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Best VPN for China in 2020

Illustration of the flag of China
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

The best VPN for China will unblock your favorite websites and apps in one of most heavily censored countries in the world.

Sadly, China blocks over 10,000 web domains, including 135 of the world’s top 1,000 websites. If you’re in Beijing, Shanghai, or anywhere else in mainland China, you won’t be able to access Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more.

Since 2016 we’ve spent over 30,000 hours testing 70 VPN services, and the providers we recommend will give you unrestricted internet access in China.

Following our latest tests, these are the five best VPNs that still work in China in July 2020:

  1. ExpressVPN: The best and fastest VPN for China, works even during heightened censorship.
  2. Astrill: A reliable alternative that works in China thanks to its stealth technology.
  3. PrivateVPN: Unlocks blocked websites and apps in China via its stealth VPN protocol.
  4. StrongVPN: Its obfuscation tool ‘Scramble’ still circumvents Chinese web censors.
  5. VyprVPN: Chameleon VPN protocol bypasses the Great Firewall of China.

The five VPNs above will beat the Chinese VPN ban and bypass the Great Firewall of China.

Expert tip: set up your VPN before you travel to China or you’ll struggle to download and install a VPN there. Most VPN websites are blocked in China, and safe-to-use VPN apps are banned from the app stores.

Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.

5 Best VPNs That Work in China

1. ExpressVPN

The absolute best and fastest VPN to beat online censorship in China.

  1. Consistently unblocks websites in China
  2. Fast VPN servers optimized for China
  3. Obfuscation technology to beat censorship
  4. Unlocks Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ & more
  5. No logging & no IP, DNS or WebRTC leaks
  6. Full-featured VPN browser extensions
  1. Expensive on shorter subscription plans
  2. Outdated Fire Stick TV app
  • Best Price

    $6.67/mo over 15 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    94 countries, 3,000+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #1 Best VPN for China

ExpressVPN is the fastest and most reliable VPN for China, even in times of heightened online censorship. It claims 99.9% uptime in China, and in our tests it consistently beat the Great Firewall of China.

The VPN speeds we recorded were exceptional across the board, but especially connecting in nearby servers. It is by far the fastest VPN in China compared to its main rivals.

ExpressVPN’s server network is extensive and there are even specific servers recommended for China. Simply get in touch with its 24/7 live chat support to find out which servers they recommend, as they change regularly.

Its proprietary obfuscation tools allow ExpressVPN to work in the most censored countries, and that’s why ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China. Just be sure to set the VPN protocol to ‘automatic’ before you connect.

There are VPN apps for all popular devices – PC, Mac, iPhone, Android and Fire TV – which are all very easy to set up and use. ExpressVPN also comes with SmartDNS technology thanks to its MediaStreamer tool. This is ideal for Apple TV and gaming console users in China.

Furthermore, ExpressVPN doesn’t collect any activity logs, and we have never experienced a single IP, DNS or WebRTC leak in our extensive tests.

Remember, ExpressVPN comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re unhappy with the software, let the customer support team know within the first 30 days and you’ll be refunded, no-questions-asked.

If you’re in China, or planning on going there soon, ExpressVPN is the VPN you want to be using.

For a more in-depth look, read our full ExpressVPN review.

2. Astrill VPN

Good alternative with stealth VPN protocols that bypass the Great Firewall.

  1. Stealth VPN protocol to beat censors
  2. VPN servers optimized for China
  3. Nearby VPN servers in Asia with good speeds
  4. Works with US Netflix
  5. Kill switch & no IP,DNS and WebRTC leaks
  6. Easy to set up and use
  1. Live chat doesn’t always work
  2. Free trial unavailable to China users
  3. No refund policy
  4. More expensive than its competitors
  5. No VPN browser extensions
  • Best Price

    $10.00/mo over 12 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    72Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    62 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #2 Best VPN for China

In the past, Astrill made its name as the best VPN for China, but it’s no longer as reliable a VPN as ExpressVPN.

Its two stealth protocols (one is a VPN protocol, the other a proxy) are still often effective at bypassing Chinese web blocks.

It also offers nearby servers in Asia (Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea) and on the US west coast (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose). Speeds are reasonably good, although they can’t compete with ExpressVPN’s. Speed does improve in China when you connect to servers labeled ‘SuperCharged’.

