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Best VPNs for China that work in 2021

Best VPNs for China

VPNs are a must-have in China, no matter if you’re a local or a traveler. First and foremost, a VPN will help you bypass the Great Firewall and access the internet freely. Additionally, it will protect you from government surveillance, effectively hiding your IP address.

However, not all VPNs work in China. That’s why we’ve tested dozens of different providers and came up with this Top 5 list. Below you will find the best VPNs for China that work in 2021.

Best VPNs for China – our Top 5 list

  1. NordVPN – the best VPN for China in 2021
  2. Surfshark – the cheapest great China VPN
  3. VyprVPN – exceptional security without sacrificing performance
  4. Windscribe – unlimited simultaneous connections
  5. Hide.me VPN – a unique set of tunneling protocols

VPNs for China – our detailed list

Not many VPNs work in China, but that didn’t make creating this list any easier. The top players are excellent and the difference between first and second place is almost a photo-finish. Let’s look at each service in more detail to learn about the features, pros, and cons.

1. NordVPN – the best VPN for China

Based in:Panama
Logging:Independently-audited no-logs policy
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Fire TV
Netflix:Yes

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. NordVPN uses military-grade encryption, the fast and secure NordLynx protocol (an in-house version of WireGuard), has zero leaks, and allows anonymous payments with multiple cryptocurrencies. In fact, it’s our best VPN overall in 2021.

Users in China will benefit from extra protection thanks to multi-hop (Double VPN), Tor over VPN (Onion over VPN), Stealth protocol (Obfuscated servers), and two types of kill switch. These will shut down your internet connection in case of VPN failure to avoid leaking your personal information.

The internet speed in China is far from the best. Moreover, Chinese ISPs tend to throttle your bandwidth. Yet with NordVPN, you’ll be able to achieve great performance. Its NordLynx tunneling protocol seemingly works faster than WireGuard. They have also updated their OpenVPN to version 2.4.10. which is relevant if you will be using their stealth servers.

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. And since it unblocks multiple streaming platforms, Netflix included, you’ll be able to continue watching your favorite shows and avoid spoilers back home. There’s also a SOCKS5 proxy for your torrenting efforts.

NordVPN comes with six slots for simultaneous connections, which should be more than enough for one person. And if you still want more, configure it on your router. In case you have trouble with that, you can always get quality support by contacting the 24/7 live chat.

Visit NordVPN to learn more about its features

Pros

  • Excellent security and privacy
  • Top speeds
  • Command autocomplete in the Linux app
  • Anonymous payments
  • Netflix and other streaming sites
  • Torrenting allowed (SOCKS5 proxy)
  • 24/7 live chat

Cons

  • No serious flaws

2. Surfshark – the cheapest great China VPN

Based in:British Virgin Islands
Logging:No-logs policy
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Fire TV
Netflix:Yes

What separates Surfshark from the rest of our VPNs for China are unlimited simultaneous connections and big discounts. This means that you can easily share one account with your family and friends while paying only a fraction of the already low prices. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you find this service unsuitable.

Surfshark has great security and privacy. You can tell that by looking at the following features: WireGuard, a kill switch, no-logs, and zero leaks. Additionally, you can turn on the malware blocker (CleanWeb), stealth VPN (Camouflage Mode), multi-hop, and split tunneling (Whitelister).

This VPN for China also offers great performance that’s only limited by your internet connection and hardware. To get the best results, use the WireGuard tunneling protocol and connect to a location that’s close to China. Surfshark has 3,200+ servers in 65+ countries, including Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan.

Surfshark supports major platforms plus Amazon Fire devices, Android TV, routers, and NAS. This means you’ll be able to unblock Netflix and watch all the content on your big screen. P2P is also available, and you can choose to protect only this traffic with the split tunneling feature.

This service has no serious flaws and is a great alternative for NordVPN. If all that wasn’t enough, expect fast and polite customer support via their 24/7 live chat.

Check the Surfshark website for more info

Pros

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Low prices
  • Great performance
  • Unblocks streaming sites
  • Allows P2P and has split tunneling
  • 24/7 live chat

Cons

  • No serious flaws

3. VyprVPN – exceptional security without sacrificing speed

Based in:Switzerland
Logging:Independently-audited no-logs policy
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, more
Netflix:Yes

VyprVPN is a great choice for China, especially if you need support for less popular platforms, such as Apple TV, QNAP, or OpenELEC/Kodi. You’ll get 5 simultaneous connections, which you can increase by installing the router app. Unfortunately, there are no VyprVPN browser extensions at the moment.

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. Moreover, you can benefit from malware blocking and split tunneling if you’re using Mac or Android. Sadly, VyprVPN doesn’t have multi-hop, Tor over VPN, or SOCKS5 proxy.

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. Besides, there are servers in plenty of locations around China to choose from. That includes Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, and Taiwan, among others.

When it comes to content platforms, VyprVPN unblocks multiple Netflix libraries and other streaming services. The quality of your video stream will depend on the internet connection and the distance to the server, but watching in UHD is something we could do quite easily with VyprVPN. Torrenting is available, although some users will miss a SOCKS5 proxy or split tunneling.

