Best VPN for China in 2021
What VPN do we recommend for China?
ExpressVPN: Easy to use, fast and it has proven to be one of the most reliable VPNs for China over the past years.
Ivacy: Less popular in China, but has an excellent performance at a very low price.
NordVPN: Very complete and easy to use. It has a good performance in China if you choose the right server.
Surfshark: Excellent quality to price ratio, good performance in China and numerous options, including Shadowsocks and WireGuard.
Important: Due to the increased restrictions on internet usage in China, you should always keep your VPN updated to make sure it works at its best.
What is a VPN and why do I need one in China?
As you probably already know, the internet doesn’t work like we would like it to in China, and a large number of websites and apps are blocked by the “Great Firewall.” Among these websites and apps that you can’t access are Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and all Google Services.
There are many other blocked websites, and depending on what you do, it may be virtually impossible for you to work in China without a VPN (Virtual Private Network). In addition, most of the services that aren’t blocked but they are allocated outside China, are extremely slow.
To solve this problem, you can install a VPN, which masks your I.P. address so that your laptop appears to be connected from the U.S. or Japan even if you are in China
A VPN will allow you to bypass the firewall and access any website you want. However, you need to choose wisely: even though there are dozens of VPN services available, only a few work well in China. We have tested several of them for more than 10 years and today we’re going to review the ones we like the most.
Essential tips for using a VPN in China
Update the VPN app or software: It’s essential for you to always have the latest version of the VPN program or app. The Great Firewall of China is constantly being modified to limit VPN use in the country. The majority of the software updates offered by the main VPN providers have the purpose of ensuring that their VPN continues to be accessible in China.
Install the VPN before traveling to China: If you wait until you’re in China to install (and purchase) the VPN, it can be quite difficult due to the following reasons:
- Google Play is blocked in China.
- The Apple AppStore (and other app markets) don’t let you download VPN apps
- Many VPN provider websites are blocked in China.
Note: Some VPNs offer alternative websites that are accessible in China. We try to make it so that the links that you find in this article are also accessible from China, but this isn’t always possible.
OpenVPN UDP, Lightway, and Wireguard tend to be the best protocols for China: In China, the best encryption protocol for getting around restrictions is normally OpenVPN UDP (or versions of it, like Chameleon). WireGuard and Lightway are more recent protocols that usually also offer good results. Make sure that the VPN that you purchase comes with one of these encryption protocols.
The closest servers are usually the fastest: A VPN’s speed often depends on the distance between your connection and the server. Servers in countries surrounding China, such as Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong, tend to be the fastest. However, sometimes servers in the United States are faster because they have fewer users connected to them.
We recommend having a backup VPN: No VPN is infallible, and even less so in China. If you’re going to be in China for a long time and having unrestricted Internet access is essential for you, you should consider having at least one backup VPN.
Pressure on VPNs has greatly intensified over the past years, and all VPN have undergone breakdowns in service at some time. Even though a good VPN tends to recover in a few hours or days, having a second VPN can be very useful if needed.
Test out your VPN before going to China: It’s important to become familiar with your VPN before going to China. Check its connectivity, speed, and whether it’s capable of giving you access to geographically restricted websites or services (such as a local streaming service). If the VPN doesn’t offer good performance in your country, it probably won’t work in China.
There’s no best VPN for China: No VPN is better than the others all the time and everywhere in China. The majority of VPNs have different performances depending on the place in China, the type of connection and the circumstances. Many VPNs offer a money-back guarantee, so you can try out multiple options before committing.
How to choose a VPN for China
- Does it work in China? The large majority of VPNs don’t work well in China. The VPNs that we recommend in this article work in China and we use them regularly, so if they stop working, we will know.
- Is it fast? Although there are VPNs that work in China, their speed leaves a lot lacking. After trying many VPNs, we can say that ExpressVPN, Ivacy, NordVPN, and Surfshark are among the fastest that we have used. In any event, a VPN isn’t a magical solution, so don’t expect to have the same speeds as when you’re in your country.
- Is it stable? Another common problem is that the connection is unstable (it gets constantly disconnected). The VPNs that we have chosen rarely lose their connection once they are connected.
- Does it offer good technical support? It’s essential for a VPN to have 24-hour technical support that can solve your problems in a few minutes if you have any questions or problems with your connection. Besides, the technical support should be capable of quickly solving the problems that may come up during each update to the Great Firewall.
- Is the software updated regularly? This is very important because, in China, new measures affecting VPN performance are implemented constantly. The best VPNs regularly update their software in order to adapt to the new restrictions imposed in countries like China.
- Does it offer encryption protocols that work in China? Some encryption protocols don’t work in China. Good VPNs offer multiple encryption protocols. Currently, it’s important for the VPN that you choose to have at least two of the following protocols: Open VPN, Lightway, Wireguard, IKEv2/IPsec and L2TP/IPsec.
The best VPN for China
|Features||What’s the Best?|
|Main Advantage||Fastest and Easiest to Use||Cheapest|
(among the best)
|Server Count||Extra Options||It depends on your needs!|
|Money Back Guarantee||30 days||30 days||30 days||30 days|
|Monthly Plan||12.95 USD||9.95 USD||11.95 USD||12.95 USD|
|Yearly Plan||6.67 USD/month|
(exclusive offer: 3 months free)
|3.33 USD/month||6.99 USD/month||6.49 USD/month|
(Best service in our experience)
|Countries with Servers||94||56||59||65|
|Payment Methods||Credit Card, Paypal, Bitcoin, Alipay, Union Pay and others||Credit Card, Paypal, Bitpay, Alipay, Perfect Money||Credit Card, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Union Pay, Bitcoin||Credit Card, Paypal, Amazon Pay, Bitcoin, Sofort|
|Desktop Apps||Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook||Windows, Mac||Windows, Mac, Linux||Windows, Mac, Linux|
|Browser Extension||Chrome, Firefox, Safari||Chrome, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox||Chrome, Firefox|
|Mobile Apps||Android, iOS, Windows Phone||Android, iOS, Windows Phone||Android, iOS, Windows Phone||Android, iOS, Windows Phone|
|Simultaneous Connections||Yes (until 5)||Yes (until 5)||Yes (until 6)||Unlimited|
|Encryption Protocols||Lightway, OpenVPN, L2TP-IPsec, IPsec, IKEv2, PPTP||OpenVPN, IKEV, L2TP||OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, WireGuard®||IKEv2, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, WireGuard®|
|Try ExpressVPN➤||Try Ivacy➤||Try NordVPN➤||Try Surfshark➤|
- Money Back Guarantee: This is an important feature when choosing a VPN, most of all in China. Even though the four VPN generally work well in China, every place is different. One VPN can work better than another in Shanghai but worse in Changsha, so it is important to have the opportunity to test the VPN before making a year commitment. All the VPN we recommend offer a money-back guarantee of 30 days.
- Monthly Plan: If you are traveling to China for tourism or temporarily, a VPN for only one month is the best for you. In this case, since the prices are quite similar, we recommend ExpressVPN.
- Annual plan: The annual prices of the four providers (ExpressVPN, Ivacy, NordVPN and Surfshark), are $6.67 (with our exclusive discount), $3.33, $4.92 and $6.49 USD per month, respectively. As a result, Ivacy is the cheapest in this case.
- Support: When it comes down to use a VPN in China, it’s extremely important to have access to a support team that can help you when your configuration, for any reason, doesn’t work anymore. According to our personal experience, the experience of our writers based in China, and the feedback of our readers (both the ones that let comments at the end of our articles and the ones that contact us by email), so far ExpressVPN is the company that is providing the best, fastest support.
- Server Count: This is a very important feature, as the more servers there are, the less likely it is that your connection will be slow or get cut out due to too many users using the same server. In this aspect, NordVPN is the one that offers the most guarantees.
