What’s the Best VPN for China in 2024 (Free and Paid)?

You need a VPN to visit blocked websites in China, but most VPNs don’t work in China. What’s the best VPN for China? Please see our in-depth report:

Best VPNs for China

This article is about using VPNs in China. It was written based on my personal experience of using the internet and VPNs in China. I’ve been living in China for more than 10 years and I have tried and used A LOT of VPNs.

In this article, I will show you my recommendations of the best VPNs to be used in China, along with detailed review and analysis. However, if you’re impatient and just want to know which VPNs work best in China at this moment, below is a quick answer to you:

Quick Answer: Best VPNs for China

Why You Need a VPN in China?

If you are an expat living in China, I bet you understand what a VPN is and what a VPN is used for. If you haven’t been to China and are planning to do so, let me suggest you get familiar with this word: VPN.

Here’s the fact: in Mainland China, the Internet is censored. Many websites and services are blocked in China. You might be able to enjoy a very high speed Internet connection, but you can’t just open your web browser and visit websites such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube… and the list goes on. Those sites, no matter how popular they are, are blocked in China.

But people really need to use Google for search, use Facebook to post their cute pictures taken in China and use Twitter to see what’s going on, right? How do they do it in China?

The most popular way of unblocking websites in China is using a VPN.

To my understanding, VPN, or Virtual Private Network, was not originally designed for unblocking websites. It was created mainly to increase online security. But soon people found out that a VPN can be used to bypass Internet blocking (or 翻墙, in Chinese). Therefore, in China, if you talk about VPN, most people will think about software to unblocking websites (or 翻墙软件, in Chinese) , not Internet security.

But using a VPN in China is not as easy as you thought.

Why Using a VPN in China Is Tricky?

I have an expat friend who is a tech-savvy guy and he began to work in China about one year ago. He knew about the importance of a VPN in China and decided to build one for himself. So he set up a OpenVPN server in the US and started using it in China. His OpenVPN server worked fine for about a couple of weeks. Then, one day suddenly it stopped working. What happened? His VPN was detected and blocked.

So, the so called GFW (Great Firewall of China) is “smarter” than you think. Not only can it stop you from visiting blacklisted websites, it can also detect VPN traffic and then block it.

You can’t just sign up for a popular VPN service from outside of China and hope you can use it in China. It might not work at all.

But what should I do?

Actually although VPN traffic are heavily blocked and disrupted in China, some VPN service providers have managed to figure out ways to bypass VPN blocking and provide a relatively stable and reliable VPN service for users in China.

I guess many well-known VPN providers think dealing with China’s VPN blocking is too much pain and they just gave up after their service was blocked or disrupted. However, there’re some VPN companies that have decided not to lose the China market and they have been spending a lot of time fighting with China’s VPN blocking. As a matter of fact, some VPN providers even invented special VPN technology just to bypass China’s VPN blocking. Believe me, it’s not a easy job.

What Are the Best VPNs for China?

If you ask people in China to recommend the best VPN, you might get different answers. However, it’s a common knowledge that many well-known VPN does NOT work in China. For those that work OK in China, sometimes you might still run into problems such as dropped connections, slow speed etc., but since they have a team dealing with China, most of the time the issues can be resolved quickly.

Based on my experience, I’d say having one VPN account might not be enough if you live in China. You might need to sign up at least two VPN accounts so that you always have a backup service if the other one fails.

I’ve personally tried a number of VPN services in China. Based on my own experience, I’d recommend the following VPN services for use in China:

What Are the Best FREE VPNs for China?

When it comes to VPNs, we all know that there’re many VPNs that you can use for free. Some of them has a data limit (for example, you can use it for free for 500 Mb of data per month), while others are completely free.

Is there any free VPNs currently working well in China?

Well, based on my own experience, the answer is sadly no. Although a few years ago you could still use some of the free VPNs to bypass Internet blocking in China, since 2017, the Chinese government became much tougher on blocking VPNs and the free VPNs are the first victims of this VPN crackdown.

