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5 Best VPNs for China in 2023 — Work 100% & Fully Tested

Penka Hristovska Penka Hristovska

Short on time? Here’s the best VPN for China in 2023:

  • 🥇 ExpressVPN: Offers obfuscated servers that work in China 100% of the time, includes industry-leading security features, maintains the fastest speeds on the market, and has a large server network for connecting to servers in many countries near China. Offers affordable prices and backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

China’s Great Firewall bans a lot of the content that’s available on the open internet. The country tightly controls the type of online content that its population has access to, often limiting it to sites and services that have agreed to share data with the Chinese government.

The only way to access the free web in China is to use a VPN. This is an online app that allows you to browse the web through a new IP address, which helps you circumvent firewalls.

That said, very few VPNs work in China due to the countries sophisticated firewall. And out of the ones that do, many have poor security features, come with very slow speeds, and provide access to poorly-designed apps that are confusing to use.

Fortunately, there are still a handful of really good VPNs that work in China. All of the VPNs that I picked for this list allow you to access the web freely in China, but I think the best one is ExpressVPN as it’s super secure and the fastest VPN out there.

Using an unauthorized VPN in China may be illegal. So far, there haven’t been any recorded instances of the government punishing foreigners or individuals for using VPNs, but it’s best to be cautious. I neither encourage nor support the use of VPNs for illegal activities and would advise adherence to all local laws and regulations.

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Quick summary of the best VPNs for China:

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Speeds, Security, and Reliability for Use in China

🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best Speeds, Security, and Reliability for Use in China

ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for China in 2023. It bypasses China’s firewall with ease, maintains fast speeds across all servers, and comes with a wide range of security features.

ExpressVPN can access the web in China thanks to its obfuscated servers, which keep your VPN traffic completely hidden. The VPN supports obfuscation on all servers and protocols, but a support rep told me it’s best to use the Automatic protocol setting in China.

The VPN also comes with tons of advanced security features, including full leak protection and perfect forward secrecy, which changes your encryption key each time you connect to a different server. It also has RAM-only servers that wipe all data every time they’re rebooted, which minimizes the risk of third parties accessing your data and information. Also, it has an independently audited and confirmed no-logs policy.

Another useful feature is split-tunneling. It allows you to choose which apps go through the VPN’s obfuscated servers and which don’t, so you can access both blocked content and sites that are only available in China without having to turn off your VPN.

When it comes to speeds, ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN on the market. It has servers in 90+ countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore, allowing you to connect to the nearest server to your location to get the best speeds.

And the provider also uses mirrored links, which are copies of its site that use different URLs. That way, the Chinese government can’t fully block the VPN’s site to prevent people in China from accessing it. To get access to a mirrored link, you just have to email ExpressVPN’s customer support team.

ExpressVPN offers several plans that start at $6.67 / month — it’s a bit expensive compared to some other VPNs, but ExpressVPN offers the best value, plus it usually includes additional free months with its longest-term plan. It accepts credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and international processors including UnionPay and AliPay. ExpressVPN’s plans all come back with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Bottom Line:

ExpressVPN is able to bypass China’s firewall without detection. It allows users to browse the web and stream videos thanks to its obfuscated servers and fast speeds. ExpressVPN also comes with a wide variety of security features, including full leak protection, RAM-only servers, perfect forward secrecy, and an audited no-logs policy. ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of its plans.

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Read our full ExpressVPN review

🥈2. Private Internet Access — Great Security & Highly Customizable Apps

🥈2. Private Internet Access — Great Security & Highly Customizable Apps

Private Internet Access (PIA) is secure, fast, and very good at bypassing government restrictions in censor-heavy countries. It uses its Shadowsocks obfuscation protocol to disguise your VPN traffic as regular traffic in order to get around government firewalls — Shadowsocks is very good at hiding your VPN traffic in restrictive countries like China, allowing you to visit any website you want.

Similar to ExpressVPN, PIA also has high-security features like full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy, and RAM-only servers. It also comes with MACE, which is the best VPN ad blocker on the market.

PIA’s claims of not logging user data have been tested in multiple court cases and verified to be true each time, as well as via an independent audit. PIA also releases regular transparency reports where it proves that it doesn’t keep logs or share user data with the authorities. Also, PIA’s apps are fully open-source, meaning anyone can examine the source code to ensure they’re secure.

What’s more, PIA has the most flexible and customizable apps out of any other VPN on this list. All of its apps are well-designed, intuitive, and offer tons of customization for users, including different levels of encryption (128-bit AES and 256-bit AES), IP and app whitelisting, local port connections, automation rules, and more.

PIA also has a good server network, with servers in 80+ countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia. Despite not being as fast as ExpressVPN, PIA provides very good internet speeds and allows for seamless, uninterrupted browsing.

