China has the most strict internet censorship in the world, a large number of popular foreign websites are blocked and inaccessible from within this country, the local authorities achieve the blocking by using a large filtering system nicknamed “Great Firewall” to block the traffic to those sites.
Great Firewall (don’t be confused with the Great Wall) is considered the most sophisticated firewall in the world, it is consistently being upgraded to become more powerful, that’s why only a handful of VPNs are available that can be used to bypass it.
Apart from blocking the traffic to those popular foreign websites like Facebook, Great Firewall also blocks VPN traffic, as VPN is widely used in China to bypass the block, and the authorities know this for sure, in 2017 many VPNs have been cracked down, now not all the VPNs can work in China. This page introduces a few VPN providers that survived several crack-downs and really work in China as of 2018.
Before choosing a VPN service, you might be wondering about what to look for when choosing a VPN. Below are a few important VPN features you should check when choosing the one that most suits your needs.
Or directly click here to jump to see the best VPNs for China.
1. Speed and Stability of the connection:
With a fast-speed VPN, you can stream videos on blocked sites in high definition, and with no interruptions. Pages on all the websites will load faster, files can be uploaded or downloaded faster, and connection drop outs will be occurred less times.
Speed and stability has close relation with the number and range of available servers provided by the VPN provider, usually more servers the provider has, particularly the servers near China, will generally ensure faster and more stable connection.
2. Price: The VPN services provided by different providers have different prices, some of them need more than 10 dollars a month, while some only need less than 3 dollars a month. However, VPN services with higher prices tend to be offering better connection speed and customer service, while cheaper VPNs are not.
3. Anonymity and Security:
As you may know, VPN is not just solely used for circumventing the internet censorship in China, it’s also widely used for other purposes and activities. VPN can encrypt your online data when you surf the internet to protect your private information from being stolen or monitored by third parties, that’s why more and more people enable VPN when they connect internet through public WiFi in hotels or coffee shops. VPN is also a must-have tool for people to download torrent files as it will hide their real IP addresses. Therefore, anonymity and security is also a primary consideration if accessing blocked sites is not your only purpose.
If your only purpose is to bypass the block in China, you still need to care about this, because many VPN providers may log users’ online activities and private data. You need to choose the one that don’t log user data.
4. Costumer support and Money back guarantee:
As Great Firewall of China is upgrading consistently, connection downtime may possibly happen on your VPN when you are traveling in China, so you need to ask support team of the VPN provider to fix your problem, or you just have other questions in regard of the use of the VPN, that’s why choosing one of VPN providers that offers high quality customer support is important. And if you dislike the VPN you purchased, you can have your money back if they have money back guarantee.
5. The number allowed for simultaneously connected devices:
After you signed up for a VPN service, you are not limited to use the service on a single device in the same time, you are allowed to use the VPN on multiple devices simultaneously. This is helpful if you need to use VPN on many different devices like laptop, cellphone, tablet in the same time, or share the VPN with your family members.
Below are some VPN providers that still work in China in 2018.
The above mentioned VPN features are included in the introduction to each VPN provider.
Note: Although the VPNs introduced below work fine in China, most of VPN websites are inaccessible from within China, so it is better to sign-up for your favored VPN prior to arrival in China.
Advantages: Fast speed, high popularity in China
Starting Price: $8.5/Month
Maximum number of devices for simultaneous connections: 3
ExpressVPN is a VPN service operated in British Virgin Islands. It is one of the most renowned VPN brands in the world.
As to the market in China, ExpressVPN is one of the top three VPN providers in China, it is now the fastest VPN for China. ExpressVPN has a wide range of server locations, it has VPN servers in 94 countries and regions, including the China-optimized locations like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and the West Coast of the US, ensuring its fast and consistent speed for users in China. ExpressVPN also actively monitors the accessibility and connection stability of its network in China, making its service always effective to defeat the block of Great Firewall.
ExpressVPN allows three simultaneous connections with a single user account, users can run the VPN service on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and routers, the use on these different platforms is equipped with dedicated apps, the interface of its apps has been applauded by many medias, the nice interface makes the apps and the service very simple to use.
As a company operated in Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is outside of the influence of copyright holders, torrenting is allowed through all of its servers. For watching the geographically-limited content on Netflix, users can choose from many dedicated servers for that.
ExpressVPN doesn’t keep logs of users’ private data and their online activities to ensure their anonymity and protect their private information, this had been proved to be true, as that in 2016 ExpressVPN was used by someone behind assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey to anonymously delete the incriminating evidence in the assassin’s Email, when Turkey authorities seized the related VPN server, they found nothing as no data logs was retained by ExpressVPN.
Other VPN providers generally claim they don’t log and collect user data, but who knows whether they are really doing what they promise, ExpressVPN is the only one VPN provider that has been proved to not collecting user data.