Therefore, if you need to use VPNs heavily in China, I don’t recommend relying on free VPNs, because they are not very reliable these days.

However, if you wan to try your luck with free VPNs or want to have a free VPN around as a backup option, you can consider the following ones:

Again, these free VPNs might not work well in China. For serious VPN users, you might want to consider using a paid VPN service.

What Are the Best Paid VPNs for China?

Based on my own experience, as well as recommendations by some other VPN testing services based in China, below are some of the best VPNs for China (all of them are paid VPNs):

Let’s review each of these best VPNs for China:

No. 1: ExpressVPN

Best VPN for China: ExpressVPN

» Visit ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN for China: Summary

Working in China:Yes
Server Locations:160 locations, 105 countries
Speed Limit:Unlimited
Bandwidth Limit:Unlimited
VPN Protocols:OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), Lightway, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP
Simultaneous Connections:8 Devices
Platform Supported:Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Router, Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation etc.
Logging: No Logging Policy
Works with NetFlix:Yes
P2P & Torrenting Allowed:Yes
Customer Support: 24/7 Live chat, Email, Ticketing
Price:1-month Plan: $12.95/month
6-month Plan: $9.99/month
12-month Plan: $8.32/month
Free Trial:30-day money-back guarantee
Payment Methods:Credit Card, AliPay, UnionPay, PayPal, Crypto
Link:» Get ExpressVPN (with Discount)

Many VPN review websites have listed ExpressVPN as the best VPN for China. I think there must be some good reasons for that.

ExpressVPN for China: Features

ExpressVPN offers 160 VPN locations from 94 countries. For VPN users in China, I recommend ExpressVPN’s servers in Hong Kong, Japan and Los Angeles , which turned out to be the fasted ones and the most reliable ones.

ExpressVPN supports VPN protocols such as OpenVPN(TCP, UDP), Lightway, L2TP-IPsec, SSTP and PPTP. For me, I’d let ExpressVPN”s software automatically pick one for me, because the software knows I’m using it from China and can pick the best protocol for me.

There’s no limit on bandwidth, server switches or speed for ExpressVPN. It has a zero logging policy, which means your online activities are not recorded, so your privacy is protected.

Most VPN providers has a limit on the number of simultaneous VPN connections. This number for ExpressVPN is 8, meaning you can connect to ExpressVPN’s service on up to 8 devices at the same time.

ExpressVPN allows torrenting and P2P file sharing. Actually I found ExpressVPN is probably the best choice for torrenting. I found many other VPN providers don’t allow this kind of traffic (to stay away from trouble I guess), but ExpressVPN always gives you a very fast torrenting speed.

Another nice feature of ExpressVPN is that it’s a good VPN to be used to access ChatGPT from China. With some other VPNs, ChatGPT might refuse services and show error messages because VPN traffic id detected. However, using ExpressVPN can avoid this problem.

ExpressVPN provides VPN software for desktop computers (Windows, Mac and Linus) and VPN apps for mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android phones and Android tablets). It can also be set up on a compatible router so that all connected devices can share the same VPN. This way you can use your ExpressVPN account on more than 5 devices at the same time.

ExpressVPN for China: Dealing with China’s VPN Ban & Blocking

I’ve heard that ExpressVPN uses some special technology on some of their servers (including the locations I mentioned above) to make them not easy to get detected or blocked by China’s Great Firewall.

As a matter of fact, ExpressVPN has been quite stable and reliable during China’s recent VPN crackdowns. During those crackdowns, sometimes no VPN work in China at all, but ExpressVPN was able to bring back their service at a very fast speed. Also, ExpressVPN has some dedicated website showing their server status as well as tips for getting connected in China during VPN crackdowns. I believe ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for dealing with VPN crackdown and ban in China.

ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, which means you can test it out for a month. If you don’t like it, you can get your refund.

ExpressVPN for China: Pricing

Below is the pricing info for ExpressVPN.

