The 5 Best VPNs for China That Work in 2022 (20+ Tested!)

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Summary: The 5 Best VPNs for China That Work in 2022 (20+ Tested!)

If you’re visiting China for the first time, you will notice that many popular websites and apps are blocked. The Great Firewall, the technological system responsible for this, is the most sophisticated censorship apparatus in the world.

Luckily, there are ways around the Chinese Firewall. The safest and most reliable circumvention tool is a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN allows you to unblock Netflix, YouTube, Twitter, Discord, Instagram, and many other websites and platforms.

For China, these are the best VPNs:

  1. NordVPN: Obfuscated servers
  2. Surfshark: NoBorders mode for highly-censored regions
  3. ExpressVPN: Special stealth servers
  4. PrivateVPN: Stealth mode for extra obfuscation
  5. Astrill VPN: Smart mode for unblocking

Our absolute favorite is NordVPN, because of its Obfsproxy VPN technology and its focus on security and privacy.

Would you like to know more about China, online restrictions, and the many ways in which a VPN can help you? Read our complete article below to find out more.

The internet in China is highly censored, and if you travel there, you’ll notice soon enough that websites and apps you might use every single day, are not available.

Sending emails via Gmail, watching videos on YouTube, or going on your Twitter and Instagram accounts is suddenly a challenge. For Chinese citizens, there are even more restrictions on internet freedom.

Using a VPN in China is almost essential if you want to access global news sites or use popular communication apps. It helps you break free from the Chinese-controlled internet.

After testing more than 20 different VPNs, we’ve compiled our list of the five best VPNs for China. All of these offer stable speeds and work seamlessly in China. Here’s our list.

Which VPN is Best for China?

Best VPN iconAfter extensive testing, we believe that NordVPN is the best VPN for China, followed closely by Surfshark and ExpressVPN. NordVPN has the highest number of servers, and the speeds are consistent.

It also offers additional features, such as obfuscated servers and Onion over VPN, which are great for use in a country with heavy internet restrictions, like China.

In the table below, you can see how the top providers compare key characteristics. Scroll down for a better look at each VPN!

Number of servers5,000+3,200+3,000+200+107
Number of countries5099946357
ProtocolsOpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuardOpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuardOpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec, LightwayOpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsecOpenVPN, WireGuard
PriceFrom $3.96 a monthFrom $2.21 a monthFrom $6.67 a monthFrom $2.00 a monthFrom $12.5 a month
PurchaseGet NordVPNGet SurfsharkGet ExpressVPNGet PrivateVPNGet Astrill VPN

Top 5 Best VPNs for China

Here are the five best VPNs for China, explained in detail.

1. NordVPN: The best VPN for China overall

Screenshot of NordVPN provider website homepage

NordVPN is a VPN giant that’s been making quite the name for itself. With over 5,000 servers in more than 60 countries, NordVPN is one of the most powerful VPNs around. Their VPN servers are known to be fast and reliable, and the service runs quite well.

More importantly, this VPN has got your privacy needs covered: with a verified no-logging policy and OpenVPN encryption, you can go online safely in China. Does your VPN connection unexpectedly fail? NordVPN’s kill switch and DNS leak protection will prevent any data from leaking through.

What makes NordVPN the best VPN for China? To bypass the Great Firewall, NordVPN uses a special feature called Obfsproxy VPN technology. This is the same robust technology that Tor, the anonymous dark web browser, uses to overcome barriers.

Another advantage that NordVPN offers to users in China is its dedicated IP addresses. With a dedicated IP, you don’t have to share your VPN server with other users. This makes it more difficult for the Chinese government to detect VPN use and block your connection.

They also offer 24/7 live chat and customer support, so in case you run into a problem, their agents will take care of it.

Our pick
Our pick
Only $2.98 a month for a two-year subscription with a 30-day money-back guarantee!
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

2. Surfshark: The best low-cost VPN for China

Screenshot of Surfshark VPN provider website homepage

If you’re looking for a cheaper VPN that still outperforms most providers, Surfshark is an excellent choice. This Netherlands-based VPN service is known for its unblocking capabilities and reliable speeds. They have a clear no logging policy and use the best protocols to keep your VPN connection encrypted.

What’s great about Surfshark, is that it allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices. This makes it a great China VPN for a family or when you’re traveling with a group. On top of that, Surfshark has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can really test it out before committing.

Surfshark is a great VPN for China. Its NoBorders feature is specifically designed for regions with high levels of censorship, such as China and Russia. NoBorders will turn on automatically whenever the VPN detects strong limitations, such as when you’re in China. You can also enable it manually.

