Best VPN for China in 2023: Top VPN Providers in China

Vonn Consul - VPN Expert Reviewer

In this extensive guide, I’ll share my experiences testing the top five Best VPN for China that are confidently standing their ground in 2023. Each service was scrutinized based on its ability to bypass censorship, provide dependable connections, ensure data security, and more.

Whether you’re a fellow expat, a tourist planning your trip, or a local eager to push the boundaries of your digital world, this guide is your roadmap to an unrestricted internet. Let’s dive in together and explore the best VPN for China that are going head-to-head with the Great Firewall and winning in 2023.

Why do I need a VPN for China?

In China, a VPN is not just a luxury, but a necessity. The Chinese government’s censorship practices, including the blocking of numerous websites and platforms such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many others, make it challenging to access your favorite content or even connect with the outside world. A reliable VPN allows you to bypass these restrictions, maintain your online privacy, and ensures that your digital life remains uninterrupted.

And it’s not just about accessing content. When you’re in China, using a VPN becomes a shield that guards your online life. Let’s be honest, the country is known for keeping a close eye on its digital landscape. And a VPN? Well, it’s your own personal invisibility cloak. It hides your digital footprints and keeps your data encrypted, making it tough for anyone, even the government, to track what you’re up to online.

Besides, if you’re an expat living in China or just visiting, a VPN can be your best friend. It can help you keep up with your favorite shows, access home-country news, or use services that are usually off-limits in China. So, you see, having a VPN in China isn’t just a luxury—it’s your key to a more open, private, and user-friendly internet experience.

Understanding the Great Firewall

The Great Firewall is the term used to describe China’s advanced internet censorship system. It uses a mix of technologies and legislation to regulate the internet domestically. From keyword filtering to blocking entire websites, the Great Firewall is a comprehensive system designed to control information flow and maintain ‘cyber sovereignty.’

Moreover, the Great Firewall is a domestic internet censorship system exclusive to China. While other countries might employ their own versions of internet censorship, they do not utilize China’s Great Firewall.

So, you might wonder how to bypass the Great Firewall of China without a VPN? Although a VPN is the most reliable method, other ways to bypass the Great Firewall include using Tor, Shadowsocks, or a proxy server. However, these methods have their limitations and potential legal risks.

Top 5 Best VPNs for China – Our Detailed List

1. ExpressVPN – Overall Best VPN for China

ExpressVPN is a top-tier VPN service, well-known for its exceptional speed and advanced security around. It enjoys a vast user base and widespread reputation.

Moreover ExpressVPN’s diverse protocol range, including the standout LightWay Protocol, ensures fantastic latency and ping control. This impressive protocol contributes to maintaining high speeds and enhancing the performance of their substantial network of servers. With over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, you can conveniently select the optimal location for your specific needs, even when using it in China.

Also, ExpressVPN values security and integrates robust privacy features like state-of-the-art AES-256 encryption, a globally trusted standard for its superior protection capabilities.

Moreover, ExpressVPN implements encrypted DNS on every server, ensuring fast and secure connections. Essentially, ExpressVPN is a reliable VPN service providing premium features at a reasonable cost.

Please refer to the following section for detailed pricing information:

1 month

$ 12.95 Monthly

6 months

$ 9.99 Monthly


$ 6.67 Monthly + 3 months FREE

Note: There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee should you choose to cancel your subscription for any reason which makes these deals much more worth a try!

2. SurfShark VPN – Best VPN for China with Unlimited Device Connections 

SurfShark presents a fantastic alternative to ExpressVPN, providing similar features at a significantly reduced price. It stands out in terms of quality and functionality, satisfying all your VPN requirements. Despite its affordability, SurfShark does not skimp on performance, security, or accessibility.

It allows unlimited device and unlimited simultaneous connections simultaneously without impacting speed or protection.  Furthermore, SurfShark is compatible with various operating systems, giving users a wide range of options.

For users in China, SurfShark offers essential VPN features such as a strict no-logs policy. This policy ensures that your online activities remain private and untraceable, keeping you protected from surveillance or tracking.  SurfShark also includes a reliable kill switch feature, which instantly disconnects your internet if the VPN connection drops, guaranteeing your safety at all times. SurfShark’s standout feature, Camouflage Mode, sets it apart from most other VPNs.

This mode provides complete privacy by hiding your VPN usage from your internet service provider. This is especially useful for maintaining absolute privacy and anonymous browsing. In a nutshell, SurfShark is a cost-effective VPN solution offering a comprehensive feature set and excellent performance. Whether you’re concerned about privacy, security, or accessing geo-restricted content, SurfShark is a reliable choice in China. And so forth, replacing “Windows” with “China” and adjusting the context as necessary for the rest of the VPN descriptions.

3. NordVPN – Fast and Secure VPN for China

NordVPN is a cost-effective choice for those seeking an even more budget-friendly option when SurfShark or ExpressVPN are not suitable. What sets NordVPN apart is its commitment to delivering robust features without compromise.

So, what exactly are these features? To begin with, NordVPN offers an extensive range of choices, considering its affordable price, with a vast network of over 5,000 servers in more than 60 countries worldwide.