Best China VPN: ExpressVPN prices

ExpressVPN for China: Conclusion

  • ExpressVPN works well in China and it’s one of the most reliable VPNs for China.
  • ExpressVPN has survived a number of recent VPN crackdowns in China.
  • Although ExpressVPN is a little bit more pricey compared to other VPNs, if you want to get a reliable VPN to be used in China, it’s really worth the money.
  • When using ExpressVPN in China, choose the server locations suggested by ExpressVPN. If ExpressVPN stops working in China, contact its customer support via live chat to get the latest suggestions for getting it working again.

» Visit ExpressVPN (with Discount)

No. 2: Surfshark VPN

Surfshark VPN

» Visit Surfshark VPN

Surfshark VPN for China: Summary

Working in China:Yes
Server Locations:3200+ servers in 100 countries
Speed Limit:Unlimited
Bandwidth Limit:Unlimited
VPN Protocols:OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard
Simultaneous Connections:Unlimited devices
Platform Supported:Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Router, Apple TV, Android TV, OpenELEC/Kodi etc.
Logging: No Logging Policy
Works with NetFlix:Yes
P2P & Torrenting Allowed:Yes
Customer Support: 24/7 Live chat, Email, Ticketing
Free Trial:30-day money-back guarantee
Payment Methods:Credit Card, AliPay, PayPal
Link:» Get Surfshark VPN (with Discount)

Surfshark VPN for China: Features

Surfshark VPN has rapidly gained popularity as a reliable VPN provider, especially for users in restrictive regions like China.

Packages and Special Features: Surfshark offers a straightforward subscription model with all features available in a single package. This includes CleanWeb, which blocks ads and malicious links, and NoBorders Mode, specifically designed to bypass internet restrictions in countries like China.

Server Network and Recommendations for China: Surfshark boasts a wide network with over 3200 servers in 100+ countries. For users in China, connecting to nearby servers such as those in Hong Kong, Singapore, or Japan often provides optimal speeds. Additionally, servers in major US cities like Los Angeles and New York are optimized for stable connections.

Device Compatibility and Software: Surfshark provides user-friendly VPN applications for various platforms, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and even offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

VPN Protocols and Security Features: Surfshark supports multiple VPN protocols, including IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and WireGuard®. A standout feature is the Camouflage Mode, which masks VPN traffic to look like regular internet traffic, crucial for evading VPN blocks in places like China.

Torrenting, P2P, and Simultaneous Connections: Surfshark allows torrenting and P2P file sharing across its network. One of its most compelling features is offering unlimited simultaneous connections, allowing a single subscription to cover all your devices.

Surfshark VPN for China: Dealing with China’s VPN Ban and Blocking

Surfshark VPN has established itself as a competent player in circumventing internet censorship, including China’s stringent VPN restrictions. Understanding the complexities of China’s Great Firewall, Surfshark offers features specifically designed to overcome these challenges.

Special Features for Bypassing VPN Blocks: One of Surfshark’s key tools for this purpose is its Camouflage Mode, which is an advanced feature that disguises VPN traffic as regular internet traffic. This capability is crucial in a country like China, where VPN usage is heavily monitored and restricted.

Surfshark VPN for China: Conclusion

  • Surfshark VPN currently works well in China.
  • Surfshark VPN has strong experience dealing with China’s VPN ban and VPN blocking. It offers the Camouflage Mode to hide your VPN connection from the Great Firewall of China.
  • Surfshark VPN allows unlimited connections for a single account, which means you can use it on many devices at the same time.
  • When using Surfshark VPN in China, always turn on the Camouflage Mode to avoid being detected and blocked.
  • If Surfshark VPN stops working in China, contact its customer support to get the problem solved.

» Visit Surfshark VPN (with discount)

No. 3: NordVPN

Best VPN China: NordVPN

» Visit NordVPN

NordVPN for China: Summary

Working in China:Yes
Server Locations:60+ countries
Speed Limit:Unlimited
Bandwidth Limit:Unlimited
VPN Protocols:IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN (TCP and UDP), L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, SSTP
Simultaneous Connections:6 Devices
Platform Supported:Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Router etc.
Logging: No Logging Policy
Works with NetFlix:Yes
P2P & Torrenting Allowed:Yes
Customer Support: 24/7 Live chat, Email, Ticketing
Free Trial:30-day money-back guarantee
Payment Methods:Credit Card, AliPay, UnionPay, Crypto
Link:» Get NordVPN (with Discount)

NordVPN for China: Features

NordVPN is a popular VPN provider based in Panama. This VPN provider has been recommended by some tech media such as the PC Magazine (it’s PCMag’s Editor’s Choice for VPN).

