China has a long history of censorship, especially when it comes to its citizens’ access to the Internet. Religion, politics and just about everything in between has been targeted by the so-called Great Firewall of China.
Though getting around these restrictions used to be a pretty straightforward process with a VPN, many providers are having their servers blocked by the GFW.
The good news is that there are still VPNs that work in China, and we’ve put together a list to help you find one that will unblock your favourite sites without draining your bank account!
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– Best overall choice for China
NordVPN offers a suite of services designed to get you over the wall and back on your feet again. They offer military-grade encryption and an automatic kill switch, which ensures that if their service drops for any reason it will immediately sever your connection so you aren’t accidentally exposing data. There are also obfuscated servers available, which use special technology to slip past the GFW unnoticed by disguising VPN traffic as regular HTTPS traffic.
There are quite a few servers available in Asia, but not one is located in mainland China itself – Hong Kong is the closest option, at 5 hours 30 minutes away. You can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously with one account.
The deal NordVPN currently has is a bit crazy and in our opinion a total steal. 3 years for $99 is a hell of a deal, though it will go up to $107 at the end of this month. It’s also quite likely that NordVPN will get blocked by the GFW sometime in 2015 – so if you want to use their service you might want to get your feet wet now!
– Best for speed and unblocking streaming sites
IPVanish is another great choice when using a VPN in China. They offer extremely fast servers optimized for activities like torrenting and streaming, so if you need to unblock Netflix or Youtube while you’re here then IPVanish should be your first choice. Their encryption standards aren’t as high as NordVPN, however – and you will find that they get blocked by the GFW every now and then (for example, at this very moment most of their servers are blocked).
You can choose from over 60 countries worldwide to connect to, including multiple locations in Asia. IPVanish also offers unlimited P2P traffic on all its servers.
Like NordVPN, IPVanish is doing something special for new subscribers right now – 1 year for $79. It’s not quite as good a deal as Nord’s 3 years for $99, but it’s still an incredible bargain compared to what others charge!
PureVPN is another great choice when using a VPN in China. Though not quite as fast as IPVanish, they are still very quick and should allow you to stream video at full resolution without too much trouble.
PureVPN has over 500 servers available worldwide including multiple locations in Asia. They offer unlimited traffic on all of their servers. Their encryption standards aren’t as high as NordVPN or IPVanish, but they do have other features that make them a good choice – namely the ability to switch between TCP/UDP protocols at will (for fastest speeds or P2P compatibility).
There are several different subscription options available for PureVPN, including a 15-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with their service for any reason!
– Best for security & privacy
VyprVPN is a good choice for users who want to protect their data and conceal their online activity. They offer some of the most advanced encryption protocols available, and they own over 700 servers worldwide (including multiple locations in Asia).
Their service isn’t quite as fast as other providers on this list – particularly when it comes to streaming video. If you can get by with slower speeds though then VyprVPN offers some powerful features like Dump Truck (which allows you to store encrypted files directly on their servers) and Chameleon (which disguises VPN traffic so that it’s indistinguishable from regular HTTPS traffic).
You will need to pre-purchase a subscription package before using any of VyprVPN’s services, but thankfully they offer a free 3-day trial if you want to give their service a try before you buy!
– Best for simplicity & compatibility
CloudVPN is an up and coming provider that offers some of the simplest VPN apps we’ve seen, making it easy even for beginners to set up and use.
The app interfaces are similar to Netflix or Skype – users simply connect to CloudVPN’s servers like they would any other streaming website.
Of course, this also means that CloudVPN lacks many of the more advanced features available with providers like NordVPN or IPVanish; but if all you need is a VPN setup and forget (i.e. simple access while in China) then CloudVPN will just fine.
They also offer a wide range of servers located across 8 different countries, including 2 locations in China.
Since CloudVPN is still rather small compared to their competitors they don’t suffer from the same sort of blocks and connection issues that you might experience with larger providers – making them ideal for beginners or anyone who just wants an easy way to access VPN features without dealing with complicated apps or settings.
– Best for privacy & security experts
I couldn’t write an article about the best VPNs for China without mentioning ExpressVPN! They are one of the most trusted names in online privacy, offering top tier encryption protocols on all their servers worldwide.
Their customer support team is great too – if you have any trouble setting up ExpressVPN on your device they are available 24/7 via live chat (we’ve personally used this feature many times to troubleshoot setup issues with friends and family).
This combined with ExpressVPN’s vast server network, easy to use apps, and powerful encryption makes it the perfect choice for users who demand quality.
They currently offer servers in 8 different countries across Asia but unfortunately, none of these servers is located inside China. If you need access to a server inside China then you should probably choose another provider from the options on this list – but if all you’re after is secure access from outside of China then ExpressVPN is an incredible choice!
If any readers have had experience using any of the providers listed here or know of other VPN providers that should be added to the list please let us know in the comments below!
If you need a VPN while in China your best bet is to use a provider with a “stealth” server located in Hong Kong or Southeast Asia. I’ve been using PureVPN for several years and can recommend them.