The 7 Best VPNs For China (How To Pick a VPN That Works Behind The Great Firewall)

Accessing international websites and services from China can be a headache. Getting around the so-called Great Firewall of China requires internet users in this country to use VPNs as their number one choice to circumvent online censorship. 

But what are the best VPNs for China? Here’s the list:

  1. Surfshark
  2. Astrill
  3. NordVPN
  4. ExpressVPN
  5. Hotspot Shield
  6. TunnelBear
  7. VyprVPN

Before You go to China

There are a few things anyone traveling to China should keep in mind. The first and by far the most critical is to make sure to choose your VPN in advance of your travel to China, as most, if not all, VPN providers are inaccessible from inside of the country. The previously installed software should work perfectly fine, though.

Remember that premium VPN services for China will include several ways to contact customer support should you run into any issues. They are also used to dealing with customers from China.

Any trustworthy company will work quickly to resolve problems, though it’s a smart idea to travel with a backup VPN just in case. Most VPNs have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Why Use a VPN in China in the First Place?

Using a VPN in China is mandatory if you want to bypass internet censorship.

Most of the international sites you use daily are blocked, including social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Other common services China blocks include Google, Google Maps, and WhatsApp.

If you want to access any of these sites or applications, you need to know how to use VPN in China.

The 7 Best VPNs For China That Works Behind The Great Firewall

A good VPN that works in China should have a proven track record of being able to work for most people that are using it behind the Great Firewall. We often get comments that this or the other VPN didn’t work for them, and this can certainly be true. 

That’s why we, and other experts, encourage you to install between two and five VPNs on their devices before even stepping foot in China. That’s easy to do as all major VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee or a 7-day trial (or both).

Merely relying on one VPN won’t cut it in China and you always have to have a fail-safe alternative. 

1. Surfshark

surfshark
  • Over 3,200 servers worldwide
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited device connections
  • For Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer…
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Works in China
  • 24/7 live chat

Surfshark is a VPN that has recently put a lot of effort into bypassing China’s restrictions, and it has become our top choice for VPN to use in China. To start, you gain access to over 3,200+ servers in more than 60 countries, including several close to China, which gives you faster speeds.

NoBorders Mode

Several features make it ideal for getting through even the most stringent geoblocks, such as the NoBorders Mode. This mode handles the Great Firewall with ease, and you can also use Camouflage mode to hide the fact that you’re using a VPN. 

Users also enjoy things like a strict no-logs policy, military-grade encryption, and an automatic kill switch.  

Privacy

Surfshark’s CyberWeb delivers even more excellent privacy benefits, offering protection from ads, trackers, malware, and phishing. You can also whitelist certain apps and websites to bypass the VPN, a handy feature that allows you to access domestic sites in China while still being able to view whatever you want.

Additionally, the MultiHop component is excellent for connecting to several locations at once. The advantage in doing so is that tracing you becomes nearly impossible since you’re bouncing around from server to server. 

Speeds are excellent, both for downloading and streaming, and you get unlimited bandwidth. P2P file sharing is supported as well.

READ ALSO: Will VPN Hide Your Location? (6 Tips On How To Hide Your Location)

Who Is Surfshark Best for?

We’d recommend this VPN to anyone who lives in China, travels there, or, in general, anyone who plans to do a lot of streaming, as you can use it to unblock Netflix, Hulu, and the BBC iPlayer. 

Large families or households with several people might also be interested in Surfshark, as you can use one subscription with unlimited devices.

Read all about this top-notch VPN in our Surfshark review

2. Astrill

astrill
  • Over 300 servers in 57+ countries 
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Unlimited device connections
  • For Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go…
  • 7-day free trial
  • Works in China
  • 24/7 live chat

Many long-term residents in the country use Astrill thanks to its reliability in getting around the Great Firewall.  

Servers and Stealth VPN

The service is dependable thanks to the more than 300 servers in 57+ countries that Astrill has. The brand also has several servers located geographically close to China, in places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan, which allow you to reach the high speeds we mentioned.

