Unblock Youku outside of China with a VPN

If you are looking to unblock Youku Toudu outside mainland China, then you're probably aware that this can be trickier to access than other geo-blocked sites. If you want to catch blockbuster films, TV boxsets, and plenty of user-uploaded content for free, you can use a VPN to access it.

With a virtual private network (VPN) you can unblock Youku wherever you are. Of course, China is not the most VPN-friendly country, to put it lightly, and plenty of servers have trouble cracking The Great Firewall. But don't worry, we will walk you through which VPN services are best for the job so you don't miss out.

What are the best VPNs for Youku

If you are in a rush, here is a quick list of our best VPNs for unblocking Youku. Keep scrolling if you want to know more, or head over to our VPN reviews for more information.

  1. CyberGhost VPN - A solid all-rounder with hard-hitting privacy measures for all of your devices
  2. HMA - The provider packs loads of browser tools to keep your Youku experience straightforward and secure
  3. Ivacy - Ivacy unblocks a wide selection of streaming sites as well as Youku and has several Chinese servers.
  4. Hotspot Shield - is a free and premium service, this makes Hotspot Sheild a flexible option for millions of users
  5. VPNArea - Snappy speeds and a variety of plans let you tailor your VPN package around what you need it for most

Best Youku VPNs - In-depth analysis

Whilst it can be tricky to connect to geo-blocked sites in China, our top 5 picks all pack powerful encryption and privacy features, top speeds for streaming and accessible customer service whenever you require it. 

CyberGhost’s Shenzhen-based servers let you stream Youku without any pesky buffering

  • Pricing

    From  $2.75 - $12.99
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Thanks to some heavy investment in its bare-metal single occupancy servers, CyberGhost is able to boast unlimited bandwidth with no caps. More impressively, all of its 6,000 servers across 90 countries are owned by CyberGhost itself. Youku users will enjoy the 48 servers located in Shenzhen, particularly as they’ve been optimized for P2P sharing, too.


The family can stay secure with 7 simultaneous connections, and CyberGhost has a range of dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, games consoles and routers. In addition to a no logs policy, CyberGhost has also begun publishing its Transparency Report every three months. You’ll also be able to rely on solid 256-bit AES Encryption, DNS and IP Leak Protection, and a range of protocols to choose from; OpenVPN, L2TP-IPsec and PPTP included.


If you’re still hungry for more content in addition to Youku, CyberGhost allows you to access Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. More than 36 million users enjoy CyberGhost, and you can become a trial “ghostie” too, with a 45-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 customer support.

New upgraded servers reiterate HMA’s position as the streamers’ favorite. HMA has several servers in China making it great for unblocking Youku.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.99 - $6.99
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

Plenty of VPN users have chosen HMA specifically for its streaming capability - the provider boasts top-notch unlimited speeds with servers that operate at 20 Gbps. What’s more, HMA has more than 1,000 servers in 190+ countries, with two Beijing servers that are ideal for accessing Youku.


HMA makes use of the industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption, as well as PPTP, L2TP/IPsec/ and OpenVPN protocols. All HMA servers have been strengthened against DDoS attacks in HMA’s recent v5 upgrade - and more importantly, the service is now completely log-free.


Connect up to 5 simultaneous devices with HMA, and enjoy compatibility with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux and routers. Chrome and Firefox users can also make use of browser extensions that’ll keep you secure wherever you’re watching Youku.


With HMA, you’ll be able to unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video and a whole host of sports streaming services. A kill switch keeps you secure in the event of a dropped VPN connection, and HMA comes with split tunneling features and P2P support.


You can check HMA’s improved service out for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and a 24/7 support team is available via live chat whenever you need a helping hand.

Ivacy offers solid encryption and has plenty of Chinese servers and award-winning speeds, making Ivacy a great VPN for Youku.

  • Pricing

    From  $1.50 - $7.50
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Ivacy’s 1,000+ servers in more than 100 locations all boast unlimited bandwidth, and you’ll be able to wave goodbye to ISP throttling, too. The provider took home the award for Speeds at the 2019 ProPrivacy.com Awards, and you can enjoy a snappy connection on its 6 dedicated China servers.