- Countries With Servers: This is a basic function, especially if you want to access content restricted to a specific country. Besides, it is also necessary to obtain a good browsing speed, as the closer you are to the server, the better the potential speed will be. Therefore, having a large number of servers in countries around China increases the possibility of finding one with good services. In this sense, ExpressVPN is the VPN with the most countries with servers and the most servers nearby China.
- Browser extension: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari, the two most widely used browsers, allow the possibility of adding small programs (or extensions), which provide new useful tools when browsing the web. Some VPNs offer extensions for these browsers that are used to be able to control a VPN and see the state of the connection easily from your browser while surfing the web. Although this isn’t an essential option, it makes it a lot easier to use the VPN and you don’t have to open and close the browser every time that you change server. In this sense ExpressVPN is the one that offers more possibilities.
- Simultaneous Connections: Today, being able to have simultaneous connections is a basic feature of a VPN, as having a reliable and free connection to the internet is not just necessary for your laptop but also for your cell phone, tablet or other devices. Having simultaneous connections saves you from the problem of having to connect the VPN depending on which device you want to use to access the internet. With this, for example, you can check Google Maps on your cell phone while you check your Gmail on your computer. All the VPN we recommend offer at least 5 simultaneous connections, which shall be more than enough.
- Encryption Protocols: Encryption protocols are important to avoid censorship and to improve security. Having various possibilities will ensure that you have more weapons to avoid the Great Firewall, as some encryption protocols don’t work at times. In China, the protocols that tend to work the best are OpenVPN (desktop) and IKEV2 (mobile devices), although the new protocols WireGuard and Lightway currently offer better speed and stability.
What VPN should I choose for China?
We know this is a lot of info to digest and if you aren’t a tech expert, you might be a bit lost. To help you make the right choice, we suggest that you choose the best VPN depending on your priorities (speed, price, mobile devices performance, user-friendliness, and security).
- If you’re looking for a fast VPN, then ExpressVPN offers the Lightway protocol, a good number of servers close to China and in our tests, tends to always be one of the fastest. It has also been the VPN that in our experience has best withstood the constant updates to the Great Firewall.
- If having internet on your smartphone or tablet is a key feature for you, then you should go for Express VPN. You can read more about the topic here.
- If you’re looking for a user-friendly VPN then, once more, ExpressVPN is the easiest of the four VPN to use.
- If you need a secure connection for transmitting sensitive data, then you should go for VyprVPN, which offers more protocols including Chameleon, which is especially designed for China, and Nat Firewall, for an extra layer of security.
- If you all you care about is the price, then Ivacy is cheapest option among the best VPNs.
- If you need a VPN that can connect to servers from many different countries, ExpressVPN is the one that offers the most possibilities.
Still not sure what VPN should you choose?
What is the most popular VPN in China (our survey)
Your opinion is important for us, click here and tell us what’s your favorite VPN for China!
Most popular VPN for China
Below you’ll find a short review of some of the most popular VPN in China. These reviews are based on our experience using these VPN in China, so the are based on subjective criteria.
Speed, reliability, ease-of-use, stability in China, number of servers and technical service, Lightway
ExpressVPN is without a doubt, as of today, the most popular VPN in China and the one that we usually recommend for the majority of users. It’s a VPN that’s very easy to use and the one that we usually recommend for the majority of users. It’s a VPN that’s very easy to use, fast and one of the most reliable VPN for China. If there are problems with the connection, they offer excellent technical service that usually solves them quickly and efficiently. In addition, it offers the Lightway encryption protocol, an exclusive protocol, very efficient in China. Without a doubt, it’s a VPN for people that don’t want complications.
Price, stability, dedicated IP addresses and extra options
Number of servers
Ivacy is a VPN that isn’t well-known but is very innovative (it was one of the first VPNs to offer split tunneling), with excellent services at a very low cost. Currently, out of the VPNs in its price range, it is the one that offers the best performance in China. Also, Ivacy is one of the few VPNs that offer working servers in China. Therefore, it allows getting around the Great Firewall in both directions. However, its server count and connection speed is a little inferior to the big VPN providers, which justifies its lower price. It’s a good alternative when large VPN providers run into problems.
Number of servers, ease-of-use, security and dedicated IP addresses, WireGuard
Price and stability
NordVPN is one of the VPNs that offer the best services in China, is very complete, fast, and easy to use. However, in China, it occasionally has problems with stability, and some servers don’t work very well. During times when restrictions are increased, it holds out quite well, although it has had problems at times. While the price is a bit high, its extra security and anonymity options are worth it. Undoubtedly, it’s a VPN to keep in mind, especially if you’re looking for the possibility of having a dedicated IP address.
Price, easy to use, connectivity, Shadowsocks, WireGuard, simultaneous connections
Streaming in China
Surfshark is a VPN that still isn’t very commonly used in China, with excellent performance and a very good price (for the 2-year plan). One of Surfshark’s main advantages is that it’s one of the few VPNs that offers Shadowsocks and the new WireGuard protocol. However, in our experience, sometimes it has problems with streaming platforms when you are connecting from China.
Speed, security, own servers, Chameleon and WireGuard protocols
Technical service, stability
VyprVPN is definitely one of the best VPNs for China, especially if you’re interested in having the most secure connection possible, as it offers its own servers, its own encryption protocol (Chameleon™) and an additional security layer with Firewall NAT. It also offers the new WireGuard protocol. However, in recent times it has had some reliability problems in China.
Speed, stability, price, dedicated IP addresses, simultaneous connections and extra options
Number of servers and website
VPN Area is a very high-quality VPN (stable, very fast, and reliable) at a very reasonable price. Also, it tends to be less well-known than the previous VPNs, which makes it less likely to be targeted by the Great Firewall. However, it does not have as many servers and sometimes technical help is needed to make it work properly in China. VPN Area is a VPN to be taken into account if you are looking for an effective alternative to the big providers.
Speed, private IP addresses, encryption protocols and VIP plans
Technical service and assistance, reliability, number of servers and price
Astrill is without a doubt one of the most popular VPNs in China. In the past, it had serious problems with its reliability, but after a broad restructuring of its service, it has once again become one of the most effective VPNs in China.
However, it is currently one of the most expensive VPNs and has terrible after-sale service.
Price, ease of use and number of countries with servers
Software, technical service, add-on prices and reliability
PureVPN is a very complete VPN at a very competitive price. However, its low price is apparent in its inefficient technical service, lack of reliability in China when restrictions are intensified or in its software (or app), which at times have errors. It’s a good VPN if you’re not worried about losing reliability and speed in exchange for a low price.
Reliability, dynamic IP addresses, WireGuard and technical service
StrongVPN was one of the first companies to offer a VPN with quality services, and for many years, it was one of the most reliable VPNs and a sure asset for China. However, over time, it has been overtaken by the new VPNs that have appeared on the market, such as ExpressVPN, VyprVPN, or NordVPN. Over the past years, its services have improved greatly and it’s a less popular VPN to consider.
Stability, number of servers, free trial, dedicated IPs, WireGuard
Performance in China
TorGuard is one of the most complete VPNs on the market, among the ones that offer a competitive price. It provides many options such as proxies for shadowsocks, WireGuard, dedicated IPs, DDOS protected IPs, Stealth VPN, WireGuard protocol, and others. However, in periods of restrictions, its performance in China is not optimal.
Which is the fastest VPN in China?
Determining which VPN is the fastest is quite a complicated question, as it depends on a lot of factors (encryption protocol, Chinese city from which you are connecting, the website you want to visit, and the VPN server you connect to, among many other factors).
To answer this question, every so often we test the connection speed of the four VPNs that we recommend in China. To do so, we calculate the ping, download speed, and upload speed while connected to different VPN servers while accessing websites located in the United States, Europe, and Hong Kong. While the results obtained are complicated to interpret due to the high number of parameters involved, we have been able to come to some conclusions:
- The four VPN offer good connection speeds: In general, tests show a ping of less than 250 ms and upload and download speeds which in the majority of cases are better than speeds without a VPN.