Astrill also owns all its DNS servers, meaning there is no chance it will be routed via less secure third-party servers. All connections are secured with AES-256 encryption.

It does collect some logs, though: connection time, IP address, device type, and VPN app version for the duration of your VPN session. Once the session is over, the connection logs are wiped.

While you can use Astrill VPN on Microsoft Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, the mobile apps lack many of the advanced security features of the computer software. Also, Astrill doesn’t have any VPN extensions.

In addition, live chat doesn’t always work and we also don’t like that users in China aren’t eligible for the free trial. Astrill is also pretty expensive and has a strict no-refunds policy.

Overall, Astrill is a good VPN for China that will give you access to your favorite websites and apps. However, it just doesn’t come close to what ExpressVPN has to offer.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Astrill VPN review.

3. PrivateVPN

A good and cheap stealth VPN for China with a seven-day free trial.

  1. Stealth VPN protocol works in China
  2. Fast VPN servers in nearby Asian cities
  3. Also works with TCP Port 443 & Tor
  4. No-logs policy & no IP, DNS or WebRTC leaks
  5. Unblocks US Netflix & BBC iPlayer
  6. Seven-day free trial
  1. Small VPN server network (only 150 servers)
  2. No VPN browser extensions
  3. Live chat not always available
  • Best Price

    $1.89/mo over 2 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    86Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    59 countries, 150+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #3 Best VPN for China

PrivateVPN is a cheap VPN that still works in China. It doesn’t have a big server network but you can connect to fast VPN servers in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. These will give you reliable connection speeds out of China.

Its PrivateVPN’s proprietary stealth VPN protocol is a major advantage to bypass Chinese web censors. It also has security features like a VPN kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and we didn’t detect any IP or DNS leaks detected in our tests.

A strict no-logs policy also means that PrivateVPN doesn’t track or collect any of your internet data. You’re safe and secure with PrivateVPN.

While it has custom VPN apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, Private doesn’t come with any VPN browser extensions. Another negative aspect of this VPN is that customer support is not the same as ExpressVPN, with live chat often proving inconsistent.

If these two drawbacks don’t concern you, then PrivateVPN could be the right VPN for you. It does offer a seven-day free trial, so you can always try it before signing up for a paid subscription.

For a more in-depth look, read our full PrivateVPN review.

4. StrongVPN

Its obfuscation tool 'Scramble' still bypasses Chinese web filters.

  1. Scramble tool works in China
  2. Strict no-logs policy
  3. VPN kill switch & no IP address leaks
  4. Quick and reliable speeds
  5. Works with US Netflix
  6. Use on up to 12 devices at once
  1. Small server network
  2. Many servers use PPTP (unsafe VPN protocol)
  3. No VPN browser extensions
  • Best Price

    $5.83/mo over 12 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    84Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    26 countries, 950+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #4 Best VPN for China

StrongVPN has been around since 2005 and it knows how to beat the Chinese web censors.

Like our other VPN recommendations for China, StrongVPN comes with obfuscation technology, called ‘Scramble’, that works in China. Scramble is only available on OpenVPN connections, so make sure you change the protocol within the app’s settings before you connect.

If you are using an iPhone or an iPad, you’ll need to connect using the IKEv2 VPN protocol as there is no scramble tool available for this app.

StrongVPN currently advises that users in China connect to San Francisco for the most reliable connection. This may lead to some server congestion as many users in China will try to connect to the same servers, but StrongVPN’s speeds so far have been quick.

Unfortunately, many of StrongVPN’s servers are PPTP-only. PPTP is a VPN protocol that can be easily hacked so we recommend you avoid using these servers. Other than that, StrongVPN is very safe. It also has a strict no-logs policy and a VPN kill switch to prevent unwanted IP leaks.

However, it has a smaller server network than our other top VPNs for China and it doesn’t come with VPN extensions.

On the whole, StrongVPN isn’t as good as ExpressVPN or Astrill but it’ll usually work in China with little hassle.

For a more in-depth look, read our full StrongVPN review.

5. VyprVPN

Its Chameleon VPN protocol usually gets round Chinese web blocks.

