Surprisingly, even though TikTok is a 100% Chinese app it’s actually blocked in China.
Let me explain: TikTok has two versions, one exclusively for use in China (called Douyin, 抖音), and one for the rest of the world.
If you find yourself in China you can download and use the Chinese version, Douyin without a problem, but it is in no way interconnected with the international version, which you won’t be able to download.
Chinese Laws are very strict with social media platforms, this is why the company that owns Douyin and TikTok resolved the issue by creating two separate versions of the app.
If you already had a TikTok account before entering China, once you enter the country it will no longer work. You can create a new account with Douyin, but you’ll be given a completely new account, and will have different content (only the one published in China).
But don’t worry, there’s still a way to access TikTok from China.
How do I access the international version of TikTok from China?
To access TikTok, or almost any app blocked in China (Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, among many others) you’ll need a VPN that works in China.
What is a VPN?
Without going too much into the technical details, a VPN is a software that will mask your IP address and allow you to access web pages or apps, even in countries where they are blocked, such as China.
Note that a VPN will not offer you internet access; to connect to the internet you’ll always need a wifi connection (for example at home or in a hotel) or a SIM card with data access.
Rather, once you’re connected to the internet, you can activate your VPN to improve the security of your connection and access apps and websites that would be inaccessible, without the help of a VPN.
Which VPN would you recommend for China?
This is an important question considering that the majority of VPNs don’t work in China. At the moment, here at SDC we recommend ExpressVPN,
- Easy to install and use.
- Works in China.
- Offers one of the fastest VPN connections.
- Reasonable price.
How should I prepare before I arrive in China?
If you want to use a VPN in China and are not an expert in technology (or just don’t have too much time to lose), then our advice is to download and install the VPN app that you choose before arriving in China.
First of all because Google Play is also blocked in China, so if you have an Android device and arrive in China without a VPN, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you won’t be able to download any apps (at least not using Google Play).
The situation is not much better if you have an iPhone since many apps are blocked and not available from China.
So it’s much better to act ahead and install the VPN a few days before entering the country.
If you’re reading this article too late, or are already in China and haven’t yet installed a VPN, you can read our article about how to download a VPN from China.
The procedure is a little bit more complicated but certainly not impossible!
How can I login to TikTok from China?
The only thing that changes, regarding another country is that after connecting to the internet you have to activate your VPN. If in the past it wasn’t such an easy thing to do, these days, with the most common VPNs all you have to do is open the app and click on the activation button.
Once the VPN is activated and works, you can then access TikTok and other sites blocked in China.
Important: TikTok checks your cell’s SIM card at startup and if you are using a Chinese SIM it will block the access.
To use TikTok with a Chinese SIM card you must follow these simple steps:
- Close TikTok
- Remove or deactivate the Chinese SIM card
- Connect to a Wifi network
- Activate your VPN
- Start TikTok’s app
- Insert or activate your Chinese SIM
- Use TikTok without restrictions
Alternatives to TikTok in China
As was already said at the beginning of this article, the most obvious alternative to TikTok is Douyin, or the original version (and in Chinese) of the app!
Unfortunately the majority of Western social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, etc; are also blocked in China.
Here are some other apps that aren’t blocked in China (they’re all Chinese):
- WeChat (also called Weixin): This is an app that represents a combination of Whatsapp, Facebook, Paypal, etc. In practice, with WeChat you can do a little bit of everything (except pasta)!
- Weibo: is a “Chinese Twitter“. To be honest, you hear less and less of this app since WeChat now seems to have won the “battle” of social media in the Middle Kingdom.
- Little Red Book (Xiao Hong Shu): Similar to Instagram, is now one of the most popular social networks in China and the only one that is effectively competing with WeChat.
Thank you so much. I tried removing my Chinese sim card, and, boom! It worked!!
Sapore di Cina says
Happy that we could help
Nick Priquette says
It’s interesting how you’ll say the ExpressVPN is the best in China BUT they’re a sponsor. AND, Astrill is MUCH better. I’ve had issues getting Express to connect on certain WiFi networks, but never had an issue with Astrill. I know that Express VPN is a sponsor, but don’t say it’s the best, it’s really not. Also, I can’t seem to be able to follow anyone on TikTok AND I can’t even signup/login while in China. I’ve done everything u suggested but nothing happens.