Tough 256-Bit encryption keeps users secure online, with DDoS protection and secure DNS to boot. Ivacy allows you to select from TCP, UDP, L2TP, and IKEV protocols, has IPv6 leak protection and a feature that allows you to whitelist IP addresses if you need to. In addition, Ivacy is a proud no-logs server based in Singapore.


You’ll be able to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously with Ivacy, and the whole family can enjoy the extra security with apps compatible with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. If you’d rather use a browser extension, it has you covered - one is available for Firefox and Chrome.


Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu and more are all accessible with HMA, and you can make use of a kill switch, split tunneling and smart connect feature, too.


Help is only a click away, 24/7, via email, live chat or a support ticket, and HMA offers a 7-day free trial in addition to its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Hotspot Shield is one of the quickest providers on the block - fantastic for streaming Youku in HD!

  • Pricing

    From  $3.88 - $16.84
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

Hotspot Shields’ servers, in more than 80 countries, all pack unlimited speeds, letting you stream, download and browse without any dreaded buffering circles.


Military-grade 128-bit AES data encryption keeps all your data secure, and you won’t have to worry about HSS holding onto any of it, either, as the provider does not keep activity logs. HSS offers its Hydra protocol in addition to IPv6 and leak protection, and a step-by-step guide detailing how to utilize its Chinese server to stream from Youku.


Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices are all supported by HSS, as well as Smart TVs and routers. Premium users can connect up to 5 devices at any one time, too. The Firefox browser extension is rather dated, so its Chrome counterpart is the better option, with malware detection and its very own ad and cookie blocker.


Along with Youku, HSS can grant you access to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, along with Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and BBC iPlayer.


Even if the free edition of HSS sounds more like your thing, you can still check out the Premium service with a 7-day free trial. Premium users benefit from a 45-day money-back guarantee, and HSS’ customer service is open to all customers - with 24/7 support and live chat.

VPNArea provides dedicated obfuscation servers for fuss-free Youku streaming

  • Pricing

    From  $2.99 - $9.90
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

All of VPNArea’s 1+ Gbps servers have been optimized to boost streaming performance, and 98% have dedicated 1 gigabit speed ports. In addition to unlimited bandwidth, VPNArea offers servers in 65 countries, and Double VPN servers that offer additional privacy - making them ideal for bypassing strict firewalls and masking your VPN usage. Youku users in particular can make use of the obfuscation option and servers in Guanzhou and Beijing.


OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2 and Stunnel protocols are all included with service, as well as solid AES 256-bit encryption and a staunch no logs policy.


6 simultaneous connections are available simultaneously, and Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux devices and routers are all compatible with VPNArea. If you fancy a break from Youku, VPNArea can unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video and Hulu.


VPNArea’s customer service is what sets it apart - frequently praised and quick to respond, the help team is available via live chat 24/7. All of VPNArea’s subscription plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can take the VPN for a test drive before committing.

What can you watch on Youku?

It’s probably easier to list what you can’t find on Youku. Founded in 2006, Youku has since become China’s largest video hosting website, and as of 2019, Alexa reported that it was the 50th most visited site in the country, overall.

Youku is often referred to as ‘the Chinese YouTube’, it's popularity is no doubt tied to YouTube being blocked by the Great Firewall. So, folks needed a similar site to fill the void. Along came Youku, but as we mentioned earlier, it’s not just a YouTube clone. Unlike YouTube, videos of any length are allowed, and professional content is regularly uploaded too, thanks to Youku entering into countless licensing deals with Chinese media distribution and production companies.

Besides videos and vlogs, Youku hosts a huge library of western films and TV shows. When you consider that you don’t need an account and that the service is entirely legal, you might wonder why more people aren’t using it. Unfortunately, it’s because you cannot watch Youku outside of China.

There are some caveats that come with this bounty of content. China has far more stringent censorship laws, and the TV shows or movies you watch might be a little different from how you remember them - particularly if they contain sexual or violent scenes. And whilst user-uploaded and professional content are available for free, Youku does comply with Chinese censorship laws by removing videos deemed inappropriate.

Why do you need a VPN for Youku?

Simply put, your IP address gives you away by revealing your current location. If you’re not physically in China, you’re going to have a difficult time making the most of the Youku site. Some videos might be available, but the majority are going to be geo-blocked.