  1. Chameleon VPN protocol generally bypasses Great Firewall
  2. Many Asian VPN servers, incl. Macau & Hong Kong
  3. User-friendly VPN apps. Instant set-up
  4. No-logs policy & no IP address leaks
  5. Over 200,000 IP addresses
  1. Slower & inconsistent speeds
  2. No VPN browser extensions
  3. Not great for streaming
  • Best Price

    $2.5/mo over 24 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    77Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    64 countries, 700+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #5 Best VPN for China

Similarly to Astrill, VyprVPN used to be a very strong contender for the best VPN to use in China. Since the March 2019 China VPN ban, VyprVPN has struggled to work as well and it sits in fifth position as a result.

Currently, VyprVPN is only works in China through the beta Windows app (using the Chameleon protocol) and on iOS (using IKEv2). Chameleon is VyprVPN’s proprietary stealth VPN protocol, especially developed to circumvent online censorship.

Like its competitors, VyprVPN provides nearby servers in Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, and South Korea. VyprVPN does suggest specific servers for users in China. Contact its 24/7 support team for the latest list of servers optimized for China.

VyprVPN also provides a VPN kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and DNS protection (via its VyprDNS feature) to prevent your connections being hijacked and redirected to a different website. It also enforces a no-logs policy, which has been independently confirmed, so you’re online activity won’t be recorded.

Essentially, the two main problems with this VPN are its slower speeds in China and that not all its apps work in China. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come close to the speeds of ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN.

It’s not ideal VPN for unblocking streaming services. In our most recent tests, VyprVPN did work with US Netflix but it didn’t unblock Disney+ or BBC iPlayer.

Having said that, VyprVPN does offer users a 30-day refund guarantee, so you can always get your money back if you’re not satisfied with the service.

For a more in-depth look, read our full VyprVPN review.

China VPNs FAQ

Do I Really Need a VPN in China?

You definitely need a VPN in China if you want to access popular websites and apps. That’s because most popular (Western) websites and apps are banned by the Communist Party of China (CPC), which has also started restricting VPN providers.

Additionally, China’s surveillance of its web users is also a problem. If you don’t want the Chinese government to see and record what you’re doing online, then using a VPN is vital.

To use a VPN in China, it’s best to download the VPN app and set it up before you travel there, as many VPN websites are now blocked. Most VPN apps have now also been removed from the iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store is not available in China either.

You should also ask your VPN provider’s customer support (before you travel) which VPN servers they recommend connecting to from China.

illustration of a map of the world.

VPNs are not illegal in China, but only government approved VPNs are allowed.

VPN services have to gain strict approval from the Chinese Communist Party before they can operate. They often have to agree to logging and sharing user data with local authorities, making using the VPN for privacy pointless.

Using a VPN “without authorization” can result in fines of up to 15,000 yuan (approximately $2,200), although so far it seems to affect Chinese nationals rather than foreigners.

If you choose a legitimate, trusted, and safe VPN for China – like ExpressVPN – it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get into trouble for using it.

20 China VPNs Compared

From the table below, see which VPNs currently work, and which ones don’t, in China.

VPN Service Astrill Avast SecureLine CyberGhost ExpressVPN Hide.me (Paid Version) HideMyAss Hotspot Shield (Paid Version) IPVanish Mullvad NordVPN Private Internet Access PrivateVPN ProtonVPN (Paid Version) StrongVPN Surfshark TorGuard TunnelBear (Paid Version) VyprVPN Windscribe (Paid Version) ZenMate (Paid Version)
Status Working Not Working Not Working Working Not Working Not Working Not Working Not Working Not Working Working Not Working Working Working Working Working Working Not Working Working Working Not Working
Logging Policy Some User Logs Some User Logs No Logs Anonymous Usage Data Anonymous Usage Data Some User Logs Some User Logs No Logs Anonymous Usage Data No Logs No Logs No Logs Anonymous Usage Data No Logs No Logs No Logs Anonymous Usage Data Anonymous Usage Data Anonymous Usage Data No Logs
Jurisdiction Seychelles Czech Republic (EU Member) Romania (EU Member) British Virgin Islands Malaysia UK (Five-Eyes Member) US (Five-Eyes Member) US (Five-Eyes Member) Sweden (14-Eyes Member) Panama US (Five-Eyes Member) Sweden (14-Eyes Member) Switzerland US (Five-Eyes Member) British Virgin Islands US (Five-Eyes Member) Canada (Five-Eyes Member) Switzerland Canada (Five-Eyes Member) Germany (14-Eyes Member)

Can I Use a Free VPN in China?