NordVPN owns a large number of servers in more than 60 countries. For VPN users in China, I’d suggest connecting to NordVPN’s Hong Kong or Japan servers with obfuscation turned on for the best speed.

NordVPN provides free VPN software/app for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and routers. NordVPN supports VPN protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, PPTP, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec.

The best way to use NordVPN from China is to use its desktop software and connect to NordVPN’s obfuscated servers such as those in Hong Kong. VPN obfuscation is a special method to hide VPN traffic from censorship such as the GFW and it worked pretty well with me on my computer.

From my experience, NordVPN is quite stable and its speed is very fast.

NordVPN allows 6 simultaneous connections. This VPN provider does allow torrenting and P2P file sharing. It has a no-log policy so your internet activities won’t be recorded.

NordVPN for China: Dealing with China’s VPN Ban & Crackdown

It appears to me that NordVPN started expanding to China a few years ago. They added features such as VPN obfuscation to deal with China’s VPN blocking. For using NordVPN in China, you should turn on the obfuscation feature and connect to obfuscation servers.

NordVPN for China: Pricing

Below is the pricing info for NordVPN’s different packages. The lowest price is equivalent to $2.99/month (if you pay for 3 year). Also, NordVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee, so that you can try out NordVPN. If it doesn’t work, you can ask for a refund.

NordVPN for China: Price

NordVPN for China: Conclusion

  • NordVPN currently works well in China.
  • NordVPN has a VPN obfuscation feature to deal with China’s VPN crackdown.
  • When using NordVPN in China, always turn on the obfuscation feature and only connect to obfuscated servers in locations such as Hong Kong, Japan and U.S. West Coast.
  • If NordVPN stops working in China, contact NordVPN’s customer support via live chat to get the problems solved.

» Visit NordVPN (with discount)

No. 4: PureVPN

Best VPN for China: PureVPN

» Visit PureVPN

PureVPN for China: Summary

Working in China:Yes
Server Locations:180 locations, 140 countries
Speed Limit:Unlimited
Bandwidth Limit:Unlimited
VPN Protocols:OpenVPN (TCP/UDP), PPTP, L2TP
Simultaneous Connections:5 Devices
Platform Supported:Windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Router, Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV, Xbox, PlayStation etc.
Logging: No Logging Policy
Works with NetFlix:Yes
P2P & Torrenting Allowed:Yes
Customer Support: 24/7 Live chat, Email, Ticketing
Free Trial:31-day money-back guarantee
Payment Methods:Credit Card, AliPay, PayPal, Crypto
Link:» Get PureVPN (with Discount)

PureVPN for China: Features

PureVPN is a big VPN provider. Unfortunately its main website is blocked in China. Therefore, you might need to sign up its VPN service from another country or use another VPN or proxy to visit its website from China. That sucks. However, after going through the signup process and having installed PureVPN’s software or app, you are ready to use it without the need of another VPN or other unblocking services.

PureVPN owns 500+ servers, located in 180 locations and 141 countries. When used in China, Japan is probably the best server location choice. If you need to connect to a U.S. server from China, you’d better choose one located in the West Coast, such as Los Angeles or San Francisco.

One interesting thing about PureVPN is that it also has a couple of VPN servers located in China. Why would you need a China server when you use PureVPN from China? No, usually you wouldn’t need it, and they are no good for unblocking websites in China. However, if you want to access China-only contents such as online videos from Youku etc. from outside of China, you can connect to PureVPN’s China server and pretend to be visiting websites from China. This way you can bypass some China websites’ geo-blocking.

PureVPN supports VPN protocols including OpenVPN, PPTP, SSTP and L2TP/IPSec. P2P/ File-sharing is allowed with PureVPN, but only on specific selected servers.

