5 Best VPNs for China That Still Work in 2019

The Chinese government is famous for its internet censorship program, and they are often very successful at blocking VPN services. We take a look at the VPNs that still work in China so you can bypass the great firewall with ease.

The best VPN for China: Comparison

When choosing a VPN for China, it is important to bear in mind that the Chinese government block most VPNs. Therefore, it is difficult to find a VPN that works in China. The VPNs listed below, all have a strong track record of working in China. They are routinely recommended to us by our on-the-ground contacts who rely on VPNs to access the internet uncensored in China. All the services in our best VPN for China list have some form of server IP masking and VPN obfuscation technology to avoid being blocked by the Great Firewall of China. Take a quick look at our China VPN picks below.

Get 75% off NordVPN and 79% off Cyberghost by clicking the links below. 

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. PrivateVPN
  4. CyberGhost
  5. VPNArea

Critical features an excellent China VPN service should offer:

  • Access to blocked websites
  • Well placed server locations
  • DNS leak protection
  • Fast speeds
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Killswitch
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • No logging policy
  • Mobile app
  • Obfuscation

Top 5 China VPN services

Please check out the more detailed summaries below for more information on why we recommend these 5 VPNs for China.

To find out more about a China VPN service, please check our VPN reviews.

1. ExpressVPN

Our top pick for China is ExpressVPN. What makes ExpressVPN a popular choice for VPN users in China has a lot to do with not only their excellent customer-centric approach but also the reliability of their network and the servers they have deployed specifically to circumvent the Great Firewall. ExpressVPN offers 24/7 customer support via live chat, email, and a ticketing system. They also provide a substantial troubleshooting section that covers virtually any issue you may encounter with the service. Their robust approach to customer care and technical troubleshooting is especially helpful should you run into any issues using the service in China. Furthermore, ExpressVPN boasts a healthy network of servers in 94 locations around the globe, with many servers near China to ensure top-notch speeds and reliability. Technical features include DNS leak protection, a firewall-based kill switch, and military-grade OpenVPN encryption. They also operate a network of “stealth” servers in Hong Kong with the explicit purpose of bypassing the Great Firewall. To top it off, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee, so you can try it completely risk-free!

2. NordVPN

NordVPN has cemented itself as one of the most staunch advocates for the more privacy-conscious VPN users out there. Based in Panama, NordVPN is firmly out of the reach of the NSA and copyright holders. This is especially great news for VPN users in China who intend on torrenting. NordVPN keeps no logs, boasts military-grade AES 256-bit encryption, offers CyberSec protection which automatically blocks suspicious websites, and encrypts your internet traffic not once but twice with their Double VPN technology. Like the others, NordVPN also provides obfuscated servers designed to outwit the Great Firewall. They offer a vast network of 5,146 servers in 62 locations, with 462 servers spread across 12 locations in the Asia Pacific region. Other features and benefits include an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, Onion over VPN, 24/7 customer service, 6 simultaneous connections, and apps for all devices. All of this is backed by a 30-day money back guarantee.

3. PrivateVPN

With outstanding encryption and superb speeds, PrivateVPN is another popular option for VPN users in China. PrivateVPN takes customer care to the next level by offering free remote assistance from their developers for installation and technical troubleshooting. This is certainly useful for anyone running into issues using a VPN in China. Thanks to lightning-fast speeds, PrivateVPN is also an excellent choice for those wishing to access streaming sites like Netflix and BBC while in China. PrivateVPN offers servers in 60 locations, including 9 locations near China. Additional benefits offered are 6 simultaneous connections, unlimited speed and bandwidth, SOCKS5 and HTTP proxy, stealth mode, port forwarding, and a 30-day money back guarantee.

4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost is another VPN provider with a heavy focus on privacy and advocates for a free and uncensored internet. CyberGhost boasts a strict no-logs policy and offers excellent encryption via AES 256-bit technology -- two features critical for VPN users in China. Additionally, they offer over 3,000 servers in more than 60 locations around the world, including a network of wholly-owned “No Spy” servers which provide enhanced security and faster speeds. Currently, CyberGhost offers 10 server locations in Asia, so you can easily access fast and reliable servers to un-censor the internet from within China. On top of providing great security and excellent speeds, CyberGhost is an exceptional VPN for unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime and Hulu from China. CyberGhost also offers DNS and IP leak protection, 7 simultaneous connections, and unlimited bandwidth; all with a generous 45-day money back guarantee to boot.

