Our in-depth guide tests the most popular China VPNs to show what works and what doesn’t. VPNs can help best mobile VPN services for 2018 unblock Facebook and Google – but what’s the BEST VPN for China? Our in-depth guide tests the most popular China VPNs to show what works and what doesn’t.
Then this guide is for you! Everyone coming to China needs a VPN to access Google, Facebook, Youtube, and many other blocked apps and websites. As techies, we wanted to find the best VPNs for China to keep our internet connections fast, reliable, and unblocked. We’ve tested a lot of VPN apps and we share our user experiences in this guide. ExpressVPN: very popular in China to unblock websites with fast speeds and excellent apps. Astrill: well known in China with a fast proxy, some issues in the past.
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Torguard: VPN apps with an extra proxy layer to bypass the Great Firewall. Tunnelbear: is the best free VPN to use in China. Remember to setup your VPN before you arrive in China. The future of VPNs in China — February 1st, 2018 crackdown? How would a VPN ban affect me?
And why do I need one for China? How much does a Chinese VPN service cost? Is using a VPN in China illegal? What is the best VPN protocol to use in China? What’s the difference between a proxy and a VPN? IP should I use when in China? What if I want to watch Youku from outside China?
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What is Shadowsocks and does it work in China? This mega-review includes some of the best VPN apps for China, expat tested inside China. Here are our Top 3 Recommendations on a comparison table with their most important features. Read on for individual in-depth China VPN reviews.
To go to a VPN provider’s website for more information, click on the button in the table below. Verdict: ExpressVPN is our top choice for users looking to stay connected the web while in China. It is a bit pricey compared to some other VPN apps, but ExpressVPN’s stellar customer support and 30-day trial period makes it more than worth it. The reviews in this guide are from the personal experience and opinion of our team here in China.
Some of the services we personally use and confidently recommend to our readers employ affiliate links, which help our blog to continue to publish awesome content — at no extra cost to you! Here are our top China VPN reviews. ExpressVPN is an easy to use VPN app that reliably unblocks websites for users based in China. Speeds are fast and there are ExpressVPN apps for mobile, desktop, router and more.
Our readers also get an extra 3 months FREE when you sign up for ExpressVPN for one year. Reliability: Excellent, rarely ever encounter connection drop outs. User Experience There’s a lot of cheap VPN apps out on the market today. Unfortunately, many of these VPNs are not designed for China’s internet filter. I’ve used ExpressVPN quite extensively in China, and it is my go to VPN service that I recommend to my friends. I particularly like the clean and simple dedicated desktop and mobile apps they offer.
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ExpressVPN even works with Netflix, which is great as some VPNs are blocked by Netflix. Connection drop-outs are rare unlike many of the other VPN apps I have tested. Encryption is a pretty standard 128-bit or 256-bit OpenVPN with an unspecified kind of stealth layer. Hong Kong and LA are my top choices. 1 pick for the Best VPN for China. The mobile iOS app is particularly great. Furthermore, the ExpressVPN app will also automatically reconnect if you lose your connection.
This really helps in China, where the cellular data networks can be pretty spotty. Other VPN mobile apps I have used require you to manually reconnect every time you lose your signal — a major annoyance. This is a great feature for those who want to use their VPN account on their phone, tablet, computer, or other devices without needing sign out and sign back in. ExpressVPN also has apps for internet routers so you can bypass the Great Firewall on all devices using your home wifi.
They will send you an email with a link to a setup page. This page will have an activation code which you will copy. Security and Privacy A VPN can do more than just unblock websites and apps in China. VPNs can also protect your internet traffic from hackers, spying Internet Service Providers, or other prying agencies. However to maintain your privacy and security while using a VPN, you need to make sure your VPN provider is trustworthy and maintains no logs of user internet traffic.
ExpressVPN’s company policy states it keeps no logs whatsoever. Verdict ExpressVPN is one of the more pricier options for a VPN, but I think the money is well worth it. The service is reliable and their quick customer support is adept at resolving issues specific to China VPN users. Right now, ExpressVPN is holding a special deal that gives you 3 months free VPN service if you purchase a one-year subscription. Even if you aren’t planning on staying in China for more than a year, it’s probably a good idea to get a VPN anyway for the security and privacy benefits — especially if you ever use public wifi. For just a little more money you can have the peace of mind that you will be able connect to the things that matter most, when you need it. Don’t take chances with your internet sanity!
Overall, ExpressVPN is our top choice for those living in China or travelling to China. Reminder: Make sure you sign up for the 30 day money back trial before you enter China! BONUS: Our readers also get a special extra 3 months FREE if you sign up for a one year plan. As of this writing, their website is not blocked, however this can change at any time!
