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Here are the Best VPNs to Use in China
VPNs tend to work better or worse in certain regions of the world. No place is a better example of this than China. The Chinese government is widely known for blocking websites and making some VPNs inaccessible. But there are some VPN apps that have managed to break through the cleverly named “Great Firewall of China.”
The Buyer’s Guide afterward will answer major questions concerning VPNs in China, then ending with a pick of the two that are best in the list.
How Does a VPN Work?
VPNs work by hiding a computer’s IP address when it communicates with servers of the internet. When a person tries to get online the normal way without a VPN. Most interactions with the servers they visit can potentially be seen by other people. And while some protections are afforded to web browsers (such as https protocol), they still won’t privatize the public nature of the net. Therefore, the best way to maintain a private connection on a public server is through a VPN. They aren’t built to take away all things that one would need to remain completely anonymous, but it would be harder for sites to track down your location. Also, your internet service provider (called an ISP) won’t see the sites visited. Add in the capability for them to tunnel your traffic with both private and open-sourced protocols, and the result is more freedom on the net as a whole. You’ll be able to browse all of your favorite sites that are blocked. And in China, this could have a profound impact on the way tourists and its citizens connect online.
The Great Firewall of China
While the Great Firewall of China is a figurative term of the entirety of the Chinese government’s efforts at online censorship, its implementation is far-reaching. Destination servers and the traffic that’s passed between them is slowed, monitored, or blocked altogether. This is usually done through means of whitelisting popular sites that the Chinese deem redundant or critical to the government there.
As this is something that you’ll find on most quality VPNs, it’s 100% possible for users to access all of their favorite (but blocked) websites in China.
Here’s a list of a few popular websites that are blocked by the Chinese government:
- The Pirate Bay
- The New York Times
Here are some of the main comparisons of each VPN app reviewed. If you need more details concerning a specific product, you can go to the VPNs official website for more information.
- NordVPN: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 3000; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- Surfshark: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 800; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- ExpressVPN: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 160; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- Astrill VPN: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 500; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- VyprVPN: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 700; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- Buffered VPN: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 45; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- VPN Area: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 2000; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- VPN.ac: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 114; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- PrivateVPN: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 60; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
- Ivacy: Works in China: Yes; Number of Servers: 250; Available OS: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Top 10 Best VPNs for China Reviewed
NordVPN has features that are great for travelers and visitors to China. All the latest protocols are included, and there are multiple plans for subscribers to pick from. You can get on it through your smartphone, and the software can be downloaded on to Linux-based distros. Server count numbers in the thousands, most of which will play Netflix without any blacklisting. While in China, just use it as you would with any ordinary VPN application. You’ll likely never need to change protocols to get it working; all systems go as soon as you finish the installation. Customer support is reliable, of whom can be contacted through live chat or an email ticketing system. Try out NordVPN is you want the best of the best but don’t mind the pricey fees.
- Server count is wide, including from locations that are within the range of most Chinese regions
- Plan length ranges from one month to over a year long
- The entire system is built with strong protocols and encryption capabilities
- Has both live chat and email contact
- There are much cheaper VPNs than Nord; not the best option for customers on a budget
Surfshark VPN has the upper hand when it comes to censorship in China, primarily since the server doesn’t log any of its user’s information. This could be useful, especially for those that are worried about the Chinese government ever attempting a hack into Surfshark’s servers. Not that this would be likely, however. Surfshark’s headquarters is located far away in the British Virgin Islands. It’s a place that’s known for little government oversight, a good way to keep the VPN’s customers anonymous. Speed is one of the things that users in China often have problems overcoming, especially when using a VPN over their current ISP. Such applications may work but that doesn’t guarantee that the servers themselves will be speedy. Yet with Surfshark, such issues will never come into effect. Installation time also won’t bog you down, even when your Chinese ISP limits to the speed of your connection when attempting downloads without a proxy.
- Downloading the application isn’t affected by throttling attempts
- No slowdowns will occur when browsing on a servers in China
- Not memory heavy and doesn’t filter content to appease local administrators
- Torrenting files is fully supported
- Customer server response times could be improved
- The occasional server may not work well of music streaming applications
Out of all of the VPNs listed, ExpressVPN is the one that’s often recommended the most to travelers visiting China. This is because of their consistently good servers that are streamlined to get through the toughest internet blocks. DNS spoofing attempting from official sources won’t block any content, and the leak protection for it will keep the sites you go on away from adversarial efforts to see your web history. But there’s more. Protocols are very strong and only you will have access to the things that you get on with ExpressVPN. That means all of the sites that were listed as restricted in China (in the above section) can be accessed as if they were never blocked in the first place. No extensive tweaking is needed here, making the VPN a good (but not cheap) choice for beginners.