- ExpressVPN seems to be the fastest VPN: In the different tests that we carried out, in the majority of cases, ExpressVPN is the VPN that offers the best results for the three indicators (ping, download speed, and upload speed).
- The values of the tests vary greatly: In China, the connection speed varies greatly depending on the day and time, and this affects the performance of the VPN. Besides, speeds can vary also depending on the server you are connected to and where the website or data source you are accessing is located.
While ExpressVPN seems to be the fastest, this may depend on the place in China from which you are connecting. If you want to verify the performance of your VPN, in this article you can test your connection speed and also explain how to interpret the results obtained.
With these results, you will be able to know if your VPN works well (the values will be similar to or even better than without the VPN). You will as well find out the quality of your connection in China (the values you obtain without a VPN).
Description of the main encryption protocols
Encryption protocols are an essential feature when it comes to choosing a VPN, as they determine its level of security and its ability to overcome the internet blocking in China and other countries. Below you can find the main encryption protocols:
- PTTP: PTTP, with 128 bits, is the weakest encryption protocol, and because of this, it is faster than the other protocols. In addition to its speed, it has the advantage of being supported by the majority of devices.
- L2TP/IPSec: L2TP/IPsec is a 256-bit encryption protocol that is very robust but quite slow. Its main advantage is that this protocol can be used on the majority of mobile devices.
- OpenVPN: OpenVPN can be either 160 or 256 bits, and is a protocol which offers a very high level of security combined with a more than respectable speed. The main problem it has is that it is often not supported by many mobile devices, in particular, iOS systems.
- Chameleon: Chameleon is a protocol very similar to OpenVPN 256 bits, offering a good speed with very robust encryption. It has the feature that it is specially designed so that the connection cannot be identified as a VPN, therefore avoiding it being blocked.
- StealthVPN: Encryption protocol based on OpenVPN with an additional layer of traffic obfuscation. StealthVPN works with both TCP and UDP, and like Chameleon, it is designed specifically to prevent connections through automatic firewalls from being detected.
- OpenConnect: Open source protocol that works with both TCP and UDP. It was designed to replace Cisco’s AnyConnect SSL VPN. The protocol uses a TLS authentication system and DTLS to encrypt traffic. It usually has performance similar to OpenVPN.
- SSTP: This is one of the fastest protocols, and can even be faster than PTTP. Also, it offers encryption that is almost as robust as LTP2/IPSec. However, this protocol is difficult to implement on the majority of systems and is normally only compatible with Windows.
- WireGuard This is a new open protocol with much potential, and which you should keep in mind. Some VPN providers, like VyprVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, StrongVPN, and TorGuard, are starting to offer it. It is a very fast, stable, and secure protocol, as it works directly on the level of the operating system kernel. The protocol still needs a bit of development, as right now, it doesn’t do a good job of protecting anonymity (which is essential for getting around restrictions in China), and its security must be analyzed thoroughly before it can be commercialized.
- Lightway: This is a protocol exclusive to ExpressVPN which is similar to WireGuard. It’s faster and more stable than OpenVPN while maintaining very robust encryption.
With regards to China, currently, PTTP and SSTP don’t usually work, and the protocols that tend to be the most effective at getting around restrictions are OpenVPN, WireGuard, and Lightway. In the case of mobile devices, IKEV2 tends to work quite well.
Performance of VPN in China
Before starting this section, we would like to inform you that these conclusions are not based on objective data; rather, they are based on our personal experience using VPN in China.
VPN work better outside of large cities: Despite not being able to find technical data to confirm our observations, it appears that the Great Firewall is much more effective in large cities such as Beijing or Shanghai. This makes it a lot more difficult for VPN to connect, and also makes connections less stable. There are even VPN that doesn’t work in these two cities, but which do work in second or third-tier cities.