You’ll need a VPN to bypass China’s notoriously repressive internet censorship. Subscribing to one won’t just help you unblock Youku, but will allow you to access other geo-restricted sites freely without being beholden to that country’s restrictive protocols.

A VPN does this by assigning you a temporary IP address when you connect to one of its servers. You simply select the location where the content is accessible - for Youku, it’ll be China - and your VPN assigns you an IP address that’ll fool the site into thinking you’re there physically, too.

A VPN’s privacy enhancing measures are nothing to turn your nose up at, either. When you connect to a VPN server, you create an encrypted tunnel between your device, the VPN server, and the sites you access online. Any and all traffic that passes through this tunnel is encrypted, keeping it secure from third-parties (think hackers, your ISP or even the government) who might otherwise try to monitor it or pilfer your identifiable information.

A VPN for Youku - what features to look out for

Besides actually being able to bypass the Great Firewall of China, there are several other factors to keep an eye out for when considering a VPN. We’d recommend any of our top 5 contenders, but here’s what you’ll need for fuss-free Youku streaming.

  • Speeds and unlimited bandwidth - this one goes without saying, as nobody wants to spend more time waiting for a movie to buffer than watching it.
  • Strong encryption - you might primarily be interested in a VPN for streaming restricted content, but it’s important that a VPN can keep you and your traffic secure, too.
  • No logs - you know a VPN is taking your right to online privacy seriously when it’s staunchly no logs - or better yet, audited!
  • Customer service - you might run into issues configuring your protocols or accessing China’s web, so an available team of troubleshooting experts is a must-have.

Can I use a free VPN?

The short answer is no, unfortunately you can't.

Free VPNs typically offer a fraction of what you’d get with a premium service, and more often than not, they’re actually smaller-scale offshoots of these providers. With a free VPN, you’ll likely have fewer servers to select from, a bandwidth cap, and a stingy data allowance - as you can imagine, this isn’t ideal if you want to use Youku.

The alternative is to use a Free VPN that promises all the above with no restrictions or caps. However, you should probably remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. These services are incredibly shady, and will likely log your data to sell on to third-parties - this is why they don’t need a subscription fee from you. Furthermore, these services come with flimsy encryption protocols and barely any geo-unblocking power. Most of all, it's unlikely that these free VPNs will be able to unblock Youku at all, as it is difficult to bypass the Great Firewall of China.

For a truly stress-free streaming experience, it’s worth shelling out a little cash and keeping yourself secure.

Is China cracking down on VPNs?

Chinese Flag

China has outright banned the use of VPNs that haven’t been explicitly vetted and approved by the state, and it’s actually considered a crime to use one. However, while enforcements are hitting VPN providers harder than individual users, you could still see a nasty 1,000 Yuan ($145 dollars) fine for using one without proper authorization.

So, it’s increasingly difficult to get hold of a VPN in China - and even more difficult to access western sites. Google, Facebook, Twitter, blogging platforms, social media pages, search engines, and more are all banned, wreaking havoc on China’s international communications and preventing citizens from knowing what’s going on in the wider world around them.

By geo-blocking sites and banning VPNs, China has more rigid control over what information does and doesn’t leave or enter the country.

However, VPNs still play a huge part in everyday business in China. You can imagine why, being one of the only ways to keep global lines of communication open and information passing between companies secure. But some VPNs are still legal in China - typically, these are owned by huge, state-owned banks or law firms that pay exorbitantly for the privilege of legally bypassing the Great Firewall.

All in all, it’s a worrying blow to the privacy rights of ordinary individuals in China, who are having to make the choice between attempting to get by with restricted internet access and access to news, or taking illegal, harshly punished measures to exercise their rights to privacy.

Written by: Hannah Hart

Originally hailing from Wales, Hannah Hart graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a 1:1 in Creative Writing, going on to work as an Editor across a number of trade magazines. As a professional writer, Hannah has worked across both digital and print media, and is familiar with collating news pieces, in depth reports and producing by lines for international publications. Otherwise, she can be found pouring over a tarot deck or spending more hours than she'll ever admit playing Final Fantasy 14.

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