What is the best VPN for China in 2020? That's a question that's often met from people who've never lived in China. I live in China so I signed up to all 10 VPN providers that claim to offer coverage there, to find out the best VPNs for China?
China is blocking VPNs fast and even popular companies don't work there for long. I spend a lot of time in China, testing the latest providers and putting them through rigorous tests, to ensure my readers can actually bypass the Great Firewall of China whilst travelling or working there.
Every week the Chinese Government blocks thousands of websites they deem inappropriate for their citizens. Popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Whatsapp have already been blocked.
China's blocking comes under a term called the Great Firewall of China. If you're planning a trip to China for work or pleasure, you'll quickly experience the inconvenience of this firewall and blockage when trying to use social media apps and news websites.
However, with the help of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) software package on your laptop or smartphone, you'll be able to bypass the Great Firewall of China and continue using the Internet as if you were back home in New Zealand.
But which VPN provider should you choose? I've tested over 60 different VPN providers over the last few years and most of them simply don't work in mainland China. A lot of them claim their services work out of China, but they are lieing to you!
I've only found four providers that actually work in China as of 2020. These providers will grant you Internet Freedom in China. My #1 pick is also the cheapest, PureVPN.
Short On Time? These are the best VPNs for China
Best all-round VPN for China
Number of servers: 2,000+ | Server locations: 140+ | IP addresses: 300,000+ | Devices supported: 5 | Lowest Price: $2.88/mo
The Best China VPN 2020 - Get 2 years for only $2.88/mo
Make no mistake, PureVPN is one of the very few providers that actually have Chinese based servers with IP addresses you can use to break through the Great Firewall.
Currently they offer servers in Beijing and Shanghai which allow you to connect to them within China, before routing your connection to overseas servers to unlock the world!
Most recently, I've tested and confirmed that PureVPN works in China and can unlock sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Whatsapp, Skype, Instagram and Snapchat.
Currently over 10,000 websites and technologies can be successfully unlocked in China when using PureVPN with more added daily.
Aside from China, PureVPN has a global network of unlimited bandwidth servers, lightning-fast connectivity and the highest grade 256-bit AES encryption which conceals and hides your IP address, data and personal information from prying eyes.
PureVPN keeps no logs of activity so you're free to do what you like without worrying about them collecting any data on your website browsing or activity. No connection logs also keep your devices safe and secure too.
One of the great reasons to choose PureVPN is they offer dedicated IP addresses for only $0.99 per month extra. This means you won't have to share resources with others and can guarantee faster connections. They also offer port forwarding.
If you need help, they offer friendly 24/7 live chat and email support.
They don't offer a free trial, but they do offer a 31 day money back guarantee so you can get a full refund if you're not 100% satisfied.
Learn more: Read our full PureVPN review.
Most popular VPN for China
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server Locations: 160+ | IP addresses: 30,000+ | Devices supported: 5 | Lowest Price: $6.67/mo
Most Popular VPN - Get 15 Months For $6.67/mo
ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN providers around the world, and is a great choice for China, due to it's super-fast speeds and reliability.
They offer an expansive server network consisting of over 3,000 servers in 148+ locations around the world, including many servers in mainland China.
ExpressVPN costs more than traditional VPN providers, and this allows them to offer lightning-fast speeds anywhere you choose to connect from.
ExpressVPN offers users advanced security with 256-bit AES encryption, ensuring your data and traffic use is secure when using their platform.
They offer some of the best DNS and IP leak protection, to stop your location or traffic being given away when using their service.
ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands which means they have a strict no logs policy and no data is stored. They also use TrustedServer Technology which wipes everything at the end of your session, as if nothing had happened.
They offer the ability to consecutively use 5 devices at the same time plus they offer 24/7 live chat if you need any help or guidance.
Similarly to other providers they offer a no questions asked 30 day refund policy.
Learn more: Read our full ExpressVPN review.
Simple and effective
Number of servers: 1,000+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 10,000+ | Devices supported: Unlimited | Lowest Price: $1.99/mo
Surfshark is a newcomer that's prepared to shake up the VPN industry by providing the cheapest prices for long term subscribers.
They offer 1000+ servers in 61 countries around the world, including high-speed servers near China in places such as Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
They offer fast, reliable connectivity that will help you to bypass the Great Firewall of China, by utilising their NoBorders Mode.
They offer maximum security with AES 256-bit encryption as well as an automatic kill switch. They also offer DNS leak protection.
Surfshark is based offshore, meaning they keep no access or data logs under their no-logging policy. All data is wiped after you end your session.
You can make full use of their MultiHop feature, which allows you to automatically change your location at random intervals to make it harder to track.
Surfshark allows unlimited users per account so you can make full use of your account with your family and get more value for money.
Like other providers they offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
Learn more: Read full Surfshark review.
Most Reliable VPN for China
Number of servers: 300+ | Server locations: 111+ | IP addresses: N/A | Devices supported: Unlimited | Lowest Price: $10/mo
Astrill is a secret VPN provider that is being used by those who want the fastest servers as well as some of the best encryption and features.
They offer over 300+ servers across 111 cities in 62 countries worldwide. They offer VPN servers in China which allow you to bypass the Great Firewall.
They offer a smart mode which allows you to tunnel only international websites and let local sites such as news websites work as usual with your real IP.
Astrill offer an application filter so you can choose to route certain applications via your VPN connection, which can be handy when playing games or working remotely.
All plans come with VPN sharing which allow you to share your VPN connection with other devices on your network.
They offer an app guard which comes with a kill switch that will automatically disconnect your VPN if it detects any leaking of your real IP.
Astrill offers the ability to access Onion or deep web websites over VPN without the need to install Tor on your PC.
Astrill promises a no logs policy which ensures your data is wiped upon disconnection of their service. No access or data logs are stored.
You get access to advanced features such as port forwarding and MultiHop which allows you to connect to one entry server and have traffic routed out from another exit server.
Astrill offers a VIP plan which gives you 100GB of VIP traffic, as well as access to dedicated servers in China. If you need a guaranteed service, faster support and minimal latency then you should consider this addon.
Astrill offers fast and efficient round the clock support. There's a money back guarantee of only 10 days which should be sufficient to test their services.
How To Setup China VPN?
We recommend downloading your VPN before you leave for China. There are numerous reports that downloading or paying for a VPN from China is impossible.
So ensure you're subscribed and you've tested the software before you leave. If you're flying next week, this will give you time to claim your money back guarantee if there's any issues with the VPN not working.
If you have any issues with your setup, use the live chat feature to contact your VPN provider and get issues resolved before you head to China.
If you have issues in China, it might be difficult to use the website as it will likely be blocked. So I recommend doing this..
Sign up for two VPN providers to guarantee your ability to get one or both working.
Is It Legal to Use a VPN For China?
The Chinese Government has threatened on many occasions to ban all VPN's, so is it actually illegal to use a VPN in China?
It's complicated. Like many things in China.
China tries to make connecting to virtual private networks (VPN) very difficult within their country however it's a constant game of cat and mouse.
China can continue to block VPN providers, while VPN providers continue to change their server IP addresses, in an endless cycle.
Currently China has not banned the use of VPN's within their country. If they wanted to do this, they easily could by forcing ISP's to block access,
But they haven't done this yet.
So while things could easily change in the future, currently using a VPN in China is perfectly acceptable, especially for foreigners and those on business.
What Websites/Apps Are Blocked In China?
Over 10,000 websites and applications are currently blocked in China. That means pretty much all of the major websites and platforms you currently use will be blocked.
Most people know that sites such as Twitter and Facebook are blocked.
But did you know that news websites such as the New York Times, BBC, CNN are all blocked.
Do you use Whatsapp or Facebook messenger? Yep all blocked.
Blocked apps include: Slack, Dropbox, One Drive, WhatsApp, Telegram, Line, Signal, Spotify, Pandora, Snapchat, Instagram.
Blocked websites include: Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Hotmail, Google Apps, YouTube.
How To Get A Chinese IP Address?
If you want to access Chinese TV for streaming services such as Youku, CNTX or Tudou from outside China, here in New Zealand, then you'll need a VPN which can give you a Chinese IP address.
Not many VPN providers offer Chinese based servers, however our #1 recommendation, PureVPN offers servers in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.
Once connected, you'll get a Chinese IP address and can start watching Chinese geo-blocked content right away.
Best Free VPN For China
We all want something for less, but should you really use a free VPN for China?
Most free VPN providers are loaded with malware and spyware which will slow your computer down. You'll also start seeing random ads all over your browsing.
Free VPN providers have to make money some how and most of these offer advertisements as the way to recover their costs.
Free VPN's normally don't work in China, despite claiming that they do. Ultimately the want you to download their software so they can show you ads.
For best results, you should choose a paid VPN provider.
How Much Does A China VPN Cost?
VPN subscriptions can vary depending on the provider and choice of plan. Most providers offer one plan that you can purchase various different time frames. These usually range from 1 month through to 36 or 60 months (5 Years).
If you sign up for a longer term, you'll receive a steeper discount. For example PureVPN offers a monthly price of $2.88 on a 2 year plan, but it's $10.95 on a monthly plan.
That's a huge saving if you are determined to use your VPN for a long time. After 6 months on a monthly plan, it will be more expensive than a 2 year plan.
If you are planning to visit China as a tourist then of course, then a one month plan is often the best option as you can cancel this after you've left.
What Is The Great Firewall?
The Great Firewall is a term that came about as a nickname for China's advanced internet censorship system. This was actually called the Golden Shield project, where all state owned internet service providers would restrict internet traffic to and from China.
By combining many different methods such as IP blocking, DNS tampering, keyword filtering, deep packet inspection and manual enforcement, the Chinese have blocked thousands of IP addresses and URL's.
Most of the major US and UK applications ad websites are blocked and will remain blocked indefinitely. However, websites blocked in one province, might not be blocked in another, or may be blocked on one VPN provider, but not another.
That's why we recommend you purchase two VPN subscriptions.
Final Thoughts On Chinese VPN's
There are a small number of VPN providers that actually work in China. Many providers claim they offer VPN's for China, but haven't even tested their services there.
China's internet censorship isn't centralised and can vary from region to region. Your VPN might work in one location but not in another.
For best results, you should probably sign up to multiple VPN providers. If one doesn't work, you will have a backup plan.
I suggest you download your VPN software and test it out before you travel to China as you may not be able to download this after your departure.
My top 4 picks for Best VPN for China include: