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8 Best VPNs for CHINA (Tested in March 2020): 5 Paid & 3 Free

Last updated: July 13, 2020 By Dean Chester

VPN for ChinaThe Great Firewall of China blocks not only access to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many other popular sites but also tracks and obstructs the work of foreign VPN services. For these reasons, modern technologies which aim to intercept and analyze traffic are used, the bases to block IP addresses of used servers were created.

But few VPN providers can work under such conditions.

VPN-Review constantly monitors services that have new technologies and resources for bypassing technologically intensive censorship.

In order to check the functionality of VPN in China, we regularly test the effectiveness of their software’s ‘’hiding’’ work and learn the reviews of real users who use VPN services in China.

In this article, I will provide you with a relevant list of the best VPN services for February 2020 in China. There are 8 of them:

  • 5 of them are highly effective. They are paid VPNs.
  • Though 3 other VPNs have necessary technologies and positive reviews, they significantly limit traffic and/or the level of usability. They are free VPNs.
 
Best VPNs for China
  1. Surfshark: The number one VPN to use in China because of effective obfuscation, reliable Netflix support, and low price. Low price - $1.99/mo.
  2. NordVPN: Perfect VPN to unblock restricted websites and protect your connection from malicious websites in China.
  3. Astrill VPN: The provider has three technologies to hide the use of a VPN in China: OpenWeb, StealthVPN, Wireguard.
  4. VyprVPN: The VPN boasts its Chameleon technology which is responsible for obfuscation.
  5. PIA: The main features that make this VPN worth using in China are Shadowsocks, no logs policy, and high speed.
  6. VPN Gate: This noncommercial project will help you to stay secure and safe in China.
  7. Windscribe VPN: Make use of this freemium VPN to unblock geo-restricted content in China.
  8. Vpnify: This VPN works in some provinces in China. It is completely free but runs on Android only.

Unfortunately, there is no 100% effective free VPN for China. Technologies which are used for bypassing the Great Firewall of China are costly and require effective obfuscation. The free VPN services, which are represented my me, are far from being ideal and have serious drawbacks. However, I will cover them in this article. On the other hand, these VPN services can help to access blocked websites and go unnoticed (vpnify – not proven).


The peculiarity of VPN using in China

  • Are you going to visit China and know about Internet restrictions in this country?
  • Do you know about VPN and the fact that it is restricted there?
  • What should you do in order to access the sites usually visit and not to cause troubles?

To answer all these questions, I took advantage of people’s experience who went to China and used a VPN there.

However, first, I want to cover how censorship works in this country.

Significant restrictions associated with the use of the Internet started in 2003. Since this year, firstly for a while then permanently, Wikipedia, Google, Gmail, Facebook, and other popular sites were restricted [a full list of blocked sites].

The Communist Party of China was the initiator of the blockage. The official position is the protection of the citizenry against the negative influence of the Internet. But obviously, it is not the main reason.

Anyway, any person who came to China first time gets a shock after realizing that regular social media sites do not work and there is no access to Google Search. Besides, they are not available either at hotels or other public places.

An easy and effective way to solve the problem of website restriction is Virtual Private Network (VPN). To be more precise, those VPN services that provide both access to a VPN technology and some indispensable functions, which allow bypassing Golden Shield (The Great Firewall of China).

But you might already know that VPNs are banned in China. There are even real cases of punishments for their use. Hopefully, foreigners are just deported. Though, it is not comforting at all.

Let’s have a look if it is really risky to use a VPN in China.

What do real people say about such a situation? The majority of people agree that if the Chinese authority is not interested in your personality, you are not engaged in undermining the political system, and you do not try to share negative information, they won’t waste their time and energy.

I communicated with people who were in China before publishing this article. All of them used VPNs. Besides, it is known that millions of people in China use the Internet with the help of Virtual Private Network.

However, the law is the law, and you should be cautious.

For this, you have to take certain measures in order to avoid the unpleasant consequences of blocking.