Another great Surfshark feature is MultiHop. Do you want to keep your data extra protected? MultiHop allows you to double encrypt your data by connecting to the web via two VPN servers. This will keep your real location hidden.

Safe and anonymous internet for only $2.21 a month
  • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
  • 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
  • Cheap with many extra options
Visit Surfshark

3. ExpressVPN: A robust but expensive VPN

Screenshot of ExpressVPN provider website homepage

For many years, ExpressVPN has been considered one of the top VPN services around. It’s no wonder that they’ve got more than 3 million users worldwide. With servers in 90+ countries, their network is incredibly diverse.

If you’re looking for lightning-fast speeds and a host of security features, ExpressVPN is a great choice. Though subscriptions are more expensive than for other VPNs, ExpressVPN does offer a quality product.

This is because it uses stealth servers in Hong Kong, which are specifically designed to bypass the Great Firewall in China. ExpressVPN also has a lot of servers near China, for instance in Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand.

With DNS leak protection, WebRTC leak protection, and OpenVPN, your data is protected and your privacy is guaranteed as much as it can be. On top of that, ExpressVPN is generally quite user-friendly.

The main downside of ExpressVPN is its steep price. However, the provider does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can figure out if it’s worth your money before committing.

Great discount on annual subscription + 30-day money-back guarantee!
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

4. PrivateVPN: A decent VPN for China with stealth mode

PrivateVPN's homepage

PrivateVPN is a user-friendly VPN developed in Sweden. It can even unblock Netflix and other streaming services. You can connect up to ten devices on the same license. PrivateVPN also comes at a very affordable price.

You can request dedicated IP addresses. This will make it more challenging for the Chinese government to detect your VPN use. If you’re looking for a decent VPN service, PrivateVPN is a great option!

Though they have a small server network, PrivateVPN offers a stealth mode for users in China, which can help you bypass the internet restrictions in China. This adds an extra layer of obfuscation to your connection.

When it comes to data security, PrivateVPN also passes with flying colors. They keep no logs or any sort of metadata on you, which is a must if you’re in China.

Unfortunately, PrivateVPN’s live chat support isn’t always available. This can be an issue if you run into problems with your VPN. On top of that, the kill switch only works on Windows. Still, PrivateVPN has been proven to work consistently in China, so it’s worth your time to check it out.

Try PrivateVPN from $2.00 per month!
  • No logs
  • Dedicated Netflix servers
  • Small server network
Visit PrivateVPN

5: Astrill VPN: Safe for China but pricey

Screenshot of Astrill VPN website homepage

Finally, we’d like to shine a spotlight on Astrill. This is a provider that has been tested to work in China and other restrictive areas around the world. It’s not the fastest provider, but they offer solid security protocols, including OpenVPN and WireGuard. On top of that, there’s an ad-blocker and a split-tunneling feature.

There’s a 24/7 live chat and we’ve found support agents to be helpful and polite. Dedicated IP addresses are available on request. They also offer P2P-optimized servers.

Astrill VPN focuses specifically on the Asian market. One of the advantages for users in China is Astrill’s Smart Mode. This allows you to use a local IP for local traffic and an international one for restricted sites.

If you’re in China, this will help mask the fact that you’re using a VPN, since it doesn’t raise any red flags. The biggest downside to Astrill is its price. You pay $25 for a one-month plan and $16.67 per month if you choose the six-month plan.

The cheapest option comes at $12.5 per month for a yearly subscription. There’s no money-back guarantee either. If you’re only in China for a short period of time and don’t want a VPN for your regular use, you can check Astrill out by clicking on the button below.

Astrill VPN
  • Works in China and other restrictive regions like Turkey
  • Very expensive
  • Not reliable for unblocking Netflix and other services
Visit Astrill VPN

Bonus: VyprVPN

Screenshot of VyprVPN website with added logo in the bottom

VyprVPN has seen some recent disruptions when it comes to China, which means it’s no longer on our list of the top 5 best VPNs for China. However, since this VPN has built a good reputation for being able to get around the Great Firewall, it does deserve a mention.

The most important thing about Vypr is that it has full control of its entire infrastructure. There are no third parties, which increases privacy and makes it one of the fastest VPNs.

VyprVPN uses port selection and stealth technology called Chameleon. This technology is specifically designed to bypass the Chinese Firewall. It makes your encrypted VPN traffic look like regular internet traffic, making it easier to bypass ISP-specific restrictions too.

The VPN protocols run on 256-bit encryption and Vypr offers more than 200,000 different IP addresses across 70 countries. Unfortunately, VyprVPN keeps connection logs. On top of that, torrenting is not allowed, and many users have also reported disruptions with connectivity in China.

