7 Best VPNs for China in 2020

Great Wall of China


It’s no secret that the People’s Republic of China is one of the most rigorous countries when it comes to censorship. Therefore, using a VPN in this country is shrouded in mystery, with many misconceptions floating online. However, you should know that using a VPN in China is entirely possible, and there’s a way to overcome the limitations of the Great Firewall of China and take a peek at what the outside world offers. As you can imagine, you’ll need a reliable tool for this purpose, which is why we’ll dedicate this article to talking about the best VPN for China in 2020.

First, let’s clear up some of the most common misconceptions. You’ve perhaps heard that China blocks all VPN services and that some VPN-related prison sentences were used to give an example of what happens to those using these tools. The truth is that selling VPNs (without prior authorization) is seen as a problem in this country. However, using one comes without any problem, especially if you’re traveling to China. In other words, it all comes down to using VPNs without breaking Chinese laws and picking those VPNs capable enough to unblock the Internet and grant you access to websites not available in this country.

After having tested more than 60 popular (and less popular) VPN services, we know their true capabilities. And also, we know what kind of website unblocking techniques they use, many of which are specifically designed to be used in China. With this said, any of the following recommendations will do the job. However, make sure to read their descriptions carefully to see which of these truly meet your requirements (in terms of browsing the Web, unblocking specific services, media streaming, and more).

MAKE A WELL-INFORMED DECISION: We did our best to bring up-to-date information on which VPNs work in China in 2020. At the time of testing the following VPN services, all of them worked without any issues whatsoever. However, we recommend checking with their customer support before making your purchase, as China is changing its anti-VPN strategies quite often.

If you’re here only for our recommendations on the best VPNs in China, make sure to click on the provided quick-jump link. However, to learn more about using this type of software, we recommend paying special attention to the following segments, found just below.

Can VPNs Really Unblock Websites in China? What Else Can VPN Services Do?

It is no secret that China is controlling what its citizens can do online. These actions have reached their peak in a newly introduced set of laws called “Provisions on the Governance of the Online Information Content Ecosystem.” As many of us could have expected, the new law goes even deeper against what’s available on the country’s Internet. It means that using a VPN has become more important than ever before.

VPN services work by taking your Web traffic and encapsulating it within a secure tunnel. In essence, they hide your incoming and outgoing traffic, making it impossible for anyone to see what you do online. Of course, China is well-aware of this, and the country has been actively battling against VPNs for a long time now. It is why you need to be very careful about which VPN to pick, as you’ll want one to serve you in the long term.

Don’t worry, several VPN services can still help you unblock websites in China. More precisely, they can make sure that your privacy is protected in the best way possible. We haven’t taken this matter lightly, and we made sure to come up with strong suggestions.

How to Find a VPN That Still Works in China? What Should You Consider?

If you’re not sure about what to focus on, choosing a VPN can easily become a tedious process. So, here are the most important aspects to keep in mind.

  • Availability in China: Of course, you need a VPN that works in China. To get this information, we recommend relying on hands-on reviews instead of trusting marketing messages. Also, make sure to go for a VPN with a proven track record of being able to assist Chinese Web users in overcoming roadblocks.
  • Server Network Size: To unblock servers in China, you need to connect to a server outside of this country. However, this shouldn’t be an overly remote server, as this leads to a significant loss in performance. Ideally, you should connect to a server in one of the countries bordering China.
  • Capable & Proven VPN Protocols: VPN applications employ a wide range of protocols, some of which are more capable than others. In general, OpenVPN and StealthVPN are the two protocols that have the highest chance of success when unblocking websites.
  • Speed & Performance: Speedy VPN services come with plenty of servers strategically placed across Asia and the rest of the world. If you care about getting the best possible speed, we recommend getting a VPN with servers close to China.
  • Money-Back Guarantees: Finally, make sure that you’re on the safe side by choosing a VPN with generous money-back guarantees (up to 30 days usually) – meaning you’ll be getting a VPN with no risks involved, and you’ll have plenty of time to test-drive your selected option.

What About Using Free VPNs in China? Do These Even Work?

Yes, some VPNs indeed offer their services free of charge. However, we highly recommend avoiding free VPNs due to numerous good reasons. The most important reason is their inability to work in China, as they don’t have the means to battle against the Great Firewall. And even if you manage to find one that unblocks a couple of websites, they typically do so by using less secure protocols.

Your privacy is incredibly important, and this goes especially for those who live in China. If you decide to use a VPN, make sure to make an informed decision. The following recommendations are really affordable, many of which will cost you only a couple of dollars per month.

So, What Is the Best VPN for China in 2020?

Finally, let’s get to the point. These are the 7 best VPNs for China in 2020.

1. ExpressVPN

Without any doubt, ExpressVPN is your best option right now. No matter if you just want to stop anyone from collecting your data or jump over the Great Firewall of China, this VPN will most definitely get the job done with minimum fuss.