Astrill includes many features that make using the VPN straightforward. It has several VPN protocols, but the one that works in China is known as Stealth VPN. Stealth VPN gives you unrestricted access to blocked content while keeping you away from the prying eyes of third parties.

Additionally, Smart Mode automatically activates the VPN when it sees you’re trying to access an international site. This feature is quite handy, as it eliminates the need for any extra configuration for bypassing geo-blocks. 

Plus, Astrill uses regional IP addresses when connecting, which gives users faster connection speeds for browsing and streaming.

Streaming

Speaking of streaming, Astrill is excellent for watching your favorite series on Netflix, though you can use the VPN with several other streaming services.

It works with favorites like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, HBO Go, and NowTV. You also get access to P2P sharing on any server.

READ ALSO: Can You Be Tracked In Incognito Mode? (10 Tips For Browsing Privacy)

Other Features

Additionally, you get privacy features like military-grade encryption and an automatic kill switch to keep your browsing info private. Users can connect up to five devices simultaneously, and the VPN supports split-tunneling. 

You also receive access to Astrill’s 24/7 live chat, where you can head if you run into any issues using the VPN.

Potential Downsides

There are a couple of things to note about Astrill. One of them is that the company has a strict no-refund policy, unlike many others included on this list. There is a seven-day free trial. 

You can try the service to see if it’s right for you, but another thing to note is that Astrill’s free trial is shorter than its competitors at only seven days. The trick we’ve mentioned previously about signing up for a free trial before going to China won’t work here unless your stay is relatively short.

Having noted both of these small downsides, we still feel that the service is well worth it, especially if your travels to China will take you to the country long term. High speeds and reliability are what you want from a VPN in this case, and Astrill delivers.

Read all about this highly reliable VPN that works great in China in our full Astrill review

3. NordVPN

nordvpn
  • Almost 6,000 servers in 60 countries
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • For Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer…
  • Quick Connect
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • For up to six devices
  • Works in China
  • 24/7 live chat

NordVPN is one of the most well-known and highly respected providers. Despite being one of the most affordable VPNs, it still offers all the features you want from a VPN, especially when traveling to China. The company recently started investing more time and energy into the China VPN sector, and those efforts are quite apparent.

Why? Because NordVPN is now known to be excellent for accessing the internet in areas with heavy censorship. It’s got over 5,100+ servers worldwide and obfuscated servers that hide the fact that you’re using a VPN. Since no one will know that you’re using one, they won’t block your traffic.

RELATED: NordVPN Obfuscated Servers – Everything You Need to Know

When it comes to China, NordVPN uses these special obfuscated servers to bypass the Great Firewall. It also has several servers close to China, and if you connect to one of those, you can enjoy faster speeds.

Privacy

Privacy features include AES 256-bit encryption, which hides relevant information about you, like your IP address, data, and online traffic. NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy, so you don’t have to worry about the company saving information about your browsing history.

Of course, users also get an automatic kill switch. An automatic kill switch is a feature any premium VPN should have, as it blocks your traffic if you run into any connection problems. Plus, you can use the VPN to unblock streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu.

READ NEXT: Can Hotels See What You Do On WiFi? (VPN On Hotel WiFi)

Additional Features

Premium users can connect up to six devices with one subscription, and they receive access to the company’s 24/7 live chat support. NordVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to test out the service.

Read all about this major VPN provider in our full VPN review

4. Express VPN

expressvpn
  • Almost 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • For Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer…
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • For up to 5 devices
  • Works in China and the UAE
  • 24/7 live chat

If you want to use ExpressVPN in China, you’re not alone because ExpressVPN is one of the most popular providers despite its somewhat high price tag. 

It’s a highly respected brand with plenty of features needed for unrestricted browsing in China, including the capability of connecting up to five devices simultaneously.

ExpressVPN is known for delivering quick speeds, mostly thanks to its wide range of server locations. It’s got servers in 160 locations in 94 countries, with many located near China. Having servers near China allows for greater speeds, and we recommend connecting to those found in Hong Kong, Japan, or Los Angeles for the best results.