Many free VPNs are not equipped with the technology to bypass aggressive online censors, and popular free VPN apps like TunnelBear and Hotspot Shield won’t work reliably.

Some free VPN mobile apps may work, like Turbo VPN and VPN Proxy Master, but they are slow and your web activity will most likely be recorded by the Chinese authorities.

In fact, we investigated some of the most popular free VPNs and discovered that many have very questionable links to China.

If you want to use the Internet reliably from mainland China, a free VPN is definitely not a good choice.

You’re best paying a small monthly fee for a VPN that has obfuscation technology, like ExpressVPN or Astrill.

How to Set up a China VPN

It’s very important to install a VPN before you arrive in China. Most VPN apps aren’t available from Chinese app stores, and VPN websites are blocked.

To install your VPN, you’ll need to sign up to a subscription (some VPNs accept AliPay as a payment method) and create an account.

Make sure that the VPN is known to work in China before buying it – our VPN recommendations above are a good place to start.

Before you get started setting up the VPN, ask customer support if the custom apps work in China or if you need to manually configure the VPN on each of your devices instead.

If manual configuration is needed, follow the VPN service’s instructions carefully as it will differ from provider to provider.

If the VPN apps work in China with no manual configuration, simply download the relevant software for your device from the ‘Downloads’ page on the VPN provider’s website.

The best VPNs for China will have custom VPN apps for at least Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS.

Once you’ve downloaded the software, follow the installation instructions and log into the app with your login details.

Before you connect, make sure that any extra privacy settings are enabled, such as the VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection, as well as any stealth protocol or scrambling tool.

Screenshot of PrivateVPN Settings Menu in App

Once you’re in China, we recommend you connect to nearby servers – Hong Kong and Japan are popular VPN server locations – as these will provide the fastest speeds.

Once you’ve selected your chosen server, click/tap connect.

Are VPNs Slow in China?

You’ll find that internet speeds are typically slower than you’d expect when connecting to sites outside of China due to the Great Firewall and local infrastructure.

VPNs generally slow down your internet speeds because of the overhead of encryption, but the best VPNs only impact speeds by about 5-10% if you connect to a nearby sever.

The obfuscation tools necessary for VPNs to work in the country additionally impact speeds slightly, making them a little slower than regular VPN connections made outside of China.

However, you can ensure the best speeds by connecting to the closest possible VPN server such as Hong Kong or Singapore.

Does China Block VPN Services?

Yes, China does actively block VPN connections. China has been blocking VPNs to some degree since 2011 but in late 2017 to early 2018 the Chinese government’s VPN clampdowns intensified.

During that time, the Chinese government ordered Apple App Store to remove all VPN apps and threatened to block all VPN services that were not government-approved.

While China wasn’t successful in blocking all VPN services, many are now unusable.

Even the best VPNs with the most effective obfuscation tools fall victim to the Great Firewall’s crackdowns from time to time.

During times of political unrest, or on significant anniversaries such as June 4 (1989 Tiananmen Square protests), the Chinese government tends to crack down on VPNs more intensely. While you may find it harder to connect to a VPN server, the best VPN services usually find a solution reasonably quickly.

VPN Not Working in China? Troubleshooting Tips

Sometimes even the best VPNs with the most effective stealth technology stop working in China. For example, your VPN may stop working after a crackdown by the Chinese government.

When this happens, there are a few things you can try to get back online:

  1. Try connecting to a different VPN server
  2. Change the VPN protocol
  3. Forward the VPN traffic (known as port forwarding) to port 433

By directing your VPN traffic through port 433, which is typically used for encrypted communications, you may be able to get your VPN connection back up, but it’s not guaranteed.

If none of the above suggestions work, you’ll have to contact your provider’s customer support, which will be tricky to do as many VPN websites are banned in China.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN live chat conversation

ExpressVPN live chat support.

The above suggestions don’t always work, so if you require reliable open internet access from China, we advise our readers to get a back-up VPN subscription, just in case.

What is the Great Firewall of China (GFW)?