- Any restricted video and music streaming content is fully accessible with Express
- DNS shields keep eyes away from what users visit if connections ever go down
- The application doesn’t require any setup on most operating systems; ready to use once opened for the first time
- The number of servers are much lower than many other VPNs
4. Astrill VPN
Astrill VPN, headquartered in Seychelles. Aside from the location, there’s nothing particularly odd amount the server as a whole. You can do pretty much everything that the average VPN users look for on such apps, including watching movies on Netflix or music with Spotify. Get ready to have your whole family hooked up with the VPN; enough devices are supported for a full household to get protected. One thing that Astrill gets right is protocols. You’ve probably never seen a VPN with this many under one application. Everything from OpenWeb to OpenVPN is here, making it impossible for Chinese governmental efforts to keep a barrier around your connection (so long as this VPN is turned on). Astrill VPN is recommended for people that like to use protocols that are well-received but aren’t always given to proxies of various companies.
- Enough devices are supported for a large family to use just one account at the same time
- The protocols featured with Astrill are compatible all feature encrypted tunnels
- Supports an endless amount of torrent clients with little slowdown
- Speaking with a representative from the company takes time
- Logging occurs during user sign-in on the company’s website
VyprVPN has a lot going for it that gives the service a strong recommendation to anyone residing in China. The first things are how the VPN won’t keep any of your personal data, ever. Logging just isn’t done, even when you’re surfing the net on its most popular servers. And regardless of the lengths that your ISP may go to keep you from torrenting the files that you want, you can get on all clients with ease. And if an issue does arise that requires you to get in touch with someone from customer support, doing so isn’t frustrating at all. Servers aren’t a long way away from China though, housed in the United States and a big contributor to covert surveillance. But VyprVPN’s server isn’t any less suggested because of this since there’s nothing significant collected by them anyway.
- Logging has never been an issue with the VPN
- Peer-to-peer file-sharing programs can be browsed and downloaded from with full support
- Fast customer support that goes out of their way to solve troubleshooting concerns from their subscribers
- Long distance server that isn’t in the vicinity of North America and Europe may sometimes lag
6. Buffered VPN
Buffered VPN is a great alternative to those that are more popular but costly over time. You’ll save quite a bit with this one, and plans are great for people that don’t want to burn a hole in their pocket. Servers speeds remain acceptable on most that are featured, including those which are close to mainland China. Encryption is very strong on the protocols are given here, so it would be virtually impossible for anyone to get a glimpse of what you do with your time online while in China. Throttling will never happen since your paying for the service, whereby bandwidth doesn’t fluctuate depending on how much you use the VPN. Signing up and completing installation is a little lengthy, and you might have to navigate through your network settings to get all featured up and running beforehand (especially if you’re on macOS). Aside from this and the fact that Netflix isn’t supported, Buffered VPN is a great tool to have around.
- Good plan prices across the board
- The interface is easy to master in a short time frame
- The VPN will never throttle or limit the speed of its subscribers
- Some video streaming content might not be accessible, which includes Netflix
- Long installation time
7. VPN Area
VPN Area is built strong enough to break through China’s web-blocking exploits, all without slowing things down on the customer’s end. This means that you’ll get unfettered access to your favorite web content. But that doesn’t mean that torrents are left behind. In fact, you would probably get through downloads quicker with the VPN than many of the other applications shown so far. If you’re a tourist that’s going to be on a temporary visit to China, VPN Area is an outstanding service to have around, one that could likely come in handy when your vacation is over. And for citizens of China, all of your favorite content online get now be seen, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Give it a try if you appreciate VPNs that have zero restrictions when it comes to streaming content.
- Costs featured on most plans are cheap and affordable
- Regardless of the operating system being used to run the application, controls remain about the same
- Streaming high resolution video content on Netflix and YouTube is supported
- Sign in attempts by users are temporarily logged for a specified duration
VPN.ac is an application that you may not have heard much about. However, that doesn’t mean that the service isn’t any less well-received than what’s already been reviewed. One cool aspect about it is how easy it is to use the VPN itself. Controls are smooth, menu options easy to find, and customer service prompt. There’s not much negative to say about the service alone, although it would have been nice to see Netflix featured. You probably won’t be able to access it through this VPN, although you could get lucky on some occasions if you switch between protocols. If you need to speak with a representative of the company for troubleshooting, you can only do so through email. There are no live chat features here at all, which may be a pain for those that need immediate assistance. But give VPN.ac a chance if you want servers that aren’t jam-packed with hordes of users at all times of the day.
- Acceptable plan costs, even with those that are longer than six months
- One of the cleanest user interfaces on the VPN market; very easy to learn
- Quick check out system that doesn’t require a great deal of information to get the download started
- Doesn’t do business with any third parties
- Can not be used in tune with the Tor Network
- User will be unable to access Netflix from the VPN
PrivateVPN works well in China, along with most other Asian countries. There are lots of remote servers throughout the region, and finding one that’s close to your location is possible. This is a good way to avoid slowdowns and such when looking at streaming content within the Chinese mainland. Customer support is friendly and very informative. If there’s a concern that you have, getting through to then is easy. Torrent support is here as well, yet you may experience some delay in your download time if your connection is limited in speed. But don’t let that keep your fry trying out this VPN anyway. It would be nice if PrivateVPN release more updated versions than what has occurred so far in recent times, but there are no noticeable vulnerabilities with the program as a whole.