Interestingly enough, ExpressVPN does not have any custom protocols to bypass blocks, but they manage to keep the VPN working despite temporary unavailability. Users can access the 24/7 live chat support if they encounter issues with blocked sites or problems with any other service aspect.

Security and Privacy

ExpressVPN has advanced security features, such as AES 256-bit encryption and a no logs-policy, regarding security and privacy. It has an automatic kill switch to keep you protected should the connection drop and a split-tunneling feature, allowing users to control which apps go through the VPN. 

The company makes use of obfuscated servers to mask your VPN, which keeps activity private.

RELATED: The 10 Best VPNs For Expats (Stream and Browse Like At Home)

Money-Back Guarantee

Finally, the service includes a 30-day money-back guarantee with a no-questions-asked policy. This money-back guarantee means that if you’re taking a short-term trip to China, you could use this excellent VPN for free.

Find all the info about ExpressVPN in our full review

5. Hotspot Shield

hotspotshield
  • Over 1,800 servers in 115+ countries 
  • Up to 5 device connections
  • For Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer…
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • Works in China
  • 24/7 live tech support

Hotspot Shield is one of the very few VPNs that have servers in China. If you plan to access domestic sites regularly, you may want to consider Hotspot Shield since the server sites in China will give you higher speeds. 

It also has plenty of servers nearby (such as in Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam) to keep speeds high when accessing restricted contact,

Overall, Hotspot Shield has over 3200 servers in more than 80 countries, making it an excellent VPN provider to use worldwide and not just in China. 

Although the company has suffered from some privacy concerns throughout its history, it has cleaned up its act and updated its policies. Nowadays, Hotspot Shield keeps no identifying logs, which is good news.

Catapult Hydra

To get past the Great Firewall, it uses Catapult Hydra, a proprietary protocol that we know little about. We know that you get excellent speeds and high security, and users don’t have to worry about any leaks that might leave them exposed. 

Advanced encryption and built-in malware protection also offer a strong line of defense when using public Wi-Fi connections.

Other Features

You can connect up to five devices simultaneously on one account, and unlimited server switches are included in the service. Netflix lovers rejoice; Hotspot Shield allows users to stream their favorite shows and movies.

The VPN has Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and a browser extension for Chrome. Where it lets us down a bit is that only the Windows app has an automatic kill switch.

RAED ALSO: Will a VPN Protect You When Torrenting (Explained)

Pricing and Free Trials

Hotspot Shield includes an even longer money-back guarantee than most, at 45 days. And should you run into any problems while using the service, a customer support team is waiting to help you via the live chat feature at any time. 

Read all about Hotspot Shield in our full review

6. TunnelBear

tunnelbear
  • Almost 3,000+ servers in 27+ countries
  • Free plan with 500Mb limit
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Doesn’t unblock US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus
  • No refund policy
  • For up to 5 devices
  • Works in China and the UAE

When searching for reliable VPNs to use in China, TunnelBear garners plenty of attention. Though it has some limitations that we’ll get into shortly, it’s still a trustworthy service that may be right for you. 

Lots of people like the free version of TunnelBear, which you could even use in China, but the add-ons are what make this VPN worth it.

Add-ons

An essential add-on is Ghostbear, which disguises VPN traffic to look like regular traffic, a critical feature in China. It does so thanks to Obfsproxy technology that changes your traffic signature. 

Ghostbear is also incredibly adept at getting around the Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) that the Great Firewall employs to identify and block specific forms of traffic.

You can also choose to add on VigilantBear, a dedicated kill switch, and browser extensions for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. TunnelBear lets you connect up to five devices at once, and it uses OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2 encryption protocols.

Free Version

Potential customers can try out the service for free for up to 500MB per month to see if the VPN is right for them. We like the free version because you don’t have to worry about ads or malware, a common issue with other free VPNs. 

The free version works in China, though it would only be for someone with limited needs (i.e., sending WhatsApp messages).

Because you’re so limited by the free version, most people would probably do better with a subscription, though there are some downsides to note about using TunnelBear. 

