN to bypass China internet restrictions
|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 that work great with keeping you anonymous and secure while connecting to the internet in China. This VPN ensures quick connection speeds and complete data protection from ISP and other online threats.
Servers. Surfshark has 3200+ servers in 100 countries, including 4 Macau SAR China virtual location servers and servers in Hong Kong.
Security. Surfshark has great security and privacy including AES-256 encryption, a 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.
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.
This service has no serious flaws and can be purchased for as little as $2.30/month with unlimited simultaneous connections. You can also test Surfshark with its risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
For more information, head over to our Surfshark review.
- Works great in China
- Great security features
- Excellent connection speeds
- Unlimited device support
- Unblocks popular streaming sites
- Allows P2P and has split tunneling
- 24/7 live chat
- No independent no-logs policy audit
3. VyprVPN – VPN for China with strong security features
|Servers/countries:||700+ servers in 64 countries|
|Unblocks:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, YouTube|
|Current deal:||🔥 Get VyprVPN, now 50% OFF the 1-year plan! 🔥|
VyprVPN is a great choice for China, especially if you need support for less popular platforms, such as Apple TV, QNAP, or OpenELEC/Kodi.
Servers. With a solid server fleet of 700+ servers in 64 countries, VyprVPN also offers servers in Macau and Hong Kong, and others in countries around China.
Security. The security and privacy of this provider are almost unparalleled. It has an independently-audited no-logs policy, the proprietary Chameleon protocol for avoiding Deep Packet Inspection, and solid leak protection. It now uses Smart IP technology that rotates your IP address without dropping the connection.
Speed. VyprVPN is a fast service, thanks to the next-gen WireGuard protocol. While it doesn't have thousands of servers, all of them belong to the company, which adds to the quality and performance.
Features. With VyprVPN you can benefit from malware blocking and split tunneling if you’re using macOS or Android. Torrenting is also available, however, there’s no SOCKS5 proxy. When it comes to streaming, VyprVPN unblocks multiple Netflix libraries and some other streaming services.
Compatibility. VyprVPN works with popular OS, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices. Unfortunately, there are no VyprVPN browser extensions at the moment.
VyprVPN costs $5.00/month with a 30-day money-back guarantee. With one subscription you can cover up to 30 devices at once. Unfortunately, anonymous payments are unavailable.
Check out our VyprVPN review for more information.
- Works in China
- Independently-audited no-logs policy
- Great security features
- Reliable speeds for lag-free browsing
- Unblocks multiple streaming services
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- No anonymous payments
- No browser extensions
4. ExpressVPN – versatile VPN for secure browsing in China
|Based in:||British Virgin Islands|
|Servers/countries:||3000+ servers in 94 countries|
|Unblocks:||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more|
|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, so you can fully ensure your anonymity online.
Servers. ExpressVPN has an extensive fleet of servers. That’s more than 3000 servers in 94 countries, including the servers in two Hong Kong locations.
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 better hide your VPN connection.
Speed. ExpressVPN has its own proprietary Lightway protocol which ensures speedy connections and a seamless lag-free browsing experience. 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.
You can purchase your ExpressVPN subscription for $6.67/month and cover up to 5 devices at once. In addition, there’s a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check out more in our ExpressVPN review.
- Works in China
- Strong security features
- Audited no-logs
- Great connection speeds
- Accepts anonymous payments
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Feature-light VPN provider
5. Windscribe – unlimited simultaneous connections
|Servers/countries:||480+ servers in 63 countries|
|Unblocks:||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube|
|Current deal:||🔥 Get 55% OFF with a 1-year plan! 🔥|
Windscribe is one of the two VPNs for China to offer unlimited devices per account. What's more, it has apps for Nvidia Shield and Kodi – something that's often unsupported or needs to be configured manually.
Servers. Windscribe has servers in 60+ countries. You'll able to select servers in two Hong Kong locations and more than a few around China for even better performance. We're talking about Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Security. Windscribe offers AES-256 encryption, leak protection, and a malware blocker. Even though Windscribe is registered in Canada, a Five Eyes country, this shouldn't concern you too much because of the no-logs policy.
Speed. With WireGuard tunneling protocol you’ll get solid connection speeds. While not the fastest on the market, they are still enough for an enjoyable browsing experience.
Features. Additional features that Windscribe includes are multi-hop (Double VPN), SOCKS5 proxy, and Stealth VPN. This VPN also unblocks Netflix in multiple locations. However, the same cannot be said about other streaming platforms.
Compatibility. You can use this VPN with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices. In addition, there are browser extensions for your ease of use.
Windscribe costs $5.75/month and there’s a limited free version. Unfortunately, the money-back guarantee lasts only for 3 days.
Learn more in our Windscribe review.