Private Internet Access offers plans that start at just $2.19 / month. It accepts credit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrencies, and even gift cards for payment in order to shield its customers’ identities. Private Internet Access covers each of their payment plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Bottom Line:

Private Internet Access is secure, highly customizable, and fully open-source. PIA’s Shadowsocks obfuscation protocol disguises your VPN traffic as regular traffic in order to bypass China’s firewall and browse the web without detection. It maintains fast speeds, comes with a ton of security extras, and is very easy to use across all apps. All of PIA’s plans are backed with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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🥉3. PrivateVPN — Simple Interface With Good Speeds

🥉3. PrivateVPN — Simple Interface With Good Speeds

PrivateVPN is pretty good at getting around China’s firewall and ensuring your privacy online. It provides an obfuscation setting known as Stealth VPN, which allows you to bypass VPN blocks in countries with censorship. Stealth VPN uses obfuscation to disguise your online traffic and make it look like regular traffic, so the Chinese government wouldn’t know that you’re using a VPN.

PrivateVPN is great for both beginners and advanced users. It’s easy to find and enable Stealth VPN, manually connect to a server, and switch from Simple View (keeps customization options to a minimum) to the Advanced View, which allows you to change, enable, or disable more settings.

PrivateVPN has 200+ servers in 60+ countries, including Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore. Although it doesn’t have speeds as fast as ExpressVPN or Private Internet Access, PrivateVPN still performed quite well in my speed tests. I was able to browse, stream, and download content on the internet with little issue.

PrivateVPN is also very secure. It comes with perfect forward secrecy and DNS and IPv6 leak protection. And in addition to a regular kill switch, it also has Application Guard, which shuts down selected apps if the VPN disconnects — I tested this feature with 3 different P2P clients, and it always worked really well.

PrivateVPN has very cheap prices that start at $2.00 / month. It offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, along with flexible payment options (including paying with cryptocurrency).

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Bottom Line:

PrivateVPN is very easy to use, and it maintains good speeds on all servers. It’s able to bypass China’s firewall undetected while using its proprietary Stealth VPN feature, and it has strong security features, including an app-based kill switch that works very well. PrivateVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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Read our full PrivateVPN review

4. TunnelBear — Great VPN for beginners

4. TunnelBear — Great VPN for beginners

TunnelBear is a user-friendly VPN that works very well in China. It has an easy-to-use obfuscation tool (GhostBear) that you can enable with a single click and that is successful at disguising your VPN traffic as regular traffic in order to get around Chinese government restrictions.

Its apps are very intuitive and fun to use, as they’re littered with cute digital bears and funny bear-themed puns. Plus, the VPN allows unlimited connections, which is really good.

TunnelBear has servers in 45+ countries, which is fewer than many premium competitors, but they’re spread out all across the globe and located in countries that are near China, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

TunnelBear has decent speeds, but isn’t quite as fast as ExpressVPN or Private Internet Access. I was still able to browse and stream social media content with little in the way of lag or buffering.

TunnelBear provides pretty strong security features. It comes with full leak protection, and its server infrastructure, apps, and codeware undergo regular security audits.

TunnelBear has competitive prices (starting at $3.33 / year), but it doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee — instead, there’s a free plan with only 2 GB available per month to test out the product.

Bottom Line:

TunnelBear is very user-friendly and intuitive, making it a particularly good option for beginners. It also comes with unlimited connections, decent speeds, and good security and privacy features (including obfuscation). TunnelBear doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee but has a free option with a 2 GB limit per month.

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5. VyprVPN — Good Streaming Support & Strong Security

5. VyprVPN — Good Streaming Support & Strong Security

VyprVPN provides strong security features and good streaming support, as it works with top sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer.

The VPN uses its own proprietary Chameleon protocol that hides your connection from your ISP or governments (like China). This way, the Chinese government won’t know that you’re using a VPN to access the free web.

VyprVPN’s server network includes servers in 60+ countries, including several locations near China such as Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. While its internet speeds aren’t as fast as ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access, they’re still quite good.

VyprVPN is also very secure. It provides good DNS leak protection, comes with perfect forward secrecy, and its no-logs policy has been independently audited.

And the provider also has user-friendly apps that provide helpful explanations for all settings and features. Also, VyprVPN allows 30 connections, which is great for families.

But with prices that start at $5.00 / month, VyprVPN is a little expensive. It backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

VyprVPN is a decent option for securely streaming in China. Its Chameleon proprietary protocol masks your VPN traffic and allows you to get around Chinese internet restrictions undetected. It also maintains fast speeds and comes with its own DNS protection service. VyprVPN offers a 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee with each purchase.

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Bonus. Astrill VPN — Stealth VPN & Smart Mode for Bypassing China’s Firewall

Bonus. Astrill VPN — Stealth VPN & Smart Mode for Bypassing China’s Firewall

Astrill VPN offers some pretty robust features for bypassing government restrictions. This includes a Stealth VPN obfuscation protocol to bypass automated firewalls and Smart Mode, which optimizes your speed through regional IP addresses. Both Stealth VPN and Smart Mode are designed specifically to bypass China’s firewall.

Astrill has servers available in 55+ countries, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan. While it’s not quite as fast as many of the other VPNs on this list, I experienced very little disturbance while browsing and streaming content on YouTube.