5. VPNArea

If you need a VPN in China you will probably be looking for a service that provides obfuscation - to get around the great firewall of China. The good news is that VPNArea is a superb service that has obfuscation, a killswitch, and DNS leak protection built into its clients. It also has servers in over 50 countries that are excellent for unblocking a huge amount of content.

Why do I need a VPN for China?

A China VPN service will unblock websites such as Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

China prevents its citizens from accessing many areas of the global internet using a range of technologies. These include simple IP blocks on website addresses, DNS filtering, URL filtering, and packet filtering.

In addition to blocking content it deems undesirable, the GFW also tries to block websites and technologies designed to bypass its filters. This includes VPNs. It does this using IP filters plus a variety of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) techniques.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party clams that wide scale censorship is necessary in order to order to protect its citizens from outside ideas and influences that could undermine Chinese cultural values.

The only way to access censored web content from mainland China (the GFW does not extend to Hong Kong) is to use a VPN in China or other similar proxy technology.

A VPN that works in China will not only help you bypass the great firewall, but it will also help you hide your online activity from Chinese government surveillance and hackers as they fully encrypt all of your online communications.

How to beat China's Great Firewall

A VPN for China can defeat the GFW because the VPN server acts as proxy sitting outside the Firewall. Assuming the VPN server itself is not blocked, then you can access censored internet content via the VPN server.

Great firewall of China

How the Great Fire of China works

As the Chinese government blacklists IP addresses known to belong to VPN companies all the VPNs that work in China offer some combination of “stealth servers” and obfuscation to bypass the IP blocks.

Please see How to Bypass VPN Blocks for more details.

Are VPNs in China illegal?

In January this year, a Chinese man in the Guangdong province was fined 1,000 Yuan(approx. $145) for accessing foreign websites using the Lantern VPN app.

Although widely hailed as a new crackdown on VPN use in China, this is the only known case of an individual getting into trouble simply for using a VPN in China. The municipality of Chongqing city has also announced fines for VPN users, but as far as we know no-one has ever fallen foul of this.

Which is quite amazing when you consider that China boasts the largest number of VPN users in the world! China boasts the largest number of VPN users in the world.  Freedom House estimates that in 2018 between 20 million and 30 million people in China used a VPN to evade the GFW out of a population of 1.5 billion (around half of which uses the internet).

So we’d say the odds against getting to trouble for using a China VPN are pretty good. 

Also widely reported was the sentencing of a Guangdong man to nine months in jail. But again, this is a unique case and the unfortunate individual was selling rather than simply using VPN services.

China VPN Ban

There is no doubt that China is trying to suppress VPN use designed to evade its censorship measures.

What has made a much bigger impact is China’s demand that Apple removes VPN apps from the China App Store. Disappointingly, Apple agreed. Google, of course, has long been banned in China. And this includes access to VPN apps in the Google Play Store.

Visitors to China can make their lives much easier by downloading and installing VPN apps before they set foot on the mainland. After that, iPhone users are likely to find themselves stuck.

Android users will fare better. They can obtain VPN apps with relative ease. If you read Chinese, then you can get them from one of China’s many “unofficial” Android app stores. Alternatively, many VPN services are happy to email customers in China direct links to their VPN apps. Just ask.

If you plan on using a VPN in China on your mobile, then take a look at our iPhone VPN and Android VPN guides for more information. 

Can I get a free VPN for China?

While there is little harm in trying one of the services listed on our Best Free VPNs, no free commercial VPN service that we know of offers the obfuscation tech necessary to work in China.

Remember, by the time you get there it may be too late sign-up for a premium service. The best advice is to buy before you fly. In a pinch, though, the Lantern VPN app may work.

What can I unblock with a China VPN?

Facebook, all Google services, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp are all blocked in China.

WebsiteWhen was it BlockedBlock status
Google services2014All services are blocked
DuckDuckGO2014Blocked
Youtube2009Only Available in cities Haikou and Sanya
Facebook2009Only Available in cities Haikou and Sanya
Twitter2009Only Available in cities Haikou and Sanya
Instagram2014Blocked
Pinterest2017Blocked
Tumblr2016Blocked
Flickr2014Blocked
Whatsapp2017Blocked
Pornhub2012Blocked
Xvideos2011Blocked
Xhamster2011Blocked
BBC2014Blocked
HBO2019Blocked
Line2013Blocked
BestVPN2017Blocked

If you want to unblock streaming services when in China, take a look at the guides below:

FAQs

Below, we’ve listed a few frequently asked questions regarding VPN usage in China that we’ve curated using questions from Reddit.