- Works in China
- Good security credentials
- No-logs policy
- Supports P2P and streaming
- Unlimited devices
- Free version
- Live chat is not 24/7
- Short money-back period
6. Hide.me VPN – a unique set of protocols
|Servers/countries:||2000+ servers in 46 countries|
|Unblocks:||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Youtube, and more|
|Current deal:||🔥 Get Hide Me VPN 75% OFF + 3 months FREE! 🔥|
Hide.me VPN software offers security and privacy that will let you feel comfortable in countries where the internet is highly censored, like China.
Servers. Hide.me has a vast list of 2000+ servers in 46 countries, including servers in Hong Kong and other surrounding places around China.
Security. This service is registered in Malaysia, a privacy-friendly country. You can also pay anonymously with Bitcoin, further reducing the chance of linking your bandwidth with you. What's more, Hide.me VPN has strong leak protection, keeping your personal data safe and anonymous.
Speed. When it comes to tunneling protocols, you can choose WireGuard for the best speeds or SoftEther (SSL over HTTPS) for avoiding Deep Packet Inspection (often used to block VPN traffic). Windows users can also try SSTP, which is great against firewalls too.
Features. There are lots of useful features like multi-hop, split tunneling, and a SOCKS5 proxy. You wouldn't find this service on the list if it couldn't unblock Netflix and a few other streaming sites like YouTube, BBC iPlayer, and more. P2P is also allowed, and your traffic won't be throttled.
Compatibility. Hide.me VPN is one of the few providers that offer an app for Chromebook. It also works with all major operating systems, Amazon Fire devices, and routers. One account gives you 10 simultaneous connections – enough for your whole family.
You can purchase your Hide.me VPN subscription for $2.43/month and test this provider out with the 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check out our in-depth Hide.me VPN review.
- Works in China
- Zero activity logs
- Anonymous payments
- Supports torrenting
- Unblocks multiple streaming platforms
- 24/7 live chat support
- Issues with kill switch
- Quite expensive
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. Using an unreliable VPN in China can cause you lots of trouble, especially because you may think you're protected when, in fact, you're not. Features such as secure tunneling protocols, a strong kill switch, and leak protection are a must.
- Privacy. Use only a true no-logs VPN. What's more, those with anonymous payment options or even anonymous registration have a huge advantage over the rest. 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.
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.
- You'll need a reliable VPN provider. We recommend NordVPN as it has a great track record for bypassing the Great Firewall
- Sign up for the service and download the software to your devices.
- Once the software is installed, log in to your account.
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.
Are VPNs legal in China?
VPN's in China are legal but severely restricted. Back in 2018, the Chinese government decided to ban all VPNs that aren't approved by the government. Soon the VPNs disappeared from the local App Stores, and the ISPs started controlling them more tightly.
However, these measures are targeted mostly at locals, so travelers can still download and use some VPN apps. Interestingly, those VPNs that have been working in China continued doing so even after 2018. In a way, this would mean that the Chinese government has given some extra space for those providers to operate inside the country. On the other hand, you still have to find the right tool and downloading the app is not so simple.
If you're a local, using a VPN will be much riskier, especially if you reside in provinces like Xinjiang, where the population is more strictly controlled by China's regime. If caught, citizens can face serious consequences.
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.
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.
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 featur
- 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.
VPNs that don't work in China
There are plenty of VPNs that don't work in China. In fact, it would be easier to list the ones that do work. Nevertheless, below you'll find services that cannot bypass the Great Firewall of China at the moment of writing, though this may change.
- Avast Secureline VPN
- McAfee Safe Connect
- Perfect Privacy
- Private Tunnel
- VPN Unlimited
As you can see, even some reputable VPNs ended up on this list. This by no way means that they are bad outside of China. In fact, some of them are among the best VPNs overall.
Popular websites that are blocked in China
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.
- 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.
More VPN guides from CyberNews:
Which VPN works in China now?
Every VPN listed above works in China as of now. Even though there are some others as well, we recommend choosing from this Top 5 to have a stable connection.
Which VPN server locations should I choose in China?
Generally speaking, you should choose the closest server location for a lower ping and faster connection. Most of our best VPNs for China offer at least some of the following locations: Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, or Singapore. Of course, if you want to unblock Netflix US or watch the UK version of YouTube, you’ll have to connect to those countries.
Why are VPNs in China slow?
All VPNs reduce speed due to encryption and other security features, plus, the quality of internet performance in China can be inconsistent. Also, to increase speed you may want to turn off multi-hop, Tor over VPN, and other hardcore security features.
Does Great Firewall work in other countries?
No, it works in mainland China only. That means you should be able to access the internet freely in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macau.
What is the punishment for using a VPN in China?
If you’re a foreigner, you shouldn’t worry too much. As of now, no visitor was sentenced for using a VPN in China. However, the situation is completely different for citizens. The punishment can range from a fine to prison time.
How to bypass the Great Firewall of China without a VPN?
First alternative that you can use is proxies, but they aren’t as safe or speedy as a VPN. Another option is . Unfortunately, it has its own vulnerabilities and should ideally be used with a VPN when possible. However, Tor won't help you with streaming, torrenting, or gaming because, essentially, it's made for browsing.