The best China VPN: working services in 2024

Chinese flag superimposed on a laptop keyboard
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

China is infamous for its Great Firewall – a mix of legislation and tech used to regulate the internet usage of Chinese residents and prevent them from accessing the web freely. It's frustrating, and the only way around it is to use a China VPN to bypass the strict geo-restrictions. The best VPN services mask your real IP address and make your VPN traffic look like regular internet traffic.

However, it’s not easy to find a reliable VPN that successfully evades the ever-evolving Chinese detection systems. I've reviewed dozens of VPN providers, and my rankings on this page are weighted towards the most secure providers. 

Features like obfuscation (hiding the fact you're using a VPN), super-secure DNS, a kill switch and good customer support have been prioritized, so be aware that some providers here are not great at unblocking things like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

I’ve covered each VPN provider in detail below after putting them through stringent tests, so keep reading to find out which VPNs you should consider installing before entering China. However, if you’re looking for a quick answer, here are my top 3 picks:

Top 3 best China VPNs at a glance

There are hundreds of VPNs on the market, but not all of them will work in China. During my testing, I made sure to shortlist VPNs that can bypass the Great Firewall, offer obfuscation (cloaking) features, and come with a watertight no-logs policy—so you can rest assured that your digital privacy stays intact.

In a hurry? Here are my top 3 China VPN picks

1.NordVPN – the best China VPN overall

1. <a href="http://go.nordvpn.net/aff_c?offer_id=165&aff_id=3013&aff_click_id=hawk-custom-tracking&aff_sub2=hawk-article-url" data-link-merchant="go.nordvpn.net"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">NordVPN – the best China VPN overall
NordVPN is a solid all-in-one solution with great speeds and privacy, and unblocking functionalities. It offers obfuscated servers which help evade Chinese censorship, and it's one of the fastest providers I've tested.

It’s also excellent for streaming, and there’s hardly a streaming service NordVPN can't unblock. Starting at around the $3.50 per month mark, it’s cheaper than my other two picks below, and it also has a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out and see if it’s for you.

2. ExpressVPN – A great mainstream China VPN

2. <a href="https://go.expressvpn.com/c/4550836/1330033/16063?subId1=hawk-custom-tracking&sharedId=hawk&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.expressvpn.com%2Foffer%2Ftomsguide-deal" data-link-merchant="expressvpn.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">ExpressVPN – A great mainstream China VPN
ExpressVPN is our #1 pick overall when it comes to all-purpose VPNs, and it’s also a decent tool for unblocking websites in China. With obfuscated servers to hide your VPN use alongside class-leading privacy features and top streaming support, it’s a great choice for most.

It’s worth noting that while ExpressVPN is a much better service than AstrillVPN for the general user, there have been some reports of issues in China – like almost all other providers. If this is the case for you, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee protecting you.

3.

3. <a href="https://www.astrill.com/a/v5skfvd5xe5x?subtag=hawk-custom-tracking" data-link-merchant="astrill.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Astrill VPN – very reliable, but very expensive
Astrill is one of the most reliable options for accessing the internet without Chinese laws restricting you. It uses a Stealth VPN protocol along with features like Smart Mode and Double VPN for enhanced security and privacy, enabling you to break through The Great Firewall.

You'll have to make some sacrifices – it's no good for streaming and it's expensive – but it’s extremely configurable and is designed to evade Chinese surveillance. There’s no money-back guarantee, but a 7-day free trial means you can test the service before you make the final call.

My list of the very best China VPNs of 2024

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All the VPNs below have a track record of being effective at evading Chinese censorship. Out of the many VPNs I've reviewed, these are the providers that I'm trust the most to get access to content, but when it comes to China specifically, there are no guarantees. However, one way to improve your luck is to install your VPN on your devices before you leave home. Some VPN websites are blocked by Chinese authorities, so having them up and running before you leave is essential.

NordVPN: the best China VPN

The best China VPN NordVPN on a range of devices

(Image credit: NordVPN)

1. NordVPN

Security-obsessed giant works well in China

Works in China: Yes | Number of servers: 6,000+ | Server locations: 80 | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, BBC iPlayer | Simultaneous connections: 6 | 24/7 support: Yes

Great security features
Reliable performance
Works on all your devices
Awkward app interface
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want easy access to VPN servers in China: Setting up NordVPN in China is just as easy as setting it up anywhere else, especially with its super friendly customer support.

✔️ You want a strong privacy suite: NordVPN doesn’t hold back in terms of privacy, with superior ad blocking, malware protection and a built-in antivirus at no extra cost.

✔️ You want to access Netflix everywhere: As the best Netflix VPN, Nord unblocks all Netflix libraries, even more niche locations like Japan, in every country. 

Avoid if:

❌ You need lots of global servers. Nord has a good range of servers worldwide, but rivals ExpressVPN and Surfshark have wider networks.

You want a simple mobile interface: Nord’s map-style interface might be fun to look at but it's certainly not the easiest to use, especially on Android and iOS devices.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

NordVPN has consistently been one of the top VPN providers for many years now, but as a China VPN, it's unbeatable. With a new-generation VPN protocol like NordLynx, a guide on setting up your VPN manually – if it comes to that – and superior unblocking capabilities, NordVPN is a great choice.

In my expert NordVPN review, I explored the service’s powerful DNS leak protection, two kill switches, and incredible connection speeds via the secure NordLynx protocol. What's more, for those traveling to or living China, it's the very best option for evading surveillance and censorship.

Obfuscated servers and fully automated protocol selection means that Nord takes the hard work out of setting up your VPN. If you're in China, it'll detect it and apply settings that are best suited to getting you online. 

You'll be able to watch the full gamut of streaming media, from Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Prime Video, to Disney Plus, Hulu, and YouTube. Nord’s 5,000+ servers will ensure you'll be able to connect to one that's fairly close to wherever you are in China.

Peaking at over 950 Mbps, Nord is the fastest VPN I've ever tested. However, given that you really only need 20 Mbps for streaming content in HD and that the average internet speed in China is around 90 Mbps, this won't make the biggest difference – but it's nice to know you've got serious speed backing you up.

However, it's a little disappointing that NordVPN has servers in only 60 countries, whereas top competitors like Express and Surfshark are present in around 100. If you want access to a massive range of locations when you’re visiting China, NordVPN, although good, doesn’t match up to some of the others on the list. Performance elsewhere makes up for this, though.

The new and exciting Meshnet feature functions like a LAN network and allows you to safely connect up to 60 devices directly. This makes file sharing, multiplayer gaming, and collaborating with your work buddies more secure, as you won’t have to send files to a server cloud first.

There’s also a rich database of guides and tutorials available on the website that should be more than enough to troubleshoot most problems. For more help, the 24/7 live and email support should come through nicely.

NordVPN offers 6 simultaneous connections, which is OK if you compare it Astrill's 5. If you want a VPN that covers an unlimited number of devices on a single plan, though, it’s worth looking at Surfshark. However, if you're after a VPN for China with tons of additional features for a reasonable price, NordVPN is your best bet – and as you’d expect, there's a 30-day guarantee in case you're not a fan.

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NordVPN test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignA fun and interactive design but isn't the most clutter-free⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useThe map-like interface is too much to wrap your head around, but apart from the mobile apps, it’s smooth sailing⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceThe fastest VPN I've ever tested⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingPerfect for Netflix everywhere but is equally capable for every other streaming platform, but not 100% in China⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyOn par with ExpressVPN with AES 256-bit encryption and a no-logs policy⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 friendly support with help guides available⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceExcellent value for money but cheaper options available⭐⭐⭐⭐

ExpressVPN: the best China VPN for beginners

ExpressVPN on a range of devices

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

2. ExpressVPN

The premium provider is great in China

Works in China: Yes | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 160 | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Hulu | Simultaneous connections: 8 | 24/7 support: Yes

Excellent connection speeds
Great 24/7 support service
Excellent streaming performance
Some reports of disrupted service in China
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a secure VPN: With regular audits and a proven no-logs policy, ExpressVPN is easily the best security money can buy and that’s why it’s our #1 pick overall.

✔️ You want a VPN you don’t have to monitor: ExpressVPN’s auto-connect feature means you just have to connect to the VPN once.

✔️ You want global access: Unlike NordVPN, ExpressVPN has servers in 160 locations in 105 countries, including Hong Kong, India, Pakistan and Taiwan, meaning there’s always a server nearby whether you’re in China or someplace else. 

Avoid if:

❌ You’re on a tight budget: ExpressVPN certainly isn't cheap, and it's almost three times as expensive as Surfshark, my best budget VPN.

You want a built-in antivirus: ExpressVPN is highly secure and even offers a password manager for free but for a native antivirus solution, go for Nord.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

ExpressVPN  is easy-to-use for those trying out a VPN for the first time but comes with plenty for experts too. It’s fast, great at unblocking content, and there are few better options out there for security. For holidaymakers looking to access the web they know back home, it's a great choice.

In my hands-on ExpressVPN review, I found it to be one of the best providers I'd tested overall – and it's known to work in China too. 

The fact that no servers are run by ExpressVPN in mainland China means the service isn't subject to the data-handling laws domestic companies are, and as such, it can also guarantee that it stores no information that can identify you – excellent if you want to be sure your activity is kept totally private.

Express does have servers in a wide range of locations (160), including Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Mongolia – countries that are neighbors to China. Wherever you are in China, you’ll easily find a nearby server for the best performance. 