Written by: Douglas Crawford

Has worked for almost six years as senior staff writer and resident tech and VPN industry expert at ProPrivacy.com. Widely quoted on issues relating cybersecurity and digital privacy in the UK national press (The Independent & Daily Mail Online) and international technology publications such as Ars Technica.

93 Comments

  1. Louis Coleman

    on July 27, 2018
    Reply

    I went to china months ago and I used VPN free application to still access my SNS accounts while in there. It's quiet cool how it works and I did enjoy accessing my accounts using it. Anyway, thank you for this informative article, I learned what are the best VPN apps to use aside from what I'm using.

  2. Al

    on April 26, 2018
    Reply

    I live in China and been here for a while and now and have tried just about every vpn to see which one works. First you have to understand with VPNs in China they are very location and ISP specific. You need to try out which one works for your work or home. I actually use two one for work and one for home. Different ISPs so different results, even though my home and my work are only a few Km apart. Take advantage of the trial periods. Make sure they work and get good speeds where you need them. Even then you may have difficulties a few months later. China is always adapting against VPNs, so what may work now might not work later. I know it sucks. Different areas in China will have drastically different results. Even building by building. China's internet infrastructure is very chaotic. When I first got here I found a fantastic VPN worked wonderfully but I don't use it now, because China blocked it and after I couldn't get the same speeds and connection stability I had before. The one I would recommend is ExpressVPN. In my experience, and out of all the expats I know, around 80% use it. I work with a few hundred expats, and that is the go to VPN for most. It is very reliable and stable. Also it is a larger company so they have the resources to adapt quickly to China's ever changing Firewall. The smaller VPN companies usually have difficulties in that area. You have Vypr ranked best in China, I would rank it one of the worst for China. I had it for a year no matter where I was at or what city it wouldn't connect or if it did was very slow. Almost all expats download tv/movies from their home country and Vypr will suspend your account if caught. Right there is huge con against Vypr in China. Some tips if you are going to China and will be there a while get a VPN before you go, just a monthly sub. Just a monthly sub because if doesn't give you speed or stability you need you can cancel and not be locked into a year. When you get there use that VPN to download other VPNs, only ones with a trial, preferably at least 7 days. Try them all out so which one works the best and go with that one. Remember to uninstall ones you tried, they may interfere with each other. I wouldn't pay for more than a year. Because if it gets blocked or slows down you aren't stuck for two or more years of a useless VPN.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Al

      on April 27, 2018
      Reply

      Hi Al, Thanks for that great post, which, I think, confirms much of what I have said in this article. You make a good point about VyprVPN's policy on copyright infringement, although it is my understanding that it works well in China.

  3. qx

    on March 29, 2018
    Reply

    I have used Vypr for a month. Actually, the connection speed is fine(I'm not in Beijing, fortunately). However, just like some users mentioned above, it might have some issues with privacy, etc. It seems kind of creepy that I have used it for a month, logging onto all kinds of accounts. Besides, it does not allow users to change their subscription plan once they paid. That means that after a user paid for a month, he/she can't switch to a yearly plan afterwards. That's ridiculous...The customer support is 24/7, but often they don't help much. I'm using freevpn.pw on my Mac now, which is free and stable. However, I'm not sure whether it is safe. Does anyone mind sharing some info about this software? I'm not sure now which VPN I should use. I have tried ExpressVpn, however, it is sometimes not very stable. I guess it is because it's so famous that it gets the attention of GFW...

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to qx

      on March 29, 2018
      Reply

      Hi qx. - Can you please explain what you mean by "it might have some issues with privacy." - When your 1 month subscription is fished, what is stopping you from simply taking out a new 1 year sub?

  4. A.S

    on March 9, 2018
    Reply

    Just came back from China last week. Tried Vyrl, Express, and Nord and none of them worked in Beijing. But as soon as you got out of Beijing, they started to work.

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to A.S

      on March 12, 2018
      Reply

      Hi A.S Thanks for that insight - we value on-the-ground reports.

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