We understand that some of you might have prior experience using a VPN, while others might be complete newbies. Well, ExpressVPN caters to both of these groups of users. It’s very simple on the outside and brings a highly polished UI. However, a lot of power hides within. This includes 256-bit AES encryption (the strong type available right now) and the ability to unblock just about any Web service. Finally, ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live chat, which is hugely helpful if you encounter any problem. Needless to say, ExpressVPN also uses high-end protocols that can easily unblock just about any website.

We gave you the highlights of the most important features of this VPN. To learn more about each of these, you can always read our ExpressVPN review.

  • Encryption & Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP.
  • Website Unblocking in China: Google, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Skype, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and more.
  • Server Network (Near China): Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Expected Throttling: Up to 31% on average.
  • Money-Back Guarantees: Up to 30 days.

2. Surfshark VPN

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China has some pretty rigorous measures when it comes to censorship. Very few VPNs can successfully get around the Great Firewall, and we were pretty excited when we stumbled upon a VPN that can easily open up a whole new digital world. Well, that’s how Surfshark found its place in its article – and how it quickly made a list for the best VPN for China.

With hundreds of servers across the world, you’ll get to cross China’s digital borders easily. Surfshark comes with the most reliable type of commercially available encryption (AES-256), in addition to a whole slate of capable and tested VPN protocols. With just a single click, you’ll manage to unblock websites not available in this country, secure your privacy, and go beyond what Chinese authorities don’t want you to see.

Plenty more could be said about this VPN, and if you are interested in it, we recommend you read our full Surfshark review.

  • Encryption & Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, IKEv2.
  • Website Unblocking in China: Google, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Skype, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and more.
  • Server Network (Near China): Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
  • Expected Throttling: Up to 28% on average.
  • Money-Back Guarantees: Up to 30 days.

3. NordVPN

Back in July 2017, NordVPN officially announced its presence in China. This is a huge achievement for any VPN because entering this market requires meeting a lot of different regulations. And since then, NordVPN has become hugely popular in this country, being a VPN known for its high-end technologies and unique features.

If you’re looking for a fantastic value, you’ll find it here. NordVPN allows you to connect six devices at the same time using a single subscription. The only limitation is that those six devices cannot be connected to the same server using the same protocol. On the other hand, this VPN unblocks Netflix and Hulu, as well as the majority of censored websites in China. And finally, you can count on double encryption, which gives you the highest possible protection against data leaks – and this is also one of NordVPN’s flagship features.

We are sure you can’t wait to learn more about this VPN, so make sure to check our in-depth and hands-on NordVPN review.

  • Encryption & Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, NordLynx.
  • Website Unblocking in China: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp, Skype, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO, and more.
  • Server Network (Near China): Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.
  • Expected Throttling: Up to 17% on average.
  • Money-Back Guarantees: Up to 30 days.

4. Ivacy VPN

For a very long time, Ivacy has been known as the best China VPN (and it still is). This is because this VPN service has been able to go over Chinese Internet roadblocks with plenty of success for a while now, at least when it comes to regular Web browsing.

First, you need to know that Ivacy is a reputable VPN brand. With no previous indiscretions in its past and with the promise of keeping your private data safe, this VPN has attracted plenty of loyal fans. You can use it on several devices, it comes with a simple installation method, and it’s easy enough even for complete beginners. There’s really nothing that you won’t like here

It should also be noted that Ivacy VPN comes from Singapore, it offers plenty of servers located in China, as well in this country’s neighboring territories. It gives you plenty of freedom when selecting a server and a good chance of getting fast Internet speeds. To learn more, here’s our Ivacy VPN review.

  • Encryption & Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, and IKEv2.
  • Website Unblocking in China: Google, Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more.
  • Server Network (Near China): Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Expected Throttling: Up to 68% on average.
  • Money-Back Guarantees: Up to 30 days.

5. VyprVPN

Setting up a server network requires a significant investment. That’s why the majority of VPNs don’t own their servers (they rent them instead, from data centers). This isn’t the case with VyprVPN, which is one of the few VPNs that own their entire network and equipment. Therefore, it’s not surprising to know that VyprVPN offers a custom-designed setup that’s suitable for users in China as well.

The fact that VyprVPN can make deep customizations to its servers translates to speedy performance. Besides, there’s a proprietary cloaking technology called ‘Chameleon,’ which truly sets this VPN apart. Even though it’s on the pricier side, this VPN service works amazingly well in battling the Great Firewall. Finally, the good news is that you can pay using Alipay, a hugely popular payment service in this country. With this said, it’s easy to see why it made the list for the best VPN for China in 2020.

Are you intrigued by what this VPN offers and want to learn more? If that’s so, feel free to read our VyprVPN review.

  • Encryption & Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, Chameleon, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec.
  • Website Unblocking in China: Google, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Skype, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and more.
  • Server Network (Near China): Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Expected Throttling: Up to 35% on average.
  • Money-Back Guarantees: Up to 30 days.