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It’s a good idea to get your VPN all set up and tested before you get to China. China VPN space but by far the one of the most reliable and fastest VPNs for China. VyprVPN is what I have personally used in China. You can also cancel anytime during the 30 day money back refund period, so if you don’t like it you have nothing to lose! Free yourself from the Firewall today!
US Los Angeles, Japan is also good. Swiss-based VPN company that places a big emphasis on internet privacy. It is fairly reliable, but at peak hours it can be a bit slower. I particularly like the VyprVPN User Interface for your computer.
Account management and customer service has worked very well for me. 256-bit protocol which is designed to allow you to stealthily slip by the Great Firewall. I have tested all of the protocols and have found PPTP 128-bit to be the fastest. However, according to more diehard cybersecurity enthusiasts, 128-bit PPTP has a higher risk of being broken. The service works well on my Android smartphone and Iphone. They offer a 30 day refund period, so check it out!
No idea when this special will stop so get it before it’s gone! Astrill is a well known VPN app for China, but it can be a huge hit or miss in terms of performance. A few years ago Astrill was working great but now it is somewhat of a mixed bag in terms of reliability. It appears that the Firewall is targeting Astrill, rendering the OpenVPN protocol totally useless. That being said, if all you care about is surfing the web on your computer, then Astrill might still be a good choice. Astrill VPN you will need to use Stealth Mode, which unfortunately you need to pay for as an upgrade.
Stealth Mode is effective at disguising your VPN connection in order to bypass the GFW, but it is pricey. If speed is crucial, this is probably the fastest option for VPN users in China. Mobile: Astrill has had big issues in the past trying to maintain service for mobile devices. The official Astrill app is minimalist but can get the job done. It uses the IPsec protocol on iOS devices. The mobile experience was poor in the past but is decent now. Since you can only use one connection at a time under the standard package you might need to upgrade or get a second VPN.
If you are already in China you may find that you cannot access the Astrill website. NordVPN is one of the few VPN services that works well in China thanks to its purpose-built obfuscation technology that masks VPN connections from the prying of the Great Firewall. The custom apps have great clean user interfaces that allow you to connect on all the major computing platforms. User Experience Setting yourself up with the NordVPN app is a breeze. Their website has tutorials to help you setup NordVPN on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, router and much more. After following installation instructions you can launch the VPN app. This obfuscation masks your VPN traffic so it cannot be detected by the internet censorship technology used in China and other countries like Iran.
Without this obfuscation mode turned on the app will be very slow or totally unreliable in China. Download speeds with the NordVPN app were quick and the connection was stable thanks to the advanced obfuscation mode. Currently, NordVPN allows six simultaneous connections with a single account, which is great for those with many connected devices at home. Privacy Features NordVPN is one of the most privacy-centric VPNs on the market. NordVPN also has many privacy-oriented company policies such as zero logs and a warrant canary. Customer Service If you have a problem with your app you can easily contact NordVPN customer support through their live chat system.
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Alternatively, you can send them an email or message through a contact form with a 48 hour response time. NordVPN currently offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Note: As always, we recommend our readers to sign up, install, and test their VPN a few days before they arrive in China. Official VPN company websites routinely get blocked in China and the Google Play store is completely blocked too. BOTTOMLINE: NordVPN is a great VPN choice for those coming to China for work or travel. The app features highly effective masking technology that evades the Great Firewall and in addition has a ton of extra features that protect your privacy — which is becoming more and more important these days.
Buffered is a VPN company based in Hungary that offers a clean VPN user experience with all the features you would expect from a top-notch VPN service. Currently, Buffered offers a 30-day money back guarantee so long as you don’t exceed 100 sessions, 10 GB, or 10 hours of usage. This limit should be more than enough to try out the service to see if it works for you. VPN app that specifically addresses the Great Firewall issues that users encounter in China.
Most plain VPNs use a basic OpenVPN connection that is easily detected and throttled. The upside is that the connection tends to be more stable and unaffected by the firewall. 5 simultaneous connections, which is great if you want to share your subscription with your family or friend. Stealth proxy setting for the past few days and I can tell already it is a huge improvement over the last version. Torguard is definitely worth checking out.
They also have a Socks5 proxy that I am in the process of testing here in China. Their innovative VPN-Proxy technology is certainly great progress in the fight against internet censorship, and I look forward to further updates to their app in the future. VPN software service for desktop and mobile but also a VPN enabled wifi router, which is perfect for families or people with a large number of connected devices. The PPTP connection is usually fast, but sometimes I can experience periods of slowness, though that could just be from normal network congestion here in the land of 600 million smartphone users! The 7-day money back trial period is perfect for people who want to try it out before committing to a subscription. VPNinja is a pretty good service. The speeds are not so great compared to VyprVPN.