Unlike other VPNs on this list, Astrill VPN is not very intuitive and is much more complicated for beginners to use. However, Astrill does have customizable desktop clients, which are great for advanced users.

Astrill VPN has pretty expensive plans starting at $15.00 / month and doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee on any purchases.

Bottom Line:

Astrill VPN is fast, works in China, and has industry-standard security features. Its Stealth VPN obfuscation protocol and Smart Mode are designed specifically for bypassing China’s firewall and both are able to do so successfully while remaining undetected. Astrill also maintains decent speeds, but its plans are pretty expensive and doesn’t have a money-back guarantee.

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Comparison of the Best VPNs for China in 2023

VPN Starting Price Number of Connections Server Network (Countries) Obfuscation Method Money-Back Guarantee
1.🥇ExpressVPN $6.67 / month 5 90+ Obfuscated servers 30 days
2.🥈Private Internet Access $2.19 / month Unlimited 80+ Shadowsocks protocol 30 days
3.🥉PrivateVPN $2.00 / month 10 60+ Stealth VPN protocol 30 days
4. TunnelBear $3.33 / year Unlimited 45+ GhostBear tool
5. VyprVPN $5.00 / month 30 60+ Chameleon protocol 30 days
Bonus. Astrill VPN $15.00 / month 5 55+ Stealth VPN protocol and Smart Mode

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How to Choose the Best VPN for China in 2023

  • Find a VPN that can bypass China’s Great Firewall. All of my VPN recommendations are proven to be able to bypass China’s firewall without detection (ExpressVPN is the best).
  • Prioritize strong security. All of my VPN recommendations offer industry-standard VPN security features, including 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch that disconnects you from the internet when your connection to the VPN drops, and a strict no-logs policy that ensures the VPN doesn’t log any of your browsing activities or IP address.
  • Test for fast speeds. While all VPNs slow down your internet connection by at least a little bit, my recommended VPNs all maintained fast speeds. (ExpressVPN is the fastest VPN on this list).
  • Get a VPN that’s easy to use. The VPNs I recommend have intuitive apps for all major platforms and make it very simple to turn on their obfuscation tools that allow you to bypass China’s firewall.
  • Get a VPN that provides good value. All the VPNs on my list offer access to extra features (like an ad blocker or split-tunneling), provide flexible payment plans, and allow connecting at least 5 devices. And most of them also have a money-back guarantee.

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Top Brands that Didn’t Make the Cut:

  • IPVanish. IPVanish is a useful VPN for torrenting and gaming, but it doesn’t work in China.
  • CyberGhost VPN. CyberGhost VPN is a great, easy-to-use VPN with specialized streaming, torrenting, and gaming servers. It even has servers in China, but it only maybe works in that country.
  • Proton VPN. Proton VPN is an excellent VPN option with high-privacy features. However, even though the VPN provides obfuscation, there’s no guarantee it works in China.

Frequently Asked Questions

The use of a VPN is banned both for residents and visitors of China. However, while you could get fined for using an unapproved VPN while in China, there have been no reports of any foreigners in China being fined or punished for using outside VPNs.

What is the best VPN for China?

ExpressVPN is my top pick for bypassing China’s firewall in 2023. It can access all blocked web content by the Chinese government, it’s fast, it comes with excellent security features, it works with all of the top streaming sites, and it has a very user-friendly interface.

How do I bypass China’s firewall with a VPN?

Bypassing China’s firewall with a VPN requires only 3 steps:

  • 1. Get a reputable VPN that can bypass China’s firewall restrictions before traveling to China. I recommend ExpressVPN because it has strong security, the fastest speeds on the market, and very intuitive apps.
  • 2. Download and install the VPN. This process should only take a few minutes — just follow the installation wizard’s instructions.
  • 3. Connect to a server. Open the app and locate the list of server locations in the server menu. Scroll down the list of servers until you locate the country where you want to browse the web without China’s firewall restrictions. Click on that country and start browsing.

Can I use a free VPN for China?

China’s firewall blocks most free VPNs — so you’ll probably need a paid VPN service for the fastest and most reliable browsing. While some VPNs may offer a free plan that is able to bypass China’s firewall, most are unable to access blocked web content, have slower speeds, and set a limit on your bandwidth.

The best option is to purchase a reasonably-priced VPN that will allow you to safely and securely bypass China’s firewall and browse the web with no restrictions. My top recommendation is ExpressVPN since it can bypass China’s firewall, provides very fast speeds, and is ultra secure.

Best VPNs for China in 2023 — Final Score:

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About the Author

About the Author

Penka Hristovska is an editor at SafetyDetectives. She was an editor at several review sites that covered all things technology — including VPNs and password managers — and had previously written on various topics, from online security and gaming to computer hardware. She’s highly interested in the latest developments in the cybersecurity space and enjoys learning about new trends in the tech sector. When she’s not in “research mode,” she’s probably re-watching Lord of The Rings or playing DOTA 2 with her friends.