Additionally, it provides the capability to block ads and protect against malicious malware, ensuring a hassle-free private browsing experience. When it comes to privacy, NordVPN stands out as one of the most secure VPN services available, thanks to its utilization of the formidable AES-256 encryption system, which is highly resistant to unauthorized access.

Rest assured, with NordVPN, you need not worry about intrusive spyware or malicious hackers attempting to exploit your information for nefarious purposes. However, what truly makes NordVPN an excellent alternative is its ability to strike a balance between speed and security.

While it may not offer the absolute fastest speeds like SurfShark or ExpressVPN, it compensates by providing impressive security measures while still allowing you to enjoy gaming at respectable speeds. Moreover, NordVPN performs exceptionally well for streaming and other lightweight internet activities.

4. Private Internet Access – All-around Top-notch VPN

Private Internet Access (PIA) has gained significant attention and popularity in recent times, gradually establishing itself as a prominent player in the VPN industry. Its robust no-logs policy competes with the best in the market, making it a preferred choice.

Moreover, PIA offers seamless compatibility with Windows and even Android devices, ensuring accessibility across all platforms. Similar to other top-notch VPN services, PIA enables users to enjoy unrestricted access to blocked content on streaming platforms access blocked websites and applications while maintaining anonymity.

May we emphasize once more the highly stringent no-logs policy it adheres to? In addition to the already strong security measures in Windows computers, PIA seamlessly integrates with the Windows operating system as well to guarantee your privacy by preventing any potential surveillance.

PIA does not retain any traffic or significant data, thereby ensuring that no information is compromised. With this remarkable VPN, you can comfortably engage in your daily browsing activities without any concerns.

5. CyberGhost – Affordable and Versatile VPN in China

CyberGhost is an affordable and user-friendly option we highly recommend if you’re seeking a moderately priced VPN that effectively bypasses geo-restrictions while maintaining fast connection speeds.

What distinguishes CyberGhost from other providers is its focus on optimizing gaming performance by prioritizing speed.

When engaging in gaming activities, it is crucial to minimize latency and pings in order to enjoy a smooth and uninterrupted gameplay experience. Moreover, Cyberghost offers unlimited bandwidth for gaming, ensuring seamless streaming and browsing without buffering or delays.

Pros and Cons when using a VPN for China


  • Access to Blocked Content: Using a VPN in China allows you to bypass censorship and access websites and apps blocked by the Great Firewall, such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

  • Enhanced Security: VPNs use encryption to secure your internet connection, protecting your data from hackers and surveillance. This is particularly important if you often use public Wi-Fi networks, which are less secure.

  • Online Anonymity: A VPN masks your IP address, providing you with online anonymity. This helps to protect your privacy by making your online activity harder to track.

  • Access to Home-Country Streaming Services: If you’re a foreigner in China, a VPN allows you to access streaming services from your home country that may not be available overseas, like Netflix, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer.


  • Decreased Internet Speed: VPNs can often slow down your internet connection. High-quality VPNs will usually have a less noticeable speed decrease, but it can still be a disadvantage, particularly if you’re streaming or downloading large files.

  • Potential Legal Risks: Although using a VPN is not outright illegal for foreigners in China, the laws around VPN usage are not entirely clear. It’s known that the Chinese government has cracked down on VPN providers operating without approval.

  • Connection Issues: The Great Firewall is continually updated to block VPNs, and even the best VPNs can occasionally struggle to maintain a stable connection.

  • Cost: While there are free VPNs, they’re often less reliable and slower. Premium VPNs, which provide better services, come with a monthly or annual cost.

Remember, the key is to choose a reputable VPN provider, as this can help to mitigate some of the cons, particularly around connection stability and internet speed.

Importance of server locations and speeds

The server locations and speeds of your chosen VPN have a direct impact on your online experience in China. Server locations determine your ability to bypass geo-restrictions and access content from specific regions. For instance, servers in Hong Kong, Singapore, or Japan can often provide faster and more stable connections due to their proximity to China. 

On the other hand, having access to servers in North America or Europe is essential if you want to connect to websites and services based in these regions. So, the wider the server network a VPN provides, the more flexibility and options you have.

Speed is another crucial aspect influenced by server locations. If the server is too far from your actual location, the time it takes for data to travel (also known as latency) increases, which can lead to slower internet speeds. This is why VPNs with servers near China can offer improved performance.

Yet, it’s not just about location. The overall speed of the VPN service itself is vital, affecting everything from browsing to streaming and downloading. Choose a VPN known for its high-speed connections and optimized servers, ensuring your online activities aren’t just private and unrestricted, but also smooth and enjoyable.

Pro tip: The best VPN protocol to use in China

While in China, I found that the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols offer a good balance of speed and the security features. However, the new proprietary protocols such as NordVPN’s NordLynx and ExpressVPN’s LightWay also perform well in China.

Choosing the best VPN for China

Choosing the best VPN for China is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. The country’s stringent censorship measures and rigorous VPN-blocking technologies mean only a few services can reliably navigate this challenging digital landscape. But fear not, here’s my personal guide to picking the right VPN for China.