- Troubleshooting issues can be resolved quickly
- Lot of protocols given with the application
- Supports a majority of the popular torrent clients, including The Pirate Bay
- Server increases don’t happen very often
Ivacy is the final VPN application on the least, but that doesn’t make it the worst. If you like VPNs that don’t leave your computer in a laggy or low-RAM state when opened, this is just the program for you. No part of its features will cause your computer to slow down, so go ahead and open your favorite apps as you connect to a server. You Chinese provider won’t be able to see what you connect to whilst online, even if the connection were to go off randomly. That’s due to Ivacy’s handy kill switch, a protective tool that’ll prevent any open browsers or torrent clients from trying to reconnect in such an event. If you’re a fan of Netflix, speed reductions might happen, especially if you’re not using the servers that show up first in the list. Music doesn’t seem to share the same problem though, so you can Spotify and Deezer as much as you want with this VPN when visiting China.
- Easy on most CPUs; won’t cause overheating or lagging when opened with multiple programs
- The DNS leak shield and kill switch button are great for preventing accidental reconnects
- Has lots of servers that are located within optimal regions around mainland China
- Netflix, while accessible, may not play well on many servers
What qualities featured on a VPN are Useful in China?
There are several ways in which the Chinese government attempts to limit or block restricted websites and applications from the public. The most widespread is through the use of whitelisting, whereby servers that are included within a domain name list are blocked through DNS spoofing. Other times, ISPs there may create fake DNS addresses that turn up a 404 error when attempting to get on the content. Most of this occurs at the destination server, so users that can figure out a way to get through such restrictions will be able to see the websites that are censored. The easiest tool to do this is with a VPN has protocols with strong encryption.
So long as you’re using with Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), then you’ll likely be able to see what’s been blocked online. Furthermore, protocols use tunnels to connect to the destination servers, making it almost impossible for others to see the content that’s being viewed when accessing files hidden by the Chinese government. Most VPNs, including those shown in the reviews above, have their own DNS servers too, to which spoofing would become a non-issue for those utilizing a service with the feature.
Will any free VPNs allow me to access Blocked Sites within China?
Yes, some free VPNs should work within mainland China. But these are oftentimes limited in capability and servers won’t operate as fast as those which you must pay for. If you insist on trying out VPNs, you should stick to popular brands that have free services first. That’s because of the large number of freeware apps in the category collecting the personal data of users. Although you might be able to get on the content that’s being restricted, your anonymity and personal info could be a great risk. Additionally, your VPN might also grant you only a small amount of data to use every month, similar to what a phone data plan would do to available minutes on a SIM card.
For instance, a free VPN may have a usage cap that activates after you consume 2 gigabytes worth of data. Unless you’re only doing basic internet activities such as checking emails or general web browsing, you can quickly hit your cap. That means downloading torrent files or even looking at YouTube videos can quickly use up the data that’s given every month. The best way to avoid all of these issues is to stick with a paid subscription. But on a good note, many paid VPNs have generous free trials that can last for as long as a week, in some cases. Check with the VPN that interests you to see how long the trial period is for.
Will VPNs with servers that are far away From China be difficult To Use There?
For most paid VPNs, no. VPNs that must be used on a subscription should be able to work within mainland China without any major issues. A lot of them will also show you servers that are close to your location, which is commonly referred to as the “optimal location” that you should try first. Unless you’re doing region-specific things such as accessing a US-based Netflix or another music streaming account, choosing a server that’s recommended by the VPN is the best thing to do. But even the farthest servers should suffice, and not bog down when you look at bandwidth-heavy content on them. Of course, you’ll want to pick a VPN with good server coverage in East Asia if you don’t have a dependency on servers based in Europe or the Americas.
Will most VPNs allow me to Torrent?
Yes, most of the VPNs that you come across will allow at least some torrent clients to be used. Although some VPN companies might not officially support torrenting, the service could still be used. But torrents as a whole might verge on a gray area within a VPNs user agreement. Some platforms have discontinued service with people that were known to be using torrent clients over paid ISPs in the past. If you’re not sure about whether or not a VPN will help you to torrent files, look at what reviews have said about the application. If most of the sentiment is favorable towards their use then you shouldn’t worry about encountering any problems. But to go a step further, check to see if the VPN has a kill switch and DNS leak protection.
Out of the ten VPNs shown in the reviews, two of them come out on top as the overall best to try when you’re in China (or if you’re a citizen there). But before they’re named, consider all of them if you have the time to take a look at them all. Under this check, you could start a free trial with those that will allow it and take your time to find the one that goes the fastest in your area. But for anyone that doesn’t have time to flip through them all, NordVPN and Surfshark are the all-around best for anywhere you go or live within China. ExpressVPN sits at a close third, so try that out as a solid third option. Yet no matter which VPN you end up subscribing to in the end, each of those shown above will work when you face off against China’s restrictive online policies.