I maybe have seen a max of 5 mbps. VPNinja used to be superfast in my old apartment and old Internet Service, but it definitely is not as fast on China Telecom in Guangzhou! Speed: PIA is hit or miss. Desktop connection very slow or completely blocked. We currently do not reccommend PIA. The PIA application you download uses OpenVPN which can be very slow nowadays.
This blocking seems to depend heavily on your ISP and also your region. You can do this easily by opening Terminal or Command Prompt and typing: nslookup us-east. Most others VPNs only allow 2 connections. If privacy is important to you, you will be happy to know that they record no logs and you can even pay for your service using any major gift card, thus keeping your details confidential! Hopefully PIA can make a comeback in the future. I have heard good things about this VPN, but had trouble setting it up myself. According to some China blogs, it is one of the best VPN services for China because they are one of the few VPNs made specifically for China users.
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We’ve tried it out, and though it is basic, it can get the job done. Offers a totally free 500 MB per month bandwidth plan. Custom mobile apps for iOS and Android. Use the 30-day, no-hassle, money back guarantee to use this premium VPN app for free for a month. Also has a money back guarantee that will let you use the VPN service for free for 30 days. The free version of this app lacks many features and also has throttled speeds.
No custom apps for mobile or macOS. ExpressVPN or VyprVPN and take advantage of their money-back guarantees. For longer term use, Tunnelbear might be okay if all you do is email and light messaging on your phone. Free VPNs are free for a reason — they generally are not very good!
You get what you pay for. Selecting the Best VPN for China can be tricky since many VPN services deploy protocols that are blocked by censorship firewalls in China. Only a minority of China VPN services actually work with a high degree of bandwidth performance. There are a lot of VPN providers and we have tested a large number of them here in China. This list will continually be updated as we test more VPNs.
All of the VPNs in the list are paid services, for free solutions check out our Free Best VPN for China Facebook un-blocking guide. The table above is a feature comparison of the most popular VPNs used in China. Trials include free trials and money-back guarantees. The VPN speeds were tested using iOS on a China Unicom 4G network in Guangzhou with a max non-VPN speed of about 11 mbps. ExpressVPN is currently our recommended best VPN for China. There have been many developments in the past months regarding the legality and restriction of use of personal VPNs in China.
Currently, VPN usage is not illegal in China. This is all in accordance with new cyber security laws that took effect in June. VPN services starting on February 1st, 2018. However, there have not been any official announcements as of yet. UPDATE: The Chinese government has refuted the reports of a personal VPN ban, instead clarifying that the instructions given to Chinese ISPs was regarding the operation of VPNs by companies in China for non-company use. UPDATE 2: Apple has started to remove VPN apps from the Chinese Apple store at the request of the Chinese government.
Users with non-China accounts can still download VPN apps from the app store. February 2018 Update: There have been many recent news articles claiming that the Chinese government has ordered ISPs to block all unlicensed VPN operators in China by the end of March this year. VPN banning have been reported in the past, and none of them have come true or affected people using personal VPN apps. VPNs are still working in China. From a technological standpoint, such a ban on VPNs is certainly possible. If the government really follows through with a total ban of VPN usage by February 1st, 2018 this will have a very negative effect for foreign companies and individuals in China.
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Nearly all foreign expats working in China rely on VPN services for their daily work, communication, and entertainment. 6 out of the top 10 most used websites in the USA are inaccessible without a VPN in China. Internet users who crucially need Google and other blocked services may have to resort to more expensive options such as data roaming with a Hong Kong SIM card or satellite internet. Many expats may just simply choose to leave for a less hostile environment.
Chinese companies may then find it more difficult to hire foreign workers. Personally, we at Startup Living China will experiment with all possible alternative internet options in the event of a VPN ban. But at some point the cost and hassle might prove to be too prohibitive and some of us unfortunately may consider leaving China as well. It is important to have backup internet solutions in case of a total VPN shutdown in China. Here are some steps you can take to reduce interruptions in your daily cyber activities in the event of a VPN shutdown.
Make sure you have an alternative email provider other than Gmail. If VPNs are blocked, you will not be able to access your Gmail. We suggest opening up a Microsoft web email account as it is not blocked in China. Make sure to have copies of your incoming email at your Gmail account forwarded to your Microsoft account. Make sure you have access to your cloud backups. Dropbox and Google Drive will be inaccessible in the event of a VPN ban. Consider using a Hong Kong SIM card with roaming.
You can access the unblocked web on your smartphone without a VPN in China by purchasing a China Mobile SIM card in Hong Kong and using data roaming. This unfortunately will be much more expensive than China data rates. Not as good as Google but better than nothing. As tech addicts, you can be sure that we will be monitoring the VPN situation in China very closely. Follow us for updates on what VPNs are working, and what’s not. China — a countrywide imposed internet filter that restricts the access of certain websites when you are in China. More than 2600 major websites are blocked in China.