VyprVPN prices are good, especially if you take the two-year plan. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee that allows you to test the service risk-free. Unfortunately, anonymous payments are unavailable.

More info available on the VyprVPN website

Pros

  • Supports many platforms
  • Independently-audited no-logs policy
  • Very fast
  • Natively supports new Apple M1 chips
  • Unblocks multiple streaming services
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • No anonymous payments
  • No browser extensions

4. Windscribe – unlimited simultaneous connections

Based in:Canada
Logging:No-logs policy
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Fire TV, more
Netflix:Yes

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. So if these are important for you, we can recommend Windscribe for these and other benefits.

Starting from security and privacy, you get military-grade 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. Additional features include multi-hop (Double VPN), SOCKS5 proxy, and Stealth VPN.

Thanks to the WireGuard tunneling protocol, this provider gives you great speeds. Windscribe has servers in 60+ countries. You’ll able to select from more than a few around China for even better performance. We’re talking about Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Windscribe unblocks Netflix in multiple locations. However, the same cannot be said about other streaming platforms. At least you’ll be able to torrent to your heart’s content and optionally use the SOCKS5 proxy for that.

The main reason why Windscribe is not higher on this list is the lack of a 24/7 live chat. Getting support fast is crucial in China, where you may encounter more issues than almost anywhere else. Additionally, the money-back guarantee is for 3 days only, so make sure you test this VPN thoroughly before getting to the other side of the Great Firewall.

Learn more about Windscribe on their website

Pros

  • Unlimited devices
  • No-logs policy
  • Servers in 60+ countries
  • Supports P2P and streaming
  • Fast speeds

Cons

  • Live chat is not 24/7
  • Short money-back period

5. Hide.me VPN – a unique set of protocols

Hide.me vpn
Based in:Malaysia
Logging:Zero activity logs
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chromebook, more
Netflix:Yes

Hide.me VPN is well prepared for usage in China. It has zero activity logs, a unique set of tunneling protocols, and great customer support. Besides, Hide.me VPN unblocks multiple streaming platforms.

While this provider is rarely found in various “best of” lists, that’s not the case when we start talking about bypassing the Great Firewall of China. Hide.me VPN offers security and privacy that will let you feel comfortable in countries where the internet is highly censored.

To start with, 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.

When it comes to tunneling protocols, you can choose WireGuard for 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. Recently they have also added VPN Bolt protocol, which is based on TCP and should provide better speeds for users in restricted regions. There are lots of other useful features like multi-hop, split tunneling, and a SOCKS5 proxy.

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 ten (!) simultaneous connections – enough for your whole family.

You wouldn’t find this service on the list if it couldn’t unblock Netflix. As a matter of fact, Hide.me VPN gives you YouTube, BBC iPlayer, and even DAZN, among others. P2P is also allowed, and your traffic won’t be throttled.

Last but not last, Hide.me VPN comes with a 24/7 live chat. It’s only weaknesses are some issues with the kill switch and pretty steep prices.

Visit the Hide.me website to learn more

Pros

  • Zero activity logs
  • Anonymous payments
  • Supports torrenting
  • Unblocks multiple streaming platforms
  • 24/7 live chat support

Cons

  • Issues with kill switch
  • Quite expensive

How we selected and tested these China VPNs

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 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.

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 can I bypass the Great Firewall of China?

While VPNs are the best method for bypassing the Great Firewall of China, it also can be done with proxies. Any service you use should run from outside the country and preferably support an HTTPS encrypted tunnel.

There are many paid proxies to choose from, but their reputation is usually not enough to know that your private information is safe. Also, a VPN will usually be faster and provide a more stable connection. Proxies will often have more issues with streaming and torrenting as well.

Another method for bypassing the Great Firewall of China is Tor. It uses a network of thousands of relays worldwide, effectively hiding your IP address and your traffic. Unfortunately, it has its own vulnerabilities and should ideally be used with a VPN when possible. Finally, Tor won’t help you with streaming, torrenting, or gaming because, essentially, it’s made for browsing.

Proxies and Tor are not the only alternatives to VPN. However, other options, such as I2P or encrypted DNS, are either highly technical or too limited to be included in this article.

What to know before using a VPN for China

The first thing to remember is to get a VPN for China while you’re still outside. That’s because 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 as a user, you want to avoid all this additional trouble.

You should also 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.

Moreover, the chances are that your smartphone might not work in China. This has less to do with censorship and more with the different frequencies used. In any case, make sure that your model will work to avoid buying some local brand. Additionally, you may want to purchase a Chinese SIM card – otherwise, you’ll be paying for roaming.

Finally, 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. Therefore, make sure you choose a reliable China VPN that will give you uninterrupted access to resources behind the Great Firewall.

How to choose the best VPN for China?

Choosing the best VPN app for China is not an easy thing, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. That’s why we came up with the list of most important features that your VPN should have to make the choosing easier.

