Best VPN’s for China in 2020
Traveling or moving to China in 2019? Then you’ll need to find a reliable VPN if you want to access popular sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Gmail, Youtube, WhatsApp and Skype. China has a firm hold on what information goes in and out of the country.
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The Great Firewall of China (GFW) completely blocks access to foreign apps, and now China is cracking down on VPNs. China is deadly serious about controlling what happens in cyberspace. In March 2018, a meeting with Congress went a step further and implemented new regulations to ban VPNs.
The main reason they are laying down the law is that VPNs circumnavigate the GFW. The good news is that there are some state-sanctioned VPNs that can be used.
In this article, we’ll explore what VPN options we still have in China. We’ve found 12 of the best VPNs that still work in China and added in some tips to help you succeed.
What is the Great Firewall of China?
The People’s Republic of China is very strict when it comes to internet access, which is not all bad, as it allows Chinese companies to thrive. The Great Firewall of China is legislation which has some pretty strict internet censorship. If you’re looking to access apps or sites that reside out with China then you’ll find that access is completely blocked. It’s important to note that Hong Kong and Macau are exempt from the rule.
Do VPNs still work in China?
Yes, some VPNs are still authorized to work in China. However, upload and download speeds can vary. During important events such as important government VPN access can be shaky, but connecting to them is still possible. China is particularly vigilant when it comes to corporations accessing the internet via a VPN.
PRO TIP: Make sure that you sign up for your chosen VPN/s before traveling to China because it can be hard to access the VPN websites within China.
Will VPN Access Continue in China?
Obviously, the fact that China has the GFW in place means that they are not happy about VPNs bypassing their legislation. However, as with Netflix, VPNs find a way to bypass the rules. There are also some VPNs that are allowed by the Chinese Government.
PRO TIP: Due to the fact that China is keeping the VPN companies on their toes, it’s a good idea to have more than one VPN at a time. That way if one goes down, you have the second as a backup.
Current VPN Situation in China
Although a lot of VPNs used to work in China, the number is steadily decreasing. So it is getting harder to find a decent VPN that still works. The fact is – the Chinese government have placed a blanket ban on VPNs. They haven’t yet managed to block all VPNs as a few are quite stealthy and responsive to changes.
Thankfully, using a VPN in China is still legal, however, the VPN companies do need to get approval before operating in China. If you wait until you’re on Chinese soil to download a VPN – you’ll be out of luck. China has removed VPN providers from the App Store and access to Google Play is blocked. So make sure to get organized and install a few VPNs before you travel.
Top 12 VPNs That Still Work in China
When looking for a VPN that still works in China, it’s good to check for those companies that are significantly invested in the service. A Chinese VPN provider must have a high amount of servers based on Chinese soil. Some VPNs (like PandaPow) have special routers that enable their VPN to work better in China.
#1 | ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN is a great VPN provider that still works in China. One great thing about ExpressVPN is that you can still access Netflix in China. Additionally, they have blazingly fast upload and download speeds, which makes them a great option for gaming, streaming or accessing videos like Youtube content on Chinese soil. They have a 99% uptime in Asia and ExpressVPN say that they are:
The Most Reliable VPN for China
ExpressVPN doesn’t have servers in the People’s Republic of China, but they do have some in Hong Kong. Therefore, you cant use ExpressVPN to access Chinese content from other locations. Other providers like PureVPN would be best for accessing Chinese content from outside China, as they have a wide range of servers on Chinese soil.
The upside to ExpressVPN not having Chinese servers is that they don’t have to comply with Chinese regulations. Once you’ve connected to ExpressVPN you’ll be able to use the internet freely.
#2 | NordVPN
NordVPN works well in China. They use obfuscated servers, which are great for getting around tough government censorship bans. Obfuscated scripts use a key and turn the code into gobbledygook, which makes it impossible to read. Furthermore, obfuscated servers hide the fact that you are using a VPN.
It’s important to note that the NordVPN site is not available in China, however, customer support is great and will help you access a cloned version of the site. We’d advise to always install your VPN and check that it works before you travel.
#3 | Surfshark
Surfshark is another great VPN choice if you are in China. Surfshark new and growing VPN provider with 50,000 users, which when compared to Express VPNs 10million users makes it look tiny. Surfshark still works (as of April 2019) and is lightning fast. Therefore, you’ll still be able to game, stream and watch videos with Surfshark.
If you want to benefit from their 7-day free feature, then you’ll need to sign up for Surfshark via their app. The 7-days free is not a trial, you still need to sign up and pay, but you get an additional 7-days for free. Some people think that Surfshark still works in China because it is still new and China hasn’t gotten round to banning them. Keep an eye on that, as it could mean that they’ll be banned in the very near future.
# 4 | VyprVPN
Because VyprVPN owns their own servers, they can act promptly in case of any downtime. This is especially good if you’re looking for a VPN that works seamlessly in China, even if China does block VyprVPN they are back up and running swiftly.
