You may already know about the Great Wall of China, but what about the great firewall of China? In the online world, China is infamous for its aggressive block that their government put in place to censor various online content.
It's one of the toughest firewalls in the world and it blocks a huge variety of website including Netflix, social media platforms, Wikipedia, Google Search, and many more. Luckily, there is a way around these blocks: using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
However, finding a VPN that works in China can be challenging as not all services work the same. With this in mind, I’ve scoured the web in search of the best VPN for China, so you don’t have to.
With thousands of services and plans to choose from, I based my findings on three primary factors: the service's ability to bypass the firewall, its security features, and its range of servers. This is what the best VPN for China is:
- NordVPN - Affordable VPN with a large server list
- ExpressVPN - High-end VPN with extensive international server options
- CyberGhost - Highest encryption available
- PureVPN - Access to 2000+ servers with all packages
- Buffered VPN - Compatible with every device
To be safe, I suggest you buy a subscription and download the application to your device before you land in China. If you don’t, you may not be able to download and use your VPN unless someone can lend you theirs to undergo the process.
From $2.99 /month (3-year plan)
NordVPN is a VPN provider that pays special attention to those visiting China, successfully allowing them to access everything from Netflix to Facebook, and even Wikipedia. And by monitoring connectivity, it also focuses on actively seeking solutions to any new blocks that may arise.
But, with so many other VPNs failing to bypass all the blocks in China, how does Nord manage to do it?
Well, NordVPN uses Double VPN to hide your online activity behind more than one server via a VPN tunnel. This combined with 256-bit AES encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS and IPv6 leak protection means you can browse the web with complete peace of mind.
I recommend that you connect to one of the servers in Hong Kong or Japan as these offer faster speeds and a more stable connection when in China.
NordVPN has a customer support team on hand to answer any questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via live chat. If you’re struggling to find the chat support, you just have to navigate to the NordVPN website, click on the “?” icon at the bottom left of the screen and click “email” or “chat” depending on your preference. Alternatively, you can visit their "Contact Us" page for additional information.
Overall, I believe NordVPN is the best value for money in the industry. Plus, if you don’t enjoy the service, the company offers a 30-day money back guarantee so that you can try before you buy.
- Choice of great security features
- Double VPN for extra security
- Largest selection of servers in the industry some of which are in Japan and Hong Kong
- Great customer support team
- Protects up to 6 devices simultaneously
- With so many servers it can be challenging to choose the most suitable option without visiting the website forum
From $8.32 /month (1-year plan)
Launched in 2009 from the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPNs on the market, and allows you to navigate around Chinese blocks thanks to its servers in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
ExpressVPN also has a selection of servers in 148 cities scattered across 94 countries. Plus, the provider offers unlimited server switches so if one doesn't work or is slow, you can switch to another in a better location.
It also offers a lot in compatibility, as it has an application for all devices. Whether you’re on Mac, Android, Windows, or want a VPN for a router, you're in luck with Express VPN. You can also download browser extensions it has on offer.
And similarly to NordVPN, ExpressVPN actively monitors the Chinese network to stay ahead of any new blocks that may take place. Furthermore, it comes packed with security features and has a strict no-logs policy meaning the government, your ISP, and hackers can’t gain access to your IP address or any other personal information.
The one and only downfall of ExpressVPN is its pricing. Despite its feature offering, I don’t believe it’s worth more than double the amount of Nord. That said, the provider does indeed offer a 30-day money back guarantee period.
- Good choices of servers, some of which are in Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong
- Multiple security protocols
- Dedicated application for a huge variety of devices and operating systems
- Considerably more expensive than others of its kind
From $2.50 /month (3-year plan)
Next up, CyberGhost made my list as it's super simple to download and get started with while still being packed with a wealth of features.
CyberGhost has more than 3,000 global servers, 20 of which are in Japan making the service fast and reliable. This combined with the fact that it offers the highest level of encryption available means you can bypass China’s censorship.
The service also comes with an automatic killswitch, DNS and IP leak protection, as well as unlimited bandwidth and traffic. Plus, CyberGhost has a dedicated application for all operating systems and you can protect up to 7 devices simultaneously.
One area that CyberGhost truly shines is in the promptness of its support. After buying my subscription, I requested a refund within my whopping 45-day money back guarantee period and was refunded in less than 24 hours.
- Reliable customer service team
- Good selection of servers
- Simple and intuitive application (at least for Mac)
- Affordable plans
- Doesn’t offer the same unique security features as NordVPN (i.e. Double VPN)
From $3.33 /month (1-year plan)
PureVPN has been around for 12 years now. In that time, it's built a network of over 2,000 servers in more than 140 countries, 24 of which are in Hong Kong. Better yet, the provider offers unlimited server switches. This adds an extra level of anonymity to your online activity, thus stopping your ISP from throttling your internet speed.
Something else that PureVPN prides itself on is its 99.99% uptime guarantee. Thanks to a dedicated team that manages and hosts the network, its servers are virtually never down.
And while using a VPN in China can often be a tricky topic, PureVPN fights the confusion by offering a dedicated “For Users in China” support section on its website so you don’t have to skim through mounds of content before getting the information you need.
As for encryption and compatibility, PureVPN uses 256-bit AES data encryption and supports OpenVPN protocol. You can also choose from L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2 protocols depending on your device. Plus, every PureVPN subscription supports 5 multi-logins. This means that with just one account, you can protect your internet browsing on all your devices and some of your family's devices if you choose to.
Given the above, PureVPN perhaps isn't the best option for those concerned with privacy. But other than that, it's a viable choice.
- Dedicated tips and information about using the service in China
- Multiple security protocols to choose from
- Easy-to-download and use application
- Affordable plans
- Questionable no-log policy
5. Buffered VPN
From $4.12 /month (2-year plan)
Based in Gibraltar, a country with solid privacy protection laws in place, Buffered is a good alternative to the services mentioned above. That said, it does come with some peculiar features. Some of which are good, some of which aren't so good.
One great aspect is that the provider has various servers in Asia, many of which offer a fast and reliable connection while in China. However, while you can indeed use BufferedVPN to bypass the 'Great Firewall of China', you aren't given anywhere near as many servers as with other providers.
Additionally, PureVPN has some great security features, one of which is the Test Firewall for Windows feature. With it, you can run a port discovery which tells you all the ports that are available on the network.
And while Buffered may be based in Europe, it's 37 server locations are actually dotted around numerous continents. This includes Asia-based servers, which are what you'll be needing when using Buffered in China.
When it comes to customer service, there is 24/7 support available. Plus, there is a comprehensive and easy-to-navigate knowledgebase on the website with a wealth of information on offer.
Finally, if you're wanting to try before you buy, you'll be pleased to know that Buffered recently changed its refund policy and now offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
However, although it has its fair share of good qualities, Buffered's $4.12/month price is higher than the other providers on this list and you don't get as many server options.
- Multiple servers in Asia that can bypass the Great Firewall of China
- Unique security features for Windows users
- Great customer support and knowledgebase
- Questionable no-log policy
Which of These 5 is the Best VPN for China?
Personally, I believe the all-round best VPN for China is NordVPN. But with that said, it depends on what your personal preferences are. For example, if you're looking for a VPN specifically based in the Gibraltar jurisdiction, then, of course, Buffered would be a better choice for you.
All five services have their own unique pros and cons, and I hope this guide has helped you to decide which one is right for you. Either way, all five options offer a money back guarantee, meaning you can give them all a shot before committing to a subscription.
Finally, is there such a thing as Chinese VPN?
While using a VPN in China isn’t technically illegal, the government doesn’t like them, which is a key reason China removed all VPN apps from its Apple Store. So, in short, the answer is no, there is no Chinese VPN worth using.
The best and probably only way to access censored content in China is with a VPN that can bypass the Great Firewall of China, which would be any of the 5 on this list.