Unlike big rival Astrill, ExpressVPN excels at streaming, easily unblocking all platforms I put in front of it – international Netflix catalogs, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, you name it. However, NordVPN does do the same for a little less cost.

You don’t have to worry about accidental data leaks thanks to ExpressVPN’s powerful kill switch. It’ll keep your internet activity private even if your VPN connection is interrupted. 

Threat Manager provides even more assurance of safety and anonymity by blocking any apps or websites on your device from tracking your activity, let alone sharing it with third-party companies.

All ExpressVPN apps, whether on Android or macOS, are beginner-friendly, with the interfaces being straightforward and easy to use. A simple tap on the home screen of the app will establish a connection, and an auto-connect feature allows you to set the VPN and forget – you’ll always be connected to a secure ExpressVPN server.

Overall, ExpressVPN is one of the most secure VPNs for users in China, with special add-ons alongside the essentials like AES 256-bit encryption, RAM-only servers, and an audited no-logs policy. 

While it’s pricier than NordVPN or Surfshark, it’s almost half the price of Astrill, and is a top performer anywhere in the world. Try it risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee and see if it’s for you.

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ExpressVPN test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignSimple and easily navigable interface with all options clearly visible⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useServes both beginners and tech-savvy people that want more customizability⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceFast enough for just about everything but Surfshark and NordVPN are faster⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks just about every streaming platform there is, but has had some rare hiccups in China⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyHighly secure protocols for complete peace of mind ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 live chat and email support along with a rich knowledge center of blogs and guides⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceWorth every penny but more expensive than its competitors⭐⭐⭐

AstrillVPN: highly regarded and effective in China

Astrill VPN on a range of devices

(Image credit: Astrill VPN)

1. Astrill VPN

Expensive, but the most reliable China VPN

Works in China: Yes | Number of servers: 300+ | Server locations: 57+ | Streaming sites unblocked: US Netflix | Simultaneous connections: 5 | 24/7 support: Yes

The most reliable VPN for China 
Stealth VPN designed for China access
Very configurable apps
Lots of testimonials online
Very expensive
No good for streaming
No money-back guarantee
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a dedicated VPN for China: Astrill VPN has tons of features for privacy and anonymity in China that will keep you hidden from the various blocks put in place by the Chinese government.

✔️ You want better security: Astrill VPN comes with two kill switches and a custom Smart Mode/Stealth VPN to get online in China. There’s also port forwarding and multi-hop VPN.

✔️ You want a configurable VPN: Astrill’s desktop app is highly configurable, and technical users can spend a lot of time happily exploring the various options and settings.

Avoid if:

You want a budget VPN: Astrill is one of the most expensive VPNs I’ve ever reviewed – make sure you can afford it. 

You want more servers to choose from: With just 300 or so servers under its belt, Astrill's servers are liable to become crowded. Providers like NordVPN offer over 5,000.

You want a money-back guarantee: Astrill does not come with a money-back guarantee, and only offers a 7-day free trial.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Astrill VPN is an expensive yet popular China VPN known for upholding privacy in this restrictive country through its in-house obfuscation technology – and this is its main selling point. If you're looking to access global streaming sites you're out of luck, but for the most reliable protection in China, it's a very good choice.

Astrill VPN is one of the costliest providers I’ve ever reviewed, but when it comes to bypassing Chinese restrictions, it’s easily one of the most reliable and consistent VPNs around.

Astrill VPN has a proprietary protocol in Stealth VPN that specializes in evading the two most powerful censorship methods by The Great Firewall – deep packet inspection (DPI) and firewall blocks. Stealth VPN is seemingly more reliable at evading detection than the more common OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols. 

Deep packet inspection involves scrutinizing data packets as and when they pass through a checkpoint on the network and is one of the most efficient ways of detecting VPN use, so Astrill’s ability to evade it is commendable.

Another feature that makes Astrill VPN a good fit for users in China is its Smart Mode. Instead of assigning you a foreign IP address which is very easy for governments to block, the Smart Mode assigns you a regional IP address. This helps you in two ways: you get the fastest speeds possible which wouldn’t be the case with a foreign IP, and two, you can easily stream local TV and news channels in China.

Now, you may want more security for yourself – this is where Astrill’s multi-hop feature comes into play. This routes your traffic through an additional VPN server so that anyone trying to trace your activities loses the trail – and while it’s probably overkill in most situations, it does offer extra peace of mind.

There are, however, quite a few downsides. First of all, Astrill VPN is poor as a streaming VPN – in my hands-on Astrill VPN review, I could only get access to US Netflix, while services like BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ were totally blocked. Not great, considering rivals such as NordVPN and Surfshark can unblock just about everything under the sun. Both of those providers are also much cheaper than Astrill VPN.

Astrill also has relatively few servers – around 300 – which means at busy times you may find yourself suffering from slower connections.