There are no middlemen and their support team is wonderful, so VyperVPN is swift when responding to user requests and downtime. They also offer a 3-day risk-free trial, which is pretty decent.
#5 | Astrill VPN
Many users in China swear by Astrill VPN. This could be due to the fact that they are notoriously devoted to bypassing the censorship issues in China by using OpenWeb and StealthVPN. Astrill deploys extra measures to ensure their users can always enjoy the freedom to surf the web when in China. AstrillVPN say that they are:
The best VPN for China
Additionally, they have some strong security features for public wifi access, the ability to select your VPN location and a kill switch. Astrill also allows you to install their app on as many devices as you want, which is a great bonus.
#6 | Ivacy
If you’re looking for a VPN that allows you to access Netflix US while in China, then Ivacy is a great option. Ivacy has two servers based in China, in Shanghai and Beijing. Making accessing the internet via the Ivacy Chinese servers extremely fast, and the ability to access Chinese content available from other global locations. Ivacy offers great value for money and still works in China.
#7 | PrivateVPN
PrivateVPN has gone to extra lengths to protect its users. When in China you can get into a lot of trouble if you use a VPN because they are banned. Therefore PrivateVPN protects their users from any possible leaks by using 2048-bit Encryption With AES-256. PrivateVPN works in China by using its Stealth mode. The additional consideration for their user’s safety (such as IPv6 Leak Protection and DNS Leak Protection) is reassuring.
PrivateVPN is great for accessing online entertainment when traveling to China. They work with US Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and DAZN (a popular Canadian Sports Streaming service).
#8 | PureVPN
PureVPN has servers in 141 countries around the world which means that they can offer freedom to surf the web and be protected. Furthermore, PureVPN has a strict no-logs policy, which is something that we feel VPNs should always provide.
PureVPN has a service that they call “VPN for China” so you know that they are serious about providing secure internet access in China. They also encrypt VoIP communications, on apps like WhatsApp, Google, and Skype so that nobody can listen in on your calls, which is a nice feature.
#9 | TunnelBear
If you’re looking for a completely free VPN that works in China then TunnelBear could be a good choice. You need to use their “GhostBear” technology to access the internet in China. GhostBear is completely free, and included even with their free service and uses Obfsproxy which is an obfuscation feature.
TunnelBear’s free service is restricted to 500MB per month or1.5GB if you tweet about them. Possibly not the best option for heavy internet usage, however, worth a shot. Their Singapore and Hong Kong servers are the most reliable point of access for internet access in China.
#10 | PandaPow
PandaPow is a small VPN service based in Hong Kong. What’s great about PandaPow is that they are committed to getting around China’s firewall.
PandaPow offers a VPN wifi router for $99 which speeds up internet access and also gets you 3 months free VPN access, which is nice. You don’t need to opt for the router as they also offer apps that work on most devices. You’ll also get unlimited bandwidth and a 7-day money back guarantee.
#11 | Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield offers users 500 MB of data daily for free. Additionally, it is pretty reliable for accessing the internet in China. Like most VPN websites, the Hotspot Shield website is blocked in China. So you’ll need to make sure to download the apps before you travel.
Hotspot Shield offers a generous 30-day money back guarantee, so they are well worth a shot. Hotspot Shield Elite VPN uses obfuscation to ensure continuous uninterrupted internet access in China. Hotspot Shield has servers in 22 countries, including China. Therefore, you can also use Hotspot Shield to access Chinese content from other countries.
Visit Hotspot Shield
PRO TIP: If you are trying to access a VPN’s website in China then do so via another VPN or proxy service.
#12 | Windscribe
Windscribe still works in China, however, they are pretty non-committal about the access. They state that their stealth mode, and Wstunnel “Maybe handy in China”. Suggesting they consider access to China, however, it might not be as important to them as other VPN providers who focus on getting around the Chinese censorship issues.
If you are looking to use Winscribe in China it is advisable to contact them for an IP address to get around possible API connectivity errors.
For Added Security Combine Tor with your VPN
China snoops on all data that is transferred within their jurisdiction. Therefore combining Tor with your VPN will provide added security.
PRO TIP: If you want to download a VPN but you are already in China, then you can do so through Tor
All in All
The data and information control within China is the strictest in the world. You can still get around this with a few VPNs, however, they are under attack. It is important to download your VPN app prior to traveling, as most VPN sites are banned in China.
Additionally subscribing to a few VPN providers when traveling in China is a good idea, as servers can go down instantly, so having a backup will ensure that you have continual internet access. Why not try TunnelBear as a backup, because they have a completely free service, and would also be a good backup provider as they offer a 30-day money back guarantee. ExpressVPN are the best all-round VPN providers in China, so we would advise downloading their app ahead of your travel dates.