  • Stability. Quite a few providers claim to work in China, but how many do most of the time? Having a sporadic connection that’s already slow can make the experience unbearable.
  • Reputation. Most VPNs advertise their excellent security and privacy, but do they have anything to back that up? Looking at past scandals might give you an idea of whether it’s worth bringing this service to China.
  • Security and privacy. A VPN with an audited or court-proven no-logs policy is preferred. Secondly, a kill switch and no leaks are a must. Finally, look for some extra features, such as anonymous payments, Tor over VPN, or multi-hop to further enhance your protection. Most importantly, look for a “stealth protocol,” “stealth mode,” or “obfuscated servers” – this is crucial for a VPN in China.
  • Speed. A fast tunneling protocol like WireGuard is highly recommended to maximize speed. Additionally, look for more servers and locations covered.
  • Streaming and torrenting. These are probably the most popular reason why people get a VPN. It’s not different in China as there’s no local Netflix or YouTube at all. Make sure that your VPN covers your desired streaming platforms and has enough juice for downloading at the required rate.
  • Customer support. You should find at least a few VPNs that have a 24/7 live chat.
  • Price. This one is tricky. Are you getting a VPN just for a few months? Or are you planning to stay in China for more than a year? In the latter case, prices are pretty similar, but long-term plans offer a wide discount range.

Which free VPN works in China?

The question in the heading above is intentionally singular. There aren’t many great premium VPNs that work in China, so the number of free options is even more limited. At the moment, your best bet is Windscribe.

Windscribe is the best free VPN in China as of 2021. It’s a reputable provider without any scandals or data leaks. That’s why we also have it on our best free VPNs list.

This service gives you 10 GB/month to browse, stream, and torrent. While this limit may seem strict, consider that most free VPNs have a bandwidth limit, and those that don’t won’t work with Netflix, P2P, or both. With Windscribe, you’ll be able to watch a three-hour-long movie or browse for more than five hours each day.

Unlike the other free VPNs that give you just a few locations, Windscribe offers 10 countries. That includes Hong Kong, so the speeds will be better than when connecting somewhere on the other side of the globe. Of course, for streaming, you will still probably choose the US, the UK, or the Netherlands.

When it comes to security and privacy, Windscribe has military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and malware protection. It’s also a no-logs provider with a tracking blocker and anonymous payments if you decide to go premium. Lastly, Windscribe has not one but two “stealth protocols” in STunnel and Wstunnel.

Unfortunately, like most free providers, Windscribe doesn’t have a live chat. Your only options are submitting a ticket, talking to a chatbot, or browsing the knowledge base. Despite that, there’s no better free VPN that works in China.

Is it illegal to use a VPN 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.

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.

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.

Why does China block most VPNs?

China is an authoritarian regime that likes to spy on its citizens and visitors alike. Limiting the available 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 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.


More VPN guides from CyberNews:

Best Roobet VPNs: Play Roobet from anywhere with a VPN

Surfshark review: is it safe & secure to use?

Best VPNs for Kodi: lighting-fast streaming speeds


FAQ

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.

How do I bypass the Great Firewall?

You can bypass the Great Firewall of China by using a VPN, proxy, or Tor. We recommend using a VPN because it gives you full protection and, contrary to proxies, doesn’t require manual configuration for each browser or service.

Is Netflix blocked in China?

Netflix is unavailable in China. And just like in any other country, you aren’t allowed to connect to another library from abroad. Luckily, this can be avoided with a proper China VPN from the list above. Whats’ more, some of them will unblock other content platforms as well, such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer, or Hulu.

Is watching YouTube in China illegal?

YouTube is blocked in China, just like many other popular sites and platforms. Your only option is to climb over the Great Firewall and get full access. We’d say that a VPN is the best option to do the job in terms of security, performance, and multiple countries to choose from.

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.

Is WhatsApp banned in China?

Yes, it is. Most communication apps and social media are unavailable in China. To use WhatsApp, you will need to get a VPN and connect to a server outside the country. Also, make sure your provider has strong security and privacy credentials to avoid your personal data leakage to the government.

Can you use a VPN in China?

Yes, you can and should use a VPN in China. Even if you don’t need Google, Netflix, WhatsApp, and other popular services, you should do that for the sake of your privacy. All ISPs are state-owned and start logging your traffic the moment you go online. This is especially important if you’re doing business in China and have confidential information.

Are there any free VPNs that work in China?

Yes, there are a few. However, they’re typically much less secure, offer worse performance, and are not as stable.

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.

Which VPN server should I choose in China?

Generally speaking, you should choose the closest 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.

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Comments 11
  1. she is. says:

    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

  2. There's Suard says:

    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 says:

      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.

  3. Fowler says:

    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 says:

      Dear Fowler,
      Both ExpressVPN and NordVPN are great for China. However, I haven’t included the former because of its high price.

  4. cerber says:

    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 says:

      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.

  5. HARSH MAC says:

    What’s best MAC vpn for china internet surfing? I have macOS so need compatible service. Thank you.

    • Mindaugas Jancis says:

      Hi, HARSH MAC. I’d say it’s NordVPN. It has a macOS app that’s as good as the Windows version.

  6. Jame sat says:

    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 says:

      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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