Best VPN for China in 2018

Last updated on December 3, 2018 Views: 2189 Comments: 23

It’s well known that China operates a strict internet censorship policy, making access to certain corners of the internet a mission in-and-of-itself. Living or even just paying a visit to China means that certain websites, content and social media sites are totally out of the question.

A VPN service will allow you to gain full access to the limitless potential of the internet, enabling you to bypass any restrictions put in place by governments and gain your right to view ‘blocked’ content. So which VPN works in China?

Our pick for Best VPN For China: ExpressVPN

In this article

The Great Firewall of China Limits Your Internet Access

Calling the Chinese ‘slaves’ to their government isn’t far from the truth, and though to some extent we all are, the Chinese have it pretty bad. Being one of the most heavily censored countries in the world, the government regime implements a harsh amount of protectionism and does its very best to implement strict control over its people, particularly via the internet content available. Whether you can you use Facebook in China is a much-debated issue and unfortunately, it’s almost impossible.

The ‘Great Firewall of China’ (GFW) ensures that all internet is regulated and heavily censored, blocking access to foreign websites and any content anti-government or deemed inappropriate. This makes life for citizens, expats, and visitors extremely challenging, as many of the websites and social media channels that they’re accustomed to visiting regularly are now blocked. Does Snapchat work in China for example? See our list below to find out.

Blocked websites include:

  • Google (the entire suite)
  • Facebook (later we’ll get onto how to use Facebook in China, we know it’s a big one!)
  • YouTube
  • Snapchat
  • Whatsapp
  • Wikipedia
  • Yahoo!
  • Instagram
  • Dailymotion
  • The New York Times
  • SoundCloud
  • Pinterest
  • Pornhub
  • The Independent
  • Bloomberg
  • BBC
  • Tumblr
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Netflix

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! You can find more info about blocked websites in China here:

A VPN to Use in China is Your Best Option

So how does one go about accessing their usual online websites and social media channels when in China? The answer is three words; a Virtual Private Network, or VPN for short.

A VPN will cleverly allow you to camouflage your physical location – so you may now be wondering how to use a VPN in China?

All you have to do is sign in to your VPN of choice and select a server from a different country where your favorite websites are available (the US for example).

This will make it appear as though you’re browsing from outside of China, and from the country that you selected. In doing this, your true IP address will be masked as it changes to another, while also encrypting all your internet activities.

After selecting a different server country, you’re now free to browse the internet as you would freely and without any restrictions and with no one watching what you are doing.

In other words, there’s no need to worry about the controlling government watchdogs – now you know how to use Facebook in China!

Get the Best VPN for China

When it comes to choosing the best VPN to use in China specifically, it can become a little overwhelming with the vast amount of choice on the market. We’ve done the hard work for you, sifting through the long list of VPNs to find the best provider’s out there. We’ve narrowed the list so you’ll know not only how to get a VPN in China but also which is best.

Our top China VPN list is based on the following criteria:

  • Encryption technology – this should be very strong, particularly if you’re wanting to browse from within China, to make sure that your traffic is under wraps and unable to be read by third parties (or prying governments).
  • No traffic logs – we don’t want a single breadcrumb left behind when it comes to your internet activity, it’s important that any VPN that works in China keeps no traffic logs, leaving no means of tracking your internet whereabouts.
  • DNS leak protection – a good VPN will plug potential DNS leaks to ensure that anonymity is always kept (a DNS leak can destroy anonymity through ‘leaking’ your online activity to your ISP).
  • Many servers – many servers is always a big plus, as it allows for a large choice of virtual locations to choose from, meaning you can also find servers with the best connections.
  • High speed – no one wants a VPN that’s extremely slow, you’ll want a fast VPN in China that doesn’t cause your internet or streaming to lag, it’s hard to come across high-speed VPNs but they’re a big bonus to make for a higher quality browsing or streaming experience.
  • A money-back guarantee – this means that you’ll be able to trial the VPN before committing 100%.

TOP VPN that works in china

#1: ExpressVPN – Specially designed for accessing restricted content in China

Does ExpressVPN work in China? Without a doubt, Express VPN is one of the absolute best VPN providers out there and is definitely a VPN that works in China.

It’s simple and easy to use (you don’t have to be a tech-geek to come to grasps with it), keeps no connection logs and uses the highest encryption levels in the industry – 256-bit AES encryption to be precise, so you’ll never have to worry about the Chinese government tracing your online footsteps.