PureVPN allows users to connect to up to 5 devices at the same time.

Based on my experience, PureVPN is stable and fast (if not super fast) in China.

PureVPN for China: Dealing with China’s VPN Ban and VPN Blocking

One nice feature of PureVPN is that its desktop software can operate in different modes, one of which is “I want INTERNET FREEDOM”. This mode is the one for unblocking websites. In addition, in PureVPN’s server list, a number of servers are marked as “Optimized for China”, which suggests PureVPN also has quite some experiences dealing with China’s GFW.

PureVPN for China: Pricing

Compared to other VPN services, PureVPN’s price is at the low end. Below is the pricing info for PureVPN’s different packages:

PureVPN for China: Price

PureVPN for China: Conclusion:

  • PureVPN works in China most of the time. It could stop working occasionally.
  • PureVPN can also be used for people outside of China to get a China IP address.
  • When using PureVPN in China, choose servers that are optimized for users in China.
  • If PureVPN stops working in China, contact PureVPN’s customer support to get the problem solved.

» Visit PureVPN (with discount)

Tips for Using VPN in China:

1. Have a Backup VPN

As I mentioned earlier, VPN traffic often gets detected and blocked in China. Even with the VPN services I recommended, sometimes you might still experience a short downtime. That’s why I suggest you get at least two VPN accounts. You can use a paid VPN as your primary VPN and also maintain a free VPN account as the backup.

2. Try Before You Buy

Most VPN services offer a free trial period or comes with a money-back guarantee. You should take advantage this kind of offers to try the VPN service before a long-time commitment. When you try out a VPN, make sure you test its speed and reliability.

3. How to Test VPN Speed

On a desktop computer such as a Windows or Mac, you can visit speedtest.net to test your connection speed. Do one test without VPN connected and another after the VPN is turned on. Compare these two speeds to see how fast this VPN can offer. Please note that in most cases your Internet speed will be slower when you are connected to a VPN. That’s normal. However, you should make sure the VPN speed is acceptable.

4. How to Verify VPN Is Working

When you connect to a VPN server, your IP address will be changed to a different IP address. After you’re connected to VPN, visit https://dnsleaktest.com/. That site will tells you your current IP address as well as the location for this IP address. If your VPN is working, you should see a different IP address and the location should match the VPN server’s location. In addition, you can visit blocked websites such as Google and Facebook to verify your VPN is working.

5. Is Using a VPN in China Legal?

In recent years, the Chinese government made it clear that it’s illegal to sell VPN services in China without approval. Also, there were a few cases in which some people (all Chinese citizens) got into legal trouble for using a VPN in China. Therefore, even if it’s not clearly stated that using a VPN is illegal in China, you should know that using a VPN is not encouraged by the Chinese government. You can definitely use a VPN on a daily basis in China. Just keep in quiet. It might be a good idea not to talk about it too much in public.


Using the Internet in China is quite painful because many websites are blocked. You need to have a good and reliable VPN service to bypass China’s Internet blocking, which is called fanqiang (翻墙) in chinese. Choosing a best VPNs for China (VPN中国, VPN推荐) is also tricky because unless you’re already in China, you can’t tell which VPNs work well in China and which ones don’t. Based on my experiences using VPN in China, I recommend the following VPN providers:

6 thoughts on “What’s the Best VPN for China in 2024 (Free and Paid)?

  1. Taylor Robert Reply

    PureVPN is the best choice while you are in China. I also have Astrill subscription for my wife and she is also satisfied, she is enjoying a reasonable speed and happy.

  2. Dominic Lewis Reply

    Nice tactic. I’ve been using this little trick for some time myself, ivacy as my paid provider and hss as the free ver. though freebies are decent in unblocking stuff, most of the freebies i know won’t provide encryption unless you go premium. still viable to have it as a backup. That said, verifying if your vpn connection is working or not is easy, just go to dnsleaktest or ip2location and you’ll see your ip up there. compare that with what your app is showing you atm. if they are the same, all’s good.

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