China is infamous for restricting foreign content, social media, and more, and using the best VPN for China is a safe way for you to bypass these strict geo-restrictions. However, finding a reliable VPN and using it properly is absolutely crucial, as Chinese authorities are also well-known for their invasive surveillance practices, using deep packet inspection (DPI) to identify VPN traffic.
A virtual private network (VPN) lets you avoid internet censorship by spoofing your IP address and encrypting your internet traffic. This makes you appear as if you're in an entirely different part of the world and stops hackers, internet service providers, and even governments from seeing what you do online.
I've reviewed and analyzed hundreds of VPNs in my years as a VPN expert, and when it comes to VPNs in China, using the wrong one could be dangerous. I've compared the technical security, privacy policies, features, unblocking capabilities, server locations, and value for money of VPNs that actually work in China to help you find the best VPN service for you.
The three best China VPNs today
Here are my top three picks for China VPNs in 2024 that work to bypass the Great Firewall while keeping you protected:
1. ExpressVPN: the best China VPN in 2024
ExpressVPN has a global network of secure and fast servers, making it a fantastic option for avoiding China's heavy-handed web restrictions. Whether you’re just visiting or plan on living in China, you’ll need its reliable security and privacy features to access non-local content.
Although expensive, ExpressVPN provides impressive 24/7 customer support, a blazing-fast proprietary protocol, and versatile features. Opting for its annual plan nets you three additional months on top of what you paid for, and all its plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.
2. NordVPN: a budget-friendly cybersecurity suite
Probably the first service that comes to mind when thinking of VPNs, NordVPN isn't just about good marketing. Luckily, it has the goods to back that all up, too. With an impressive network of over 5,700 servers, NordVPN is one of the fastest services, with a strong focus on security and unlocking.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try its services risk-free. While it operates in fewer countries than ExpressVPN, it has cheaper subscription plans that start at just $2.99 per month.
3. Surfshark: the best cheap VPN for China
Surfshark offers excellent value for your money, as it provides advanced features, some of the best connection speeds, and a user-friendly interface at an affordable price. In addition, it offers a 7-day free trial for Android users and some of the best smartphone apps in the industry.
While ExpressVPN and NordVPN may provide more reliable advanced features and unique protocols, Surfshark provides unmatched speeds. It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try it risk-free.
My latest VPN tests are underway, so keep checking back to see what changes in these VPNs for China. I'll be continuously checking pricing, servers, ease of use, security, and unblocking capabilities.
The best VPNs for China in 2024
Why you can trust TechRadar
Let's take a deeper look at what makes these top picks the best VPNs to use in China, and how each of them keeps you safe when you're browsing foreign content online.
The best VPN for China overall
The best VPN that actually works in China
Works in China: Yes | Servers in China: Yes | Teams in China: Yes | Total number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 160 | Maximum devices supported: 8 | 24/7 live chat support: Yes
✔️ You need a VPN you can trust with your life: ExpressVPN undergoes regular security and policy audits to prove that it's doing exactly what it says on the tin.
✔️ You want to unblock content abroad: ExpressVPN unblocked every streaming service in every location I tested, making it a great choice for accessing news and media abroad.
✔️ You want servers absolutely everywhere: 160 server locations are nothing to scoff at, and with servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, India, and Japan, you'll always find somewhere nearby.
❌ You're on a strict budget: while it's not as expensive as Astrill VPN, ExpressVPN is one of the more pricey options on my list.
❌ You need more than just a VPN: ExpressVPN focuses its efforts on being the best VPN only, and while it throws in a password manager for free, you'll have to consider NordVPN or Surfshark if you want antivirus protection, too.
🔒 ExpressVPN offers high levels of security, great performance, and unblocking capability, as well as exceptional customization. Try for yourself and see why it's my top pick with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check out our in-depth ExpressVPN review for a closer look at the service, and see why it's my overall top VPN for 2024.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for China because of its easy-to-use apps that automate all of the difficult manual settings that you'd normally need to set up. It's a go-to service for many Chinese nationals because it deftly navigates around censorship. Express' wide array of 160 server locations is a big plus, with Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Japan-based servers being especially useful for people in China looking for a nearby server.
From tight control over its TrustedServer setup to military-grade AES 256-bit encryption, ExpressVPN provides one of the most secure and reliable services in the industry. Express actively monitors its network for accessibility in China and ensures its software stays ahead of censorship efforts to block connections.
ExpressVPN automatically uses obfuscation protocols, a kill switch, and parallel VPN connections to make sure you are always protected, and that no information can leak. This way, it becomes impossible for the Chinese authorities to detect that you are using a VPN, and even if your VPN connection is interrupted, the kill switch ensures that your online activity remains private.
The dedicated apps offer consistent and reliable performance for almost all devices, including routers—releasing its own Aircove VPN router to make things even easier. Its peak speeds improved greatly during my last round of testing, jumping from 560 Mbps to 750 Mbps when using its proprietary Lightway protocol. That should be more than enough for most users, but it's worth noting that NordVPN and Surfshark both maxed out my speed testing line at over 950 Mbps.
ExpressVPN's ability to get around blocked websites and avoid geo-restrictions is exceptional. In my latest tests, ExpressVPN effortlessly unblocked the most popular streaming services: international Netflix catalogs, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, and more.
Subscription plans are more expensive compared to other top providers when it comes to the lowest per-month cost. However, if you look at the overall cost for a 12-month subscription for ExpressVPN and NordVPN, you'll see that it's actually much more reasonable than it first appears. If you need a more budget-friendly option, NordVPN or Surfshark are better choices thanks to their longer plans and greater long-term savings.
Where ExpressVPN really stands out, though, is its industry-leading customer support—it's available 24/7 and provides timely, expert advice. Its easy-to-use apps are ideal for first-time VPN users looking for a simple and effective solution. See for yourself why it's my go-to pick for a VPN in China with its 30-day guarantee and try the best VPN around without risking a penny.
Expand for more information ↓
There seems to be some confusion around ExpressVPN and China online, and a lot of this I would put down to user error. When I visited ExpressVPN's office in Singapore a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to pick the brain of Peter Membrey (Chief Engineering Officer). I wanted to get to the bottom of the issue and see for myself whether ExpressVPN was really having issues or not.
For what it's worth, Peter lives in Hong Kong along with many of the engineers working for ExpressVPN, and they would be the first to know if it wasn't working as it should as they went out into mainland China.
In our discussion, I asked about encryption, obfuscation (hiding the fact you're using a VPN), and how best to use the VPN apps in China. The long and short of it is to use the automated VPN protocol setting as ExpressVPN automatically determines the configuration based on where you are and what you're doing.
|A clean and simple design on all your devices
|Ease of use
|Easy-to-navigate apps with auto-connect functionality
|Fast enough for most users, but slower than NordVPN or Surfshark
|Effortlessly gives you access to all major streaming services
|Security and privacy
|Express offers highly secure protocols and military-grade protection
|24/7 live chat and email support available from China
|More expensive compared to the competition
The best China VPN with built-in antivirus
The fastest VPN around, with plenty of security features to boot
Works in China: Yes | Number of servers: 5,700+ | Server locations: 80+ | Maximum devices supported: 6 | 24/7 live chat support: Yes
✔️ You want an all-in-one security suite: NordVPN offers ad blocking and malware protection as standard.
✔️ Streaming Netflix is your primary use case: NordVPN currently tops my list as the best VPN for Netflix so you can unblock your favorite shows anywhere.
❌ You want to torrent: my recent testing showed NordVPN can be unintuitive when torrenting. If that's your primary use case, I'd recommend ExpressVPN or PIA.
❌ You want to access content everywhere: with servers in 60 countries, you get a lot of options, but not as many compared to ExpressVPN or Surfshark.
🔒 NordVPN strikes the perfect balance between security, usability, performance, and unblocking capability, all while offering exceptional customization. Try for yourself and see why it's such a close runner-up with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check out our in-depth NordVPN review for a closer look at this excellent security solution.
NordVPN is a security-focused VPN solution that can evade the Great Firewall of China and help you use popular social media apps, torrent files, or unblock geo-restricted content. However, even this high-end VPN provider faces issues, as the Great Firewall constantly evolves to restrict VPN connectivity. It has obfuscated servers in nearby territories such as Japan and Hong Kong, with its Double VPN feature for enhanced anonymity still available in Taiwan.
Those local servers should mean more stability and speed when logging in from China, but they are just a part of NordVPN's massive 5,200+ server network in 60 countries. Thanks to its global footprint, you can connect to servers outside Asia to enjoy your favorite TV shows and movies. NordVPN unlocked every streaming service in ever location in my latest tests, making it a reliable streaming VPN solution.
For example, if you are a British person visiting China, you can pick a server in the UK and start watching your favorite BBC iPlayer content as if you were home. NordVPN’s top speeds have improved since I last tested it, reaching a staggering 950+ Mbps with WireGuard as the fastest services out there. That means you'll have no issues streaming or torrenting, especially if you use its proprietary WireGuard-based NordLynx protocol.
Like most top-notch VPNs, there's a clear no-log policy, too. But Nord has gone the extra step here by inviting external auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers to verify the security of its apps. An exciting new addition is its Meshnet feature. This advanced feature lets you establish an encrypted connection between up to 60 devices. That allows you to securely share files without sending them to a server cloud, making it perfect for those visiting China for business.
Although NordVPN has an extensive server network, the number of countries it covers is surprisingly low for a high-end VPN provider. Compared to NordVPN's 60, ExpressVPN has servers in 105 countries, making it a superior choice for connectivity. Plus, if you intend to use your VPN mainly on smartphones, I strongly recommend ExpressVPN for its ease of use.
Privacy-conscious users will appreciate its optional features, including a cross-platform password manager, data breach scanner, and 1 TB cloud storage that come with its more expensive plans. Each of its plans has a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try its services for free.
|Design can be a little busy for some people
|Ease of use
|The map interface can be off-putting, and there isn't much attention to detail
|The fastest VPN in my latest tests
|Perfect for Netflix and other streaming services
|Security and privacy
|An excellent all-in-one security solution
|24/7 available, friendly, and professional
|Customizable pricing offers amazing value for money