6. Hotspot Shield VPN

It’s true that Hotspot Shield might not be the most polished VPN out there. It comes with a complex background that’s preventing us from recommending this VPN for all possible use cases. However, if your goal is to unblock websites not available in China, this is perhaps one of the best options you have right now.

By using Hotspot Shield Elite, you get access to a whole range of servers – and some of these are located in China as well. This makes it perfect for both travelers visiting China, as well as for those who live in this country. In other words, this is one of the rare VPNs that let your watch American content in China, as well as watch Chinese content in any country in the world. And on top of all this, you get this VPN’s proprietary protocol, known for its strength and website-unblocking mechanisms.

We could keep on talking about Hotspot Shield for a long time – but it’s best to recommend reading our full Hotspot Shield review, where you’ll find all the information you need.

  • Encryption & Protocols: AES-256; Catapult Hydra.
  • Website Unblocking in China: Google services (Gmail, Google Search, Maps), YouTube, Reddit, WhatsApp, and social media networks.
  • Server Network (Near China): Servers in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and more.
  • Expected Throttling: Up to 44% on average.
  • Money-Back Guarantees: Up to 45 days.

7. TunnelBear

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The final option on our best VPN for China list is TunnelBear. It is a highly reputable VPN service that comes with some unique features designed for users in China. We’re talking about a recently-introduced feature called ‘GhostBear’ that helps you fight censorship on restricted networks.

In all fairness, you should know that TunnelBear isn’t the biggest VPN out there. It comes with a relatively small server network, and can’t be used for media streaming. However, we strongly recommend it for unblocking other digital services in China, as well as for regular Web browsing. With this said, we believe that TunnelBear brings plenty of value for its price.

Before jumping to any conclusions, make sure to do more research about this VPN. An excellent place to start is our TunnelBear review, so make sure to check it out.

  • Encryption & Protocols: AES-256; OpenVPN, IKEv2, and IPSec.
  • Website Unblocking in China: Google, Facebook, and Skype.
  • Server Network (Near China): Hong Kong and Japan.
  • Expected Throttling: Up to 31% on average.
  • Money-Back Guarantee: None (refunds issued on a per-case basis).

FAQ

There are many misconceptions about using a VPN in China. We will try our best to clear your doubts, so keep on reading to learn more.

What Is the Great Firewall of China?

Aptly named the Great Firewall of China (and officially known as the Golden Shield Project), this is the world’s most advanced Internet censorship system. As reported by Bloomberg, this censorship system is based on Internet Service Providers limiting all Internet access to a handful of access points. This gives the authorities greater control over incoming and outgoing data.

Is It Legal to Use a VPN in China?

Contrary to popular opinion, you can use VPNs in China. The thing is that you have fewer options than Internet users in other countries, as VPNs are regulated by the ‘digital’ laws of this country.

Which VPN Works Best in China?

Based on our readers’ feedback and hands-on tests, the best VPN for China is ExpressVPN. This VPN is capable of unblocking websites and online services within China without any problems, and it comes with highly reliable performance.

Does ExpressVPN Work in China in 2020?

With each passing year, there are fewer and fewer VPNs working in China. However, ExpressVPN fully works within China, without any restrictions – and it actually leads the pack in going beyond the Great Firewall.

What’s the Best VPN Protocol for China?

As we mentioned earlier, the Great Firewall is based on sophisticated technology. This is why not all VPNs work, but only those who put in extra effort into providing advanced encryption protocols. In general, OpenVPN is more successful than PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2. This is why our search for the best VPN for China is based on OpenVPN services.

Does Tor Work in China?

The Chinese government has blocked Tor within the country, and there’s currently no way to circumvent this blockade. Even though some bridge relays used to work until recently, all published relays are now fully blocked.

At the moment, your best (and perhaps only) bet to go beyond Chinese digital borders is by using a VPN. And most importantly, you need to find a VPN that hasn’t yet been blocked by the Great Firewall, such as ExpressVPN.

Can You Use Google in China?

There is a huge list of websites and apps that are blocked in China. One of the biggest victims here is Google, as it seems. Numerous Google services are not available in China, which includes Google search, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, and Google APIs. Of course, you can use any of the VPNs found in this article to overcome this roadblock.

How to Watch Youku From Outside China?

The Chinese equivalent of YouTube is Youku. With hundreds of millions of monthly views, this website is the #1 destination for video-related content. However, the problem is that Youku is either blocked or strictly regulated in other countries. This means that the only way to access this service fully is by using a VPN. So, make sure to do your research and find a VPN that offers servers in this country, such as ExpressVPN, for example.

Dear readers, this is where we conclude our search for the best VPN for China in 2020. We hope that you have managed to get valuable information out of this guide. If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below.

Written by David Minister

Written by ODD Balls

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