  • Quick servers for a good price
  • Netflix and torrenting possible
  • Special "Chameleon" technology to protect your data
Visit VyprVPN

How to Choose the Right VPN for China

Some VPN services are specifically designed to get around the Chinese firewall without being detected. We chose NordVPN after doing careful research. If you want to use another, here are some factors to consider when looking for the right VPN for China.

Excellent security

Because of the high level of surveillance in China, you want to make sure that your China VPN has top-notch security features. This includes military-grade encryption, different VPN protocols that keep your connection secured, as well as a kill switch.

Obfuscated servers

You want a VPN for China that actually manages to get you past the Great Firewall. Obfuscation technology is a big advantage since it disguises traffic from your Chinese VPN to make it look like ordinary network traffic. Some VPN providers have special obfuscated servers.

24/7 live chat

If something goes wrong, you want to at least have the option to lodge a complaint and get it fixed. Ideally, the China VPN provider you choose should offer 24/7 live chat, so you can speak to someone right away, should something go wrong.

VPN server proximity to China

Finally, your VPN for China should provide you with a stable internet connection. By connecting to a VPN server that’s geographically close to China, you’re less likely to run into connectivity issues.

Accessibility via mobile

Many of us surf the web using our mobile phones. Most (but not all) VPN providers offer dedicated apps for mobile phone users, so you can easily install a VPN on Android. Apps are also available on the App Store, so if you’re an Apple user, you can easily install a VPN on iPhone too.

Why Does China Block Websites?

Great Firewall of China icon

The Great Firewall of China, also known as the “Golden Shield” is the largest internet censorship system in the world.

Want to look something up on Google? You’ll have to use a different search engine. Popular social media platforms such as Facebook have been blocked for many years. And unless you’ve got a way around censorship, such as a China VPN service, you won’t be able to stream Netflix or watch YouTube.

Why did censorship in China get so pervasive? The Chinese government often claims that it restricts the internet out of concern for national security. In reality, censorship is a tool of oppression: by shutting citizens off from the open internet and keeping an iron grip on the flow of information, China can keep public opinion under control.

However, as one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world, China needs to keep the route to foreign investment open. This means that, unlike with the internet in North Korea, there are ways to get around the Great Firewall.

In order to conduct business, Chinese corporations often use a virtual private network (VPN) to stay connected to the rest of the world.

How does the Great Firewall work?

Infographic showing how does the Great Firewall work

China’s Great Firewall is made up of a variety of technologies that each contribute to censorship in a different way. Among other things, the system can:

  • Block IP addresses that correspond to certain websites
  • Filter and spoof DNS requests
  • Ban targeted keywords
  • Examine (meta)data through deep packet inspection

China also actively blocks VPN services. Certain VPN providers, however, have found ways around these bans. Like any technological system, there are weaknesses in the design of the Great Firewall. The right VPN for China manages to take advantage of these vulnerabilities.

Which Websites are Blocked in China?

The table below contains an overview of popular websites which are currently blocked in China. The list of all the websites that are blocked would be too long for this article, so we provide you with the most commonly used websites that you can’t reach in China unless you use a VPN service.

BBCJune 2019
CNNFebruary 2021
DiscordJuly 2018
DropboxJune 2014
DuckDuckGoSeptember 2014
FacebookJuly 2009
FlickrJuly 2014
Google (Maps, Docs, Gmail, etc.)May 2014
HBOJune 2018
InstagramSeptember 2014
Microsoft OneDriveJuly 2014
NetflixNever launched
New York Times2014
PinterestMarch 2017
PornhubMay 2012
RedditAugust 2018
SnapchatJanuary 2014
The Pirate BayFebruary 2012
Twitch.tvSeptember 2018
TwitterJune 2009
VimeoOctober 2009
Wikipedia (in part)May 2015
WhatsAppSeptember 2017
YouTubeMarch 2009

Why Use a VPN in China?

A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between you and the internet. All traffic runs through a VPN server. How does this work?

Say you’re trying to watch a YouTube video in China. Without a VPN, the Chinese Firewall will detect that you’re trying to access a blocked website. You will get a message saying that the site you are trying to visit is not accessible.

YouTube in China without a PVN

If you’re using a VPN, you can choose to divert your traffic via an external server, for example one in Germany, or any other country where YouTube isn’t banned. Your real IP address will now be hidden by the IP of the VPN server and the Great Firewall won’t be able to detect it as a local IP.

Youtube China with a VPN

Tips for using a VPN in China

Since the Chinese government pushes back against VPN use, it can be good to keep the following tips in mind, especially if you’re going to spend extended time in China:

  • Have a backup VPN. This increases your chances of staying online and gives you access to a wider server network.
  • Install your VPN before you enter China. Some VPN sites are blocked in China, so it’s best to install yours before you visit the country.
  • Switch protocols to overcome blocks. If you find your connection blocked, it can help to switch to a different VPN protocol.

