Top 10 Best VPNs for China
Top 10 Best VPN Services for More Freedom in China
Residents in China will doubtlessly have heard much mention of the Great Firewall that rings this vast country.
Unlike the Great Wall of China, the Great Firewall completely insulates the entire country from the outside world. In this case, it’s the internet, not marauding hordes of Mongols from the north, that is the enemy.
To get around the censorship of the web and site blocking, people in China rely on virtual private networks (VPN) to tunnel out to Western social media, websites, and apps. As a result of the Chinese government’s blocking of such content, China has become the world’s hotspot for VPN.
However, not all VPN services work consistently well in reality. At times, they can be achingly slow when you want to check Facebook, Google, Gmail, and YouTube, etc.
Many VPN services listed as working in China are based on dubious data. And quite likely not even real-world testing. However, we have put together a comprehensive showcase of VPN services that are working in China today.
Pro tips: 30-day money-back guarantees let you try before you buy. If you are visiting China, sign up with a VPN service before you leave.
- Works fairly consistently in China
- Fast connections
- Robust security and privacy
- Unblocks Google, Facebook products, Skype, and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and others
- More expensive than other VPNs
- Minimal control of advanced features
Price – From $6.67 – $12.95 per month
ExpressVPN is arguably one of the best VPN providers in China despite the fact it’s not the cheapest around. This popularity is partly because it claims to have a vast range of server locations to bounce around. However, it is not clear how many reliably work in China consistently. This sketchiness has led to some interruptions to service.
Weighing in its favor is that customers can use the service on multiple devices, and there’s class-leading security. Uptime is a claimed 99.9%, and should you run into trouble, there’s live chat support 24/7.
Functionality, too, is what helps set ExpressVPN apart from other VPN services. It works hassle-free across desktop and mobile devices and is simple to use. Because you can use the service on multiple devices and operating systems, many of its apps enable split tunneling. This means you can add particular apps to the VPN while leaving the others on a regular connection.
And if you are a torrent fan, you will be delighted to hear that torrenting is permitted on all its VPN servers.
- Works reasonably well in China
- Superfast connections
- Connect up to six devices
- Excellent security, encryption, and privacy
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services
- Manual set up required
Price – From $3.71 (2 year deal promotion) – $11.95
NordVPN is another heavyweight but comparatively recent entrant into the Chinese VPN market.
It is priced competitively as it wants to carve out a significant market share as a trusted Top 10 best VPN for China in 2021. Good news then if you are a resident of Shanghai or Beijing and want a robust but low-cost VPN service with class-leading security.
Right now, NordVPN is a contender worthy of consideration as it offers excellent value and the ability to hook up six devices. So far, it is doing a reasonably impressive job in China, and there’s nothing to suggest that this will degrade given NordVPN’s stellar reputation worldwide.
You can access two of the most heavily barricaded streaming services, Netflix US and rivals, Hulu. Torrent is possible on the service too.
With 5400 servers in 59 countries, NordVPN has excellent redundancy and the ability to get you where you want to go speedily and with little drama. However, in China, they use obfuscated servers that require manual setup.
Also bundled in with this already attractive package is unlimited bandwidth, military-grade encryption, and a no-logs policy. Plus, there’s an auto kill switch and integrated ad blocker in all their apps.
- Respectable performance in China
- Fast download speeds and HD video
- Unblocks BBC iPlayer, Netflix, and Hulu
- Allows P2P
- Live chat support available 24/7
- Smaller server network
- The occasional lazy server
Price – $6.49 to $12.95
A new but already well-known provider that makes it on our top 10 best VPN for China is Surfshark. It operates well in China, allowing you to bypass the Great Firewall and hook up with all your favorite shows on Netflix, the BBC iPlayer, Hulu, etc.
Surfshark does a champion job of breaking through just about anything you put in front of it. Netflix is accessed without Surfshark breaking its step. Though you are most likely to get directed to Netflix US, they are 14 other libraries available.
Its unique selling point for many is the ability to use Surfshark on unlimited devices. This is ideal if you have family members who want to get online. Or you have roommates that want to chip in for a subscription.
What else do you get?
Well, for starters, Surfshark deploys military-style encryption, they have a no-logs policy, and an automatic kill switch. Add in unlimited bandwidth, P2P file sharing, integrated ad blocker, and lightning-fast speed for downloads and video streaming, and you have a very tasty offering.
- Excellent speed and uptime
- Advanced encryption and protocol sidestep China’s Great Firewall
- 24/7 tech support
- Multiple payment methods including PayPal
- Auto killswitch
- Torrenting is not allowed
Price – From $3.75 to $12.95
This VPN service is one of the few operators in China that owns its data centers and VPN servers. It also uses a proprietary IP protocol called Chameleon alongside 256-bit encryption that enables VyprVPN to outfox government censorship. Your IP address is masked, and you will be able to fly under the radar without the Chinese authorities even realizing you’re using VPN.
Because they are using their own hardware and data centers, VyprVPN can provide fast and reliable connection speeds and excellent uptime. Their network of servers totals more than 600 worldwide.
With the usual payment methods and PayPal as an option, it’s a straightforward process to get started with VyprVPN. It’s unlikely you won’t find your favorite streaming service as VyprVPN’s support a fantastic array of content providers. These content kings include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, HBO, ESPN+, and several UK-based streaming services.
Despite what you may have read elsewhere, VyprVPN operates a no-log policy. They are independently audited to ensure zero user data is retained. So nobody, not even VyprVPN, can take a sneaky peek at your internet footsteps.
- 45-day money-back guarantee
- Decent speed and unblocking
- Solid performance in China
- Offers Chinese IP addresses
- Lacks advanced configuration controls
Price – From $5.99 to $11.99 per month
Hotspot Shield earns its place in this Top 10 best VPN for China 2021 guide for its blockage busting firepower and speed.
Admittedly, it’s not the cheapest we have reviewed. But if you are not in a hurry, pick your moment and bag a promotional deal. Their recent Premium yearly deal was pitched at less than six dollars a month, saving over 50%. However, the discount only applied for the first year, so always check the fine print of promotions.
What you get for your cash, though, is a laundry list of benefits, including military-spec encryption, HD streaming with unlimited data, and optimization for Netflix, Hulu, and a host of other popular content providers that are usually locked in China. And all this on five devices. Or 25 if you go for the Premium Family subscription model.
Hotspot Shield comes with a glowing international reputation and plaudits for being easy to use and implement.
- Basic, cheap and cheerful
- Allows Torrent
- Intuitive interface
- Zero log policy
- Unblocks Netflix, Disney +, et al
- Connection speeds occasionally patchy
- No browser extension
- Live Chat availability is limited
Price – Deals range from $1.98 to $7.12 per month
PrivateVPN is one of the fastest-growing VPN providers in the world right now.
This Swedish outfit is making inroads in China and picking up a loyal customer base across the country.
Ambitiously, perhaps, PrivateVPN says they can unlock anything and protect everything. They may have a case. All their platform apps have a vast array of advanced privacy functionality combined with encryption, obfuscation, and DNS leak protection. Everything you need in China to get around state censorship and site blocking.
PrivateVPN is also pretty nifty at unlocking Netflix. They can get into more international libraries than almost any VPN service provider. It’s also suitable for Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and many more of the usual suspects content-wise.
It may not be as fleet of foot as some others. Still, it is easy to use across all platforms and is more than capable of streaming video and downloading from BitTorrent.
For the money you pay for this basic service, what you get is exceptional value, and it’s reasonably reliable to boot. The 30-day refund pledge means you can test out the service first to ensure it works in your neighborhood.
- Multiple VPN protocols
- No activity logs
- No speed limiting
- Up to 12 simultaneous connections
- Secure DNS
- Not the best for live chat support
Price – From $9 on a rolling monthly contract to $3.75 per month on a two-year plan
In many ways, VPN.ac is a dark horse. It is a sadly under-rated Romanian company that often gives much bigger VPN operators a surprise bloody nose.
It has been a player in the information security industry for over 15 years and leveraged this experience to create its unique VPN service. Indeed, it would appear that their low-key approach is working as they are quietly building an ever-expanding customer base.
It may not have the largest fleet of servers, over 100 in twenty-plus countries. But it is a pretty decent service and surprisingly speedy, even in China. It works well with BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Despite the price tag, it comes fully loaded with handy features that you will love. Among such are its bomb-proof encryption and obfuscation technology, which you are prompted to set up when you register.
This feature helps to mask your internet traffic and sneak past firewalls and geo-blocks in China, Saudi Arabia, and other countries where there is heavy censorship.
- Works in China
- Strong security
- Based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction
- Excellent customer support
- Retains close to zero logging
- Not the cheapest
- Some occasional issues in China
- Sometimes slow to connect
Price – From $2.75 to $12.95 per month
A Malaysian outfit that is regularly billed as safe and P2P-friendly, this VPN provider prides itself on its customer service, speed, and unblocking prowess.
It’s reasonably fast in China and can unblock your favorite shows on Netflix. Security and encryption are top-notch, so you should have no worries on that score.
Though Hide.Me doesn’t have the public profile of its competitors; it is a good above average VPN service that works in China. It is kitted out with all the security measures you would expect to mask your IP address and protect you when you connect to public WiFi hotspots.
Hide.Me sports over 1800 servers in 72 locations and is unlimited, and claims Gigabit speeds. It gets all the fundamental stuff right, and is easy to use.
However, if you have qualms about signing up, there’s a 30-day refund guarantee that lets you evaluate the service risk-free. Their payment methods portfolio is extensive and includes the ability to pay using cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Dash.
- Simple to use
- Excellent performance and connection speeds
- Advanced features
- Five simultaneous connections
- Potent encryption
- The interface needs a refresh
- Pricier than others
Prices – From $10 to $20
Seychelles-based Astrill booked its place on our review thanks to its consistent performance over the past decade. It has been ranked at or close to the top of most VPN provider surveys during this time.
Apart from its noteworthy performance – which is strong in China – one of the first things that will strike you about Astrill is its design and feel. If Astrill has tightened their belts anywhere, it is with their expenditure on the interface design. Without being too unkind, it looks decidedly dated and in desperate need of a makeover.
That said, everything works as you would expect, and it’s easy to navigate. The adage ‘if it ain’t broken…’ is one Astrill HQ adheres to evidently. Kudos to them, then, for sticking with a winning formula.
Despite its retro appearance, there’s nothing dated about its technology. Being based in Seychelles puts Astrill beyond the reach of jurisdictions like the US and the UK. Its exact relationship with the Chinese authorities is somewhat more opaque.
Outside of the Great Wall Fire, Astrill offers a seven-day free trial, but it is not offered within China. So signing up in China is a leap of faith to an extent. But Astrill does explicitly state they work better in China than their competitors. And this appears to be backed up by anecdotal evidence.
- Accepts BitPay, PayPal, and a host of other e-wallets
- More than 2000 servers in 100 plus locations
- Malware protection
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Military-spec encryption
- Only English speaking customer service agents
- Occasional difficulties streaming Netflix
Price – Normally from $3.50 to $9.95 per month
Based in Singapore, Ivacy is a VPN service that has managed to work consistently well in China without too many hitches.
The big catch is that you will need to download the app before you travel to China. But, that said, there is a workaround, as you would expect.
Essentially, the Ivacy apps on its regular site are geo-restricted. However, there are mirror sites you can use instead for the download.
Despite these niggles, don’t write Ivacy off. Ivacy has good geographic coverage, with more than 2000 servers dotted in over 100 countries. Ivacy is also remarkable in that it is one of the very few VPN providers to offer servers within China. But there are plenty of nearby external servers to choose from nearby without connecting to a distant server in the UK or the US.
Overall, Ivacy is an excellent sturdy VPN service for China. It has a good all-round offering that supports multiple Netflix libraries and BitTorrent and allows up to 10 simultaneous connections. It may be a less popular choice in China, but you get outstanding performance for a modest outlay.
Best VPN for China FAQ
Are VPNs legal in China?
The technology behind VPNs is not illegal. What’s unlawful in China are VPNs that are not licensed and approved by the Chinese government.
What sites are blocked in China?
There’s a stack of Western sites that get blocked, including most household names like Google and Facebook, and many more.
VPN operators are locked in a perennial game of cat and mouse with the Chinese authorities. It’s challenging to stay one step ahead, but many do consistently.
However, at politically sensitive times, the government’s crackdown is likely to be stricter, so there are no guarantees. However, the 10 we have picked out are the best of the bunch.