Privacy aside, there are over 130 servers to choose from spread across 94 countries, so you’ll never be out of options when it comes to picking a reliable, fast VPN in China.

On top of that, ExpressVPN in China provides fast speeds as well as unlimited bandwidth – making it a great server for streaming with.


  • $12.95 a month
  • $9.99 a month for a six-month plan
  • $6.67 a month for a 15-month plan (including three months free!)
  • 30-day money back guarantee

If you want to bypass China’s Internet restrictions and ensure a high level of protection, try Express VPN 30-day money back guarantee!

#2: IPVanish – Backup VPN For China

Wondering which VPN works in China? IPVanish China is yet another great option, it too uses strong 256-bit AES encryption levels and has a strong DNS leak prevention to provide a secure and private connection.

It boasts a strict no logs policy – which we always like to see, and have over 1,000 servers spread across 60+ countries. Although it can unblock most channels, users should note that currently, it cannot unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu or Amazon Prime, but there should be no issues when accessing other websites.

The provider prides itself on its high speeds and presents itself as a highly trustworthy VPN.


  • $10.00 a month
  • $8.99 a month for a three-month plan
  • $6.49 a month for a 12-month plan billed annually
  • 7-day refund policy

IPVanish is available from this link >>, they have only 7-day refund policy (compating to 30-day of Express VPN) but this more than enough to test.

#3: HideMyAss – Not recommend for streaming

Even though HideMyAss uses the very same strong 256-bit AES encryption as the other two VPN providers mentioned, the connection is often slow and we wouldn’t recommend streaming with this provider (though browsing the internet should be fine), streaming and downloading is likely to take you to the edge of your patience.

The connection is also a little iffy in that it occasionally drops, leaving your data exposed – something you don’t want, especially when browsing from China.

Long story short, it’s maybe not the best VPN to use in China.


  • $11.52 a month
  • $8.33 a month for a six-month plan
  • $6.56 a month for a 12-month plan

HideMyAss do offer a 30 day money back guarantee like Express VPN but that is where the similarity ends

If you feel adventurous and want to check them here the link to a special offer, it’s a Free Trial Pay $0 at checkout.

Testing VPNs in Chinese Cities

Try to Avoid a Free VPN for China

Unfortunately, it’s true what they say – nothing good in life is free, and you should take that into consideration when researching VPNs. We’d highly recommend avoiding free VPNs like the plague.

They’re riddled with ads (possibly malicious), often come with throttled bandwidth speeds, poor encryption levels (meaning third-parties will be able to see your online activities), and lack access to many blocked sites in China.

On top of that, you never really know where your data will end up – who knows whether or not the VPN provider is selling on your online activities?

Long story short, especially when it comes to browsing the web from China, stay clear of any ‘free’ VPN for China.

Is a VPN in China Illegal? Please Read This!

Are VPNs legal in China? There’s a big gray area when it comes to the nitty gritty legalities – in general, VPNs are available for individual use (even though China blocks VPN providers to the best of its ability, making it harder and harder to do so), but for a corporation to use one, they’ll need to get permission from the authorities. Unfortunately, China blocks VPN providers (though not all of them), and the recent China VPN crackdown has seen the government recently win the battle against VPNs on the Apple store, forcing Apple to remove all major VPN apps.

This means that if you are looking for the best VPN for iPhone in China, or an iPad, or even a Mac, you won’t be able to download a VPN from within China – you will have to download it before stepping on the plane. And while Android users still have the (limited) possibility of downloading a VPN app for China, they should be aware that soon it may be the same situation.

TLDR: can you use a VPN in China? – the lines are blurred but overall, yes.

Get a VPN for China

All in all, if you want to enjoy access to the entirety of the internet, free from restriction when visiting or living in China, including visiting your favorite social media sites, news outlets, and even video streaming sites, then you will need to get your hands on a top VPN for China that is both secure and fast.

For the most reliable and anonymous browsing in China, get Express VPN today.