Why You Should Avoid Using a Free VPN in China

Free VPN icon with question markIf you’re only in China for a short amount of time, you might be tempted to get a free VPN instead of a subscription from any of the premium VPN providers mentioned above.

For certain online activities, a free VPN may suffice. But for China, using a free VPN comes with significant risks.

Your data may be exposed

Most free VPN services have weak privacy policies. This puts your data at risk of falling into the wrong hands. On top of that, you’re more vulnerable to spyware. In China, where levels of surveillance are high, this can be a serious danger.

Few servers

A free VPN doesn’t usually have a large server network. This means that your options for going online are limited. Even if the provider has servers located close to China, these are likely to be overcrowded.

Won’t get past the Great Firewall

Even if you manage to find a decent free VPN, chances are you won’t be able to bypass Chinese censorship. This is because free VPNs don’t have the tech required to puncture the Golden Shield.

Data caps and bandwidth restrictions

Finally, free VPNs often have limitations on their services. In a place like China, where the internet is already limited, this won’t give you a lot of online freedom. This is why we don’t recommend a free VPN for China.

How to Install a VPN for Use in China

Installing your China VPN is very easy. All you need to do is download a file and run it. No matter what VPN for China you choose, the steps are more or less the same.

Installing VPN Step by Step Desktop

Before you arrive in China, follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Go to the website of your chosen China VPN provider. We recommend NordVPN.
  2. Choose a plan and create an account.
  3. Download the right VPN software for your operating system.
  4. Run the installation wizard.
  5. Open the VPN app and log in with your account information.
  6. You can now switch on the VPN. Usually, there’s a large “Connect” button.

If needed, you can customize your settings and choose a specific server. Keep in mind that VPN providers have different ways of ensuring a successful connection in China. You might have to look into the exact steps. Once the VPN is connected, you can enjoy censorship-free internet in China.

Is VPN legal iconWhether VPNs are legal in China, is a bit of a grey area. As of yet, there have been no reported cases of anyone getting in trouble for using a VPN.

However, with a clear ban on VPN services, China is trying to make it as difficult as possible to use a VPN. Websites of VPN providers are blocked and the VPN software for Android and iOS is not available in app stores once you’re in China.

Despite these bans, VPN use is common. This is because China depends on VPNs to conduct international business.

As a visitor, you will likely encounter very few problems using a VPN in China. As long as you use common sense and don’t do anything illegal with your China VPN, you should be fine to use one.

Final Thoughts: Using a VPN in China

Using the internet in China is a different experience from going online in most other countries. While states like Iran and Myanmar also have high levels of internet censorship, the Great Firewall of China blocks almost any popular website.

However, with the right VPN, you can easily access these blocked websites. Looking for the best VPN for China? Here’s our top three:

Are you going to China for an extended period? Remember to install a reliable VPN for China on your devices before you enter the country. If you run into trouble, try switching servers or protocols and reach out to customer support.

The Best VPNs for China: Frequently Asked Questions

Have you got a question about getting around the Chinese firewall using the right VPN? Have a look at our FAQ below!

You can get around the Great Firewall by using a VPN. With a VPN you can reroute your data traffic via a foreign server (for example in Japan or the United States).

Because the Firewall won’t be able to detect that you’re located in China, you can access websites and apps that are otherwise blocked, such as Gmail and Facebook.

The Chinese government blocks a large number of websites and apps, including Gmail, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google, Wikipedia, Snapchat, and Instagram. You’ll need a reliable VPN for China to access these sites.

The internet in China is restricted for several reasons, but it’s primarily done to control the flow of information and to protect Chinese companies from international competitors. You can use a VPN to get around the Great Firewall.

The best VPN for China is NordVPN. This is a no-log VPN provider that offers special obfuscated servers for China. On top of that, NordVPN performs well when it comes to speed, security, and user-friendliness.

The Chinese government banned the use of VPNs, though they rarely enforce laws associated with VPNs. Officially, they only allow pre-approved VPNs, which provide the government backdoor access to track user access.

At the moment, you can use a VPN in China, though the government is cracking down on its use.

International Censorship & Security Journalist
Lauren Mak is an internal censorship and security-focused journalist with a keen eye for how technology affects society. With a background in International Relations and North American Studies, Lauren brings a unique perspective to the VPNOverview team. Lauren has a passion for helping others understand the importance of privacy, freedom, and internet safety and brings that passion to VPNOverview.