There are 5 time-tested actions that will allow you to bypass restrictions in China safely:

  1. Install a VPN that works in China in advance (the best are mentioned in this article). It would be better to install two different ones as there are peculiarities in Golden Shield work in various provinces.
  2. Contact the customer service of a chosen provider and ask about how to prepare yourself for work from China. They will give you some recommendations and, perhaps, special parameters which you may use in case there will be troubles.
  3. Use a VPN with obfuscation. It will allow you to mask footprints of VPN protocols.
  4. Under no circumstances should you inform local citizens and any strangers that you use a VPN. Do not show them open websites that are restricted.
  5. It is desirable to set up the Split tunneling function in a VPN app correctly (not all VPNs have it). For this, you need the second browser. Disable the VPN connection in this browser while using Split tunneling. Use this browser for visiting allowed resources and local sites. In such a way, you will combine encrypted and open Internet access. It will be difficult to reveal your VPN usage.

A correctly installed VPN allows using the Internet safely and secretly, get access to blocked websites and protect your data against possible spying. For doing this, use the functions and options that I will cover in the next section.


Best VPN providers that really work in China in 2020

The best VPN service for China is Surfshark VPN. It ideally combines effectiveness and price. NordVPN and Astrill are also suitable.

Further, I will cover their pros and cons, underline the peculiarities of these and other suitable VPN services.


1. Surfshark: Best for China

Surfshark for China

Surfshark is #1 for China because of five reasons:

  1. Effective obfuscation for bypassing VPN blockage
  2. Reliable Netflix and other streaming services support
  3. Positive reviews
  4. New service (the provider doesn’t gain wide popularity)
  5. Low price (from $1.99 per month).

I like that Surfshark’s obfuscation technology does not require choosing between special servers. It is switched by default.

No Borders function

The required function “No Borders” is activated automatically with the installation of apps for PC and Mac. What opportunities can give you Surfshark?

It is worthy to mention that Surfshark is good not only for its obfuscation of VPN protocols. It is a dynamically developing VPN service with well-developed infrastructure, (more than 800 servers in 50 countries), extended functions, high-quality speed, and the best price policy among the providers suitable for China.

  • Unblocking of websites
  • Using VPN mask (except for Android and iOS)
  • Watching streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, and others)
  • Anonymous torrenting
  • Protection on public Wi-Fi
  • Access to the Internet from different platforms (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux)
  • Double VPN (double level of protection)
  • Additional protection while over content (Kill Switch)
  • Protection from suspicious websites and malware
  • Ad-block

Is it safe to use Surfshark?

Without any doubts, military-encryption, “No-logging” policy and no IP leaking allow using this VPN safe.

If you use the Whitelister function, you can switch off VPN for selected websites or apps:

Whitelister function

It can allow you to hide the fact of using a VPN for local sites.

For additional privacy, you can use chains of VPN servers directly from the app:

Multihop function

What are the Surfshark prices and how to use it for free?

Prices are more than affordable:

$1.99 per month for a 2-year subscription ($47.74)

$5.99 per month for a 1-year subscription ($71.88)

$11.95 for a monthly subscription

Moreover, there are two legal ways of using Surfshark for free:

  1. A 7-day trial period for Android, iPhone, and iPad
  2. A 3-year tariff plan and money-back guarantee for 30 days.

What do real users say about Surfshark in China?

Here are some cites from Reddit:

Reviews about Surfshark on Reddit

Reviews about Surfshark on Reddit

I would like to add that Surfshark began its work only in 2018. It is one of the pros for China because it is not under the scrutiny of specialists that control the Great Firewall of China and don’t block its IPs.

Click to read full Surfshark review

Surfshark Preview
Military-grade encryption, no-logging policy, and no IP leaking

I will wait for the including to the smartphone apps of the “No Borders” function and write about it for sure.


2. NordVPN: Servers with obfuscation

NordVPN for China

Until recently, NordVPN was one of the best VPNs for China according to VPN-Review. However, in autumn 2019 and in January 2020, when there were public holidays, NordVPN wasn’t effective enough.

The rest of the time, as well as now, NordVPN successfully bypasses the Great Firewall of China.

It is the first VPN that implemented the obfuscation technology, providing special servers for this. Do not forget that the ordinary servers of the provider do not guarantee that you bypass blockage. Activate the Obfuscated Servers option in the settings.

NordVPN activation for China

Switch on “Obfuscated Servers”

Due to this fact, you can hide your VPN traffic from smart scanners, and they can’t block you.

Which opportunities can give you NordVPN?

Using this provider, you can solve different problems with VPN technologies and extended functions.

  • Unblocking of all websites
  • Using VPN mask
  • Watching streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, and others)
  • Anonymous torrenting
  • Protection on public Wi-Fi
  • Access to the Internet from different platforms (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux)
  • DoubleVPN (double level of protection)
  • Additional protection while over content (Kill Switch)
  • Protection from suspicious websites and malware
  • Ad-block

Is it safe to use NordVPN?

Except for the mask of the VPN tunnel, NordVPN also has strong 256-bit encryption and doesn’t save logs of its users. Due to this fact, your online activity on the Internet is private and safe.

To track this fact that you use VPN is quite difficult, and to encrypt the information and addresses of accessed websites is impossible.

Which prices does NordVPN have and how to use it for free?

A good VPN doesn’t seem to be expensive. NordVPN has one of the lowest prices with the possibility to use all functions:

$3.49 per month for a 3-year subscription ($125.64)

$4.99 per month for a 2-year subscription ($119.76)

$6.99 per month for a 1-year subscription

$11.95 for a monthly subscription

But also there are two legal ways of using NordVPN for free!

  1. A 7-day trial version for Android, iPhone, and iPad
  2. A 3-year tariff plan and refusal for 30 days.

What do the real users say about NordVPN in China?

Here are some cites from Reddit:

Reviews about NordVPN in China on Reddit

Reviews about NordVPN in China on Reddit

Reviews about NordVPN in China on Reddit

As a result, NordVPN really works in China. The main point is that you shouldn’t forget to switch on “Obfuscated servers” in settings!

Click to read full NordVPN review

NordVPN Preview
Protect your data on public Wi-Fi in China with NordVPN. Make use of its DoubleVPN and ad-block!

3. AstrillVPN: Optimized for China

Astrill VPN China

Astrill is quite popular among users in China. It is connected to the fact that it has three technologies at once that help to hide the use of VPNs.

  1. OpenWeb protocol. This protocol was developed by Astrill in 2009 and allows the fast reconnection and works in countries with deep censorship. But this protocol contains IP leaking.

  2. StealthVPN. Another protocol that is developed on the basis of classic OpenVPN. It masks VPN using and doesn’t contain IP leaks.
  3. Wireguard. This protocol can replace OpenVPN soon (follow the article in Wiki). Taking into account that it is not widespread, it is not traced by the Great Firewall of China. Moreover, AstrillVPN has a highly-developed infrastructure in Asia:

AstrillVPN servers


What opportunities can AstrillVPN give you?

The service has a large coverage of the country, a lot of servers, technically perfect apps, and many functions.

  • Unblocking of all websites

  • Mask of VPN using

  • Watching streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, and other services)

  • Protection on public Wi-Fi

  • Access to the Internet from different platforms (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux)

  • Double VPN (double level of protection)

  • Additional protection while over content (Kill Switch)

  • The Smart function. Regional websites will see your real IP, but foreign websites will be unblocked through VPN IP.

Despite all-new technical innovations, there are some cases when AstrillVPN is unable to bypass the blocking. In situations when the Internet provider blocks all nonstandard ports.

And in this case, there is a life hack that published on Reddit:

Life hack on Reddit

Is it safe to use AstrillVPN?