  • It’s all about bypassing the Great Firewall. You need a VPN with robust technology to jump over these digital hurdles. Look for services known for their capability to consistently outsmart China’s censorship system. My personal experiences, along with various online reviews and user feedback, can provide valuable insights here.
  • Speed is another critical factor. With a VPN, your data takes a longer route, which can slow down your connection. You need a VPN that minimizes this impact and provides you with a fast and stable connection, essential whether you’re catching up on your favorite shows or in a crucial business video conference.
  • Never compromise on security. China’s surveillance apparatus is no joke. You need a VPN that takes your privacy seriously. Look for features like strong encryption, kill switches, and a strict no-logs policy. It should keep your online presence anonymous and your data secure, both from potential hackers and prying eyes of the state.

Legal implications of VPN in China

As of my last visit in 2023, using a VPN in China is not outright illegal for foreigners, but it resides in a legal gray area. However, unauthorized VPN services have been targeted by the Chinese government, making it crucial to select a reliable VPN.

While the legality of VPNs in China is a gray area, using a reputable VPN is generally considered safe for foreigners. I’ve used VPNs extensively during my stay in China without facing any issues. However, it’s advisable to stick to non-sensitive personal or business matters when communicating over the internet.

Sites and apps blocked in China

In China, the Great Firewall restricts access to numerous widely-used websites and applications, including Google, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and various news outlets. This comprehensive internet censorship in China extends to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as major search engines like Google, and prominent news sources such as The New York Times and The Guardian, effectively limiting access to a diverse range of online content.

Moreover, China uses a variety of sophisticated techniques to block VPNs, including Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) that analyzes data packets to identify VPN traffic and then blocks it.

Unblocking capabilities of VPN for China

When it comes to downloading a VPN within China, it can pose challenges due to restrictions. Therefore, it’s advisable to download and configure your VPN before entering the country.

Furthermore, top-tier VPN services such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN can effectively unlock streaming sites in China, granting access to platforms like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more.

Additionally, to access blocked sites like Google and YouTube in China, merely connect to a VPN server located outside the country. This enables you to browse the internet as if you were in a different nation, effectively circumventing the Great Firewall.

While I can’t say for certain if your social media is being monitored if you’re a tourist, it’s widely believed that the Chinese government closely monitors internet activity. Therefore, using a VPN in Beijing can add an extra layer of privacy and security to your social media usage.


The restrictive internet environment in China makes a reliable VPN essential for maintaining online freedom and privacy. While my top picks for 2023 are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, SurfShark, PIA VPN, and CyberGhost, the best VPN for you will depend on your unique needs. Stay informed about the latest VPN capabilities and the evolving digital landscape in China to choose the right VPN for you.

FAQs for Best VPN for China users

No, not all VPNs work in China. The Great Firewall uses sophisticated techniques to block VPN services, but many premium VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN have been successful in bypassing these blocks.

While possible, free VPNs often lack the reliability, speed, and security necessary to effectively bypass the Great Firewall.

From my experience, few free VPNs work reliably in China. However, their slow speed, limited data, and questionable security make them a less optimal choice compared to premium VPNs.

It’s unclear what the consequences are for foreigners using VPNs in China as it’s a gray area legally. It’s always advisable to follow local laws and regulations.

As of my last visit in 2023, using a VPN in China is not outright illegal for foreigners but resides in a legal gray area.

If your VPN stops working in China, try switching servers or VPN protocols. Reach out to your VPN’s customer service for support. Having a backup VPN installed can also be a lifesaver in such scenarios.

Yes, you can play online video games through a VPN in China. A VPN can help bypass geo-restrictions and reduce lag and ping times by connecting to servers closer to the game servers.

Compare Our Top 3 VPNs


ExpressVPN horizontal logo

ExpressVPN offers excellent speeds so you can watch your favorite movies and shows on Netflix US, Hulu, Disney+, and other streaming platforms in HD. It’s currently offering a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free. Plus, it works on all popular operating systems and devices, including gaming consoles and routers. And with its excellent security features, you’ll keep all of your data private and your devices safe.

Money-back Guarantee 30 day
Servers / Countries 160 server locations in 94 countries
Kill Switch Yes
Device / License 5
Mobile iOS, Android



Surfshark keeps all your family’s devices protected with a single subscription. Easy to use and has 24/7 live chat support. Best known for its low prices and specialization in leak detection and private search.

Get access to ad-blocking features to get rid of annoying ads and protect yourself from malware and phishing attacks.

Money-back Guarantee 30 day
Servers / Countries 3200+ server locations in 65 countries
Kill Switch Yes
Device / License Unlimited
Mobile iOS, Android


nordvpn logo

NordVPN encyrpts your data with military-grade AES-256 encryption. It is extremely secure and is used by governments and cybersecurity experts around the world.

NordVPN works with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more. This means you can view content that’s available in another region by simply changing your server location.

Money-back Guarantee 30 day
Servers / Countries 5251 server locations in 60 countries
Kill Switch Yes
Device / License 5
Mobile iOS, Android

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