Sapore di Cina says
We don’t say Express is the best VPN in China, you can find this highlighted text in the article “The best VPN for China depends on your needs. Carefully compare the services offered by each of them”. Express is indeed one of our sponsors as well as Astrill and all VPNs mentioned in this article (as you can see in our disclaimer we get a commission if you buy any VPN through the links listed in this article).
About Astrill we know that is a popular choice in China and this is why we mention it here, however, in the past had a lot of problems in China and most importantly they don’t have any money-back guarantee, once you pay there’s no way you can get back the money, so we decided not to add it to our top 4 services (as it was in the past).
Finally about TikTok, do you use a Chinese SIM card? If yes you should remove it before opening the application.
Yafa Li says
I have a Chinese SIM card, and when I followed the steps, I can access the videos. However, I am only able to see one video, and I am unable to scroll down. If I refresh or sign in to an account, I can’t see any videos. I do have a VPN and is turned on. Does anyone know how to deal with this situation? Thanks
I followed the steps, and it works really well but since yesterday I can’t access the video anymore:( does anyone know what’s going on and how should I fix this problem? Thx!
me same problem，if u get the new way，then tell me！！
I am using express VPN right now and it still doesn’t work. If I remove my Chinese sim card while I’m using tik tok then put it back after using it. will that work?
Sapore di Cina says
Yes remove the SIM card before starting tik tok. The app checks your SIM card
I had the same problem, basically once it has detected that you have inserted a Chinese sim card it won’t work
so I had to tinker a bit with it and I have created a modded version that doesn’t allow the app to see your mobile operator
and it worked : )
p.s: of course you still need a vpn though
Would love to hear more about this.
here you go try it and let me know
Thank you Ben!
Notice that normally I cut this kind of links because I don’t know the source. This time I will make an exception because Will ask for it
you are welcome,
I totally understand man
hey ben, i was trying to access the file you sent but after downloading, it’s a blank page. help:)
Hi Ben, I think it’s much easier you just have to remove the SIM card and then start the app, then you just can add the SIM again. Of course all this with the VPN activated.
nice, I didn’t try this method cuz I didn’t have a pin to extract the sim card hahaha
did it work?
I didn’t try it, normally use a cell without a Chinese SIM, but people say it works. It looks like tiktok only check the SIM when you start the app
Yafa Li says
You can use a pointy pen instead of the pin to take out the SIM card
Thanks man… I was trying day and but couldn’t login, just took out my SIM card now it’s working fine
your APK is not working… same as the original app
how to you create a modded version?
As people said, once you put a Chinese Sim card, there’s no way to make TikTok works. I know it’s an extreme solution, but I actually bought a cheap second hand Google Pixel 1 in China (430RMB, around $60), you can find an Iphone 6s for about the same price. And use it for TikTok purposes. If you live here, it worths it, if you’re just traveling you better take a spare old phone that you have home.
Thank you Paul for your suggestion
Hi I have a question, I recently moved to China and I love the international version, it doesn’t work for me. If I remove the Chinese sim card will it work?
Sapore di Cina says
Yes you should remove first the Chinese SIM card before starting tik tok
Im not in China but I already I can Use Douyin WITHOUT LOG IN. amd I really enjoy it. (becauss i don’t have weibo and another ro log in)
but After several days, The app force me to do Log in, I cannot make Search Anymore.
question is, Can I enjoy (can search) without log in forever?. Cz it its hard for me to do log in. dont have like weibo etc, it hard to make one
Sorry, we don’t have experience using Douyin outside China. You can try to create an account to the Chinese version of Weibo and use it to log in to Douyin
IT DOESN’T F***ING WORK AT ALL! EVEN WITH A VPN I STILL CANNOT ACCESS TIKTOK IN CHINA AS LONG AS YOU STILL HAVE A CHINESE SIM CARD!!!
What VPN are you using? Some services, like TikTok or Netflix, will only work with specific servers and specific protocols, of specific VPN.
And the settings might change abruptly, ie. old settings might stop to work.
So, there is not clear cut.
Express VPN. I have tried different server locations and protocols but it still doesn’t work for TikTok.
Once you have inserted a China Mainland sim card, you will NEVER able to use TikTok (NOT Douyin) EVEN WITH A VPN CONNECTION FROM THE BEST VPN. Airplane mode is no use either.