Undoubtedly, it is true! Apart from the main features of VPN, its “Smart” function protects you while following regional websites. In your country, it won’t be shown that you use a VPN. It will work only for foreign sources.

Moreover, encryption of high quality in combination with invisible VPN protocols will make your surfing the Internet fully safe.

What are the AstrillVPN prices, and are there any ways of using it for free?

AstrillVPN is one of the most expensive VPN providers. All tariff plans are higher than the average ones.

  • $10 per month for a 1-year subscription ($120)
  • $15 per month for a 6-months subscription ($90.90)
  • $20 for a monthly subscription

And also there is no trial version.

What do real users say about AstrillVPN in China?

Here are some cites from Reddit:

Reviews about AstrillVPN in China on Reddit

Reviews about AstrillVPN in China on Reddit

Reviews about AstrillVPN in China on Reddit

A few VPNs can work in China. AstrillVPN has been doing it for a long period that is why you can trust it.

Click to read full AstrillVPN review 


4. VyprVPN: Chameleon Technology

VyprVPN for China

Even though the three best VPNs can satisfy each user I would like to add to additional services that don’t have any advantages among the three previous ones but do their job.

VyprVPN is convenient for that fact that has a 3-day trial version for all platforms. You can use this provider for free to check its efficiency.

It should be enough to make sure that obfuscation of VPN protocols and VyprVPN bypass the Great Firewall of China successfully.

What are the opportunities of VyprVPN?

Perhaps, except for obfuscation VyprVPN has all features of good standard VPNs.

  • Unblocking of all websites

  • Mask of VPN using

  • Watching streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, and other services)

  • Anonymous torrenting

  • Protection on public Wi-Fi

  • Access to the Internet from different platforms (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux)

  • Additional protection while over content (Kill Switch)

Is it safe to use VyprVPN?

Yes, because VyprVPN has a serious attitude to the security of its users. AES-256 encryption and “No logging” policy save the online activity of its users effectively.

What are the prices of VyprVPN and how to use it for free?

The prices of the services seem to be average but if you don’t need the “Chameleon” function. And this function is responsible for obfuscation. Because the price with Chameleon is higher:

$2.50 per month for a 2-year subscription ($60)

$3.75 per month for a 1-year subscription($45)

$12.95 per month for a 1-month subscription

The provider offers a 30-day money-back guarantee option.

VyprVPN free trial

What do real users say about VyprVPN in China?

Here are some cites from Reddit:

Reviews about VyprVPN in China on Reddit

Reviews about VyprVPN in China on Reddit

Reviews about VyprVPN in China on Reddit

So, the reviews prove that VyprVPN provides its users with all necessary features to unblock websites in China, and technical features also confirm it.


5. Private Internet Access: Shadowsocks

Private Internet Access China

Until recently, Private Internet Access (PIA) hasn’t been a provider that works in China. However, now it has the advanced function Shadowsocks. This function allows using the VPN through a proxy. First, a computer or mobile gadget is connected to one of a proxy-server, from which a VPN connection comes.

Why is PIA not the best VPN for bypassing Golden Shield then?

The point is there are not so many Shadowsocks servers. The most efficient way to use a provider is to connect to the servers in Hong Kong. However, at the time when this article was written, they didn’t work (I failed to connect to them).

What are the capabilities of Private Internet Access?

  • Shadowsocks
  • High speed (however, it depends on a certain proxy)
  • The ability to fine-tune a VPN channel, DNS, and other important parameters
  • Proven No Logs Policy

PIA cons:

  • It has poor Netflix support, the lack of Hulu support, users` complaints about streaming support in general.
  • There is no guarantee that all Shadowsocks servers will work.

I also want to underline that Private Internet Access is based in the United States. One can benefit from it, whereas it’s a disadvantage for another.

  • As for me, I would rather use a VPN with independent jurisdiction in a third world country or offshores (Top3 from this list).