Illustration of a VPN circumventing the Great Firewall of China

The ‘Great Firewall of China’ (or GFW) is the nickname given to China’s internet censorship system, through legislation and filtering technologies.

Since 2003, it gives Chinese authorities the power to monitor and restrict internet access to anyone based in mainland China (Hong Kong and Macau are exempt).

The GFW uses a combination of methods to block websites and apps:

  1. IP blocking – blocking IP addresses that resolve to URLs (websites)
  2. DNS cache poisoning, or DNS spoofing – to divert traffic from one website to another, which practically blocks you from accessing your desired website or app.
  3. Keyword & URL filtering – scanning websites and URLs for specific terms
  4. Deep packet inspection (DPI) – the inspection of headers in data packets to detect the destination IP address (website)
  5. Manual actions – Chinese authorities employ thousands of workers to censor forbidden content

How Do VPNs Evade the Great Firewall?

VPNs evade the Great Firewall of China using encryption and obfuscation tools.

VPNs encrypt internet traffic so that the Great Firewall can’t see what you’re trying to access online.

The encrypted traffic is routed to your VPN service’s private servers before going to the website or service that you want to access, hiding the destination of the internet traffic from the Great Firewall too.

However, the Chinese censors have become wise to some VPN connections.

Using Deep Packet Inspection, the censors can see certain indicators of VPN traffic, such as characteristics of particular VPN protocols.

The best VPNs for China now employ obfuscation tools which scramble VPN data to look like normal HTTPS internet traffic, helping the data to go undetected.

Yet even with obfuscation, the Great Firewall still successfully blocks some VPN servers by blacklisting their associated IP address ranges.

This means that one day a server might work but the next it wont. Some trial and error might be required when this happens.

VPNs That Don't Work in China

Since China started cracking down on VPN services, the majority of VPN apps don’t work in China.

Even some of the most popular VPN services don’t come with the tools necessary for beating the Great Chinese Firewall’s censors.

Here are some VPN services that don’t work well in China:

  • CyberGhost
  • HideMyAss
  • Hotspot Shield
  • IPVanish
  • Private Internet Access
  • TunnelBear

Basically, if a VPN doesn’t come with obfuscation tools or stealth protocols, it’s unlikely to get past the Chinese VPN blocks.

Unblocking Netflix from China

 

A man breaking through a wall with a hammer to reveal the Netflix logo

Netflix isn’t currently available in China but it’s possible to watch content from the US and other Netflix libraries by using a VPN.

But, even with a VPN watching Netflix in China can be tricky.

Due to government crackdowns on VPNs, many services only work in the country using specific VPN servers, and these servers might not be optimized to work with Netflix.

ExpressVPN, our top choice for China, should unblock Netflix from China, but it’s worth double-checking with customer support which servers they recommend using.

Can I Make My Own VPN for China?

It’s possible to set up your own VPN server outside of China – in your home, for example – and use it to access blocked websites while in China.

Connecting to a home VPN server will assign you your home IP, which may unlock banned content such as Google and YouTube.

However, building your own server comes with security risks if you fail to set it up correctly. It’s for those with plenty of tech know-how, and beginners should steer clear.

Connecting to a self-built VPN server might not work to unblock content in China if the VPN server doesn’t use any obfuscation tool. OpenVPN traffic is often blocked by the Chinese censors.

If you are traveling to China, the safest option is to use a trusted third-party (commercial) VPN that comes with the necessary obfuscation tools to get around the Great Firewall.

Websites & Apps Blocked in China

Many of the most popular websites and apps in the world are blocked in China, for example:

  • Google (Gmail, Google Maps & all other Google services – blocked since 2014)
  • YouTube (blocked since 2011)
  • Facebook (blocked since 2009)
  • Twitter (blocked since 2009)
  • Instagram (blocked since 2014)
  • WhatsApp (blocked since 2017)
  • Skype (blocked since 2017)
  • Pinterest (blocked since 2017)

The Google Play Store isn’t available at all in China, and Apple’s App Store complies with Chinese laws, so it’s highly restricted, meaning that you can’t find VPN apps on there.

That’s why it’s super important to set up your VPN apps before you travel.

You can download APK files directly from some VPN websites – although they too may be blocked – for your Android device.

Screenshot of ExpressVPN APK download page

Be wary of downloading those types of files from third-party websites, though, as they can be infected with malware.

Here is a more comprehensive list of websites blocked in mainland China. You can also use this checker to find out if a website is available or not.

It’s also important to note that censorship varies from day to day and region to region.

During times of political unrest censorship can be heightened, and some areas of China can be affected more than others.

What is Obfuscation (OBFU)?

VPN traffic obfuscation in China is completely necessary. Otherwise, the Chinese Firewall will detect VPN traffic (through deep packet inspection) and subsequently block it.

Therefore, VPN providers use protocol obfuscation methods to scramble VPN data and mask it as regular HTTPS web traffic.

The two most used ways to obfuscate VPN traffic involve using:

  1. XOR – Also referred to as OpenVPN Scramble, Xor is an encryption algorithm often used to mask OpenVPN traffic.
  2. Obfsproxy – Developed by the Tor network, Obfsproxy works by adding a further layer of encryption to OpenVPN traffic using the obfs4 wrapper.

Sometimes obfuscation protocols are also called ‘stealth’ or ‘camouflage’ protocols. All of our recommended VPNs above use obfuscation protocols.

Unblocking Websites in China Without a VPN

There are other circumvention tools that may be able to unblock websites and apps in China, but they’re not as effective as VPNs.

Essentially, most alternatives to VPNs don’t protect your privacy and aren’t guaranteed to work.

Here’s a list of five circumvention tools that may (or may not) beat the Great Firewall:

  1. Proxies

    One option is to use a proxy server, which spoofs your IP address but doesn’t encrypt internet traffic.

    This means that your ISP – or the Chinese government – will be able to see what you’re doing online.

    The most effective proxy for China is Shadowsocks, which uses the SOCKS5 internet protocol.

  2. Lantern

    Lantern is open-source peer-to-peer (P2P) software specifically built to circumvent web filters, and funded by the US government.

    It relies on volunteer users, located in countries with more open internet access, to share their bandwidth with users in high censorship nations.

    Lantern is not an anonymity tool, so remember that your web activity is still visible to others.

    Note: As of writing, Lantern’s official websites was down.

  3. Mirror Sites

    Some websites release mirrors of their websites that have been blocked by the Great Firewall so that those in China can still access their content.

    However, these mirror sites are usually blocked soon after too, making it a very unreliable option.

  4. TOR

    The Onion Router (Tor), a free anonymous web browser, anonymizes your internet surfing by randomly routing your web traffic through a network of servers.

    While Tor is a safer option than using proxy servers or mirror websites, it comes with some major disadvantages.

    Firstly, Tor is very slow – much slower than a good VPN.

    Secondly, China actively blocks access to Tor, so to unblock websites you’ll have to tinker with Tor’s advanced settings (for example, by setting up bridges), which may or may not work.

  5. FreeBrowser

    FreeBrowser is a free web browser for Android devices with built-in circumvention technology. It’s used by over 100,000 Android users, but user reviews are very mixed.

    Also, remember it’s a web browser so your internet traffic outside of it will be blocked (or heavily restricted) in China.

How to Get a Chinese IP Address

If you want to use a VPN to connect into China, there are a few VPN providers with virtual server locations that will give you a Chinese IP address: PureVPN, Ivacy, HideMyAss, and Hotspot Shield.

These VPN servers are not physically located in China but do assign you a Chinese IP, which will make it seem as if you’re located in mainland China. These are known as Virtual Server Locations.

To change your IP to a Chinese one, simple select the ‘China’ server and click connect.

You can check that you have a Chinese IP address by running a leak test on browserleaks.com:

Screenshot of Hotspot Shield leak test on browserleaks.com connected to a China VPN server

Leak test results for Hotspot Shield connected to the China VPN server.

By using a VPN to connect into China, you will be able to access popular Chinese streaming websites such as Youku, Tudou and Sohu Video.

Do I Need a VPN in Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau?

While China still controls Taiwan, internet censorship there is nowhere near as rife. You can access popular sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Google in Taiwan without a VPN.

The same goes for Hong Kong and Macau – the internet is largely free and uncensored there too.

Until fairly recently, those living in Hong Kong could use VPNs freely without any issues, but recent reports suggest that some VPN connections were temporarily blocked during the second week of September 2019.

This came during pro-democracy protests that started over plans to allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China.

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio