China has the most intensive censored internet in the world. Approximately 10,000 web sites are blocked, including 135 of the world’s top 1000 websites.
You cannot use Google, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and many other websites and apps, whether you are in Beijing, Shanghai or outside the big cities.
You will also need a VPN to hide your web activity from Chinese government supervision.
The problem is that most VPNs don’t work in China because they can’t cross the VPN ban in China and can’t bypass China’s Great Firewall.
Want to know which VPN services are still running?
We’ve tested many VPNs and the following will give you unlimited internet access.
Don’t forget to set up your VPN before you travel; You’ll struggle to download and set up a VPN in China because most VPN websites are blocked and VPN applications are removed from popular application stores.
How to Find a Good VPN for China?
- Does it work reliably and consistently in China?
- Surveillance tools and hidden VPN protocols
- No log and no IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks
- Fast download and upload speeds
- VPN servers in nearby Asian countries
- Strong privacy and security features
Best VPN Services Still Working in China
- Works reliably in China
- Good download (and upload) speeds in China
- Hiding tools for defeating web blocks
- Recommended VPN servers for China
- No log and no IP, DNS, WebRTC leak
- Full-featured VPN browser extensions
- Quite expensive in short plans
ExpressVPN is the most reliable VPN in China, even if it follows the latest VPN ban. It works continuously to bypass the Great Firewall.
Connecting to nearby VPN servers is critical to the best speeds of connecting from China, but ExpressVPN’s speeds are outstanding on the card.
ExpressVPN’s server network is quite extensive and there are specific servers recommended for China – contact 24/7 live chat support to find out which ones are regularly changed.
Are you worried that ExpressVPN is not secure enough for China?
Sure, ExpressVPN is one of the safest and most secure VPN services we’ve tested.
Special cloaking tools allow ExpressVPN to work in the most censored countries, and so ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China. Be sure to set the VPN protocol to ‘automatic’ before connecting.
ExpressVPN does not collect any activity logs and VPN applications have not been exposed to any IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks in our extensive tests.
Simple ExpressVPN applications work great with all popular devices (PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Fire TV and more), all very easy. The interfaces are pleasing to the eye and user-friendly.
If you are not satisfied with ExpressVPN in any way, please notify the customer support team within the first 30 days;
If you’re in China or planning to go there, ExpressVPN is definitely the VPN you want to use.
For a more in-depth look, please read our full ExpressVPN Review.
2. Astrill VPN
- Hidden VPN protocol to defeat censors
- China-optimized VPN servers
- Close VPN servers and good speeds in Asia
- Kill switch exists & does not leak IP, DNS, WebRTC
- Easy to install and use
- Live chat doesn’t always work
- No free trial for Chinese users
- No refund
- Quite expensive annual plan
Astrill made its name as the best VPN for China, but it is no longer as reliable as ExpressVPN.
Astrill’s two secret protocols (one VPN protocol and one proxy) are often effective in bypassing the Great Firewall.
Nearby VPN servers in Asia Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea and US servers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose also provide good VPN speeds.
For even higher speeds in China, Astrill recommends users connect to servers labeled ‘Super Charge’.
Our independent speed tests show that Astrill provides consistently high speeds, even if they do not fully match the reliability of ExpressVPN.
Astrill VPN is also an excellent choice for privacy on all connections that use AES-256 encryption. The VPN kill key is an important feature that prevents the leak of real IP addresses (Astrill did not leak any IP or DNS credentials in our tests).
You still don’t think Astrill is safe enough?
All your web traffic will pass through Astrill’s own DNS servers, which means there is no chance of being redirected through less secure third-party servers.
Astrill gathers some links to ensure a high level of performance. Saves your connection time, IP address, device type, and version of your VPN application during the VPN session.
The great thing is that you can use Astrill VPN on all major platforms, including Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. Allows five connections at the same time.
Still, it’s not all right at Astrill.
We don’t like that mobile VPN applications lack most of the advanced security features and Astrill doesn’t have any VPN extensions.
Live chat doesn’t always work and we don’t like that users in China are not eligible for the Astrill free trial. Astrill is also quite expensive and does not have a refund policy.
For a more in-depth look, please read our full Astrill VPN Review.
- Stealth VPN protocol works in China
- VPN servers in nearby Asian cities and very fast
- Works with 443 and Tor TCP Port
- No log keeping policy & no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leak
- User-friendly applications for popular devices
- Seven-day free trial
- Small VPN server network (150 in total)
- No browser VPN extension
- Live chat is not always available
PrivateVPN is a cheap VPN that still works in China.
It does not have a large server network, but you will be able to connect to PrivateVPN servers in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea by providing good and reliable connection speeds from China.
We found the speeds of PrivateVPN impressively fast on the VPN server network.
PrivateVPN’s proprietary secret VPN protocol is a great advantage, with a VPN kill key, AES-256 encryption, and IP or DNS leak detected in our tests.
A strict record-keeping policy means that none of your web data is collected. You are safe with PrivateVPN.
Although there are custom VPN applications for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android, PrivateVPN VPN is a bit disappointing when it comes to inconsistent with live chat, often with browser extensions (none available) and customer support.
If these two disadvantages do not concern you, then you will be good at PrivateVPN.
If you wish to make a trial before you receive a paid subscription to PrivateVPN, you can benefit from a seven-day free trial.
For a more in-depth look, please read our full PrivateVPN Review.
- Scramble tool works in China
- Does not keep diary
- VPN shutdown switch exists and does not leak IP, DNS, or WebRTC
- Good and reliable speeds
- Simple apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS
- Use up to 12 devices at the same time
- Many servers use PPTP (unsecured VPN protocol)
- Confidentiality is in the unfriendly US
StrongVPN has existed since 2005 and only knows how to beat Chinese censors.
Like our other VPN recommendations for China, StrongVPN comes with confusion technology to defeat censors. This is called ‘Scramble’ within the application.
Scramble is only available for OpenVPN connections, so be sure to change the protocol in the application’s settings before you click Connect.
If you are using iOS, you must connect using IKEs2.
StrongVPN is currently recommending users in China to connect to San Francisco for the most reliable connection.
This will cause many users to try to connect to the same servers and cause some servers to become clogged, but StrongVPN’s speeds are generally good.
Although OpenVPN or IKEv2 is recommended in China, it is worth noting that most of the StrongVPN servers are only PPTP. This is a dangerous VPN protocol that can be easily broken.
If you prevent PPTP, StrongVPN is very secure. It has a logging policy and VPN shutdown key to prevent unwanted IP leaks.
However, it has a smaller server network than our other popular choices.
StrongVPN is not the best option for China or the cheapest (ie PrivateVPN) but it will do the trick.
For a more in-depth look, please read our full StrongVPN Review.
- Chameleon VPN protocol usually bypasses the Great Firewall
- Many Asian VPN servers
- User-friendly VPN applications
- No log keeping policy & no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leak
- More than 200,000 IP addresses
- Best VPN features limited to premium plan
- Less reliable since China’s VPN ban
- Speed lags behind best VPN choices
VyprVPN was a very strong competitor for the best VPN available in China, but since the Chinese VPN was banned, it now ranks fifth for its variable reliability.
VyprVPN also uses cloaking tools to bypass the Great Firewall. (Private hidden VPN protocol ‘Chameleon’.)
The chameleon feature only applies to VyprVPN’s Premium Plan.
Customer support reported that VyprVPN currently only works in China on beta beta application (using the Chameleon protocol) and iOS (using IKEv2).
There are servers nearby in Hong Kong, Macau, Japan and South Korea, but VyprVPN proposes custom servers for users in China. For an updated list, simply contact 24/7 live chat support.
VyprVPN also provides a VPN kill key, AES-256 encryption and DNS protection (with VyprDNS feature) to prevent your connections from being hijacked and redirected to a different website.
It follows a non-log policy that is independently approved, so your online activity will not be recorded.
At this point, you may be wondering why VyprVPN is only fifth in our list of recommendations.
The problem with this VPN is the latency rates in China. Unfortunately, it does not approach the speeds provided by the above VPN services.
Link speeds in China are always slower than usual; therefore, if you need to use a VPN to download buffer-free streaming or large files, VyprVPN will probably bother you often.
VyprVPN offers users a three-day free trial or 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can cancel if you are not satisfied with the service.
For a more in-depth look, please read our full VyprVPN Review.
Do I Really Need VPN in China?
Yes, if you want to be online in China, you definitely need a VPN.
Why is that?
Because most popular (Western) websites and applications are banned and blocked by the Chinese government.
Continuous monitoring of web users in China is also a problem. Using a VPN is vital if you don’t want the Chinese government to see and record what you do online.
To use a VPN in China, it is best to download and set up the VPN application before traveling, because most VPN websites are blocked.
Most VPN apps have now been removed from the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store is no longer available in China.
You should also ask your VPN provider for customer support (before traveling) which VPN servers they recommend connecting from China.
What is Great FireWall in China?
‘China’s Great Firewall’ (or GFW) is the nickname given to China’s Internet censorship system through laws and filtering technologies.
It gives Chinese authorities the power to monitor and restrict Internet access to anyone on the mainland of China (Hong Kong and Macau are exempt).
GFW uses a combination of methods to block websites and applications:
- IP blocking – Blocking IP addresses that turn into URLs (websites)
- Practically prevents you from accessing the desired website or application
- Scans websites and URLs for specific terms with Keyword and URL filtering
- Examining headers in data packets to determine destination IP address
- Chinese authorities employ thousands of workers to censor prohibited content
Which Websites and Applications are Blocked in China?
Most of the world’s most popular websites and applications are blocked in China, for example:
- Google (Gmail, Google Maps and all other Google services – disabled since 2014)
- YouTube (disabled since 2011)
- Facebook (disabled since 2009)
- Twitter (disabled since 2009)
- Instagram (disabled since 2014)
- WhatsApp (disabled since 2017)
- Skype (disabled since 2017)
- Pinterest (disabled since 2017)
The Google Play Store is never available in China, and Apple’s App Store complies with Chinese law, so it is extremely limited, so you can’t find VPN applications there.
This is why it is very important to set up your VPN applications before you travel.