PIA prices:

The initial prices for subscriptions are the following:

$3.33 per month for a 1-year subscription ($39.95)

$5.99 per month for a 6-months subscription ($35.95)

$9.95 for a monthly subscription

However, there is a permanent link with an additional 20% discount.

A provider does not offer a free trial period but guarantees a money refund within the first 7 days.

What concerns users` reviews of PIA usage in China, there are few of them. It is not the most popular VPN for this purpose.

The domain privateinternetaccess.com is blocked in China (you need to register before going to this country):

Reddit: privateinternetaccess.com is blocked in China

In general, PIA has improved its capacity to bypass the Great China Firewall. At the same time, it uses only a part of effective techniques available in advanced VPNs.

Click to read full Private Internet Access review


The best free VPN service that works in China

If your task is not so responsible and you do not need guaranteed access to the websites that are banned in China, you can try a free VPN. There is no guarantee that it will help. However, it happens that VPNs with a free trial offers a technology for bypassing the Golden Shield for free.

Why pay for a VPN in China then?

Actually, it is not necessary. However, all VPN services that offer the required technology for free have significant limits.

No matter how convenient it is to use a VPN for free. As a rule, there are usually problems with speed and page loading. The content of the pages that are not loaded till the end is “falls apart” or even connection errors appear.

This is especially true for China, as the Great Firewall technologies by themselves lower the connection speed.

The best free VPN service for China is VPN Gate. It is a noncommercial project that aims to popularize an effective modern VPN protocol -  SoftEther VPN.

  • The main differences between free and paid VPN services – significant limits. Free VPNs do not support Netflix and streaming in general. They have low-quality connections and other disadvantages.

Read further to know how to bypass Chinese censorship and the restrictions of each suitable free VPN.


1. VPN Gate: Noncommercial project with SoftEther

VPN Gate China

VPN Gate uses a rare VPN protocol, SoftEther. This protocol was developed in the Japanese university in Tsukuba. It allows creating effective protected virtual private networks without loading a processor of a device.

But for China, another feature of this VPN is useful – the invisibility for the Gold Shield facilities. A significant disadvantage of VPN Gate is that it does not own its VPN servers. Computers of other network users are used. They agreed on this voluntarily. The main disadvantage of this scheme is that a server can disconnect at any time. The tests also showed that the majority of them have rather low speed.

The peculiarities of VPN Gate:

  • There are no servers in the usual sense.
  • It has the SoftEther VPN protocol that allows bypassing censorship.
  • The majority of the locations are in Asia.
  • As a rule, it has a low speed of the servers.
  • It is difficult to use. (It has an app only for Windows but it is sophisticated and no user-friendly.)

Click to read full  VPN Gate review


2. Windscribe VPN: Freemium VPN (limiting 10GB per month)

Free Windscribe China

Another VPN that has a special VPN protocol for China is Windscribe. It is not a usual free VPN. It has only a limited free plan.

What are the peculiarities of free Windscribe?

  • It offers 10GB per month.
  • It is slow (can be lower than 0.5Mbps).
  • The VPN has the extended functionality, even with a free subscription (even allows to share a VPN).
  • It is available for all Oss and other platforms.

While testing a free version in China, serious drawbacks were disclosed. Its low speed decidedly decreases while using Stealth, and especially, Wstunnel protocols, up to inability to use the Internet.

We decided to mention this VPN in our list because it offers free access to the necessary protocols.

Click to read full Windscribe VPN review


3. Vpnify: Free VPN for Android

Free Vpnify China

The Vpnify app is a little bit controversial. It is a classical VPN service for Android that does not have any special masking methods. Though, there is information that this VPN works in some provinces in China.

In fact, Vpnify is in our list of best VPNs for China due to positive reviews.

The peculiarities of Vpnify

  • The provider is completely free.
  • There are ads in the app.
  • The lack of special technologies. However, it can bypass a VPN block.
  • The app is available only on Android.

What other VPN services are used in China?

After analyzing the users’ reviews, we found out that the following VPNs (isn’t proved by used technologies) work in China in several provinces (with some ISP):


VPN speed in China and how to enrich it

I often come across users` complaints about VPN speed in China. Even the usage of the fastest services, such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN does not guarantee high speed in this country.

But why?

There are two main reasons why Internet speed is low:

  1. There is a bandwidth limit of China’s gateway for private use. I came across the information that many Internet service providers (ISP) limit the traffic speed from China to 2 Mbps. There is no official confirmation for that but it is very likely.
  2. Obfuscation or an additional proxy-connection reduces speed. Any additional encryption manipulation leads to an increased load of a process. For example, while testing Windscribe, the speed was reduced from 5 to 15 Mbps with an ordinary VPN protocol and from 0 to 0.5 Mbps with an “invisible” protocol.

Thus, you should not always blame the poor work of a VPN service.  It is likely that the speed of an external channel is severely limited.  If we take into account the creation of a VPN channel and a certain load to a processor, we will get exactly that issue which disappointed users are told about.

What are the methods to increase speed?

  1. Try to get good speed for foreign traffic from ISP.
  2. Change your provider.
  3. Choose a VPN that reduces Internet speed less than others.

How to choose the right fast VPN for visiting China?                               

You should choose a VPN in advance. I recommend using NordVPN or Surfshark. I used their obfuscation several times and it slows down my connections slightly. Besides, while using a proven VPN, you will know for sure that the issue is exactly in a Chinese ISP.


Brief FAQ

? How to use VPN in China?

To connect to a VPN and protect the device’s traffic, you are to:

  1. Choose a VPN service
  2. Subscribe
  3. Download and set up the software on the platforms you need (5 and more)
  4. Choose a location and connect

It’s advisable to do it before visiting China as many VPN websites are unavailable there. 

? Which VPN works in China?

Here’s the list of VPN services that work in China (proven in practice):

  1. Surfshark
  2. NordVPN
  3. Astrill VPN

It’s only a part of the tested services and each of them has own peculiarities. Read more in the review. 

❓ How to use ExpressVPN in China?

ExpressVPN doesn’t work with all internet providers. But the service offers an opportunity to check the VPN operation for 30 days. If you don’t like the work of the provider for some reason, you will be given a refund. This information is proven. 

If you subscribe to a VPN beforehand, we advise you to contact the support service on the ExpressVPN website to check its relevant status. 

? How to get VPN in China?

If you are in China and have any troubles with the search of a VPN, then follow the steps below:

  1. Try to open the sites of services mentioned in this article.
  2. If none of them is available, get online through another internet provider or through WiFi of any international hotel.
  3. Subscribe, download and launch the VPN application. Done. 

? What is the best VPN for China?

It depends on the region in China what VPN is the best. It’s usually Surfshark. ExpressVPN has a lot of positive reviews.

All the providers from our top 10 possess the necessary functionality and positive user reviews. 

VPN-Review - Chief Editor
Dean Chester
Cybersecurity and online privacy expert and researcher. He's been published on OpenVPN, EC-Council Blog, DevSecOps, AT-T Business, SAP Community, etc. Dean has been testing VPNs for 8 years.

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3 user reviews for 8 Best VPNs for CHINA (Tested in March 2020): 5 Paid & 3 Free

Obfuscation is super!

I didn’t think U could find a free VPN for China. Oh what am I talking about! I even didn’t think I could find any VPN for China that would really work. But thanks to this rating I’ve subscribed to VyprVPN. I even can stream American Netflix here.

torrenting in China

I have been using Astrill in mainland China for awhile and it’s really good but sometimes I cannot access torrent sites

Netflix ban in China

Hello! Since I’m going to China for almost a year soon, I want to know if I should renew my Netflix subscription. I asked some of my Chinese friends and they all say Netflix is banned in China and cannot be watched even if you have a VPN. But frankly, I don’t know what apps they were using so maybe they just got unlucky? Obviously I’m gonna use a VPN in China btw so if it can unblock Netflix there I’ll renew my subscription.