However, for those who will be truly relying on their China VPN to blend in with the local IP addresses and evade all types of blocks used by the Chinese government, it's probably the most effective VPN for the job, and is widely recommended on forums and Reddit, which can only be a good thing. Just make sure you can afford it. 

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Astrill VPN test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignSimple and navigable design but visually it's quite dated⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useEasy to use with enough customization options for all kinds of users⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceNot the fastest but definitely stable, much like PIA or ExpressVPN⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingA mixed bag – great for unblocking the wider web in China, terrible for streaming global content⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyStealth VPN comes with unique features to evade The Great Firewall⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportYou get live support, tutorials, FAQs, and a contact form⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceIt’s expensive, but few rivals perform as well as it does in this niche⭐⭐

Surfshark: top-quality cheap China VPN

Surfshark on a range of devices

(Image credit: Surfshark)

4. Surfshark

Swift as a shark – and as hidden as one, too

Works in China: Yes | Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 143 | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, BBC iPlayer, Hulu | Simultaneous connections: Unlimited | 24/7 support: Yes

Bargain price
Excellent connection speeds
Great streaming capabilities
Camouflage mode helps avoid blocks
Not as configurable as others
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want unlimited connections: You can secure any number of devices you want, including your friends and family, with just one Surfshark account. 

✔️ You want a fast VPN: With average speeds of over 950 Mbps, Surfshark shines through as one of the fastest providers in my recent round of testing.

✔️ You want the best budget VPN: Surfshark is hands down the best bargain pick right now. Enjoy unlimited connections, servers in 100+ countries, and the fastest speeds in the industry at just a fraction of the price of other VPNs.  

Avoid if:

❌ You want foolproof security: Although decent, there are potential issues with Surfshark’s kill switch, including leaking under extreme pressure, so if you’re a privacy purist, go for NordVPN or ExpressVPN.

You want a VPN for torrenting: While Surfshark supports torrenting, it’s not as good as the likes of ExpressVPN or PIA. 

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Surfshark is your best option for a China VPN if you’re on a budget. It’s incredibly fast, allows unlimited simultaneous connections, and unblocks content with ease. The kill switch is a case of hit-and-miss but still decent. You can get started for less than $2.50 per month, along with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Netherlands-based Surfshark is my favorite cheap VPN, and it’s also a good choice for those traveling to China. With charmingly simple interfaces, its desktop and mobile apps ranked highly in my expert Surfshark review, are incredibly easy to use and deliver excellent performance.

That doesn't mean that it lacks power, though. While not quite as configurable as ExpressVPN, Surfshark offers great security through strong encryption, a number of different protocols, a useful kill switch, and split tunneling. There's also double-hop, and the NoBorders feature combined with Camouflage Mode is what allows it to unblock content within China.

The Camouflage Mode makes your VPN traffic look like a regular internet connection by removing any VPN traces. This makes bypassing content restrictions easier, as the Chinese government won’t be able to monitor your activities. 

The unique NoBorders mode is specially designed to increase maneuverability in highly restricted areas like China, and is analogous to what other providers call 'obfuscation'. If and when the Surfshark app on your device senses any kind of restrictions on your current connection, it’ll switch the NoBorders mode on – it’ll give you a list of servers capable of bypassing those restrictions, ensuring you always enjoy a smooth-sailing VPN connection.

I tested the kill switch on all supported devices, and it performed just as I’d expected on most of them. However, when pushed to the limit, the Windows kill switch did leak – but this was in a situation that’s very unlikely to happen in the real world.

Surfshark is also a very fast bit of kit, and with its unlimited simultaneous connections policy, you can cover absolutely every device you own – whether, for some inexplicable reason, you've taken a dozen phones on holiday to China, or you want to cover every device in your household behind the Great Firewall. Plenty for your money, then.

As one of the most budget-friendly China VPNs, Surfshark offers tremendous value for the price, and if you’re willing to overlook the absence of a few advanced features found in Nord or Express, there’s no beating the speeds, unblocking, and super-friendly customer support of Surfshark. There’s also a month-long money-back guarantee, so you can try it before you commit to it.

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Surfshark test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignFun and intuitive, with all the options well-labeled and easy to navigate⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useOne of the best VPNs for beginners⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceOne of the very fastest providers I've tried⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingDoesn’t get past everything but still better than most⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyThe kill switch is questionable but kudos to a built-in ad blocker and breach-monitoring feature⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportPlenty of help articles, expert support available over chat and email.⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceThe best budget VPN on the market⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

TorGuard: speedy and effective, but poor for streaming

TorGuard on a range of devices

(Image credit: TorGuard)

5. TorGuard

Smaller provider's stealth VPN tech is effective in China

Works in China: Yes | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 55 | Streaming sites unblocked: BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, YouTube | Simultaneous connections: 8 | 24/7 support: Yes