Did you know that the historic Great Wall of China has a modern digital equivalent? It's been dubbed the 'Great Firewall of China' and it blocks a lot of online connections. But much like the Great Wall isn't so imposing in parts when up close, neither is the firewall which can be worked around with the help of a trusty VPN. Of course you need the right one and you've come to the right place to find the best China VPN there is.
Once you start searching for VPNs, you soon realise there are a lot of them. But, more importantly, each one has a wide variety of varying skills. Since you've found your way here you likely want the VPN specifically for use in China. But even then there are more subcategories of use like movie viewing, website access, personal privacy and so on.
The idea here is to offer you the five best VPNs for China, each with a special skill so you can decide which is best for your needs. Please do bear in mind that the Chinese government is constantly working to clamp down on VPN use, so what is true at the time of publishing may change...and fast.
On the whole though, these big name VPNs all continue to offer you a working solution to maintain your freedom of choice regardless of changes at the government level. That means access to blocked feeds from the likes of Facebook and Twitter to YouTube and Netflix.
The best of the bunch for us has to be ExpressVPN, but there are other options too. Check out our pick of the best China VPNs below.
- Or get the best for every occasion with our overall best VPN guide
Our Top Five China VPN Picks
The best all-round China VPN
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | IP addresses: 30,000 | Maximum devices supported: 5
ExpressVPN is the best China VPN thanks to combination of factors that include great speeds, excellent security and 24/7 customer service that could prove useful when on Chinese turf and in need of the best work-around technique.
ExpressVPN is a great worry-free option thanks to its AES 256-bit encryption over OpenVPN UDP which is all backed up with a kill switch. You also get split tunnelling meaning you are super secure no matter the connection you use.
There are over 3,000 servers in more than 150 locations so you should find one that works well for you. Failing that, you can get onto that aforementioned 24/7 customer support over the phone or via online chat to get guided to the best solution for your needs.
You are limited to five device connections at once, which isn't as many as some VPNs offer. However, that should cover you for a phone, laptop, tablet and console which sorts out most needs, so by no means the end of the world.
All that is great but you also get peace of mind thanks to a 30-day money back guarantee. This means you can effectively try for free and if you don't like it you've lost nothing.
Get 49% off the best China VPN
As we say, you can try ExpressVPN before you fully commit thanks to its 30-day money back promise. But if our praise above as convinced you to just go for ExpressVPN straight away, then you can get 49% off the normal price with an annual plan. Plus, it will through in an extra 3 months free on top.
Superb security - even in China
Number of servers: 5,600+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6
NordVPN is the most secure VPN out there right now thanks to its unique double encryption. That's a 2048-bit encryption that puts this at above military level secure - something you may want for peace of mind when in China.
The security continues with very, very strong DNS leak protection and not one but two kill switches. Plus, with over 5,000 server locations spread over more than 60 countries, it should be easy to move your location to find the best speed.
The DNS-style SmartPlay feature is a nice addition which is specifically designed to help you easily get around geo-restrictions to unblock more services even in countries like China.
With download speeds well above average, six device connections at once, proxy extensions for browsers, Bitcoin, PayPal and credit card payment options, and a 30-day money back guarantee, this is a very appealing VPN outright, let alone when you consider it's specifically great for China.
Before you commit to download, it's worth bearing in mind that NordVPN admitted to a server hack back in October 2019, although it seems that no major data breaches took place and Nord has since put stronger measures in to place.
Speedy as a shark - and as hidden as one, too
Number of servers: 800+ | Server locations: 50+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
Surfshark is another VPN that takes security and your privacy very seriously. Based in the British Virgin Islands, this service operates an AES-256 bit encryption, OpenVPN UDP and TCP, IKEv2 protocols and a kills switch. But that's backed with a double VPN hop and a private DNS as well as no logging aside from your email and billing details being kept on record.
While you can enjoy great speeds when connected, we like how quick and easy it also is just to get to that point. Menus are clear and minimal, which is great for those that don't like tech hassle, but could be a negative for someone that wants to dig a little deeper into options.
You can enjoy unlimited device connections, ideal to add that Fire TV Stick if you're travelling to China and want to enjoy Netflix on your hotel TV. You also get a 30-day money back guarantee on what is a very well priced VPN service.
Superb speed and security
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5
When it comes to the two big s-words for a VPN, speed and security, VyprVPN offers superb performance on both fronts.
For security you not only get OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec and PPTP but also a proprietary Chameleon protocol which is specifically tailored to get you connected even in tough countries like China. This is coupled with a zero-knowledge DNS service so you can rest easy knowing you won't be tracked.
Speed is excellent, worldwide, thanks to more than 70 server locations which are all fast. These will even get you access to things like US Netflix and BBC iPlayer while away in China.
You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try before you buy, or just use it for your China trip and then opt out, if you're comfortable with that.
Superb server selection worldwide
Server locations: 180+ | IP addresses: 300,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 5
PureVPN has been around since 2007 and, as such, offers all the features you'd expect across it's plentiful 2,000+ server locations. These include China-capable security measures in the form of DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch and all the usual protocols. You also get torrent support, payments via Bitcoin and up to five device connections at the same time. You also get split-tunneling for even more peace-of-mind that your identity is kept kept private.
That five connections may be a gripe for some but with the ability to make a virtual Wi-Fi hotspot out of your laptop, you can then connect other devices to that easily.
Speed and latency can be an issue at times but with an excellent no logging policy it's not bad enough to keep this off our top five list. The trial is 31 days, to one-up the competition, so if you're interested it can't hurt to give it a try for free.
Do VPNs still work in China?
The short answer is...yes.
The slightly longer answer is that most locations work but there are some which the Chinese government has detected and blocked. So while one location connection might not work, or may not allow you Netflix access specifically, another location may do. This is a trial and error effort unless you're using something like ExpressVPN where the experienced, up-to-date 24/7 customer support staff should be able to point you to the right server for your need immediately.
Are VPNs legal in China?
China has banned all VPNs, having already removed all VPN apps from China's Apple Store. Yet it still needs them. For businesses to share information securely outside of China, VPNs are well used. Since China doesn't want to stunt international business and growth, killing VPNs totally would not make sense.
Instead it has said telecom and internet companies must get government approval before using VPNs for cross-border approval.
A private VPN user was fined 1,000 yuan ($145) in January 2019. While this is an example, it can't realistically work nationwide, so use a VPN at your own risk as they are banned.