ExpressVPN offers 24 hours/7 days live chat support for all of its customers, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Advantages: Reliable and safe connection; the proprietary protocol “Charmeleon” (only available in premium plan) makes it less likely to be blocked by Great Firewall.
Starting Price: $5/Month
Maximum number of devices for simultaneous connections: 3 (Basic plan), 5 (Premium Plan)
VyprVPN is operated by Golden Frog, a Switzerland-based company, they operates VPN service without third parties, which means they own and maintain their own servers for VPN instead of renting from other companies, this makes their VPN service consistent and safer, they have VPN servers in over 70 countries.
The number of device for simultaneous connection is 3 to 5 depending on the plan the user choose.
For users in China, VyprVPN specifically invented their own proprietary protocol called Chameleon to bypass Great Firewall, the protocol can efficiently masks its VPN traffic to evade from China’s blocking on VPNs. The Chameleon protocol is only available for its premium plan.
For its strong technology and high performance, VyprVPN is recommended by some top medias like New York Times and Lifehacker.
VyprVPN’s drawback is that the company will keep users’ logging information for 30 days, the information include connection times, bytes of data used and source IP address, they keep these data only for uses of troubleshooting, billing issues and other similar issues. For this reason, if you care about your online anonymity and often download torrent files, then maybe VyprVPN is not for you, as it will ban your account once it detect you downloaded too much torrent files.(A few times is all right.)
If your only purpose is to bypass China’s Great Firewall to access those blocked sites, not downloading torrent files, then this drawback should not be your concern.
And be aware the basic plan doesn’t contain the Chameleon protocol and hence may not work well in China, some users who use its basic plan in China reported their VPN is occasionally blocked or interrupted by the Great Firewall.
VyprVPN gives 3-day free trial, and offers its customers 24 hours/7 days live chat support. For users who already arrived in China, VyprVPN even has a mirror site that can be accessed from within China.
Same as ExpressVPN, VyprVPN offers 30-day money-back guarantee for its users.
Our readers can get 25% off the cost of its annual plans by using this link, or the above link that links to the mirror site, and the button below.
Advantages: The service can be simultaneously run on up to 6 devices; the obfuscation technology used to hide from the blocking.
Starting Price: $3.5/Month
Maximum number of devices for simultaneous connections: 6
NordVPN is a Panama-based VPN provider, they have over 3,300 servers in more than 60 countries, including many dedicated servers for specific purposes like torrenting. It can also be used to unblock geographically-limited streaming sites like Netflix, while many other VPN providers are blocked by these sites.
NordVPN’s applications is available for Windows/macOS on desktop or laptop devices, and Android/iOS on mobile devices. Every user account is allowed to run the VPN service simultaneously on 6 devices at most, this can be very useful if you are traveling with many of your family members or friends or need to use the service on both desktop and mobile devices in the same time.
For customers in China, NordVPN offers an obfuscation technology called obfsproxy to defeat the Great Firewall’s VPN blocking, obfsproxy is a high level technology that is also being used by Tor to hide from the blocking of Great Firewall.
As to the security, privacy and anonymity, NordVPN claims they don’t keep session logs of user activity, though this has yet been proved to be true.
By default NordVPN uses the OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPsec protocols to encrypt its users’ data, users are also allowed to choose from L2TP and PPTP protocols, too.
NordVPN also offers 24/7 customer support and 30-day money-back guarantee for its users.
Advantages: Low price; medium speed; having servers in more than 140 countries, with China included.
Starting Price: $2.9/Month
Maximum number of devices for simultaneous connections: 5
PureVPN is a VPN service provider based in Hong Kong.
One of its highlights is its low price, the price of its service starts at only $2.9 per month.
And the speed is on the fast side, but slower than that of other VPN providers on this page. PureVPN has over 500 servers in 141 countries, including locations near Mainland China like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.
PureVPN users are allowed to use its VPN service simultaneously on 5 devices. Its applications can run on most kinds of devices that can connect to internet. Torrenting is allowed via connection to all of its servers, and users can use it to watch the US version Netflix from anywhere in the world.
It is worth to mention that PureVPN is one of a few of VPN providers that have servers in Mainland China, that means when you left China, you can still access the Chinese sites, which are not accessible from outside of China, like Youku, the largest video streaming site in China. One of very useful services that can only be accessed in China is QQ Music, it allows people to stream any songs freely, and many songs can be downloaded for free, additionally the lyrics is automatically shown and rolling while the song is being played, moreover you don’t need to register an account to listen the songs, by comparison Spotify requires users to sign up, audio ads is frequent, users need to look for the lyric from other sites.
Like most other VPN providers, PureVPN claims they don’t log users’ online activities and other user data, however this is not really true, there was a case in which a cyber stalker who uses PureVPN was tracked down by FBI, because PureVPN was asked to provide the user data for the investigation and did that.
PureVPN offers 24 hours/7 days customer support, but only offers 7-day money-back guarantee for its users.