Poor internet connections limit VPN performance: While this point is obvious, we wanted to highlight it, because it seems to be typical to blame things on the quality of the VPN when it doesn’t connect. Often, the problem is because the connection quality is so bad that it prevents all VPN from working normally. This situation is common on hotel WIFI networks (normally at hostels) or in cafés. The same goes for mobile data connections, as in large cities, they tend to be so saturated that they prevent VPN from working properly.
Different VPN don’t always behave the same: It’s common that depending on the place you’re connecting from, some VPN work better than others. For example, ExpressVPN might work better from your workplace internet connection, whereas NordVPN might work better from home.
In our experience, as a general rule, ExpressVPN has always been a safe bet, with excellent speed, stability and performance. NordVPN is one of the other large VPN providers with good performance in China.
Surfshark and Ivacy are two providers that are less popular in China, but which offer good performance in the country, a premium service, and a very competitive price.
What to do if your VPN isn’t working in China
China is constantly updating the Great Firewall to make VPN connections harder, and even the best VPNs can fail or have difficulties connecting.
Below I list some of the things that you can do if your VPN isn’t working:
- Update its software: It’s important to always be running the latest version of the software, as many of the updates are done to prevent the VPN from being blocked by the Great Firewall.
- Change server: Even though many VPNs have an option to automatically connect to the server with the best performance, sometimes it’s useful to test which server works the best with your connection.
- Change encryption protocol: In our experience, currently, the only protocol that works well in China is OpenVPN (or versions of it, such as Chameleon). However, if you experience difficulties, you can always try with other protocols, which sometimes work as well. In order, I would try the following protocols: WireGuard / Lightway, OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, and SSTP. Don’t bother trying PPTP, as it has never worked in China.
- Contact the technical service: If none of the above has worked for you, you can contact your VPN’s technical department to find out what is happening (it might be temporarily out of service in China) and get a recommended configuration for getting around the Great Firewall. This is why we place a lot of importance on the quality of the VPN’s technical service. Good VPNs respond efficiently and are capable of quickly reacting when the Great Firewall blocks their service.
- Port forward to port 433: This is a more technical solution and isn’t usually necessary. We don’t recommend it for the majority of users.
If you use ExpressVPN on this page you will find up-to-date information on the state of the VPN in China and recommendations for getting the best performance.
What is IP leaking and how can it affect me?
When you use a VPN, in theory, your IP address is masked and external observers and the websites you visit can’t determine your real IP address.
To put it simply, IP leaking is when your real IP address is discovered by the webpage you are visiting (normally through the execution of a script) despite you using a VPN. This causes you to lose your anonymity and your geolocation may be detected.
In addition to the anonymity problems that this may pose, IP leaking can make a VPN useless for accessing geographically restricted websites.
While there are many ways of avoiding IP leaking, some of them are quite complicated for people who aren’t experts on the subject. Even so, there are simple measures that can substantially reduce the likelihood of this happening.
Obviously, the better your VPN, the lower the likelihood of IP leaking.
The other precaution has to do with choosing your browser. Studies carried out on multiple browsers show that without a doubt, Microsoft Edge is the worst of them all and in this sense, Safari is the most secure. Opera and Google Chrome are similar and despite being better than Edge, are quite insecure. Mozilla Firefox is quite secure without reaching the same level as Safari.
Tips to optimize your VPN
- Give the VPN permissions: Sometimes VPNs can be detected as malware by your operating system. If you want to use the VPN, you will have to give it permissions so that your firewall doesn’t block it. It’s important to make sure you’re using a trustworthy VPN (like the ones we recommend in this article), as many VPNs can be dangerous for your laptop or smartphone.
- Servers: As a general rule, choose servers located in countries nearby for better VPN performance
- ExpressVPN: Follow the instructions on this page
- NordVPN: Use obfuscated servers. The servers that tend to give the best performance are Japan 20-22 and the Singapore obfuscated server
- Ivacy: Use the OpenVPN UDP protocol, the Unblock Websites function, activate Switch to Secure DNS and IPv6 Leak Protection. Australia and Hong Kong tend to be the best servers.
- Surfshark: The WireGuard protocol tends to be the fastest and most stable. If you’re not worried about being anonymous, you can also try Shadowsocks.
Is it illegal to use a VPN in China?
We aren’t lawyers and we are certainly not qualified to provide any legal advice. So what follows is just our personal opinion:
As far as we know, using a VPN isn’t illegal in China, but there are many rumors and contradictory information on the subject and it’s difficult to say which VPN can be used legally and which can’t. Even if it’s true that VPN gets often blocked, on the other hand, VPN is a necessary tool to improve security at companies, and because of this, it would make little sense to declare all VPN to be illegal.
However, at the beginning of 2017, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology declared that the VPN services in China will now need to obtain a government approval.
While this legislation appears to only refer to VPN providers operating from within China, it’s not clear how (and if) this legislation can also be applied to VPN providers operating outside of China (which is the case of those that we recommend).
Since 2017, the apps for the main VPNs have not been available in the Apple App Store in China. However this doesn’t stop you from using them (you can download them outside of China or configure the VPN manually).
In any event, you should keep in mind that when using a VPN, it doesn’t necessarily have to be illegal: it depends on the situation, and what you do with the VPN can be illegal or not. For example, if someone uses a VPN (to avoid being identified) to scam people, it’s obvious that this activity is illegal and will, therefore, be prosecuted.
For more information on the subject, I recommend reading this article
What websites are blocked in China?
The list of websites blocked in China is long and changes every day. Generally speaking, the most popular social networks (Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc), messaging applications (WhatsApp, Messenger, Snapchat, Line, etc.), blogging platforms (WordPress.com, Blogspot, etc), Google services (Google.com, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Hangouts Google Docs, etc) and media websites that may be or have been critical towards China (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and LeMonde, just to provide some examples) are blocked.
Then, there are websites or software that aren’t blocked but are so slow that they become practically useless. The most common example is probably Skype, which works on and off (for calls, messages usually work fine).
Generally speaking, most of the websites that aren’t hosted in a Chinese server will be slow, when you try to connect from within China.
The best way to overcome this problem is, of course, to choose a VPN that is working well in China!
Free VPNs for China
We recommend that you NEVER use a free VPN. They are normally a serious risk to your security and privacy or simply don’t work. Maintaining a VPN that works in China implies a significant financial expense, and therefore you should ask where the VPN is getting this money from.
My recommendation is that you should carefully examine any VPN of this type before installing it, as in many cases, it will install other things, such as programs that display ads while you are browsing, programs that store your browsing data to sell it to third parties or programs that use your computer as a server (your laptop and your Internet connection will work much more slowly). Plus, in the worst case, they are simply viruses or malware.
Given that they only a few USD a month, there is no doubt that the best option is to buy a decent VPN.
If I haven’t convinced you, this article gives some recommendations on free VPNs for China.
Other frequently asked questions
If you have an Apple device (iPhone or iPad), first you have to manually configure the VPN (see the instructions on the VPN provider’s website), connect, and then later use the App Store to download the app. Keep in mind that if you try to download the VPN app directly from the App Store before connecting your VPN, you will get an error message. You can get more detailed information in this article.
Nonetheless, the large majority of VPN websites are blocked and their apps have been withdrawn from the App Store and Chinese app markets.
You don’t need to buy a VPN for China as long as you don’t use any of the websites and apps blocked in the country, such as all of Google’s services, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter, among many others.
In any event, China has services that are equivalent to those that are blocked, such as Baidu, WeChat, and Weibo, among others.
However, it’s important to cancel recurring payments if you want to avoid automatically being charged the fee for the following month.
However, you should know that once in China, the App Store will prevent you from downloading (or updating) VPN applications. If you want to use a VPN on your Apple device, you will have two options: downloading the app outside of China or configuring it manually (VPN websites tend to have detailed instructions on how to do this).
Remember that once the VPN is connected, you will be able to download or update the app without any problem.
However, many apps aren’t available unless you use a VPN, such as VPN apps, WhatsApp, Skype, and many others.
[Photo Credits First Photo (Creative Commons CC0): Pixabay.com].