Article comments

Terry says:

Living in USA, not China, would like to stay in contact with family, social media, and friends in China; especially in Beijing, and want to stay connected to WEIBO.
Has been using a VPN the past 3 years, lots of problems connecting to China, sometimes able to connect to weibo, sometimes unable, now totally unable to connect to weibo (this occurred after this VPN underwent system-wide infrastructure restructuring).
Recommended by a friend, contacted another VPN (PureVPN), PureVPN agent said China is not accessible or difficult to access currently by VSP in general, however, PureVPN is doing maintenance on their available servers in China, once is done, will be able to access websites in China.
What is your suggestion on the BEST VPN for someone living in America, to be able to connect to China, especially connecting to WEIBO ?
Your posting being of 2016, and ExpressVPN being the best and was blocked in 2016; what is the current status of ExpessVPN, unblocked yet?

Sacha - Security Expert says:

As you probably noticed VPN companies are “playing” a game of cat and mouse with China government, China find those servers and block them and VPN companies change server IP, sometime this can take few days for the VPN companies to change this IP, that’s why you, from time to time, are blocked; having say that, ExpessVPN turnaround is quite fast, usually same day.

Vi says:

Is the ExpressVPN still locked in China? If not, what is the speed now? Is it enough for a video call of messenger?

ST Editor says:

Thank you for commenting! As far as we can tell, ExpressVPN is now working again in China, and has presented no problems both speed or access-wise. We’ve found that ExpressVPN constantly is among the best performers in our speed tests, and it definitely has enough power to give you a good quality video call on Messenger. We still recommend it as our top VPN for China, but we encourage you to learn more about local regulations and changes in the law in the country to make sure!

Terry says:

Contacted ExpressVPN, their agent has confirmed blocking issue with China has been resolved.

markhascole says:

Express VPN is working fine in china recently I bought ExpressVPN from ReviewsDir to access my favorite social media sites.

Aarush says:

ExpressVPN is no more working in China. Tried few other VPNs but Astrill is the only VPN working in China. Astrill is offering a special mode know as Stealth which works flawlessly.

Ron Long says:

IpVanish and HMA are no longer working in China. Better try Astrill guys..

karjos says:

I’m going to work for a year in China from october.
If expressvpn is blocked, which one should I use?

Lyndon Seitz says:

Hey Karjos,

If ExpressVPN is not working for you, we’d recommend Buffered VPN for most situations.


Marilena Solomontos says:

Hi there. I am so glad I have found this information. I am heading to Guangdong on Saturday and Iam lost about which VPN I should install. I was thinking that perhaps Purevpn could do the trick. What is your personal opinion on that? Thank you in advance.

Lyndon Seitz says:

Hello Marilena,

In general we would recommend ExpressVPN or Buffered VPN for most circumstances. PureVPN could work, but we simply don’t have as much confidence in it.


Bit annoying says:

ExpressVPN has just been blocked in China. It’s all hit and miss.

Lyndon Seitz says:

That does seem to be the case. It’s currently a back and forth between VPN providers and those who wish to stop VPN users.


Jin W Yong says:

I will be going to Xi’an, Xining and Lhasa in July. I wonder if ExpressVPN works over there. Has anyone tried it before? Need FB while on holiday. :-p

Lyndon Seitz says:

Hi Jin,

Express has some of the best connections to help Chinese clients access content while you are in Xi’an, Xining and Lhasa. I will let anyone comment on this to confirm.

Ronnie Cronoble says:

Spot on with this write-up, I really assume this website needs way more consideration. I’ll most likely be once more to read far more, thanks for that info.

Sky says:

Hi Lyndon, Thanks for your rely.

I am in Beijing and I am very pleasantly surprised that Express VPN actually works here! I was told to be able to have a fully refund if ExpressVPN doesn’t work in China. I am using ExpressVPN 5.0 for Mac OS X 10.9 and above.

Lyndon Seitz says:

Great Sky!

Yes the 30 day money back Guarantee is great. China can be a challenge when it comes to content blocks.

SKY says:


Thanks for your article on VPNs. I am headed for Beijing next week. I wonder if ExpressVPN would work with MacBookk Pro. PureVPN didn’t work for me last time when I was there.

Lyndon Seitz says:

Hi Sky,

It definitely will. They have a Mac client which I personally use in the USA when I am working. Enjoy your trip to Beijing!

Charles says:

Express VPN is unable to load its own server configuration here in China , how could it be the best one?

Lyndon Seitz says:

Hey there Charles, thanks for your question.
ExpressVPN was found to rank the highest based on our testing, factoring in many different areas such as speed, customer service, price, and overall coverage area. All VPN providers have some limitations based on regional laws and restrictions, but when considering all the facts, ExpressVPN comes out on top for me.