The biggest one is that GhostBear is not available on iOS, so it’s not the best VPN China for iPhone. It does work for Windows, Mac, and Android, however.

RELATED: The 3 Best Free VPNs Without Ads

Downsides

Another issue is that the VPN seems to slow down your connection significantly at times. If you’re looking for lightning-fast speeds, you’ll probably want to choose a different VPN. TunnelBear doesn’t work with Netflix either, which is something to consider.

However, TunnelBear does offer a well-priced, secure, and reliable option for anyone traveling to China. We recommend trying out the free version first to see how you like it if you’re on the fence.

Read more on TunnelBear in our full TunnelBear review

7. VyprVPN

vyprvpn
  • Almost 700+ servers in 70+ locations
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • For Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN…
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • For up to 30 devices
  • Works in China and the UAE
  • 24/7 live chat

If you’re looking for reliable connections and fast speeds, VyprVPN could be right for you. With more than 700 server locations in over sixty countries, plus the ability to connect up to five devices simultaneously, VyprVPN has plenty of features that make it ideal for use in China.

Chameleon Protocol

The first is the Chameleon protocol, which VyprVPN designed specifically for use in China. Chameleon enables users to avoid China’s VPN blocking and hides the fact that you’re using a VPN.

Servers

The more than 700 server locations we mentioned are all protected by VyprDNS, seeing as VyprVPN owns all of the servers that it uses. Owning the servers is a unique security feature, and it means that you don’t have to worry about your activity being turned over to third parties.

You also get high-end encryption, an automatic kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy.

Streaming

VyprVPN is excellent for streaming across a variety of platforms with no limit on data bandwidth or speed. These include:

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu
  • Netflix
  • BBC iPlayer
  • ESPN
  • Skysports

Additional Features

The VPN offers protection when you connect to public Wi-Fi (a feature we like), and in case you run into any issues, you can contact customer support via a 24/7 live chat or through VyprVPN’s email ticket system.

Pricing and Trials

Though the service may seem a bit pricey, the cost drops dramatically if you pay for a year or two upfront. You have thirty days to try it out with VyprVPN’s thirty-day money-back guarantee. A bonus for China residents is that the company accepts Alipay, a payment system similar to PayPal.

Read all about this world-class VPN in our full VyprVPN review.

Do VPNs work consistently in China?

Unsurprisingly, China is cracking down on VPNs. It’s investing a lot of time and resources into stopping these services, and as you might expect, they’re quite good at doing so.

Given these never-ending efforts, even the very best VPNs may work less than 100 percent of the time. However, most of the best providers are incredibly reliable, and they work round the clock to correct any lapses in connection. Downtime should be limited if you choose a reputable VPN service.

RELATED: How to Watch Netflix in China (Step by Step)

Are There any free VPNs for China that Work?

The question about whether a free VPN China will work is a pretty standard one, but it’s best not to waste your time looking for one.

As we said, China is cracking down on VPNs, and most free versions lack the technology needed to get past the Great Firewall. Though there are plenty of popular free VPNs worth checking out, none are reliable enough for China. 

They suffer from connection issues, problems accessing restricted sites, and slow speeds.

The best way to ensure unrestricted internet access is to purchase a premium VPN that works in China. While users must pay to use them, many premium services offer free trials. If you’re unsure about a particular VPN, taking advantage of a free trial is an excellent way to gauge whether it’s right for you. 

Should I leave my VPN on all the time? 

If you only need it sometimes, there’s no reason to always leave your VPN on. But in China, things are different, and it’s a good idea to leave it on most of the time. 

Keeping your VPN running allows you to stay more secure, have more privacy, and bypass internet censorship. Plus, it keeps you safe from the dangers of forgetting to turn it on when using public Wi-Fi.

Summary

If travel to China is in your future, whether you plan to stay a few days or a few months, make sure to purchase the best China VPN you can. We recommend any of the seven options listed above, which will allow you to bypass the Great Firewall and access blocked sites in China.

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